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.
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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?
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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