I remember once, when I was twelve or so, I told my mother that there was absolutely no way I would ever have children when I got old. “I would be a horrible mother,” I explained to her with all of the earnest surety that comes unbidden as an adolescent girl. “I don’t like dolls, I don’t like to cook, I’d rather go without money than babysit. Why would I want to have this screaming, peeing thing dependent on me all of the time?”
She smiled at me, telling me that she totally understood, but someday down the road, when I was older and had more life experiences, I shouldn’t be surprised if I change my mind.
Now, here I sit, a mother of one and hoping that by Christmas I will be a mother of two. But one thing that has never changed is my unwavering belief that each woman should be able to decide when and if she wants to have a child, regardless of the circumstances in her life.
“You’ll rethink your beliefs on abortion once you feel that baby move,” I remember a conservative friend telling me when I announced I was pregnant. To her, it was impossible to think that you could have a child growing inside of you and think of it as anything but a life.
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In some ways, she was right. I thought more and more about my assumptions I had regarding abortion. The longer I was pregnant, the more I experienced what a joy my child would be, and how happy and complete she would make my family.
But lets be honest. Pregnancy is hard. It is uncomfortable. It is awkward. It is painful, emotional, exhausting and often vomit-inducing. I was able to work through all of those bad times, which, again, is a majority of pregnancy, knowing that this is what I needed to do to have the addition to the family we wanted so badly.
I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have to experience all of those moments – the sickness, fatigue, elbows and feet in my bladder, or the even worse issues I managed to avoid like diabetes, preeclampsia, or even bed rest, all while not wanting the child that was living inside of you. To be forced to go through the pain, the stress and the sickness not out of joy, but because you had to, because someone else made that decision for you, because someone else wanted that baby and that person’s opinion, wants and needs mattered more to the world than what you wanted for yourself.
Pregnancy didn’t change my views on abortion, but made them stronger.
“You can’t still be pro-choice. You had a miscarriage,” another woman told me months ago, when we discussed all of the ways our losses had affected us.
I understood somewhat where she was coming from. In the world that I was exploring, full of support for women who had conceived and lost, or had difficulties conceiving at all, to hear that I wrote about abortion rights was a bit of a shock to many who want nothing more than to have a healthy take-home baby.
But just as pregnancy and motherhood made me more adamant about a woman’s right to choose for herself, my miscarriage also reinforced my beliefs.
I found comfort in the medical terms of “products of conception” and spontaneous missed abortion. From the point in which we realized that the heart had stopped beating, my only thought was that something had died inside of me, and that I desperately and with every fiber of my being needed it to be removed. It wasn’t a baby. Although I was nearly 12 weeks what was inside of me was only the size of a grape, and yet I was still helpless and in panic. It had been dead for weeks, maybe, and could be there for weeks longer, and without the aid of a doctor it was just going to stay inside me, festering, for who knew how long.
That I needed medical permission to remove it was galling to me. The baby was dead and my body had betrayed me. Now I had to undergo surgery just to make it end.
No one should ever lose a wanted pregnancy. Although the physical pain was minimal due to the D&C, the emotional pain was nearly viscous. No one should be forced to carry on with something unwanted inside their body, asking for permission to have it removed, to have your life back to normal, to start again.
I want to be in a world where everyone who wants a child can have one, and no one who doesn’t want a baby ever gets pregnant. But until that happens, I need to fight for a world where abortion is an option, because pregnancy should belong to those who want to be pregnant, and not be forced on someone against her will because she has no other options.
I’ve had a baby, and I’m pro-choice. I lost a baby and I’m pro-choice. I am pregnant after a loss, and I am still adamantly pro-choice. I doubt that growing any older, or any life experience will ever change my beliefs.