autonomy
     The driving force behind the pro-choice view is the desire for personal autonomy. That means the freedom to determine the value and purpose of one’s life. If this desire lives, the movement lives. If this desire dies, the movement dies with it.
     The pro-choice movement centers on the abortion issue, but it does not confine itself to that one issue. It teaches a worldview that relates to other issues and really to all of life.
     To understand the difference between the pro-choice view and its opposition, we must distinguish between autonomy and responsibility. If I have autonomy I determine my own value. If I have responsibility, I respond to value that is already there. An autonomous choice imputes value. A responsible choice responds to the value that already exists. Either way I have a choice that is mine to make, but with one I determine whether or not something has value, and with the other I choose how to respond to value that exists apart from myself.
     An autonomous choice is a decision for which the chooser determines right and wrong. If my choice imputes value, my choice determines what is right for me. With autonomy I simply choose whatever I feel is right for me, and that makes it right.
     I don't want to imply that the pro-choice view eliminates the idea of responsibility. The pro-choice view acknowledges responsibility of one autonomous being to another. Wherever my autonomy interferes with another person’s autonomy there is responsibility. The difference is that rather than having one God making all the rules for everyone, we have a multitude of persons interacting to develop a changing system of rules.  
     Listen to the world-view of the pro-choice movement. I am my own person. This is my body. This is my life. I have the freedom to choose what is right for me. Listen to the poem.

  “I believe . . .
   I believe there is a reason we are born with free will.
   And I have a strong will to decide what’s best for
   my body, my mind, and my life.
   I believe in myself.
   In my intelligence, my integrity, my judgement.
   And I accept full responsibility for the choices I make.
   I believe in my right to choose . . .
   The greatest of human freedoms is choice.
   And I believe no one has the right to take that
   freedom away.
   What’s life without choice?” *

     These words have power. I feel them touch the deepest part of my being. They take me from my every-day tasks and point me toward eternity. They shake my world. The rest is details.
     Squishy words do nothing to combat the fire that burns. This is my body, my mind, and my life. I decide whether something in my body is a guest or an intruder. You cannot make me suffer the several months of inconvenience, the pain of labor, and the lifetime of being mother to a child I did not want to have. If this is my life, I should do what I want with it.
     The poem does make an appeal to God; “there is a reason we are born with free will.” God gave us choice, and no one ought to take it away. The movement could not have gotten far with atheism (e.g. Gloria Steinem), but after this appeal to God, it is personal autonomy all the way. That’s the driving force.
* N.A.R.A.L. Reproductive Freedom and Choice television ad campaign,
   August 2001