Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why I'm Pro-Choice


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.

7 comments:

  1. In a somewhat unusually chain of events I find myself looking at paganism and my son and his girlfriend are at an abortion clinic today. I know it's the right thing for them so young and not even out of school. I can't help thinking about the little heartbeat that the ultasound nurse so carefully pointed out. I had a dream of being pregnant and the baby not being able to be born and of unopenned boxes all night. I have not voiced my opinion because I feel it is not my choice. I thank you for you for being so open I needed to hear you had no regrets.

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  2. I thank you for your honesty. Because it is an individual choice. And each individual will deal with the repercussions of their decisions. But they are their decisions to make. Not anyone else's for any reason. No one needs to believe as I do, and I for one won't try to force any one else into my point of view. Why shouldn't I expect the same respect. From individuals and government officials alike.

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  3. In 2003 I was raped half a block from my apartment at 8:30 in the evening. It was a random attack in a college town where normally there would be activity on the street, so it was relatively safe. After the attack I made my way to the free standing ER and the nurse on duty yelled at me for "being alone on the street after dark." I was 47 years old at the time! I was treated no better by the SANE nurse at the hospital, who decided not to make an evidence exam. The shoddy way I was treated aside, had it turned out that I was pregnant, I would have had an abortion. I love children, but there was no way I would have wanted a baby at that age...and sorry,adoption would not have been an answer because I don't feel there are enough responsible adults stepping up to take the children already available. I was not about to add one more to the system. The local government- especially when being driven by religiously fueled hubris- should stay out of what anyone does with their body unless they are a danger to the public health and welfare.

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  4. Excellent post. Having found myself in a similar situation and having done the same thing, I agree that it has to be an individual's decision and her right to make a choice. The choice is personal and it should be accepted as just that AND abortion should be legal so that safe methods and counselling (if required) are available if the choice is NOT to have the child.

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  5. I enjoyed reading this post and agree totally.I too had an abortion when I was around 30.Without going into details,it was just not what I wanted.I am 50+ now and I have thought about it on and off through the years,but I have no regrets.

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  6. Wouldn't the grown-up and responsible thing be taking responsibility for your actions? Given, I'd love to be promiscuous or even make beautiful love to a close partner. But if you're not grown up enough to care for children, you shouldn't be having sex in the first place. I'd even argue that (only in my experience) the best sex is when two people are committed to each other anyway. Is expecting commitment before sex wrong, too? If your boyfriend was, "batshit crazy," why did you sleep with him anyway?

    Sex is way better if it's in a relationship that some douchy guy wouldn't take off, and some people (those damn conservatives) might say within a marriage.

    Gosh how badly I want all women to be able to love themselves and others in a country that says your opinion seriously matters. An opinion that carries weight and is listened to.

    I just don't understand that instead of standing up for themselves and expecting better treatment from our country's leaders and from sexual partners alike, women being pro-choice to me seems a lot like better enabling men to control women with no repercussions when it comes to sex. I wish instead, women be given more say in sexual decisions, and be able to be 100% sure pregnancy is avoided by not having sex unless a baby is wanted! Hard, but that's the way of the world.

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  7. I thank the author and the other women for their stories....We do stand up for ourselves, time and time again for the same laws that are in effect. We continue to waste time fighting for those rights because every so often some country "leader" gets their panties in a bunch because we DO take responsibility for our actions. Scared white man in office can't have that. Look to history for the proof. "Enabling a man to control women with no repercussions" that's all that needed to be said. I get your point, but the real point is that men, for centuries, have wanted to control women. The outrage from the introduction of the Pill was blasphemy to many. Let men rape their wives and beget children to populate the earth and there isn't a friggin thing a woman can do about it...but we did.

    Bat Shit crazy boyfriends happen all the time because a Bat Shit crazy society breeds them. Hence my point. Men, for the most part are raised to NOT accept responsibility for many of their actions. How many men do you figure are out there not paying for any of the children they produce? Plenty! In 2012 that amount was 104 BILLION with half of that owed to taxpayers by way of TANF, SNAP and other government programs including housing.(http://money.cnn.com/2012/11/05/news/economy/unpaid-child-support/ ) Over 400,000 kids are in foster care and some are there because someone decided it was a nice way to make a living - not actually to raise a child in a loving home? So they too have now become objectified. How many children grow up feeling unloved or worse unloved, living on the street or are now in the system because they tried to find love and found pregnancy instead? I think it is incredibly irresponsible to willingly, knowingly bring a life into these situations.

    I would love to live in that dream world that is a puffy snow white cloud of nirvana with unicorns flying around on rainbows, but it is just that, a dream. MANY factors come into play, each factor different for each parent and their family with a choice such as this. Frankly the above opinion as it was phrased was rather trollish and disrespected the author.

    No, until the cycle of broken people stop bringing more broken people into this world I will support PRO-CHOICE. I think that PRO-CHOICE is the only responsible thing to be in this day and age.

    I am PRO-CHOICE. It must remain safe to any and all who ask for the procedure. It IS a law. I for one do not want to hear about any coat hangers, stair falls, water bottles or back alley procedures by people who have had their license revoked. I believe the women before me have paid heavily for my right to choose. I never want to hear of a child who was forced to have her fathers child or a woman who's basic humanity was threatened by a thug who felt the need to objectify a woman and now MUST grow a child inside HER to be dealt with by HER. No, never.

    My story is very similar to the author, exact on age and exact of reasons for my choice, and frankly, until YOU ( the general you) personally have had to make the choice it may just be best to keep the opinion you have to yourself. Most people do not come by the choice lightly. Please read the authors link: Who Are These Women Who Have Abortions Anyway? I would not be the mother of 3 Honor roll, college grad and college bound children who have the self-worth to stand up for their own beliefs as well as for others if I had kept the child when I was 19. I would not now be expecting a fourth child in June. I am very proud of the mother I am, a mother I would never have become had someone made me keep a child I could not raise financially or emotionally. I regret it only that it was choice I had to make due to mine and the fathers circumstances, not the outcome.

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