Pro-Choice is NOT Pro-Death

The following post was written by my lovely and amazing “sister-wife” Danielle, who gave me permission to share it with all of you. She’s been to hell and back during her life, but she’s still there fighting and is a great source of inspiration to me.

::hugs:: to you, wifey.

– H 

The topic of abortion rights is a subject I have never really spent time thinking about. It’s something that I had my own opinions on, yet never voiced them, never debated them, and never cared enough to get involved in. The pro-choice/pro-life conflict was something outside of my life and it was never something that I felt really impacted me.

In a middle school science class, we had a debate assignment and I debated for the pro-life side. At age 12, I thought I knew it all. I was staunchly pro-life in all cases. I didn’t believe that the rights of a fetus automatically trumped the rights of a mother. I did then (and still do) firmly believe that life begins at conception. This is not a religious doctrine, this is nothing that was ever taught to me; it is simply what my moral compass feels. At the time when I was researching and educating myself for this debate, I struggled with abortion in cases of rape, incest, and maternal health risk. At that time, I passionately argued that the mother made the choice to get pregnant, so the impact on her health was her decision and her responsibility. At that time, I passionately argued that while rape and incest where terrifying crimes, the baby that resulted should not be punished by death. I won that debate, which only validated my beliefs.

I held onto this belief for years. While I have never agreed with the government having the right to make this decision for women, I also felt that this decision shouldn’t even be an option. I felt that too many women used it as a back-up plan, without really considering that was a child they so carelessly and thoughtlessly had removed from their bodies, like an annoyance they simply wanted to get rid of.  I identified strongly as pro-life, because that is what I thought I was. I viewed pro-choice as being a mentality against unborn babies. I viewed pro-choice as being radical; fighting for women while not giving these babies a voice.

And then I was raped. After the rape, I had to face the same decision. And for the first time, I got it. I understood that there were times abortion was more of a necessity than the twisted luxury I viewed it as. When I got my rape kit done, it was too early to tell if a pregnancy was going to result. I had to wait nearly a month for blood tests to tell me whether or not I was pregnant. And over that month, during that terrifying wait, I had to discuss with my doctor what my options were. I spent the entire time sleepless, scared, and stressed, wondering whether or not I could go against my beliefs and make that decision.

I saw for the first time what a pregnancy from rape would do to a woman. I would have had a living, daily reminder of my attacker. I would have raised a child knowing his or her father was a monster. I would have spent my life terrified that my child would have enough of the attacker’s DNA to possibly become a monster themselves. I would have had to spend my life making excuses for the lack of father, or I would have spent my life living with the stigma of having a “rape baby”, and thus putting that label on my child as well. The mental and emotional toll of this on me, as a mother, would have severely impacted my child because I would not have felt connected; I would not have been able to properly parent. I would have felt resentful and angry and never would have had the chance to heal from the rape with the results of it right in front of me. That is not to say I would not have loved my own child. I simply would not have been equipped to properly parent and bond as every child deserves.

Thankfully, I did not end up pregnant. I did not have to make that choice in the end. But to this day, I am grateful that I had the choice. I am grateful that I had a compassionate doctor who was open and educated and knew what a tremendous impact that decision would have been. I am grateful that I had access to medical care, and that I had the education and knowledge to help me come to a decision. Because walking into the appointment to find out the test results, I had decided to terminate if I was pregnant. While I would have struggled for the rest of my life with whether or not it was the right decision, I knew it was not one that I made lightly. But to choose otherwise, I would have been terminating my own life.

Since then, I have realized that being pro-choice is not the same as being pro-death. Nobody is pro-abortion. Nobody wants to see pregnancies terminated. That is not what pro-choice is about. Being pro-choice means giving women access to medical procedures which may be their last hope, their last resort. We, as women, deserve that choice. We deserve access to safe, healthy abortions. We deserve to make these decisions on our own and keep them private. We do not deserve to feel like a criminal if we make that choice.

Since the rape, since the experience of having to make that decision, my mindset has changed. Do I like abortion? No, of course not. Do I think too many people rely on it for the wrong reasons? Absolutely. But in the end, there are times where it is a necessity. And for the most part, when a woman makes the decision to terminate a pregnancy, it is not something she comes to lightly. It is something that a woman will have to live with for the rest of her life. But that is her choice. That is her decision. And she should be allowed to make that decision without being attacked for it.

© Heather Parker and Antigone Awakens, 2012-2013.


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