Wavering Between Choice and Life

Trigger Warning: Abortion, rape, incest

Comment Warning: My comment policy will be vigorously enforced. Any comment (on FB or otherwise) that smells even remotely of shaming, name-calling, abuse, general asshattery, (on either side of the discussion) will be swiftly and unapologetically deleted without regret. I am also completely uninterested in any type of propaganda for or against abortion. The comments that seem to be a giant cut and paste of the same, tired rhetoric on either side will be promptly removed.

I don’t care about your right to free speech if it means you taking a big, fat shit on my blog or FB (let alone insulting my friends and readers who run the gamut in terms of what they believe or do). This is your only warning. Be a grown up and act like one. Otherwise, I will be forced to treat you like a child and put you in time out. (I’m really, really good at that.)

Until I had children, I was mostly pro-choice. I say mostly because I didn’t think abortion was right, per se, but I didn’t think it was my business to tell a person she could or couldn’t have one. I considered it a lot like divorce – not ideal, but sometimes necessary. And better to err on the side of caution for a current life (in terms of safety and access to abortions) than to side predominantly with a possible life. This was a complicated knot that I tied up for myself since I also believed that life begins at conception. But it’s hard to think of a bunch of cells as a life so it was easier to think that abortion was just that – removing a mass of cells.

Then, I got pregnant and gave birth to a human.

Keep in mind, I was a science major. It’s not like I was unfamiliar with what occurred when a baby was forming. But every week, the book would tell me what size fruit my baby was, what was being knit together out of this mass of cells, that the baby was now capable of smiling, or burping, or kicking. I mean, holy fuck! I don’t care that they call it a fetus – it was a BABY. Growing INSIDE of me.

And then, when Cookie Monster was born and became the most perfect human I have ever loved or seen (until I laid eyes on my other two children), some invisible line was crossed and a switch was flipped inside of me. (Not that I realized it at the time.) I could no longer think that abortion was just removing a bunch of cells – like a tumor. Conception resulted in a perfect tiny PERSON.

Of course, when I actually thought about it, (I blame reading articles on abortion-related topics such as the Komen PR disaster, not funding Planned Parenthood, many legislative changes in the law, etc.) I became more and more aware of my changing opinion. Plus, I also knew more and more women who really WANTED to get pregnant but just couldn’t conceive, or couldn’t stay pregnant. That knowledge, coupled with my own bias towards the greatness of my own children, only deepened my conflict.

After all, just because someone CAN’T get/stay pregnant doesn’t mean someone ELSE has to stay pregnant. Just because I had highly desired pregnancies with zero health-related issues for both myself and my progeny which resulted in two awesome little boys and an awesome little girl, doesn’t mean that every one else is in that situation. I am in a very privileged position to have a baby; I am married, financially stable, living in a great area, have easy access to birth control and health services, and have the emotional and financial means to have and raise a child with a high probability of success. In fact, I can do so multiple times without great effect on my lifestyle or spending habits.

It is very easy for me to say that abortion is a horrible thing when I have never been poor, alone, on drugs, abandoned, raped, etc. It is all fine and well for me to tell a person, “Hey, you do know what makes babies, right? SEX. So if you have sex, you should be prepared to bring a life into the world. If you find yourself pregnant after having sex, you really shouldn’t be surprised. Deal with the consequences of your actions!”

But not everyone is in my position. And yes, just because a person isn’t in my privileged position, doesn’t mean that abortion is automatically acceptable and right, but it certainly makes it a decision that is fraught with more peril, with harder hitting consequences than it would if it were me.

I know several women who have had abortions. Once, when I was in my twenties and thought I perhaps might be pregnant, (although truly, I would have had a better chance of winning the lottery since I was on birth control and I didn’t actually have sex with the person – the mind can truly be boggling and lacking sense sometimes) I seriously considered abortion as well. I doubt that most of the women who do end up getting abortions do so nonchalantly. I am sure, to this day, it is a decision that has greatly affected them and the trajectory of their lives.

Here then, is the heart of my conflict. I really don’t like either side’s rhetoric or reasoning. Let’s start with the Pro-Lifers. (Sweeping generalizations are about to follow. I mean, SWEEPING. You have been duly warned.) Also, I totally know that I am oversimplifying the arguments. Please do not give me “lessons” in the comments.

If I had to generalize and stereotype a Pro-Life person, they would most likely be white, male, Christian/evangelical, Republican (because of course, all Christians are Republican – but that is another topic altogether), and believe in the “sanctity of life.” And because they are more likely to be Republican, they will likely also be against welfare, government assistance to the poor (eg: food stamps, free lunches, early intervention programs), pro-prisons, harsh sentences, pro-guns, and pro-death sentence. Also, they are likely to support abortion ONLY if the mother’s life is in danger, or in cases of rape or incest/abuse as a compromise and because geez, if they don’t support it in these cases, that’s just SQUICKY and cruel.

But here’s the thing. How dare a person tell another person that she should have a baby when they cut off any support that may be necessary in the first place for a woman to successfully raise a child? How dare a person say they believe in the sanctity of life when it only applies to an unborn child – but not the life and quality of life this child will have when they are born? (And how dare they assume that if it’s such a problem for the mother to raise the child, the best alternative is adoption?) How dare a person say they believe in the sanctity of life when they are for capital punishment? Or allow an abortion if the father of the unborn child is a rapist or abuser? How are these lives any less precious or alive?

Now, if I had to generalize and stereotype a Pro-Choice person, they would also most likely be white, female, Democrat, liberal, and support government assistance, etc. You know, the opposite of what I just sweepingly generalized about Pro-Lifers. They will likely say that it is a woman’s body and therefore her choice. That life doesn’t necessarily begin at conception and that late-term abortions may or may not be acceptable (depending on how palatable they want to make abortion).

But I have beef with that also. If life doesn’t begin at conception, when does it begin? At what week would be randomly deemed appropriate? Because if we want to be intellectually honest, if it doesn’t begin at conception, why do we bother saving babies that are born early? Like, really, really, really premature? Is the fetus only a baby and worth saving if it is WANTED by the mother? Otherwise, then it’s not alive? What if only the father wants the baby? Is it still a baby? Half a baby? But fathers don’t matter because it’s not their body – even though half their DNA is at stake.

I know. I’m being an ass and perhaps, purposely obtuse to both sides. But both sides really aggravate me. There are human lives (both grown and growing) at stake. Who do we value more? Who do we disenfranchise? What does that say about us as a people and culture? And what does it say about us when most conversations around this topic devolve into name-calling and meaningless propaganda?

I don’t have any answers. (I mean, really. If I did, don’t you think I would’ve made a bjillion dollars off of it by now?) Because this is a human, fallen situation, there really are no happy endings that tie up all the loose ends. We are only left with imperfect solutions and broken people on both sides – who all need compassion, understanding, and love.

Gah, I have now ventured into cliché and a Hallmark greeting card. I apologize.

I still have no idea what I think is right. I am just supremely grateful (and cowardly in this sense) that I don’t have to be in the position to make real life applications on this subject.

Make of that what you will.

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One thought on “Wavering Between Choice and Life

  1. Pingback: Where I Stand | The Cranky Giraffe

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