I hesitate to post this. I really do. I am not an activist by any stretch of the imagination and do not want to use this space for politics. Unfortunately for me, I feel the need to share my heart and, oh boy, what a doozy of a topic to choose. But for me it’s not political. At all.
Maybe I feel the way I do because I look at it from the other side of the equation. Maybe because it took so very long for me to get pregnant. Maybe because when I saw my first-trimester baby that I was about to miscarry, there was no mistaking it was a human form we saw on the monitor. Maybe it’s because when I finally got pregnant with the baby who is now my oldest, I saw her heartbeat at a mere four weeks after conception and my eyes were opened to the wonder of her at that moment. Maybe it’s because I know so many women who have had at least one abortion.
Perhaps I hear through the ears of one who has sat with a few more than one friend when she finally decided to tell someone her secret. Maybe it’s the realization that not one ever referred to it as a blob of tissue she got rid of or how much better her life is without it. Every one of these precious women talked about her baby she aborted. Her child. Every single one. As she cried real tears of pain from her unhealed heart. Tears, at that time, she was certain she’d never stop crying, even if the abortion had taken place many, many years ago.
Probably because of these things, I’ve had a really difficult time understanding what looks to me like a celebration of abortion, and not the gut-wrenching decision that it is. Cheering and smiling for abortion just doesn’t sit right within me.
Then one day, after reading an editorial defending abortion rights, I finally understood. It suddenly dawned on me that all the woman was writing about was women having power. It seems that so many have bought into the notion that we have so little power as women that the only way to assure that we have some measure of it is to have the right to abortion. Somehow abortion equals empowerment — that is the crux of the rhetoric I hear.
I suppose that whole choice thing must seem empowering on some theoretical level. Choice is an empowering word. But somehow abortion doesn’t really work that way on a real-life level. How is it a choice if the significant other or parent is forcing the decision? I’m sure there are women out there who have made the choice to abort without batting an eye, but I’ve never met anyone like that. Of all the women that have shared with me their abortion experience, not one felt they had a choice—not really. Most felt, at the very least, compelled, if not outright forced, by someone else. How is that her choice? How does that empower her? It sounds like it actually puts many women in a weakened position.
It would probably help me understand the other side more if many on the pro-choice side didn’t seem so happy about having the choice of abortion. If they didn’t hold it up as the holy grail for women. If they didn’t hold it up as the symbol of empowerment for us.
Abortion is a very serious decision with decades worth of repercussions for many women. Shouldn’t it be treated that way? Rather than act as if it’s simply another choice for women to pick from out of the pile of options? Shouldn’t the thought that many, many young women are forced into making this decision to please others rather than listening to and then following through on her own reasoning and desires make us pause to think about how that affects her as a woman? How that makes her feel about herself?
If it somehow makes me anti-woman to be against abortion, then so be it. I can live with that. I’ve just seen far too much pain associated with that particular choice to feel otherwise. You can cry against back-alley abortions all you want, but it does women in this day and age no good to not be able to honestly discuss and share the real, long-lasting effects of legal abortions; to not treat it as a very serious decision, medically and psychologically; to not make sure whether or not she is being forced into the decision with no choice, weakening her as a person.
As women, we have lots of choices. I just wish we felt empowered enough to make them long before the decision to abort or not comes into play.