On the meaning of pro-life

Dear Dad,

Thanks for your post in response to my post on abortion (whoa this may be getting too meta).

I’ll admit I didn’t always support abortion access, Dad. For a long time, I thought of abortion as a terrible evil in the world. But then I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone considering an abortion. And while I like to think that I would choose to keep the child, I recognize that I’m struggling to make rent each month without a dependent. I have student loans to pay off, as well as a pricey wisdom tooth removal that I have hefty bills for. A child would require time and energy to raise properly, and I’m afraid to make a lifetime commitment like that if I don’t know that I can guarantee that child a good life. Furthermore, there’s the fact that I would have to carry that kid for nine months, dealing with pain, weight gain, possible medical complications and permanent changes to my body. Not to mention the judgment of coworkers, peers, loved ones and strangers as I try to carry out my day-to-day as a young, unmarried, pregnant woman.

While I’d like to think I wouldn’t have an abortion, I can’t guarantee that. And I know that I can’t make that decision for anyone else, either.

A brunette white woman holding a sign that says

I support the right for anyone to get an abortion, without explanation, scrutiny or shame.

You say you support abortion in the case of rape or incest, Dad, but who decides that? Will doctors take women at their word? Or will they have to wait for a conviction? Keep in mind that only 4 percent of rapists ever get a felony conviction. Will a panel decide if a pregnant woman was violated? If so, I have a feeling it will probably be the same men who are restricting abortion access in Texas. And would you really force a woman to relive such a traumatizing event before obtaining an abortion? That seems cruel.

I know deciding to have an abortion can be painful (though it’s not always), and I want for them to be as rare as possible, Dad, truly. You talk about the value of life. I value it too, Dad, both the possible child’s and the mother’s. I’d like there to be as few abortions as possible. But the way to do that is not through trying to restrict abortion access.  That only results in the desperate turning to illegal, dangerous and potentially deadly operations.

A photo of a marble monument that says

Being pro-choice saves lives.

One doctor described his work in emergency rooms before Roe v. Wade for The New York Times. The descriptions are horrifying, so trigger warning for gore. But his memories of women mutilated, made infertile and killed by botched abortions performed illegally are essential to consider when talking about abortion rights. And as Dr. Waldo Fielding says, legal abortion simply means that these procedures can be performed in safe settings:

It is important to remember that Roe v. Wade did not mean that abortions could be performed. They have always been done, dating from ancient Greek days.

What Roe said was that ending a pregnancy could be carried out by medical personnel, in a medically accepted setting, thus conferring on women, finally, the full rights of first-class citizens — and freeing their doctors to treat them as such.

Abortions can be reduced by increasing access to affordable birth control options, by providing comprehensive sex ed to every child, and by allowing accessible, affordable, shame-free abortions for anyone who needs one. Even while on birth control, some people still get pregnant, and while many choose to keep the child, those who truly don’t want a pregnancy or a child shouldn’t be forced to carry through with it.

I recognize that it is a pregnant person’s right alone to decide whether or not to get an abortion. And it is so so important to remember why that right needs to be protected.




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