I am staunchly Pro-Choice. I will vehemently defend the right of a woman to decide for herself what happens w/in the confines of her own body, no matter the circumstances. I believe that women, and I include teenage young women in this too, have the mental capabilities to weight the pros, cons, and all the nuances in between for themselves, to understand the choices that she has, and to make the right decision for her own personal situation. I believe that all of this should be free from binding laws of government and the religious morals of a minority, w/ the exception of having that right to choose federally legislated and protected free of any caveats.
I haven’t always felt that way.
There was a time when I was young and blissfully ignorant of anything but what was fed to me. There was a time when I honestly felt that my being icked out by something should negate the right of a separate and autonomous person to make decisions about her own life.
But a few things happened that changed all of that.
One of them was one of my best friends from High School. We’ll call her Alyson.
Alyson and I were 17. We were Seniors in High School, and we had the whole world waiting for us. We worked together, and often skipped first period together to go to McDonald’s to get Apple Bran Muffins from her boyfriend who worked there. We spent time at her house practicing how we would wear our hair to the Winter Formal, and lounging on her big bed gossiping.
Alyson had a rough childhood. Her mother died when she was rather young, and she believed that it was her fault, which of course it was not. This left her father single and in charge of three children all either pre-teen or teen. Needless to say he was a bit protective. His love of Alyson’s boyfriend ebbed and flowed depending on his mood.
I knew that Alyson and her boyfriend (whom I was good friends w/) were having sex. Even though at that age I was very much against pre-marital sex, I always kind of believed that my feelings applied to me only. I never judged them for it. Looking back I know that they were not the only ones, and I know that teenagers are sexual beings. There is nothing wrong w/ that. I did not, however, expect the day that Alyson came to me and asked me to meet her in the break room.
There on the break table sat her almost untouched fried shrimp dinner, her usual, b/c she had a special penchant for finger food. Her face was about as green as the frogs we butchered in Molecular Biology.
“I’m pregnant”, she told me.
“I need your help”.
And somehow, that was enough for me.
There was a clinic in Indiana that would help Alyson w/o parental consent. Her boyfriend had come up w/ some money, and all she needed was an alibi.
Shit, her father will kill them both, I know it.
I promised to lie. I swore on my own life that I would tell anyone who asked that she was w/ me. We were having a sleepover/at the drive-in/out to dinner/whatever. It was not in me to be a liar, but the urgency of her situation hit me like a runaway semi-truck and I knew I had to help her.
If it were me…
And I did.
I didn’t expect that they would call the house I lived in and leave a message on my caretakers’ machine that they were running late, but that her dad thought she was still with me, going to Ypsilanti to see a concert or something.
Boy, was I in a world of trouble.
I explained as best I could. In the end, I was grounded for agreeing to lie, but given my previous trustworthiness, they sensed that the situation was far beyond what our morals told us was appropriate, and they agreed not to betray Alyson’s confidence. Some how the direness of the situation was apparent in my voice, and while they did not approve, they understood, and promised not to interfere, and that my grounding would not commence until I was certain that Alyson was OK and didn’t need further assistance.
Her procedure went as well as could be. She had minimal healing time and was back to normal in just about two days (food poisoning, you know, from all that shrimp). In the remaining years of her life she showed no signs of remorse, even when asked point blank in the privacy of our cars. There was never a doubt for her (or for me, it seemed) that she had done the right thing.
We don’t always know why a woman decides that she isn’t ready to carry a pregnancy to term. Sure, women surveyed might give reasons, but because we are not them we really don’t know exactly what their situation is. There could be any number of reasons, be they age, money or personal safety (physical or mental), but they are the reasons of that particular woman in that particular moment. That decision, and the weight of the reasons to impact it, are hers, and hers alone. As I held Alyson’s hand through this I realized that, and I never really looked back. Sure, I shed tears over the conflict I felt at my new thoughts on the subject (which are even different than they were then), but in the end, I found that I thought that if it were me I would have done the same.
Don’t I deserve that choice?
When I was the one accidentally pregnant only a scant few years later, and sadly w/o Alyson in this world to hold my hand, I realized I had the same choices that she did. I didn’t make the same choice, but if I hadn’t had the support of my mother and grandparents I don’t think I would have been able to go through w/ becoming a mother. I am eternally grateful that I had that support, and for the beautiful child that came into being nine-plus months later. Having an abortion wasn’t the choice for me, but I am forever glad that it was a choice for my dear friend. My friend, who knowing how I felt turned to me for help. I am forever grateful that it is a choice. I wish it was more available, that’s for sure.
My experiences in pregnancy and motherhood only reaffirm my belief that abortion needs to be safe and federally protected, in any circumstances. Motherhood is not to be taken lightly. Motherhood should not be attempted by anyone who is not 100% positive that they are 100% willing to embark on this life altering journey. Motherhood changes your whole life, mind, body and soul. Having a choice makes motherhood even more of an active choice*, and helps women know that they don’t have to be ruled by their biology. Women can remain child free and wait until they are fully prepared and sure of themselves to become mothers. They can also run in head first without giving it a second thought (I surely did). Being a mother made me staunchly Pro-Choice, and I make no apologies for that.
A wise woman tells me that children of Pro-Choice parents know they are wanted. I like that idea.
Thinking back on Alyson’s experience I can’t help but hope that if my own daughter ever finds herself in that situation that she would have a friend like me (even if it is me) to hold her hand and support her through her choice. I hope that she knows someone who is willing to help her if she needs it. I sincerely hope that she always knows that it could be me to help her, but if for some reason she doesn’t come to me, I hope to all the gods and goddesses that she finds someone to be the friend to her that I was to Alyson.
*I realize that abortion isn’t widely available to many women who would want or need it. It is my deepest wish that someday this will not be the case, and that federally protected abortion will be readily available, without shame or fear, and accessible to those who want and/or need it.
To anyone reading this who has known me for years and realizes that they don’t really know me, all anyone has ever had to do was ask.