Today is National Blog for Choice Day, so that’s exactly what I’m doing. There are plenty of reasons why I’m pro-choice that I could blog about. I could talk about how it’s my body, my choice, abortion is a private matter between a woman and her doctor, just like any other medical procedure. I could talk about how a fetus isn’t a fully formed human being, although then we’d get into semantics and murky scientific waters, and to some extent pure personal opinion. I could tell horror stories of what happened to women when abortions were illegal, what happens still today when women don’t have access to them. I could debate that no rape victim should be forced to carry her rapist’s child to term, let alone raise it. I could talk about the hypocrisy of the “pro-life” movement, how most of them only care about the woman and her unborn child up until she gives birth, how most of those people don’t support government programs like Obamacare that directly benefit many women who have children they did not or could not plan for. I could talk about how we can’t condemn birth control and restrict access to it if we really want to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the world.
I could talk about all of that, and to me, any one of those points is a valid reason in and of itself to support a woman’s right to choose and to have full access to abortions. However, I feel like all of those points have been talked about plenty before, and by much better writers and researchers than myself. Instead, I’d like to share some personal experiences that might help shed some light on what it really means to be pro-choice, which will hopefully address the mentality of the anti-abortion crowd concerning how they view women and their reasons for getting abortions.
One thing I hear a lot from the anti-abortion crowd is how irresponsible we liberal women are, and that we all just want to kill our children. The first thing I will say is that this post will be based off the assumption that having pre-marital sex is not inherently irresponsible or wrong. Plus, while plenty of married women have abortions for a variety of reasons (such as lack of financial resources, abusive husbands, medical complications, etc), that is also not my focus for today.
The idea that women today have such loose morals and don’t care about having children is one of the most baffling and offensive pieces of rhetoric that comes from the anti-abortion side. Many pro-choicers will say that it doesn’t matter what they think about us, the point is that abortion should be legal, hands down. Yes, this is true, but I think we do both sides a favor when we actually try to discuss each others’ misconceptions. One of which is to understand who gets abortions, and also, who doesn’t.
I grew up in a very white, upper-middle class suburb in NJ. It was the type of town where many things got swept under the rug because people could throw money at problems to make them go away. But even still, I know quite a few young women who had babies that were not planned, and chose to keep and raise them. Most of these women were not overtly religious and anti-abortion. They were not un-informed about where or how to have an abortion, nor were they unable to afford the procedure (obviously, since raising a child is much, much more). They got pregnant unintentionally and made the very conscious, rational choices to carry their pregnancies to term and give birth to their babies. In fact, one girl I know particularly well has gotten a lot of negative reaction from her peers, as if she threw her 20’s away. She loves her child and couldn’t be happier, and doesn’t understand why her choice is being criticized. No choice should be.
I graduated college almost 4 years ago and am still at my first “real” job, doing IT work in corporate America in the NYC area. One of the first things I noticed when I started, and whenever I meet new people at work, is that I’m always asked if I have children. At first I thought it was because I was one of the youngest people at the company (of about the 400 in my office), but I realized that there are lots of college interns, as well as a fair number of young adults under 30. I would explain that no, I don’t have any kids, I’m only 23 (now 26). I would still get looks of confusion. I would then explain that I just graduated college, and then I’d get some more nods of understanding.
Last year, I was gifted a framed picture of my boyfriend of 3 years. This picture however, is of him as a 6-year-old. It’s an adorable picture, so I thought it would be cute to put at my desk. Understandably, many people have asked if it’s my son. I’ll joke and say, “Well he is a child sometimes…” but then explain. However, my coworkers all know I have a serious boyfriend, not a fiance or a husband. Their questions about the picture don’t have a judgmental tone, but more of a simple inquiry, or even adoration for such a cute child. Many think that people in the Northeast, and NYC especially, have such loose morals and tons of abortions, yet in my office it’s quite normal and acceptable for women to have out-of-wedlock children. Surprisingly, I think I’m one of only a handful of women in the office who don’t have kids.
I feel that these examples from my life highlight that not only are women choosing to keep their children conceived unintentionally, but that even in a “sin-ridden” place like NYC, liberal, feminist women’s choices are favoring that of carrying their babies to term. Even in the face of the scrutiny that can often come with having a child so young and out of wedlock, women are choosing not to have abortions. Yes I’m sure there are people from my hometown and my work who’ve had abortions. It’s not something that usually ever comes up in conversation, and it’s easier to keep secret than a child. But to say that we don’t care about life, or that we don’t care about children, is beyond absurd. The point of being pro-choice is just that, to have the choice. These women didn’t want to choose abortion, and they would have been heart broken had someone forced them to. The same goes for women who don’t have the choice to abort if their situation deems it necessary, or want to but don’t have the ability. All we want is the power to choose for ourselves, and the resources to act upon those choices, whatever they may be. Trust that women can make their own choices about life.