I rarely think of that week, now. For years afterwards I tried not to think of it at all– the guilt and shame I carried were debilitating when I let myself dwell on it. I had been so close to crossing an absolute line– the line, the only line that really mattered to most of the people I knew. Before, there was always the comfort of comparison– at least I wouldn’t do that, I could tell myself.
I would do that, and I had made my decision in a little less than twenty-four hours, not even knowing if I was pregnant. Sometimes I ask myself if I would really have gone through with it– maybe, if I’d known . . . if it hadn’t been some unsettling fear of the unknown driving me to desperation . . .
One thing has been clear since then: my “beliefs” about pro-life weren’t as cut and dried as they were. They couldn’t be.
When I was in highschool, I once argued in favor of mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds for women considering abortions. I defended a position I now see as a disgusting, hideous form of legal rape. When I think back to that blind teenager who had no idea what she would someday be facing, I shudder– and I feel pity for her– and I feel envious of her. To her, the world was so simple, so clear, so black and white.
Learning that it is a messy, complicated place has been a difficult process, but I’m glad for it.
I don’t even have a name for where I stand in the pro-life/pro-choice debacle.
But, for political clarity, I’m pro-choice.
I’m pro-choice because I believe that the goals of the pro-choice platform align better with what I could describe as pro-life-ish beliefs. I believe that lowering the abortion rate is the right thing to do– for the health of women, because medical and surgical abortions carry risks, like any other medical procedure. The American abortion rate is double that of any other first-world nation, and I find that troubling.
I believe that making birth control methods freely available to the women who need them–the women who are statistically more likely to have an abortion and are also the women who, statistically, don’t have as much access to birth control–should be a priority. I also believe that the rhetoric surrounding birth control in many pro-life circles is … well, asinine, idiotic, misinformed, deceptive, and ridiculous–to be blunt. The Pill isn’t a “Baby Killer,” as I’ve heard it called– it actually lowers the rate of zygote passage, which a woman’s body does naturally, by the way.
I believe that teenagers should have access to real sex education– a sex education that is focused on delivering all of the facts while focusing on giving young men and women a informed idea of sexual health, and a healthy environment to discuss a holistic approach sexuality– including that, girls, you have a right to say no, ALWAYS, and you also have the right to experience pleasure. And boys, grabbing a girl’s vagina through her pants isn’t funny– it’s a violation.
And I believe that it would be horrific to reverse Roe vs. Wade, or to outlaw abortion federally, simply because that just makes abortions more dangerous, more fatal, to the women seeking them.
I also believe that it is a very, very bad idea to require a woman to have “permission” from the father. A young man I was speaking to, recently, brought up this point. He felt that it “takes two to make one,” and as the father of the baby he should have a “right” to decide whether or not the fetus is terminated. He feels that the current laws paint men as “assholes” that “don’t care” about the possible outcomes of having sex, that men are irresponsible jerks. I understand his feelings, and I get how he can feel that way . . . but that idea, which I’ve heard discussed plenty of times, misses the point.
The laws aren’t there to make men seem irresponsible– they are there to protect women. To protect young girls, like me, who face possible beatings, or possibly death, at the hands of their abuser. They protect women from having to go through the ordeal of proving their abuser a rapist in order to have the right to make decisions concerning her own body– which may or may not even happen.
The “rape exception,” that a lot of pro-life people talk about, is clouded by a lot of misinformation in pro-life circles. There’s an impression that rape is rare, when it is not rare at all, and that pregnancy from rape is also rare, which it is not. This murkiness is in part due to what Mr. Akin called “legitimate rape”– a rape that is so horrific, so violent, so clearly and obviously rape that it can’t be questioned. When, in fact, most rape is not that way. Most rape may not even “look” like rape at all to a fundamentalist– it will look like a sexual encounter where the woman is clearly responsible for leading that poor man on.
I’m confused why so many in the pro-life campaign refuse to consider any realistic method the could actually lower the abortion rate– unless their goal isn’t to lower the abortion rate, but to control women, especially to control a woman’s sex organs, which it absolutely is.
I will be gathering links and source material over the next few days, and I will continue to post it here, but, for now, here is Libby Anne’s amazing article on how she became pro-choice.