Friday, January 22, 2010

Blogging for Choice: Trust Women

Today is the 37th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision allowing, for the first time, for safe and legal abortions all across the country. It allowed a woman to choose for herself whether to carry her pregnancy to term. The Court said, in essence, that it trusted women to control their own bodies.

I know there are millions of people who passionately believe that life begins at the moment of conception, that all abortion is murder and that abortion is immoral and goes against God's plan, and they are 100% anti-abortion in any circumstances. That's okay. Not to sound glib, but to them, I say, don't get an abortion. And it is my sincerest wish that none of those people are ever in a situation where they are faced with a decision to terminate a pregnancy for any reason.

But please trust me to know what's right for my life and my body. Please trust that I make judicious, thoughtful decisions. That I KNOW what an abortion is. That I've explored all the options. That I do not need to be condescended to by being forced into having an ultrasound prior to exercising control over my body or have a waiting period because I haven't agonized enough already.

What I know for sure is that there are many circumstances in life where being pregnant is an unduly burdensome physical health or mental health risk for the woman. What I know for sure is that not all babies are conceived out of love. Not all men are happy to discover they have helped create a child and they strike out against women either physically, verbally, or both. Rape happens. Incest happens. And even though we don't like to talk about these things and many women are afraid to ever admit they are survivors of either rape or incest or domestic violence, they happen all too often.

I've never had an abortion, but I know many women who have. These women are thoughtful women who did not make the decision to terminate a pregnancy in haste or without agonizing over it. They made their decision with the full awareness of what they were doing and why they were doing it. Their individual reasons are not important. What's important is that the decision they agonized over was ultimately right for them.

My personal belief is that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. That's right, rare. I am pro-choice, not because I think abortion is great, but because I trust women to make prudent and carefully considered decisions on what is right for their lives and because I don't pretend to know all that goes into any decision to terminate a pregnancy.

Because I trust women, I am pro-choice.


  1. What a thoughtful post on a topic filled with challenging ideology from both sides.

    Each side tends to line up and point accusatory fingers at the other on a topic that requires depth, nuance, and grace.

    I judge no one who has made the choice to have an abortion, a choice that I likely would have made at another time in my life. However, somehow in the past 2 years, deep in the heart of leftist liberal blogging, of which I have been a proud member, I was reshaped to understand this differently.

    Go figure.

    We can, and I hopefully believe that we will, be able to agree to disagree. Me saying this does not imply that I think that the change of one law will change anything other than to put women's lives at risk instead of children. I pity my compatriots who see this so simplistically.

    Thank you for your words.

  2. Awesome. Thank you for this.

    I'll say it. Here. On a public forum. I had an abortion. I was going into my second year of grad school and had I kept the baby I wouldn't have been able to finish. That was MY selfish choice and I stand by it.

    I had always said in the past that I was pro-choice but I'd never get one - until I did. It was a horrific experience, full of a great deal of emotional and physical pain and LOADS of crying. On the day of, I was a complete imbicile, unable to wake up from the drugs, who had to be carried out of the clinic. Apparently, most women wake up gradually from the drugs and come to with some semblence of decorum, but not me. So they asked my escort to come in the back and take me home. I do, however, remember being slapped (gently) to wake me up and the shamefully embarrassing walk through the waiting room where before we watched Pepper Anne on the morning cartoon show while we waited for my turn. The ladies waiting their turn must have been terrified watching me leave. I had wished I could have walked out, head held high, and inspire in them the confidence that this, indeed, was the right choice. I doubt that's what they thought after seeing me.

    Looking back, I wouldn't wish any of my experience upon anyone. But yet, now that I'm struggling to get pregnant today, I still stand by my choice. I wouldn't have made it to where I am now and I would never have met my incredible husband had I had that child.

    Selfish maybe. But I was only looking after me at the time, so...

  3. Janelle,

    Your comment brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I want you to know that even though we don't know each other, I have the utmost respect for your courage to make the choice that was right for you at the time and still remains right for you today and for the courage it took to share you most private story in such a public forum and attach your real name to it.

    You are a beautiful woman with an equally beautiful spirit.

    I don't think for one second that your decision was selfish and I hope that one day you won't use that word to describe your choice. I trust that you did what was right for you.

    Good luck in getting pregnant now. I'll keep you sending good thoughts your way. Please come back and let us know!

    I hope you'll be back to LMS in the future. I love thoughtful readers!


  4. You are right when you state that "abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. That's right, rare." I believe it should not be a form of birth control but used as a last resort.
    The belief by anti-abortions that eliminating legal abortion will end it is a farce. When it was illegal, abortions were still being performed. Abortions will never be eliminated, but they should absolutely be kept safe and legal. When they take away this right, what is next the freedom to any types of birth control? Will we become like the women in Afghanistan and have practically no say in our lives? If our freedoms as women are gradually taken away, that is what would happen. I hope that never does. Women are discriminated as it is, we do not need to have more against us.
    Your article was very well written and though provocating. Keep up the great work.

  5. LMS, thanks for your comment on my post today. I have been following this thread of comments too, which is very articulate.

    We all must make our choices, and I know what choice I would have made at another time in my life. Judging others is wasted time and energy, when there are better ways to use understanding to forge bridges.

    There are so many erroneous thoughts on this topic - and one from the pro-life people who think that changing a law is the answer. Not exactly, as says.

    As for me, I am not talking about law; my position is arrived at in my heart and no one could have forced it upon me. It came very slowly and through much deep and uncomfortable personal work.

    The fact that we can continue to discuss this is what is hopeful to me.

    Thank you.


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