Health, Howling Sea Lane, Religion

Why I am Pro-Choice

Since I’ve talked about sex, why don’t I just go all the way and talk about abortion? Maybe next, I’ll write about the death penalty!

I read a really well written article by an abortion provider today, and although I realize that most of the people who should read it won’t (because we evangelicals don’t like any rhetoric but our own, and will put our fingers in our ears and lalalalalala at you pleasantly–because that is Tongues for “Die you hell spawn abomination!” not really. Most evangelicals aren’t praying for you to die. They are just praying for God to allow Satan to have his way with you, until you submit to God’s will. Which, if you think about it, is a little bit like your commanding officer allowing you to butt rape prisoners until they tell you what you want to know. Oh my word, I’ve turned into a liberal.) I feel like it is important enough to share.

I worked for a ministry where part of your contractual obligation was a promise to abstain from pre- or extra-marital sex. I’m a by-the-book kind of girl (even though I was misdiagnosed with a spirit of rebellion because I wore short pants and sang Motley Crue songs in the office. What? Home, Sweet Home is an awesome song!) so I felt like if I signed that contract, I should be willing to suffer the consequences of breaking it. I don’t hold that against the ministry at all.

I held up my end of the bargain while I worked there, then I quit working there, met the man I would later marry, and I decided I was absolutely finished with abstinence. Because I needed sustaining with apples and raisins, being weak with love.

I started working for the ministry again, signed the paperwork again, and really did strive to maintain my contractual celibacy, but gave up because B just smiling at me can do awesome and powerful things (I did quit teaching the Singles group when I gave up the fight, because I couldn’t advocate something I wasn’t doing.) Then I spent every fifth week of the month panicking. I spent a whole lot of time worrying and wondering what I was going to do, and a whole lot of time peeing on sticks. I just knew I was pregnant and I would get fired. I would get fired, and I would be shunned. I would be looked down upon as that dirty girl, and that was going to be the end of that. Oh, I also wouldn’t have insurance, or be able to afford medical care, and I could just forget about asking for a donation from the Love Fund, because that was only for the clean.

Likely, if you are of the mindset, you are thinking that either I should have kept my panties on, or if I wasn’t going to do that, I should just have been ready and willing, and delighted to have a baby (because no one should ever have sex unless they want a baby), or I should just have been ready to accept a baby as punishment for not keeping my panties on–because that’s what we are told to think.

We are so, so, so sorry that the woman in question is about to face what appears to be an insurmountable blockade to her future, but she should have thought of that beforehand. And two wrongs don’t make a right. You don’t get to kill a baby just because you screwed up. I know the rhetoric. Oh! And there are thousands of women who are aching to have babies, so you should consider yourself fortunate to have working parts, and should be willing to carry your baby to term and bless one of those women with the fruit of your labor–and in some way, that will redeem you from the sin of pre-marital sex. I really hate that one. It’s like telling your kids to clean their plates because there are children starving in China. It is very Handmaid’s Tale.

Every menstrual cycle was like a miraculous reprieve, but every fifth week, I wondered if I could have an abortion. To save my career, to save my finances, to save my reputation, to save my friendships, could I have an abortion? I never had to find out, but I know a few girls there who did. I was reminded of that when I read this:

“I was with the doctor I train with doing the initial steps of an intake — an ultrasound to date the pregnancy and a full history.The patient says to the doctor, “I should not be here today. I agree with the people out there.” Gestures out window to street. The people at the bus stop???? “The people who are protesting. I think what you are doing is wrong. I think you should be killed.” Oh. Whoaaaa!

So I told my patient what I truly believe, which is: “I’m so sorry that you feel that way because feeling that way has got to make this an even harder decision than it already is. I imagine it must really feel awful to think that you have to do something that goes against your own beliefs.” (Secret inspiration: my own feelings about the situation!) “I know there is no way you’re going to go home feeling you did the absolute right thing no matter what happens today. We are not going to do any procedure until you are absolutely certain that this is what you want. I do not want you to have an abortion. The only that I want you to do is the thing that is most right for you, whether it’s continuing this pregnancy and becoming a parent, or adoption, or abortion.” Then we brought her with her boyfriend to the counselor who talked with them for hours about the spectrum of resources available for not just abortion but adoption and parenting. At my clinic, we joke that we turn away more patients than the protestors do. And although she did end up terminating the pregnancy, the procedure went well, there were no complications, and she told the staff we had been the “most supportive!” I personally thanked her and told her it was an honor to be there for her and still get teary when I think about it.” –Dolores P.

I never had to make that choice, but I thank God (yeah, the same one–the same one who used to command Israel to kill all the women and children in a village, dashing babies to the ground from city walls and all that–that God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Same one.) that the choice was available to me.

Believe me, I understand the evangelical argument. I do. I think it is heartbreaking that not every pregnancy is wanted, because I know how fantastic it is when you’re happy about it. But I also know how agonizing it is when you think your entire livelihood and life are coming to an end because a condom broke. And since I got happily pregnant while I was taking birth control pills, I know a little bit about ineffective birth control. I speak on behalf of all Statistics when I tell you that my then-doctor told me that for some women, that particular pill just “primes their pump.” Maybe information he should have given me in advance? How many women have been in that situation? How many without a great husband, who was also happy to be a parent? How many without the great insurance we had? Or jobs?

I am so distressed by the proposed legislation against womens’ reproductive rights. I am distressed that lawmakers are listening to the testimonies of fetuses. I am distressed that a state nearly passed legislation that would protect those who would murder abortion providers. I am distressed that we are so lacking in compassion, as a nation, that we elect men and women to Congress who would force women into dangerous situations to serve their own agenda.

It would be so nice if I could tell you that I would never have an abortion. I like to believe that I would never have an abortion. I like to think that had I become pregnant after being date-raped when I was 20, I would have been able to face the resulting nine months and new human being, but I don’t know. I like to think that had I become pregnant while working at the ministry, I would have had the courage to quit my job, lose my insurance and medical care, lose my apartment and my car (because no job means no paying for things), and just trust God and the government to take care of the situation–wow, not only have I become liberal, I have become even more sarcastic than before. That last bit was awfully facetious. Let me try again.

I do believe that life begins at conception, and I like to think I would honor that. My heart aches that abortion is ever necessary (and don’t tell me it isn’t ever necessary, because there are always two lives in the balance, not just one.) But I have never been faced with that decision, or the myriad of factors that play into bringing a life into this world, so I can’t tell you what I would do. All I can tell you is that I am desperately thankful that I have a choice, and I am desperately hopeful that women in this nation always will.

17 thoughts on “Why I am Pro-Choice”

      1. Thank you! I am looking forward to reading your future entries.

        I also wanted to say that I am thoroughly impressed with how you handled the comment further down. You were poised and confident and completely respectful. It shows a true strength of character that I admire.

  1. Thanks, Lane, for this interesting look at the pro-choice issue.

    I have am pro-choice, but I know I could never have an abortion. I am thankful I have never had to contemplate the option.

    Like you I am sickened by the new anti-abortion bills which have been introduced in 2011.

    The North Dakota “justifiable homicide” bill makes me mad. How can you call yourself Christian and still be willing to kill? I don’t think God intended the 10 Commandments to have an astrict that allows for exceptions.

    The Georgia bill worries me even more. It would make miscarriages a felony unless you can prove there was no “human involvement.” All miscarriages would have to be reported to the authorities to be investigated and if the woman was found to have partaken in any activity that caused the miscarriage, she would be charged with murder. Yikes!

    This world is getting scarier every day for women and their health.

    1. I find these bills VERY troubling as well. There was one about rape I read recently that was tied in with the abortion legislation. It basically said that a woman would have to show that a woman “forcibly resisted” a rape for it to be considered a crime. Are you freakin’ kidding me?!?!?! I thought the very definition of rape was that it was RESISTED. No means no.

  2. So sad that the selfishness pours through you all the way to situations you have never actually been in. If you believe life begins at conception, then you are saying you know who needs to live or die in your last arguments. I guess it’s also very easy to say that you know how all people who are against abortion think…well, you haven’t a clue. It is a typical, “I’m a liberty, hear me roar” practice of basing entire arguments around what you say others think and believe, which, of course is baseless. This article is sad, and your suppositions around others thoughts makes you just as bad as those HORRIBLE folks who actually hold onto their beliefs.

    1. Mark, thank you for taking the time to respond. Please understand that I don’t believe I know how all people who are against abortion think. I know how some think. I know how I was told I should think. And I know what I told myself to think. The problem for me is that while I am anti-abortion, I have always been adamantly pro-choice.

      I am bemused by your first statement because it makes me think you missed a major point of mine, which was that I truly hope and would like to believe that I would have chosen life over abortion, but because I was never in a situation to find out, I won’t ever know. All I can know is that I am thankful I would have had the opportunity to choose, not to have my response and reactions legislated.

      By your name, I am going to assume that you are a man, and so you have probably never experienced the fear that comes with a pregnancy scare–they call it a scare for a reason, and even as a happily married woman, who would welcome a baby, it can still scare the pants off you to realize your world is about to be upended. Being pregnant in the best of conditions is fraught with fear, and worry, and actual chronic, physical, can’t-get-out-of-bed pain. I cannot imagine having suffered through my first trimester under the conditions some women manage. Those are amazing women. I digress.

      If you have never experienced a scare, it is very difficult to guess what might go through your mind, so it bemuses me that you are pointing out my selfishness over situations I’ve never been in. Pot talking to Kettle here, my friend. I just told you what fears went through my mind.

      The article IS sad. Abortion IS sad. I am fortunate to know several women who fought the odds, chose life and both had and raised wonderful children on their own. I am also fortunate to know several women who fought their own odds and chose to terminate–those women are no less deserving of my love and consideration than the others.

      As for playing God… I only know what is best for my own body, my own family, and my own mental and emotional health. I would not presume to tell anyone else what choices they should make, beyond the same counsel given by the actual provider in this story. It is those who would make the choices for women who are appear to think they know who should live, and who should die.

      It isn’t about abortion, to me, it is about choice.

      Best to you.

      1. I always wonder why people seem to automatically think that married couples would be just fine with an unexpected pregnancy. While some couples would be happy with another child, some would not be. We’ve been married over 21 years now and I can tell you that if I turned up pregnant tomorrow, there would be no joy in Muddville.

        It’s a question of what is best for the individuals involved, and the only people who can make that decision ARE the individuals involved. I’m not going to let some stranger help me decide how to control my blood pressure or my triglycerides or my gall bladder, nor would a stranger want to be involved in that. So why do some people think they should have a voice in my reproduction?

    2. Mark,

      Lane has been nice to you because she is a very nice person. She also admits very clearly she’s never been in the situation and has never had to make that decision.

      I have been in that situation and have had to make the decision. I’m not going to discuss it any further because frankly, it’s none of your business. Nor is it any of your business how any other person handles the decisions they must make in their personal lives, from employment to marriage to divorce to health care which includes reproduction unless they invite your opinion.

      To further expand, your–or anyone else’s, up to and including the government–involvement or opinion in my or anyone else’s health care including reproductive care, is unwarranted and unneeded.

      I understand your viewpoint. I hold a different viewpoint. Your viewpoint is perfectly valid for you, especially since it appears you will never have to make the decisions discussed here. You should consider yourself lucky on that point. It’s not fun.

      But there are plenty of women out there who have to make that decision based on a lot of different circumstances–mental, physical, economic. The situation for each one is going to be unique to each individual, and she will need to make that decision accordingly.

      You are far from qualified–no matter what you believe, no matter what books you read, no matter what party you vote–to make someone else’s choices in this or any other matter.

  3. Supposed to be liberal, not liberty. Funny, one other thing I see is the title. Apparently why you are pro choice has a lot to do with why you think others are pro life.

  4. Very well thought out, considered, and written. This is what I meant when I called you “insightful.”

    FWIW, I was also raised in an environment of “abortions are evil.”

    I had a scare once — just once, thankfully. And in those four days I came to realize that I, too, am pro choice. Not anti-life, mind you. I had made my peace with my actions and their consequences and decided I was going to keep what turned out to be a nonexistent baby. But I also decided that all the people who would tell me, for the better part of the following year, that I was ruining my life by having a child and I should have an abortion didn’t have any more right to tell me that than I had to tell someone else that she shouldn’t. It’s such a wrenching, individual decision.

    And I just have to say, this bears repeating: “even as a happily married woman, who would welcome a baby, it can still scare the pants off you to realize your world is about to be upended.”

    All I can say is, amen, sister.

  5. OK, I’m actually “pro-life” (which is sort of a silly term because it sounds like everyone else is “pro-death,” which is hardly the case). Right out of high school I worked with this “pro-life” group called “Rock For Life” and we handed out literature with aborted fetuses on the front. At the time, I thought this was “cool” and I was being awesome.

    I was so wrong.

    I went to an all-women’s liberal arts college, and wore an “Abortion Is Murder” shirt because I thought I was so right. For some reason, I just decided that this was a really dumb thing to do. I didn’t see how being offensive was getting any sort of loving message out there. I threw away my literature, trashed the shirt, and left the organization.

    A year later, I met “Dawn.” She broke down while we were in the student newspaper office and told me about how she had an abortion a couple years before. I comforted her and we became great friends (she is married w/ kids now BTW). I doubt she would have talked to me if I was still wearing that stupid shirt.

    Now here’s the really shocking part…I don’t want to overturn Roe V. Wade. Because women can choose to have an abortion, they can also choose NOT to have an abortion. But I have never met a woman who has had an abortion who didn’t need post-abortion counseling. If it all went “underground,” how could we help women who had abortions? There would be NO measures for after-care…and then we lose two beings.

    Plus, in cases of rape, life of mother, and all that other stuff (which constitutes 1% of all abortions, by the way), I think there should be a choice.

    And here’s a random aside…interestingly enough, the earliest “pro-lifers” were feminist women. Men were forcing women to get abortions against their wills…especially men who had affairs outside of marriage. So feminists wanted to stop abortion….isn’t that crazy? To this day, men are STILL trying to tell women what to do.

    Sorry I wrote so much. I should blog about this! I really hope you see the love I put into this…amazingly, people can disagree and still get along. (Maybe Mark will understand that one day, too.)

    1. “I have never met a woman who has had an abortion who didn’t need post-abortion counseling. If it all went “underground,” how could we help women who had abortions? There would be NO measures for after-care…and then we lose two beings.”

      This is such a kind thing to consider, and makes all the difference in the world.

      I do see the love you put into the response and I appreciate it.

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