The opposite of choice is compulsion.
Senate Republicans have introduced a short-term bill that would prevent a government shutdown at the price of eliminating all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that enjoys broad support from Americans, according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey from August.
Abortions constitute only 3 percent of the work Planned Parenthood does, and the 1976 Hyde Amendment already prohibits federal funding of abortions except in cases of rape, incest or a threat to a woman’s life.
In the midst of this renewed onslaught against Planned Parenthood by those who seek to severely limit or eliminate women’s access to safe abortion procedures and even birth control, it is important to see these anti-choice maneuvers for what they are: reproductive coercion.
Reproductive coercion is an abusive strategy for maintaining power and control of an intimate partner’s reproductive choices.
This could manifest as a man poking holes in condoms, lying about having had a vasectomy or tampering with his partner’s birth control in order to force her to become pregnant.
It can also look like a woman’s partner insisting that she carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or that she terminate a wanted pregnancy.
Reproductive coercion is distressingly commonplace, particularly in relationships that are already abusive.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, about a quarter of women who report experiencing physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their partners also say they are pressured or forced to become pregnant.
Any time a woman is denied her right to have autonomy of her own reproductive decisions, this is reproductive coercion.
In the context of a romantic or sexual relationship, such behavior constitutes domestic abuse and is unacceptable.
The push to strip women of reproductive autonomy at the national level is equally reprehensible.
But reproductive autonomy does not just mean abortion access.
While Republicans in Congress are currently chomping at the bit to ensure women are denied abortion access in the United States, China is using forced abortions and forced sterilization to try to rein in population growth.
When Chinese family planning officials forcibly aborted the fetus of Feng Jianmei — who was seven months pregnant — in June 2012, photos of the incident were released online and outrage erupted worldwide. Feng was understandably traumatized by the event.
So-called “pro-life” groups have expressed horror at Feng’s story and other stories of government-forced abortions outside the U.S.
But they fail to recognize that denying a woman the right to end a pregnancy is just as wrong as denying a woman the right to carry one to term.
Those clamoring to defund Planned Parenthood do not respect women. What they want is to compel women to continue unwanted pregnancies, just as an abusive man might force his partner to do.
Women deserve better than this. Being pro-choice is not about loving abortions, it’s supporting every woman’s right to make her own decisions when it comes to her reproductive and bodily autonomy.