Which Side to Stand?

The first time I got married I was 19 years young. Six months after the divorce I got pregnant. The law forbade me from drinking alcohol since I wasn’t 21 yet, but having a baby was acceptable. Divorced, unmarried with only a high school diploma under my belt. I became another statistic- a young uneducated girl who would have to use government subsidies in order to survive.

I stared at the pregnancy test that whispered I was expecting. I panicked. I worried. I cried. I was lost. I was attending college at the time so I was able to go to the Medical Center to seek help and confirm what the pregnancy test had already revealed. The man in the white coat walked into the room where I was sitting and waiting. It was a long wait. He told me I was pregnant. He then proceeded to offer me the options I had. He asked me what I wanted to do. I didn’t know. He said I had a limited time to decide. So I left. I talked to the father about the situation, and decided to keep the baby.

I am so grateful that I chose to keep her.  I am also grateful that I had options. Those options gave me hope and helped me make a decision. I was in a safe environment with no judgement and with support with whatever I had decided.

Today there is a great division among us women- a division of whether we are Pro-choice or Pro-life. It’s a touchy topic and a hot one. We all have our opinions about the matter and we are all entitled to our opinions. It is unfortunate how our zealous beliefs can cause us to be radical and fanatic about one side of the issue. It is unfortunate that we have drawn a line in the sand and said it is this side or you are wrong.

I don’t typically talk about controversial issues or be outspoken about my beliefs, but yesterday’s March and the inauguration of the new President has me thinking about these issues. I could be wrong and a fool for what I am about to say, but I’d like to take a few minutes and talk about this issue.

The issue for me is not a simple binary choice. I don’t think each side is equal. I don’t go around proclaiming I am Pro-life or Pro-choice because I don’t know where I fit. Abortion in itself is a complicated social phenomena where many sociological and moral pressures are in play. With that said, I would be on the Pro-life side. However, until our society, our government and our religious entities faces up to the complexity of those cross-pressures as well as confronting how it is contributing to the problem, I could be ambivalent about being pro-life.

Here’s the crux of the matter for me, the moral dilemma that we should all ponder and look closely to. We shouldn’t be so quick to decide for other women what is best, when we have no idea the circumstances of which she faces. I agree that we have a civic responsibility to vote against violence and crime. Yet, in order to keep peace and justice in our society our police officers must carry guns. The irony behind this is that the government very well knows that in order to enforce peace is to use violence.

We don’t live in a world of black and white. We live in a world of diverse colors. The world in which we reside is ugly and scary. Sometimes it takes a while for some of us women to get our shit together- it took me a long time. Our society tells us that our power comes from our sexuality. I was sexualized at a very young age and not knowing any better I adopted the belief that the way I looked mattered way more than my character. I adopted the belief that in order to receive love from a man I must sleep with him. How many other women in this world believe the same kind of things? How many women in this world use sex in order to feed their children? How many women in this world use sex in order to pay for their drugs? How many women in this world have no business being a parent?

It is unfair for Pro-life believers to push their agenda on these women and demand that it be illegal for them to terminate their pregnancies. There are many other factors that make me uncomfortable in making abortion illegal.

Her name was Victoria. A ten year old little girl who was brutally murdered and raped. Her own mother solicited her to men so that she may get some gratification from it. Any parent who is capable of such a horrific crime has no business being a parent. In my honest opinion, it would have been better if Victoria was never born so that she wouldn’t have to go through such a nightmare. I can’t even imagine my children going through something like that. And that is the point I am trying to make.

If Pro-lifers are adamant about making abortion illegal than they have an obligation and a responsibility to the one woman who they are forcing to have the child- an obligation to educate her and her baby,  a responsibility to her financially, to give her high quality health care, nutrition and no judgement, OR to adopt her baby. If a Pro-lifer stands with a sign and demands that this woman keep her baby and then goes home and does nothing else, is to promote and contribute to the problems our society faces. Isn’t it ironic how we feel so ethical when we stand up for something like abolishing abortion, yet vote against government subsidies, quality healthcare for all, and birth control! To give no thought about the circumstances of which a woman must face if abortion is her decision. To contemplate that maybe there are times when abortion is necessary.

It’s easy to judge from our own perspectives and demand that others believe how we believe.  I am hesitant to proclaim I am Pro-life for these reasons. In fact I prefer the word “choice.” Choice doesn’t mean murder, it means life. Choice means compassion. Choice means no judgment. We as a sisterhood need to be more understanding or at least listen to the other side. I wonder if we who are zealous about our beliefs could sit down and listen to one another, if we would find that we all agree that both sides are about life. We all want a world that is better, safer and more caring than what we have been experiencing.

I am grateful 17 years ago that I had a choice. That choice was mine alone. I was fortunate enough to get my shit together and I have three healthy, beautiful children. Some women are not so lucky.  Sometimes children are born into an inhospitable world, a world created by Pro-lifers.

Let the debate begin.

Looks like George Carlin said it better than I did.

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