This I Believe

Margaret - Barneveld, New York
Entered on April 19, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: freedom

I believe in individual freedom.

I was taught to believe that we live in a wonderful and unique country. We are blessed with individual freedoms to live as we choose as long as we respect other people’s rights and remain within the parameters of our constitutional laws. Individual rights are fragile. Our country has fought many wars to ensure that all of us will continue to enjoy individual rights, and not be forced into one way of believing.

My family has served our country in the military – my grandfather in World War I, my dad in World War II, and my brother in Vietnam. They all believed they were fighting for freedom. I too believe in taking a stand for freedom. That is why I work to uphold reproductive freedom, a crucial individual right.

Freedom of religion is among the most basic tenets on which our country was founded. Many people came to the “New World” because of their desire to practice their own form of religion without persecution. I believe tolerance of different religious beliefs, or no beliefs, has been a cornerstone of our country’s success.

I believe tolerance must also carry over to various religious teachings, including those related to sexuality and reproduction. There is no more important or personal individual right than the freedom to decide whether and when to have children. Laws should not force women to have babies. At the same time, women should be supported in having the babies they do want. I believe this is true freedom of reproductive choice.

Recent world history shows the results of government interference in reprouctive decision making. The Caucescu dictatorship in Romania forced women to undergo examinations to insure they had not had an abortion or used birth control. The result was thousands of abandoned babies in orphanages all over Romania. The other extreme is the coercive policy in China where families are allowed to have only one child.

I believe the freedom to control fertility has allowed women to pursue equality, choosing from a number of opportunities including marriage, children, and various work options right up to running for President of the United States. Access to birth control has also allowed the spacing of pregnancies, leading to healthier women, children, and families.

I believe the way to deal with reproduction is to allow each individual to make decisions about childbearing. Needed are medically accurate information about sexuality, pregnancy and disease prevention, and access to reproductive health care and birth control. With these tools, the individual has the ability to make critical reproductive choices based on life circumstances and personal religious beliefs.

What better way to stand up for individual freedom than to empower people to make such personal choices.

This I believe.