A few thoughts on abortion

I fiercely believe that medical decisions are the domain of a person and their doctor. I am pro-choice, a political stance that became firmer when I became a mother. I have never aborted a pregnancy, but the safety and legality of abortion have impacted my family in a positive way

I have two children. These kids are fiercely loved and very wanted. They were, shall we say, imprecisely scheduled. I found out I was pregnant not long after quitting veganism and graduate school, and while looking for work. The day before I discovered my pregnancy, I took my motorcycle to the cool part of Seattle to thrift some clothes and shoes for a job interview and meet my closest friend for dinner. I had a blast. I was craving odd food, so I ordered the pho with the seafood and quail eggs. As we ate, I told them how free I felt, how much possibility I sensed. Maybe 10 hours later I saw two unmistakable lines on the pregnancy strip. Everything changed.

The timing was not great. Though Will and I were solid as a married couple, more than we’d ever been to that point, we were not quite on solid financial footing. My career prospects were unclear. There were reasons we did not expect this to be the likely outcome. But here we were, and I was pregnant.

Here is the key part: I did not *have* to be pregnant, if I did not want to be. If I felt it was too wrong, I could stop. This was an opportunity, not a burden. I did not have to take it. And if the pregnancy started showing signs of failure, if it compromised my health, I could end it. Washington State had no late-term abortion restrictions. I have seen this be really important for some of my friends’. Late-term abortion, for them, was the necessary act to assist a difficult situation. For me, it was an insurance policy that my pregnancy couldn’t kill me.

If abortion had not been safe and legal, if that choice had been taken from me, I 100% believe I would have felt trapped. I would have felt scared about the pregnancy going badly. I can see many ways where I would have resented the struggles of motherhood because they would not have been the things I chose, they were the circumstances I found myself in.

My pregnancies were enthusiastic decisions. I experienced every discomfort (and there were a lot of them) in the context of it being my choice, a process for which I was a willing and eager participant. I was unafraid during my pregnancies, with faith that medical technology would ensure that I, unlike women in previous centuries, would certainly survive this experience. Motherhood, for me, is also experienced in the context that I am doing it because I wanted to, not because circumstance dictated that I had to. It would have been something closer to accepted instead of being pursued.

I cannot imagine not having that type of autonomy and sovereignty over my reproduction, as technology and ideology denied it to women in earlier times. Especially because pregnancy, for me, can be really miserable. I find it easier to have a 1.5 year-old with a 3.5 year-old sister than I did having a 1.5 year-old and being pregnant. I can totally see why women would come to hate sex and despise men if a subordinate position in society meant sex was a marital requirement and then it would almost certainly expected to lead to pregnancy (pain and suffering) each time you did it.

There are a lot of controversy about how to deal with the fact that pregnancy is how we create other humans, and maybe that embryo is alive, which makes for ethical gray areas. Reasonable people can disagree. However, human history has repeatedly demonstrated that pregnancy can be dangerous, if not fatal, for women. Sometimes, for women to be healthy, pregnancy has to end. There is no way to liability-proof a doctor without making it safe and legal for everyone. Restrictions are just preferences for ideology over living women. I can go either way about when a fetus is “alive”. I would rather not have to go through that ethical judgement in my personal life. But that I could if I had to? Gold. That solid prenatal care exists and can end if it goes badly means there is one less thing in the world threatening to take my children’s mother away from them? Excellent.

It is terrifying to me that the right to control my reproduction, and thus health, at all phases would be infringed upon. Government bureaucracies should not replace a physician and patient’s judgement. They say one in three women will have an abortion. That’s a rate higher than that of being left handed, or LGBTQ, or experience mental illness on an annual basis. It’s common. It’s a common experience that I have not had, but the right and access to it has deeply affected my life. Those are reasons abortion rights and access are important to me.

3 Comments

Filed under Dystopia, Parenthood, Personal

3 Responses to A few thoughts on abortion

  1. I am both pro-life and pro-choice. I usually get askance glares in UU circles for this, but I explain it this way: nobody wakes up in the morning saying “Hey, you know what I want today? An abortion.” From women I’ve spoken with, they have said it is one of the most difficult decisions they have ever weighed in their lives. I believe abortion should be legal, 100% covered, and made as safe as possible. It is the moral and just response for a society that wants to be pro-life.
    I find most pro-lifers are actually just “pro-birth.” They could care less for the life of women and children, especially as impacted by a lack of environmental, educational and economic equity and opportunity. These same people are usually also pro-gun and pro-death penalty – which to me invalidates their pro-life identities.
    My UU identity challenges me to be pro-life, pushing me to build a world in which all women have complete agency over their bodies. A world where all women and all children are seen as having worth and dignity, with access to systems that promote their flourishing. I work for a world in which abortion is 100% available, and yet is only used rarely. And I will fight any administration and government that seeks to limit that future.

  2. Very well said, Christine. Bravo!

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