Monday, June 1, 2009

I have never had an abortion

I just want to be upfront about it. Never having been through that does not make me better or smarter or more catious than those women who have been through it. It doesn't make me more righteous in the eyes of some deity who may or may not give a fuck about the contents of my uterus. I have never had an abortion, not even a pregnancy scare. I've been lucky. I got a good education, and I had a mom who was open about the whole birth control thing.
However, I have made the choice. If I ever did become pregnant I would have an abortion. There are a number of factors, and I assure you that it's not a decision I made lightly, but it is my choice to make and no one else's. Similarly, I do not have the right to make that decision for any other woman.
Why, exactly, did I just tell you that? Why would I post something so private on the internet like that? Especially this topic?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, we can't stay silent on this topic. The women I know who have had abortions didn't come to those conclusions lightly, and they shouldn't be shamed for undergoing a legal proceedure that made it possible for them to be the women they are now. They are, and were, in the words of Dr. George Tiller, "emotionally, mentally, morally, spiritually and physically competent to struggle with complex health issues", and shouldn't be treated as though they are or were anything other than that.
I went to the vigil for Dr. Tiller in Seattle tonight. The sun shown on all of us there: women and men, of all ages, creeds, and colors. Some children were enjoying the opportunity to walk barefoot in the wading pool at Cal Anderson Park. All of these people are pro-choice, anti-violence, and believe that women have the right to make up their own minds about what goes on in their bodies and it's not a question of whether abortion is moral or not, it's a question of who we value more, who contributes more: the woman with the uterus, or the zygot/fetus that inhabits it. Do we value women who are not only able to create and sustain human life, but also contribute to society as entrepreneurs, comedians, scientists, educators, and yeah, moms? Or do we value a glob of cells that can do nothing and be nothing without the woman inside whose uterus that glob of cells becomes human?
As a society, we need to decide which is more important. For me, women are more important. And I'm pretty sure you feel the same way, whatever your moral givings or misgivings are in regards to abortion. Most people in this country think that abortion should be legal at least some of the time. Those who don't are often times liars and full of shit, because they'll also back the forced sterilization of women of color, or forced abortions for the women who are essentially slaves in the Marianas Islands (*coughcoughTomDelaycough*). Those who don't believe that women are more important than globs of cells will kill doctors. That's not pro-life.
Most people frame this as two-sided issue, but as it is with many complex issues (such as healthcare), there are far more than two sides. The main groups in this are pro-choice individuals (callously called "pro-abortion" by some), pro-life individuals, and the anti-choice wing-nuts with whom pro-lifers are often confused. Being pro-life does not mean that you are a wing-nut who will kill a doctor for your ideology; it doesn't mean that you picket doctor's offices and health centers and try to intimidate women into not having their abortions.
Being pro-life, actually, is pretty similar to being pro-choice. Most pro-life people that I know seek to protect the life of the mother and the future-child. They believe in preventing unwanted pregnancies just like pro-choicers do, but think that adoption is a better solution. The pro-life people that I know do, however, think that there are some circumstances where abortion is at least an understandable action to take (although, they may not like the idea).
The thing here is that people who are pro-life have a lot more in common with people who are pro-choice than those who are anti-choice. Pro-choice people value life. Anti-choice people don't. The assassination of Dr. Tiller should be evidence enough of that. In fact, you can be pro-life and pro-choice. It's really easy, you just say "I believe that whatever a woman does with her uterus and its contents are her business", and if you want to add "I personally would not have an abortion", that's completely up to you, but it's time that we came to a real consensus in this country and decided that, in reality, a woman contributes a whole lot more to society when her right to bodily autonomy are recognized and encouraged.
As I've said before, if you don't like abortion, don't have one. I'm pretty sure most people reading this are enlightened enough to realize, however, that their experience isn't universal and that whatever they feel is the morality or immorality of abortion, the truly moral thing to do is to respect women's rights and not let anyone else choose for them either abortion or carrying a pregnancy to term.
Now say it with me, I know you can do it: whatever a woman does with the contents of her uterus is her business.
If you're pro-life too, add that last bit.
And, oh yeah, sometimes women who have abortions would rather have kept their pregnancies, but those pregnancies went awry. So don't judge a woman who has had an abortion.

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