As our legislators continue to wage their war on our reproductive rights (yes, I’m looking at you, douchey Ohio Republican lawmakers and your vile “Heartbeat Bill”), I frequently feel the need to weigh in on how shitty I think it is that some congressman I’ve never met wants to get all up in my business and tell me what to do (or not do) with my ladyparts. Last time I checked, Roe v. Wade was still part of the law of this country, and that means that women do, at least for now, have the right to terminate a pregnancy. I have always supported, and continued to support, the right of any woman to choose what goes on with her own body. I’d like to share with you why I’m so passionate about this issue.
Now, before I go any further, let me toss out a disclaimer. This post is not about converting you to see my point of view. It’s not about telling anti-choice people why I think they’re misguided or wrong. It’s not about you at all, actually – it’s simply an explanation of my personal views, and where they come from.
Back in 1988, I found myself dealing with an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. I was nineteen years old, barely making enough money to pay my own rent, and had briefly dated and slept with a guy I decided I was never going to see again because he was batshit crazy. Precautions? Yeah, they were in place. I was on the Pill.
I was also on antibiotics for a sinus infection, which no one bothered to tell me can render the effects of birth control pills null and void. One missed period later, I was faced with the fact that I was pregnant and in no position to raise or support a child.
Did I mention the guy was batshit crazy? Yeah. He was. He was also in the military, which meant the best possible scenario was for him to go somewhere far away where I’d never have to see him again, and that’s exactly what happened. So there I was, alone, poor, and facing the idea of raising a kid alone.
I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t want a kid, and more importantly, I didn’t want to be pregnant in the first place. Sure, I could have had the kid and put it up for adoption, but that’s only a solution for women who don’t want to be mothers, not for women who don’t want a pregnancy. I was on the Pill, but due to a sad lack of information, still found myself in a hell of a bind.
I know there are countless stories of women who wrestled for weeks, even months, with the choice to end a pregnancy. I wasn’t one of them. I decided almost immediately that I needed to terminate this pregnancy. I booked an appointment at the local clinic, had my preliminary appointment to make sure I was indeed pregnant (I was not quite six weeks along), and scheduled my procedure for the very next day. I borrowed $250 from a good friend – because that’s what it cost back then – and within a few hours, I was no longer pregnant.
The abortion itself was not as traumatic as people make it out to be. I had all the information made available to me, and it was, quite simply a medical procedure that caused some minor physical discomfort. I went home, napped for a full day, and resumed my life, child-free once more. And you know what?
I have never, ever regretted that decision. I went on to have a full and productive life. I went to school, met the man who would eventually become the father of my oldest child, divorced him, and had an interesting string of career changes. I met my current husband, who has the patience of a saint and with whom I have twins, and carved out a niche for myself as a writer. Sure, I could have given birth to that unexpected child back in 1988, but that wasn’t what I wanted or needed at that time, and my life would have turned out very differently had I done so.
So, am I pro-choice because I had an abortion? No, I’m pro-choice because somewhere out there is a nineteen-year-old with a shitty job and an asshole crazy boyfriend who just saw a little plus sign on the pee stick, and because she should have the same right to choose that I did back in 1988. She shouldn’t be forced to carry a pregnancy to term, any more than I was. And according to the laws of this land, she does still have the right to choose what to do with her own body.
I’m pro-choice because if we can be outraged about countries like China that tell women they can only have two children, then we have no right to turn around and tell women they MUST have children. An unwanted pregnancy is an unwanted pregnancy, and no amount of bullying by anti-choice activists is going to change that. No posters or slideshows of aborted fetuses is going to make a woman love a child she never wanted to have in the first place.
My oldest daughter is nineteen – the same age I was when I chose to terminate a pregnancy – and she’s amazing. Her brother and sister just turned twelve, and they make me laugh every day. These are the children I chose to have, the ones I chose to give birth to, and they mean so much more to me than the one I opted not to carry back in 1988.
You don’t have to agree with me, and I’m not even going to try to change your mind if you don’t. All I know is that for me, at that time in my life, I made the right decision. And if I can accept my choice, then it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes it or not.