Why am I pro-choice? I thought you’d never ask.
Today is NARAL Pro-Choice America‘s 8th Annual Blog for Choice Day! And since they asked so nicely I thought I’d throw in my two cents on this year’s topic: Why are you pro-choice?
I am an abortion counselor. I talk to women who have made (and some who are in the process of making) one of the hardest decisions they will ever face. My job is to make sure they understand the procedure and what to expect, that all the consent forms are signed and in compliance with (ridiculous) Texas laws, that all of the patients’ questions are answered, but most importantly, it’s my job to ensure that each patient I talk to is confident that she is making the right choice for herself.
For some women the decision is easy, or they feel like it’s the only option they have. Indeed many, many women couldn’t pay for their abortion if not for some kind of private charity. They have two (or three or six) kids at home and know that there is no way they can afford another child and feel that they would be taking away (both financially and emotionally) from their “living” or “existing” children, as they often say. In reality, according to Guttmacher Institute statistics, at least 60% of women seeking abortion already have one or more children at home. They are already mothers and know how much hard work, sacrifice and dedication it takes to do the toughest and most important job in the world.
In all fairness to my patients I’d say around 75% were using contraception when they got pregnant.
For some women the decision is excruciating and causes them a terrible amount of stress and heartache because they genuinely want a child but feel that they could not give it the life it deserves right now. These women’s feelings of guilt, selfishness and grief are exacerbated by “sidewalk counselors,” protesters who shout horrible, demeaning things at perfect strangers and who think their religious beliefs should dictate the morals of the lives of women they have never met. Ricky Perry and the legislators who decided Texas women need 24 hours to think over the mandatory vaginal ultrasound they are required to have before being legally eligible for an abortion take shaming women to a whole new level. What these zealots don’t understand is that abortion is very often a decision made out of love.
What most women feel after an abortion is relief. I’ve been thanked on countless occasions for helping provide this lifesaving service by women, both heartbroken and happy, who are grateful they still have a choice.
Sometimes abortion is a life changing decision, it allows a teen to graduate high school and go to the Olympics for pole vaulting, or it wakes a married woman up to the fact that she does not want to stay in her abusive relationship any longer. And sometimes abortion is mundane. For women who come in for their third or seventh, their familiarity with the process causes them more guilt than the choice itself. They have been able to shake off the stigma that women coming in for their first (and usually only) abortion may never overcome. The reality though is that no one wants to have an abortion: what every woman who comes to me wants is to not have gotten pregnant in the first place.
No one knows you, dear reader, and your life better than you do. So why, especially with something as intimate and private as procreation, would anyone else think they know what’s best for me?
That is the reason I am pro-choice.
I am pro-choice for all of the patients I have ever encountered, from the woman whose husband was battling cancer to the teenager I sent away twice because she didn’t want an abortion even though her parents thought it was best for her. I am pro-choice for the patient who needs an abortion but because of her medical condition has to have it done in a hospital and thus literally needs an act of Congress to have it done because the hospitals in her town are religious. I am pro-choice for Savita Halappanavar, and because I never again want to mourn a woman’s life lost because she did not have access to a safe abortion.
I am pro-choice because it’s my body and I have the human right to choose if, when, and how to procreate or not. Why are you pro-choice?
- I support a woman’s right to an abortion. (feministconscience.wordpress.com)
- Roe v Wade at 40: what American women owe to abortion rights | Jill Filipovic (guardian.co.uk)
- Blog for Choice 2013 (columbusfamilycounseling.com)
- On 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, New Poll Shows that Majority of Americans Want Abortion to Be Legal, but States Attempt to Nullify (polistew.com)
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