Friday, December 03, 2004

RU READY? Make RU-486 free worldwide

It's a twist on the old twist: if men could get pregnant, RU-486 would be available in dispensers at convenience stores and next to the Coke machines at Motel 6. They'd pass the stuff out with after dinner mints at Club Meds and on cruise ships.

But men don't get pregnant. Men just get women pregnant, and so the struggle for women's rights, women's freedom to choose and women's EMPOWERMENT lurches two steps forward and one step back.

Or if the Bush administration has it's way, one step forward, two or three steps back. It amazes me that any woman who respects her gender and her fellow women and sees the political writing on the wall could possibly vote for any conservative.

It seems many women DON'T respect their gender enough - or don't respect or trust other women to make decent choices.

If proved safe, RU-486 is an essential tool for women. No guy would want to have to go ask permission to take care of his pregnancy, like getting a hall pass to go to the bathroom. Why should a woman have to get a hall pass and go ask a doctor or the government to give her permission to stop something she doesn't want to or feels she can't continue?

RU-486 is discreet, private, non-invasive, non-surgical, and it's use certainly helps to minimize the trauma and fear of both pregnancy and abortion. (Anyone who would WANT a pregnancy or an abortion to be traumatic or guilt-ridden is disrespectful and lacking in compassion if not guilt-ridden, righteous and sick themselves.)

Men and women deserve the best we can provide for them.

This is one of the few areas of modern politics where I think progress is inevitable, no matter what the religious right thinks. Even defining conception is irrelevant to a woman's basic right, bodily right, personal right, to choose whether to have a child or not - and when and with whom. It is more important to be concerned with consciousness than conception. To respect life, we must show compassion and wisdom for those who are aware and must think through their choices. Beware all who want to pass on their guilt and fear to others. We've got to be braver than that to improve our lives and life on Earth.

Not every young girl is old enough or mature enough or healthy enough to follow through with bearing and raising a child. But anyone who is old enough to get pregnant is old enough to decide that she does not want to have a child. Sure, there may be all sorts of complicated and emotional considerations and consequences - fear, depression, remorse, ambiguity. But life is not simple, and neither is pregnancy. If things seem overwhelming, better to opt out, wisely, than to feel trapped - by guilt or law or lack of choices.

Every woman on Earth deserves the freedom to choose. And since there are already more people on this planet than the environment can safely sustain, we should be encouraging women to be reluctant to have any poorly timed or planned children.

We value life most when we make the hard choices to raise the quality of life, not increase the quantity of life.

And the economic and civil benefits of having fewer children are far-reaching. It's much less expensive to ward off unwanted births than it is to suffer the burdens of too many people. The human population can't and won't grow forever. It will decline. It would be wise to be in control of that decline through choice rather than catastrophe - more through peaceful decisions than by force or suffering.

And so let the rich nations of the world provide contraceptives of all kinds, including RU-486, free of charge to everybody, men and women, anywhere, anytime, world wide. That would be an egalitarian gift to humankind and to all life on this planet.

For more on this subject, please see Claire Barnett's fine article "RU Ashamed?" at


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