[Originally written on October 11th, 2010.]
Why I’m a Pro-Choice Life-Chooser (you could be one, too!)
First, let me establish to whom I am speaking. There are two groups of Anti-Abortionists (which is more accurate a term than Pro-Lifers; here’s a great article on the late Dr. Tiller and what pro-life really means: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2010-05-28-cohen28_ST_N.htm). One group is the people for whom abortion is a cover story for a much larger agenda (you can read about them here: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2010/10/10/abortion-often-relationship-abortion). The other group, the ones I’d love to reach, are the ones who, like me, could never abort their own child.
Becoming (intentionally) pregnant last year and feeling my tiny baby grow has solidified both my pro-choice stance and my life-choosing belief. And now, seeing her spring into the world and unfold as a person, I feel, if anything, more strongly about it. The reason I’m writing about abortion now, though, is Utah, a state that felt left out, I guess, in all the hubbub about Arizona’s insane immigration legislation. Utah is planning to blur the lines between abortion and miscarriage, and that simply cannot be allowed. Please read more about this here: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/2/24/840197/-Please-Help:-Utah-defines-miscarriage-as-criminal-homicide.
I have always been pro-choice, because to oppose choice seemed immediately to open up a can of worms, starting with the incest/rape argument that a surprising number of anti-abortionists agree with. Several years back I want door-to-door in NH on behalf of Planned Parenthood with my step-sister Victoria, just conducting a survey, and we found people who self-identified as against abortion that then said, yes, rape and incest were valid grounds for abortion. They usually also agreed that it should be permitted to save the life of the mother. If only they were willing to vote in alignment with those beliefs.
I’ve always been pro-choice, but I’ve also always suspected that, even under terrible circumstances (which in my imagination range from a high school pregnancy to rape), I wouldn’t be able to kill a tiny spark of life inside of me. And I think there are a lot of people who agree with that, and many who therefore extrapolate that no one should be allowed to extinguish that little life beginning. Here’s where it gets interesting, because while I do believe an unborn child is a life (gasp!), I don’t believe it is murder if a mother chooses to end that life.
I find this especially true if the mother is:
- a child (I hope we can all agree that’s just crazy)
- going to die as a result of pregnancy/labor/birth
- a victim of rape/incest
- likely to either attempt an amateur abortion or commit suicide if safe abortion is not an option. This is often due to being in conditions prohibitive to baby-raising (still in school, financially unstable, physically unsafe, etc.)
- in an abusive relationship – alarmingly enough, some sick and twisted men are actually tricking or forcing their wives/girlfriends into pregnancy as another means of controlling them: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/01/26/coerced-reproduction.html. Who thinks that is a good environment in which to raise a child?
I hope you close your eyes and force your squeamish mind to imagine the above situations. I know, I know, I don’t like to picture such things either. But if you are anti-abortion, you need to know what the results *will* be from a blanket ban that, at first glance, might sound like a good thing. Because they already happen now. How exponentially will they increase if abortion is no longer legal? I can hear you saying, well, in my utopia there’d be legal channels through which permission to abort could be obtained. But how often do you really think a girl or woman in the above circumstances will make it to court? And should she really be forced into the spotlight to prove rape, incest, abuse, or other extenuating circumstances? How do you think the man responsible is going to feel about her seeking an abortion, especially if he got her pregnant intentionally? Mad, enough to endanger her life along with the unborn child’s? Moreover, are the often-glacial courts equipped to rule on each and every abortion case… before the kid is born?
I’m not sure the pro-choice argument should have to go beyond the above… those arguments should already be plenty compelling enough. However, I would like to suggest a parallel to that great legislative disaster, Prohibition. Outlawing something that so many people do is not likely to stop it, but rather will make it more dangerous due to lack of regulation. Among other things.
On the other hand, I hear you saying, prosecuting murderers doesn’t seem to end murder in this country, but the majority of us agree it is important to do. Okay, let’s tackle that one. We hope to catch a murderer and remove them from society mostly to prevent further murdering by that person, and also as a general statement to the public that “murder is bad,” correct? However, a person who aborts her child, usually after a long and painful decision-making process, is not going to go around forcing others to abort theirs. Someone who did would certainly already be prosecutable under existing laws. And a “serial abortionist?” I think we can all agree someone who gets pregnant for the joy of aborting the resultant child is not exactly parent material anyway. Moreover, I doubt such a person exists. The enormous emotional and spiritual trauma of terminating a pregnancy aside, the physical trauma ranges from uncomfortable (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, spotting and bleeding) to severe (heavy or persistent bleeding, infection or sepsis, damage to the cervix, scarring of the uterine lining, perforation of the uterus, damage to other organs) and can occasionally result in death of the mother. It is not something a person does for kicks.
I spent a moment here and there in pregnancy and now, in early motherhood, thinking about how much harder it would be if I had been forced into it. Three months of all-day morning sickness. Growing less and less able to move. Not to mention labor, followed by very little sleep and frequent high-pitched wailing from an entirely helpless being for whom I am responsible. What made it exciting and fun and deeply meaningful for me was my strong desire to have a child, my enormous love for her father, and being in acceptable physical, mental, emotional, and financial condition. Subtract any of those and you might wind up with a mother for whom abortion is the responsible decision, not just for her own life but on behalf of the life that child would otherwise experience.
Do you really still need convincing? If so, I don’t know if I can change your mind. That was always a possibility, I guess. But if it helps, take time to consider all of the women who, given the choice, do decide to have the child. Who embrace the beauty of raising a life, maybe even one born out of tragic or abusive circumstances. I don’t believe it is wrong that these children are treasured in part because they were willingly born, and that to take away the choice is to take away a bit of that special phoenixesque love or, at the very least, delay its emergence from the clouds of despair and resentment.
In conclusion, it would be nice if certain political parties would go back to actually preferring small government, as they profess to do… they’d still moan about health care spending and the like, but at least we’d find ourselves threatened by fewer personal restrictions as to whom we can marry and whether we must incubate an alien life form… or risk dying trying not to.