“Pro-choice” generally conjures up thoughts of abortion access, insurance-subsidized birth control, and arguing with people who hold up scientifically-inaccurate signs with pictures of bloody fetuses on them. All of those things are important (though the last one might be avoided for your own mental comfort), they aren’t the whole picture.
A friend linked me to an article about Miss DC, 24-year-old Allyn Rose, and her plans to get a preventive double mastectomy, having already lost her mother, grandmother, and great aunt to breast cancer. Given that she’s only three years younger than her mom was when she was first diagnosed, plus she carries a genetic mutation that predisposes her to the disease, this seems to me like a responsible decision to make about her health. But really, it doesn’t matter what I think, because it’s not my body.
That last part is the thing that Rose’s fans don’t seem to understand. Apparently she has been receiving hate mail from people telling her not to “mutilate” her body. Because apparently looking hot in a bikini should be more important than preventing herself from getting a potentially fatal disease.
This is just another way people are not respecting a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. The choice that Rose made to take preventive action should remain between her and her doctors. The pro-choice principles we apply to abortion and other reproductive issues need to extend to the entirety of a woman’s body.
The fact that it’s her breasts most likely makes the reaction that much stronger. When sexual appeal is involved, people will have something to say. But nobody — including pageant contestants — has an obligation to make their appearance fit certain criteria. But the male gaze does not trump a young woman’s autonomy or her health.
Really, the bottom line is that any decision a person makes about their own health and body needs to be respected. Even if you disagree with it or wouldn’t make the same decision yourself. It’s not just about breasts and surgery, but any personal medical decision — or even non-medical cosmetic decisions. If you think someone has the right to decide what happens in her uterus, then that belief must extend outside to the rest of her body.
Even if it changes how she looks in her bikini.