The Lady Speaks

Blogging for Choice

** Okay. WordPress keeps eating this and spitting back only chunks, so I give up. I’m posting what’s left, and if I get time later, I’ll try to clean it up again.

 

— Jenn

* * * * * * *

Recently, I read a paper written by some Republican on how to use specific words to attract voters, and describe Democrats and their party.

The ‘pro-life’ groups use “life” as their frame. In that framing, those who are against them are ‘against life’ or ‘for death’.

Pro-choice, on the other hand, reflects the need for abortion to be a personal and individual choice. It is those on the anti-abortion/anti-women crusades who want to force a woman to bear a child – regardless of how that child was conceived or the financial or emotional circumstances of her life.

Whether a woman chooses abortion, adoption, or raising a child, she is the only one who can make that decision based on her personal circumstances. And it is not a decision made lightly, no matter which way you turn.

I have faced this decision twice in my life. Twice. Once as a teenager just out of high school, and once as a woman with two children and a troubled marriage.

I got lucky. I had a mother who believed in factual information about sex and birth control. I had a grandmother who was pragmatic and believed “First babies come anytime. It’s the rest that take nine months.” I had support from family and friends, and a fiancee who believed in ‘doing the right thing,’ and while surprised to find himself a father, never shied away from the responsibility.

Six years later, married, the mother of two lovely little boys, I found myself pregnant again. My marriage was in trouble, and my health was precarious. During my second pregnancy, I’d been diagnosed with Addison’s Disease (adrenal insufficiency). My adrenal glands had stopped functioning. By the time it was diagnosed, I was four months pregnant and nearly comatose.

With a diagnosis came a new worry. I would have to take replacement hormones (steroids in my case) for the rest of my life and there was no research to show the effects on the unborn.

Somehow, by some miracle, I managed to make it to full-term and gave birth to a healthy son. But, I was cautioned against ever having more. My body simply could not handle the stress associated with pregnancy. And who knew if the exposure to hydrocortisone and Florinef from conception on would affect the fetus.

So there I was, 23 years old, facing that same decision. Again.

I found out I was pregnant in December, and my husband moved out in January. I hadn’t worked in years and couldn’t work now. I was the sole support of myself and two children already – and the future wasn’t too bright.

I had to decide. Do I risk my life and leave two little boys motherless? Or not? I spent hours worrying over the decision. I spoke to my endocrinologist, my obstetrician, friends, family, and in the end, I chose to continue the pregnancy.

I chose. 

* * * * * * *

Why am I pro-choice? Here’s a few reasons, in no particular order:

Because I believe that the decision to have a child should be made only by the person who must carry that child to term.

Because I believe that no girl or woman should endure rape or incest and be forced to bear the result of either act.

Because I believe that sex is not a dirty word, and pregnancy is not a punishment for having sex.

Because I believe every child that comes into this world should have parents who are financially and emotionally capable of raising it.

Because I believe that women have the right to make their own medical decisions, in accordance with their own beliefs.

Because I believe there are too many children of color and too many children with special-needs who are left to languish in the foster care system.

Because I believe every woman has the right to choose how many children she will have, and when.

Because I believe I don’t need a ‘daddy’ to tell me what to do.

Because I believe there are too many women without health insurance who don’t have access to proper prenatal and perinatal care.

Because I believe that no one should force their religious beliefs on anyone else.

* * * * * * *

January 22, 2007 - Posted by | Abortion, America, Birth Control, Blogging for Choice, Politics, Protest, Reproductive Rights, War On Women, Women

4 Comments »

  1. Hello,
    I’ve read some of your blog about your view on pro-choice. If you will let me, I would like to share my experiences that lead to me being pro-life. Growing up in Northeast, I would say that I was pro-choice. I agreed with all the reasons of why someone would need to get an abortion, rape, incest, financial, birth defects, etc. But, in 1995 something happened that changed my mind completely.

    My wife and I had 2 growing boys, and she was pregnant again. When she was pregnant with each of the boys, we noticed little things during her pregnancy that seemed to carry on as they grew. One of them pushed against anybody that touched their mother’s belly and as a child, they wanted their personal space. The other seemed at ease when someone rubbed their mother’s belly and as a child, they seemed to need another’s touch. With this new pregnancy we were noticing other differences in the baby’s reaction. One day when I came home from work, my wife was on the couch stating that she missed work that day because she did not feel good. She wasn’t sure what it was, but she didn’t feel good. She had just been to the doctor’s a couple days before, so we though it couldn’t be that bad, but decided to go to the hospital to have it checked out.

    We found out at the hospital that there was indeed a problem. Our daughter was born that day, but she was a still birth. As I held my little girl, I thought,” How can anyone possibly do this to a baby intentionally?” Ours was far from intentional; they never were able to determine what caused this to happen, it was something that happened that could not have been seen or avoided. During the time when our mourning was almost unbearable, we were extremely sensitive to young children. Especially because there were several of our friends and co- workers that were having babies at the same time. Within 2 weeks of her due date, 3 people at work had baby girls born. During that time there was also a situation in the news of a mother killing her children. I could not stop asking that question, “How could anyone possibly do this to a baby intentionally?” All of this seemed to just rip us apart, but we were able to pull it together enough to raise our 2 boys and even had another boy. But as I knelt at my daughter’s grave, I swore she would not be forgotten.

    Now I look back at the reasons I might have accepted abortion, but in no way can I accept them now. I am a Christian and feel that everything happens for a reason, whether we ever know or understand it or not. I am not sure of all the reasons for this situation, but it has changed my mind on abortion. I feel that a child is a life. A life that is evident even in the womb. I know you don’t agree, but that is what I believe.

    You have mentioned many of the reasons of why it should be a choice; I would like to address some of them. 1st of all, in no way do I feel that pregnancy is punishment for sex. That is almost stupid. I have to say that I had never heard that before and really don’t know anyone personally, even the most ardent supporter of pro-life, who would say or think that. Many of the other arguments deal with convenience (finances, birth defects, etc.), if the baby is a life in the womb, how is this any different than someone who has a dependant who is in an accident and is paralyzed. Should this dependant be put to death because you don’t want to support or deal with it? The argument about the rape or incest is a valid argument, and one that is extremely difficult to answer. For myself, while the situation would be almost unbearable, I still feel it is a life. I can come up with several examples of why I don’t think it is right to kill that life in that situation, but until you accept that it is a life, it is a mute point. If you accept that it is a life, how does killing the life, help the situation? I have not been in the situation, but have met some who were. And some of them have had an abortion, but have spent the rest of their life regretting that decision. To them, living with the guilt of taking a life was far worse than the feelings related to the rape.

    Yes, it is the woman’s body, but it is a life. What the woman wants to do to her body is her decision, but it is a life. I don’t feel this is anymore telling a woman what she has to do with her body than telling someone that they cannot beat their children.

    My last comment has to do with your comment that someone is forcing their religious beliefs on you. I don’t wish to force my religious beliefs on you. While I am a Christian, I have to say that I don’t believe abortion is wrong just because I am a Christian. If you would like to learn about my Christian beliefs, I am more than willing to share them with you. I won’t argue them with you. But, if you would like, I will share what the Lord has done for me

    Thanks for listening to my side,
    Corky

    Comment by Corky Wheaton | April 26, 2007 | Reply

  2. Corky, I have to say that your comment is one of the more thoughtful reactions to abortion. You do respect others thoughts and beliefs, and that is rare when it comes to this subject.

    I hope you will accept my condolences on the loss of your daughter. As someone who lost a child early in pregnancy, I know it isn’t something that gets “better” with time.

    The “simple” fact is, I do not believe that a fetus is a “life” until is it capable of living outside the womb. Outside the body of its host. As sad as it may be, no 10- or 12- or 20-week fetus is viable outside the womb, even with medical intervention.

    Medicine has lowered that barrier considerably. I was born at 33 weeks gestation, and I was a touch-and-go baby, but – as far as I know – had no major organ failures, no brain damage. That was 1969.

    In 1988, I had a friend who gave birth at 26 weeks. Modern medicine was able to keep her child alive, but he is blind, paraplegic, and severely brain-damaged and will need assisted-care for the rest of his life. This is not to say that he isn’t valuable as a person, but that his premature birth left him very fragile.

    Interestingly, until medical science began to show promise in saving more premature infants, no child was considered “alive” until it took it’s first breath – because of the belief that God breathed life into Adam. This is still true in some faiths, which have no ban against abortion.

    As medical science improved, so did the movement to consider life as starting at conception.

    The reasons I list are just some of the factors in the decisions made by women – either way. I will address a few of them: birth defects – there are variations on birth defects, some (like Down’s syndrome) have no impact on the ability to “live” although the parent or parents will face serious hurdles living with a child who suffers from them. Others are so serious that the child will not survive to term or for long after birth. Should the mother then be forced to carry a dead or dying child, solely so you can be comfortable with her not taking its “life”?

    Rape and incest: Not to be rude, but since you are male, you aren’t going to know what either is like, are you? Imagine a rape victim being forced to live for MONTHS with her attacker. That’s what it’s like. You aren’t carrying a “life”. You are carrying around something that is part of your attacker. A person who perhaps crept into your home, or attacked you in a parking lot. Who may have threatened you with a gun or knife, or beat you with his fists. You survive all that, just to spend months with your own body reminding you of that trauma?

    And as for incest: Beyong the disgust of the act itself, imagine a girl carrying her father/uncle/brother/cousin’s child. And then realize that, in PA and some other states, the parental notification act requires that her abuser be notified if she wants an abortion.

    With regard to pregnancy as a punishment for sex, can you think of any other reason why so many of the right-wing evangelical and fundamental Christians are so opposed to birth control? Or to the HPV vaccine? Or to teaching teenagers how to protect themselves against disease? Those states which pass laws which tell doctors what information they can give their patients, or which force schools to teach abstinence-only, despite studies that show teens given full information actually delay sexual activity, and despite the fact that teen pregnancy is a continuing problem. Those pharmacists who refuse to sell emergency contraception, regardless of the circumstances. Physicians who refuse to prescribe it, regardless of the circumstances. All in the name of their god.

    You yourself aren’t forcing your beliefs on anyone, but a great many of the right-wing radical Christians are attempting to do just that in this country. Those who say abortion is wrong because their god said so, or that being gay is wrong because their god said so, to name two examples.

    I appreciate the offer, as I know it’s sincerely meant, but no. I was raised in a Christian home, baptized and married in the Presbyterian church, even had my kids baptized.

    It’s not like Jesus is anything new to me. I believe he was a wise teacher, and I believe his teachings are worth following. I simply don’t recognize his divinity. I have studied a number of religions and most share the same basic beliefs – the Golden Rule, the Beatitudes, etc. I just choose to practice my own little faith in my own little way, and I’d prefer that Christians recognize that though they are in the majority, they aren’t the only “One True Way”.

    And I am not just anti-Christian. My problems with Christianity are the same ones I have with all organized religions. Their emphasis is on gaining and/or maintaining the power of the organization, rather than carrying out the teachings of their namesake.

    — Jenn

    Comment by PA_Lady | April 26, 2007 | Reply

  3. Ok. While there are many people out there who do things in the name of Christianity. For me, Christianity is not the “organized religion”, it is the relationship with my lord. And he will be there when you finish looking elswhere. Please don’t be offended, but we will continue to pray for you.

    Corky

    Comment by Corky | April 30, 2007 | Reply

  4. Mahatma Ghandi once said that all the varied religions and belief systems are like people climbing a mountain. All see the thing from their perspective and think theirs is the only one that matters. In reality, they’re all on the same mountain…just taking different paths to the summit.

    Which is a long-winded way of saying, I’m not offended, but I’m probably never going to rejoin the ranks of those who worship Christ.

    But, I truly believe it’s the same mountain.

    Comment by PA_Lady | April 30, 2007 | Reply


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