Pro-choice arguments favor Susan Smith

Oppression. The curtailment of freedom. Government taking away your right to live as you choose.

We like to think these things could never happen in America. We like to think we live in an enlightened, progressive society, and that oppression is a thing of the past. But unfortunately, it's just not so. Women and minorities are oppressed every day in this country, and there is no better example than Susan Smith.

Why all the outcry? Why did her own neighbors scream at her in hatred as she was being led in handcuffs to the police station? Why was she sentenced to life in prison? Why is she treated like some sort of criminal?

For the sole reason that she took control of her own life by choosing to end her unwanted motherhood. Since our society is still so backward, with no safe, legal method of motherhood termination, she was forced to use the dangerous method of long-term submersion and hide it by blaming it on a carjacker. But that should not divert attention from the real issues involved.

First, consider what the kids' lives would have been. They would have grown up unwanted and unloved, merely an undue burden to their mother and to society. They would have been two more population statistics in an already overpopulated world. Most likely, they would have lived in poverty as well and turned to crime or drugs or both.

They clearly would not have been happy; in fact they would have been miserable. So wasn't it the kindest thing to do as Ms. Smith did? It wasn't at all evil or selfish or cruel. After all, a world of wanted children would make a world of difference.

Second, Susan Smith herself would have been miserable if her parenthood had gone on. She could not have lived her life as she chose; she would have been shackled to two economic burdens that were basically parasites, unable to live without her constant support. Would you like to be forced to live that way?

In short, Ms. Smith was trapped, and her choice in freeing herself was like an animal caught in a trap, that chooses to gnaw off its own leg to escape. In doing so, she struck a blow against patriarchal oppression. Her decision was really a matter of empowerment.

Of course, empowering women, as well as men, is not an easy thing. It goes against many cultural norms for society to place faith in women's intelligence. There are a great many people who still believe that giving women control of their reproductive choices is a sin.

Which brings us to the third point. Government, and society in general, must stay out of deeply personal decisions like Susan Smith made. It is none of anyone else's business. Instead of shoving theology down people's throats, the authorities need to realize that freedom means choice. If you're against infanticide, then don't commit one! Barry Goldwater put it best in 1992 when he said, "Free people have the right to do as they damn please."

That's why a woman's right to choose must be protected. We can't have the government telling us what to do. Otherwise, we have the horror of forced motherhood. Also, protecting the right to choose is protecting all rights of women everywhere. As long as infanticide is outlawed, women are not truly free. (As for Republican hypocrites, who say "less government" but turn around and want to criminalize women like Susan Smith, you be the judge.)

Of course, this is not to say that a woman has to choose infanticide, but it must be available as an option. That's why being pro-choice here does not equal being pro-infanticide. For instance, I could never personally go through with it, but I still support a woman's right to choose.

But if the option is not even a possibility, someone else is making the choice. And we can't have that.

That's why we need to move beyond the current repressive, Neanderthal attitude and take a more reasonable, pragmatic, moderate position. We need to bring things into balance. When women like Susan Smith choose to terminate their motherhood, we should be compassionate and caring, not judgmental. Because otherwise, if they can't cope or don't want motherhood, women will keep being made to feel guilty about infanticide, and the patriarchy can keep them in their place.

We must realize that once infanticide is safe and legal, we will have happier children, zero population growth, and a truly free society, with every child a wanted child. On the issue of infanticide, we can all be pro-child, pro-family, pro-choice.

The above column is a satire. In reality, John Keisling opposes infanticide and therefore abortion. He is a Ph. D. candidate in mathematics whose column appears every Tuesday.

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