I am a social worker by profession but for the last four years, I have been a stay-at-home mom.
As a woman, a mother, a behavioral healthcare professional -- and very significantly to me, a daughter born to teenage parents -- age-appropriate sex education and reproductive rights such as access to contraception and the right to choose abortion are issues that have always been very important to me.
Abortion is a tough subject. Even those of us who are “for” it, are not for it. No one wants an abortion. The idea that women or couples who choose abortion do so blithely is counter to the reality of a heartbreaking experience.
I respect and consider many anti-abortion points even as I disagree with the overall perspective. In fact, I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees with a main argument of the anti-abortion movement -- that if a woman is truly unable to care for her child, she can give that child up for adoption. But I remain pro-choice because I do not feel that adoption is the panacea to unintended pregnancy. There are so many variables, including terminations of planned and wanted pregnancies due to devastating genetic issues. As much as many of the reasons against abortion make sense to me, reasons for the right to abortion make even more.
Most of the people I know who have changed their opinion regarding abortion are people who have been in the devastating position of having to respond to an unintended pregnancy of their own or who have witnessed someone close to them have to do so. Although I am sure there are people who do regret having had an abortion, no one has ever expressed that to me. In both my personal and professional life, I have witnessed women grieve over the loss of what could have been and lament the circumstances that led to their decision to have an abortion. But I have not heard regret over the decision to end those particular pregnancies.
I have witnessed, either directly or through their own reminiscence, women who had always been firmly anti-abortion choose abortion when faced with the realities of whatever their situation happened to be. On the other hand, if they have the means to do so, many women who are pro-choice ultimately welcome and keep their own unintended pregnancies.
Being pro-choice doesn’t mean loving abortions. It has nothing to do with “baby-killing” and everything to do with sustaining women’s ability to care for themselves and their families. It means respecting women’s rights. It can be easy to forget that since Roe v. Wade, abortion is indeed a legal and constitutional right.
I wish that the difficult subjects of the world had black-and-white answers. It would be so much easier to know that whereas “X is always right, Y is always wrong.” I think about this a lot because choice related to abortion is one of the subjects I have felt so passionately about since before I even fully understood what it could entail.
I distinctly remember the circumstances that led to my awareness of what “abortion” is. I was in elementary school and our church bulletin had a message from the priest asking everyone in our parish to boycott a particular company because they had donated money to Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides “abortions.” I had heard of Planned Parenthood from a Judy Blume book and from her depiction of the agency, it didn’t seem a bad place at all. I didn’t think we should boycott anyone for helping them and neither did my mom, which probably means more to me than she will ever know. I had to ask her what abortion was. Even though I can’t recall exactly how she worded her answer to me, I remember my reaction, which was that I felt that a woman must really have a good reason to do such a thing.
This is the bedrock of my belief in the right to choose and the reason why I will always be pro-choice.