Friday, January 24, 2014

I am NOT pro-abortion. No one is.

I happened to have the afternoon off on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision this year. Hooray, you say, afternoon off (and so did I)! Then I made the mistake of going to the gym and parking myself on the treadmill stationed in front of the TV that is perennially tuned to Fox News. Oh no, you say (and so did I)! Maybe subconsciously I wanted to watch something that would enrage me and make me anger-run faster; I don't know.

In any case, over the course of my workout I was treated to an endless parade of pundits discussing the evils of the 'pro-abortion' movement, and it was all I could do not to snatch the earbuds out of my iPhone and lob it through the TV (instead I increased the speed on the treadmill a tick each time something new and enraging was said; I nearly set a personal record on one of the mile repeats). Because here's the thing: I am as staunchly feminist as anyone I know, and I move in a sphere of other powerful, kick-ass women fiercely committed to reproductive rights--and I am NOT pro-abortion, and don't know anyone else who is. I would venture to say, in fact, that NO ONE  IS--at least no one who is sane, and passionate about women's autonomy and well-being. What I am, as the bumper sticker on my Prius proudly proclaims, is "Pro-Faith, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice."

In a perfect world--the world I would wish for--abortions would happen rarely, if at all. Everyone who didn't want to get pregnant would use contraception 100% of the time, and it would be 100% effective (right now even the most effective methods, like IUDs, have a ~1% failure rate). Rape would never happen, nor would incest. All pregnancies would be healthy, with no life-altering fetal anomalies; no woman would ever suffer complications that made continuing the pregnancy damaging or life-threatening. However, in case it's escaped your notice, we don't live in a perfect world (I personally was alerted to this by the fact that I was not kissed awake by Mariska Hargitay this morning). Fifty percent(!) of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. One in four US women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Condoms break, pills fail, women develop life-threatening complications of pregnancy, some fetuses develop without brains or with life-limiting genetic illnesses that would make even their short time on earth a maelstrom of pain. At that point, in that place, there must be a choice; and for one in three US women, at some point in their lives, that choice will be to terminate the pregnancy. Do you know three women? Six? Nine? Unless you have lived the entirety of your life in a monastery (and maybe even then), you know someone who has had an abortion.

Life happens. I wish abortions were never necessary, but sometimes they are. I wish all women had access to the financial, medical and social resources that would make preventing an unplanned pregnancy possible, or carrying to term an emotionally, socially, and spiritually viable option, but it's not reality. Not right now. And until and unless you are the one staring in dismay at the positive pregnancy test while trying to imagine how you'll feed another person, you don't get to make that decision. Until you're the one doing the mental math and realizing that yes, it's been six weeks and the emergency contraception failed and your rapist made you pregnant, you don't get to make that decision. It's not your body. It's not your life. And the best thing you can do, as a person whose choice it ISN'T, is to compassionately and humanely support the person whose choice it IS.



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