Tuesday, March 1, 2016

It's Personal

     By now most people know that Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt is being argued tomorrow. This ruling could prove to be my generation's Roe v. Wade. It could set a major precedent for abortion restrictions across the country. The decision made has the power to either move towards securing women's rights and healthcare or obliterate it.
    I've generally tried to keep pretty quiet about abortion. I have friends and family on all sides of the issue and I have been wary of stepping on anyone's toes. So I've held back from spouting off the statistics showing abortion access is an integral part of healthcare and promotes social and economic security. I haven't engaged in religious debates about what texts actually say regarding abortion. I haven't pointed out the human rights precedent of allowing women to make their own choices regarding fertility and childbearing. Don't get me wrong- I have friends, family, and coworkers who have had abortions. With one in three women having an abortion by age 45, be sure that you do to. You even go to church with them. But as dedicated as I have been to protecting the rights and experiences to those around me, I have never been overly vocal about the issue.
   That was until I really sat down and examined my experiences. And then I realized- it's personal. I am pro-choice by default, my own morality and sense of justice really doesn't allow for anything else. But it's more than that. While I have never personally had an abortion to date, there is a good chance that I may have one in the future. Joey and I are about 99% sure we are done having kids. But I'm only 28. I have at least 20 more fertile years ahead of me and even if we were able to use the most reliable forms of hormonal contraception (which I can't for medical reasons), there is still a decent chance we could end up with an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy. And the thought of that is what jarred me into cognizance. It's easy to think of abortion solely in the context of teen pregnancy, rife with drug use and multiple sexual partners- abortion as the answer to an unstable situation. But the reality is that many abortions don't meet any of those preconceptions. Abortions are sought by women who are married with children. By women who are well educated and financially stable. Once again- your neighbors, coworkers, church members. But society's stereotypes of the kind of women who seek abortions were so ingrained that it wasn't until recently that I realized that I am the type of woman who seeks an abortion. And I may be that woman one day. And despite all of my higher education, my financial stability, my rock solid marriage, and my amazing son, there are people who think that Joey and I shouldn't be able to make decisions about the number of children we will have or whether or not I should go through another pregnancy and birth. Or whether or not we should all suffer through another bout of severe postpartum depression. There are people who would take away a very personal decision between Joey and I and force us to have a child we didn't want. And that scares me.
   What scares me even more, is that after thinking about this more, I realize it's only due to sheer luck that I have never needed an abortion. I can think of three specific instances in my life where I was at risk for an unplanned pregnancy and that pregnancy would have been devastating. A pregnancy at any of those points of time would have left me in a vary dangerous situation. And the horrific part is that two of those instances were before I was educated about pregnancy, birth, and abortion. Before I had received counseling about the types of situations I was in. Frankly, had I gotten pregnant in either of those instances, the odds are pretty good that I wouldn't have sought an abortion. I would have birthed an unwanted child into circumstances that were unhealthy at best and at worst would have ended in harm to myself or the child. My life would have been shattered, my education, my personal growth and discovery. All because I didn't even believe I had a choice.
   But I do. It's my choice. My legal right. And it's the right of every single woman in this backwards ass country. And I'm tired of being quiet and polite. And I'm tired of people having to whisper and have secrets and live with shame because they made the absolute best decision for themselves and their families and all anyone can do it point fingers and shit on them. This is not some hypothetical debate. This is not a matter of principle or a talking point or a campaign platform. I refuse to sit back and listen to people discuss abortion as if I didn't even exist. As if their words have no impact on me. This is my family. This is my body. This is my life. It's personal.
   And if you are one of the people trying to take this choice away from me- if you want to limit my healthcare and my decision making and interfere in my marriage and my family- know that it does not go unnoticed. I know exactly who in my life would send me back into that dark hell of depression and call themselves a hero. I don't say this to shame you or change your mind. I say this to let you know- it hurts. You hurt people. Your words and your actions hurt people. Your hands are not clean.

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