Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Voice from the Gallery

I always insisted that I was pro-choice just as I always believed that I was. That is, until 9 months or so before May 7, 1996. That was the day my first grandson was born.

When my daughter came to me, telling me that she was pregnant, I immediately said, “Well, you need an abortion.” She said, “no, I don’t want to have an abortion.” I gently reminded her that she was only 18, in her first year of college and oh so many other things. I told her that an abortion would be the best thing. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mom, I thought you were pro-choice. This is my choice.”

And I realized the impact of being pro-choice. Regardless of my opinion, what it might cost me in vacating dreams for my daughter or in dollars and cents, it was not my decision.

To say I was pro-choice meant that I had to act in that same manner.

My feelings of “my body, my choice” dates back to 1972. I was 19, living with a roommate, in my second year of college and I felt a certain amount of independence although my monthly income still came from my parents. I was dating and of course, it being 1972 (does it matter the decade??? Or century for that matter?), I believed that if it felt right, all was well.

And so it was…until I found out I was pregnant. All of a sudden, I was not free, I was trapped. And scared. And oh my god, terrified of telling my parents. In fact, it got down to the point where I decided that no, I would not, could not tell them at all. I was afraid they would be so disappointed in me.

And I never have to this day told them. And I probably would not be writing this now if my mom was still alive…not because she would have disagreed with my decision but because I had never told her in all of these years. That would have hurt her. Little did I know at the time that she might have agreed with my decision to abort the pregnancy.

I told the guy I was dating. His immediate reaction was that I had to have an abortion. Never did it occur to me that he was totally violating the idea of “my body, my choice”. Even though I agreed with him, still, I was scared to death and some worried that I was making the wrong decision.

The Supreme Court made its decision about Roe v Wade on January 22, 1973….about 4 months after my decision had to be made. It was determined that I would fly to Los Angeles and have the procedure there. I barely remember it all. I remember that he made arrangements and paid for it all. I remember the fear, the plane ride, the fact that LAX was much smaller in reality than in my imagination and the lights overhead as the gurney I was lying on was wheeled into the operating room. I do not remember flying home or how I got to or from either airport. I just knew that I was home and in my own bed and in a good deal of discomfort, emotionally and physically.

Have I been sorry that I did this? That is a really packed question. I am not sure I can unpack it still to this day. I was not sorry that my life was not changed dramatically by a newborn baby. I know that I would not have had the courage at the time to raise it on my own. It would have made me utterly dependent upon someone else. In the dark spaces of the night, I lamented the little one it might have been. In my more adult years, especially after the birth of my daughter, I often wondered at the lost chance of a big brother for her. But of course, I always wondered that if I had “him” would I have had her. She is the balm that soothes my concern. In these days, I think of the man he might have been.
For whatever reason, “it” was always a boy in my heart and mind.

Would I do it again? I can’t answer that either. I don’t know. My views on abortion have changed as have I over the years. I do not like the idea of aborting that which may be, will be or actually is. I think sex education will do far more to control the unplanned births than abortion. I definitely believe in the sanctity of life but that goes to my beliefs that the death penalty is wrong also.

Regardless of the decision I make about my body, I would never tell another woman or girl that they should – or should not – have an abortion. I certainly feel adamant that no man…NO man…has a right to tell a woman what they should – or should not – do.

Our Christian sexual ethics are screwed up. That is the truth. Abortion won’t fix it. But neither will a bunch of men (and the few women) telling women what they can or cannot do with their own bodies. It is just not that easy.

My situation was my own doing. I should have known better than to get pregnant. But there are a whole lot of women and girls out there who have no choice. It is not their fault. They did not agree. My fear came afterwards…it was of the unknown. Their fear is of the known and/or the uncontrollable.

That makes one hell of a lot of difference.

So, I stand beside Senator Wendy Davis. She spoke, and I know will continue to speak, for all those who have no voice…for all those whose fears are real and now.

I say thank you to Sen. Davis and give thanks for her courage. 

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