What Does Reproductive Freedom Really Mean?

We all are going to be hearing from all the potential presidential candidates about a variety of topics in the upcoming election year. Among the topics on the agenda is the issue of women's rights and other options in terms of reproductive health issues. Regardless of whether you are a Republican or Democrat these issues impact all of us.

Listen carefully to what all of the candidates are saying in regards to contraception, a woman's right to make decisions about her own ability to bear a child, when does life begin, who is entitled to health insurance, and what constitutes a family. Think carefully about how their positions compare with your own beliefs and value system. Do you want the government to have the ability to intervene in these personal choices? How will it directly impact your life and the lives of others?

We live in a country where there are a wide range of choices available in regard to our presidential candidates. Positions range immensely. Some candidates believe that access to contraception and sex education should be prohibited and that federal funding should be stopped for programs where reproductive health treatment occurs. Other believe that women deciding how many children to have and when is a fundamental right and should absolutely not be limited by any government intervention.

Most people agree that programs should be in place to minimize teenage pregnancies. Does offering sex education or abstinence only education meet that goal?

Is the real issue one of freedom of choice. If program limitations are in place then is there really freedom of choice?

One of the political issues that appeared on ballots in 2011 is called the "Personhood Amendment." The Personhood Act declares that life begins at the moment of fertilization of the egg. This legislation says that abortion for any reason is murder. Beyond that it could potentially outlaw birth control options like the pill, which can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. This type of regulation failed last year in Mississippi and Colorado. There is discussion about putting it on the ballots of other states like Florida, Montana, and Ohio.

In Illinois last year the state decided not to renew a $30 million foster care and adoption contract with Catholic Charities because "they did not intend to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom and Protection and Civil Union Act." This occurred because Catholic Charities was not willing to facilitate adoptions for lesbian and gay couples and couples in civil unions based on religious grounds.

Many people get so fed up with the seemingly endless political campaigns that they tune out what is said or don't even consider how a presidential or local candidate's political platform can have very personal and sweeping repercussions. Make your voice heard by exercising your freedom to vote. Take time to research all of the candidate's positions on reproductive healthcare. By learning the facts your vote will be cast based on an informed decision.

Iris Waichler, MSW,LCSW, has a Master's Degree in Social Work and has been a licensed clinical social worker for over 30 years. She has done workshops, individual, and group counseling with people experiencing infertility. Ms. Waichler is the author of the award winning Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster: A Guide to Educate and Inspire. She currently writes freelance infertility and health related articles.

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