Second-guessing women’s choices

May 20, 2010

READING THIS article by Nicole Colson ("Everyone gets a say except women") made me think about how pervasive is the notion that women shouldn't have complete control of their own reproductive decisions.

Her article focused on the two conservative states of Nebraska and Oklahoma, where new legislation makes it all but impossible for a woman to make a simple decision about whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term. But even in the most liberal of locations in this country, abortion is still viewed suspiciously.

I work at the student health clinic at Harvard University. Up until just this past year, it was policy for all students seeking abortions from the clinic to first be referred for mental health services before they could continue with the procedure.

This, of course, was not the case for those seeking to carry the pregnancy to term. Nor is it the case that men seeking vasectomies must first receive mental health counseling, though the logic of the right-wing fanatics would have it that this decision would be selfishly denying the "gift of life" to potential future discoverers of the cure for cancer or whatever.

How is it possible that we've drifted so far from the gains of the women's rights movement of the '70s that, even in the most notoriously liberal of states like Massachusetts, a woman seeking to control her own body is assumed to have mental problems?
Keith Rosenthal, Boston

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