A woman's right to choose and why it's worth fighting for

Issues of reproductive freedom (or lack thereof) have been in the news this week in several states. The Ohio Senate tried to sneak a "Right to Life" amendment into their budget bill. The Alabama Congress approved a bill that will ban any abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. And the Iowa House of Representatives passed a ban on abortions after just 18 weeks of pregnancy. With all of this anti-choice legislation advancing through state houses, it's important to remember why we fight for a woman's right to choose, and why abortion bans are a threat to our fundamental rights and freedoms as Americans.

There are countless lists of pro-choice arguments (here is a good one), but below are what I consider to be the most important arguments for a woman's right to choose.

1. There are a lot of people who believe that abortion is wrong because of their religious beliefs. But if you ask me (or the founding fathers), religious texts, theories, and traditions have no place in American law. No one should have to follow a law based on religious beliefs that they may or may not agree with. Remember separation of church and state? The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." In other words, don't impose your personal religion on all American citizens!

2. We already know that banning something by law does not put an end to it (Exhibit A: illegal drugs), and banning abortions won't be any different. If state governments ban abortion, they can only expect to see an increase in self-induced abortions and "black market" abortions, performed in unsafe, unsterile environments, often by non-professionals. By giving women the right to choose, officials would give women the right to the safe, professional, medical care of America's hospitals, a right that shouldn't be denied to anyone for any reason.

3. There is an ongoing argument over whether human life starts at the moment of conception or the moment of birth. I wouldn't be surprised if this debate just goes back and forth forever, because it's such a subjective, opinion-based argument. And in the end, the opinions of doctors, scientists, religious officials, and government officials simply don't matter. The only opinion that matters at all is that of the pregnant woman. The conversation of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy should be solely between a woman and her doctor, and the decision should then be solely left to the woman. And whatever decision a woman may make, her government should provide her with the resources and services to safely carry out her decision.

Let women decide whether or not abortion is against their religious beliefs. Let women decide whether they believe human life begins at conception or birth. Let women weigh the pros and cons of abortion in the context of their own lives. When we lay out the options and let women decide for themselves, only then will American women know true and complete reproductive freedom.