Eclectic and Eccentric, Spiritual and Sublime
H. A. O'Connor

About the author : Earth to Ethereal: Eclectic and Eccentric, Spiritual and Sublime When it comes right down to it, I guess I just really enjoy sharing the human experience, whether through writing stories and poems which, hopefully, resonate with readers or by following the path to a simpler, more earth-friendly lifestyle. Thanks for sharing the experience with me!

Without Choice: Where Are The Women?

Ethereal, Searching for Inspiration 4 Comments

In college, in response to a presentation someone gave on abortion, my classmates and I were asked to indicate anonymously on a slip of paper whether we were pro-life or pro-choice. I was the only person to answer, “Pro-choice, but pro-life for myself.” My teacher thought it was an interesting response. She said if we’d had time, we could have used it to take the discussion to a deeper level. I didn’t think my reply was particularly interesting; it simply made sense to me. 

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Like I mentioned, this was an anonymous poll, yet if I’d had to explain myself, I would have said, “I am pro-choice, because I don’t think any government has a right to make that decision for any woman. I am pro-choice, because even though the legislature might change, abortions don’t go away–they just go into backrooms with unlicensed practitioners or into bedrooms with wire hangers. These should never again be a woman’s only options. Yet, as for me, I can’t imagine ever choosing to have an abortion, so in terms of myself, I am pro-life.”

I was naive. I couldn’t imagine having an abortion, mostly because I’d never been in a situation where one might be needed. I’d never been pregnant and, if I had become so, my family wouldn’t have deserted me (though they wouldn’t have been happy with me, either). If I’d become pregnant, my baby and I might have struggled, but we would have been all right. Not all girls are as fortunate as I was.

Image via Unsplash/Ewelina Karezona Karbowiak

Not long ago, I was asked to sign a petition for a thirteen-year old girl from Mexico who was pregnant as a result of rape. She was being denied the right to have an abortion. The petition asked for an exception to be made to existing laws, so she wouldn’t have to carry the pregnancy to term.

While watching a documentary about the closing of abortion clinics across the South, I learned of another young teen who had been gang raped, but was likewise being denied an abortion, right here in the US. There were no clinics left in her state and she couldn’t cross state lines without parental consent.

What about other victims of rape, of molestation? What about young women who are too terrified to tell anyone the truth? Should they all be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term?

Image via Unsplash/Chad Madden

Not all situations are so tragic, of course. There are other women, those who become pregnant by accident, maybe by the inability to access birth control, or maybe due to the failure of the birth control they used. Should these women be asked to become parents? Even young women who may be little more than children themselves? Where are the pro-life advocates when a teenage mother–or any mother–is struggling to support herself and her child? Adoption can be a beautiful alternative, but any pregnancy and delivery can put a mother’s life in danger. Speaking of which, what about women whose lives are endangered by their pregnancies? Doctors sometimes perform early deliveries to reduce the risk to the mother, while still trying to save the child. Will these be outlawed, as well?

Where are the men in all these situations? Do they have any accountability?

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I don’t love or even like the idea of abortion. I wish it didn’t have to exist. Yet, I can’t sweep it under the carpet, even if I’d rather not acknowledge it. In the near future, Roe V. Wade may be threatened (*See link at end of post for additional reading on Roe V. Wade), Planned Parenthood will likely lose its funding, healthcare changes may make birth control difficult to attain, especially for those of limited income. Are we supposed to believe that if abortion and birth control are taken off the table, abstinence will rule the land?

Making abortion illegal won’t eliminate unwanted pregnancies. Taking away access to birth control won’t make sex stop happening.

If people don’t think women’s rights will be violated by changes in laws and policies–that they aren’t already being violated by increasingly limited access to women’s clinics–I wonder what they are seeing that I am not.

I wonder, too, how will we protect girls, and women, if all their choices are taken from them?

For additional reading on the subject, I recommend: Roe v. Wade Attorney

Image via FreeImages/Darwin Guevarra

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4 Comments

  • Anne on January 23, 2017

    I also think of the laws that are passed to basically shame women who seek abortions with no thought as to who else they are hurting. Laws that force women to bury the remains of pregnancies that terminate early (abortion or miscarriage). How do you even have a funeral when there is not even a birth certificate?? How can you make a family pay for and go through a funeral when they are already suffering, this just adds more pain and cost to an otherwise awful experience. Laws that make D & C’s illegal. Why???? Why would you make a women feel like she is doing something wrong when she is probably going through one of the hardest things they have ever gone through. All of this and taking away sex education and access to birth control. What do people think is going to happen? Why are we so afraid of talking about difficult things. We need to stop being afraid of sex and pretending that if you say abstinence that sex just wont happen. I could go on and on with this…..

    • Author
      H. A. O'Connor on January 23, 2017

      I agree, Anne, all these issues are disturbing on so many levels. It is sad that the list goes on and on, too. I tried to focus on one small part with this post, to get to the center of my thoughts, but I really appreciate your comment and all the other wrongs you mentioned. I only wish more people could see the hurt that these laws cause and the rights that they violate. Thanks so much for your comment!

  • Kathy on January 23, 2017

    Amazingly, I just had this conversation with my 16 year old son last night. I basically said exactly the same thing to him. We were discussing government and the reasons behind the Women’s March. We have to be vigilant gping forward so we don’t lose what others have already fought for.

    • Author
      H. A. O'Connor on January 23, 2017

      So well said, Kathy! The changes that are being discussed, as well as those that are already occurring, threaten to take women back in time. People (women especially) fought hard for the rights we have–many different kinds of rights–and I believe in carrying on that momentum. Thanks so much for reading this post and kudos to you for being so open with your son. We’ll need more men like the kind you’re raising!

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