How I Became Pro-Choice, Part 1 of ?

So, for a while now I’ve wanted to explain how I went from being extremely anti-abortion to being pro-choice. This took place gradually over years, and there were a lot of reasons for it, so I wasn’t quite sure how to start putting it together. So, I’m breaking it into smaller pieces. I’m not certain how many, really. As many as it takes.

The order won’t necessarily be sequential, either. This post, for example, talks about one of the last nails in the coffin of my pro-life-ness. I’d previously defined myself as pragmatically pro-life, basically acknowledging that a lot of women’s options as far as preventing pregnancy are crap, and as long as we’re going to teach abstinence only in schools, and have insurance companies cover viagra but not birth control pills, and do a crappy job of helping out people who can’t afford to raise a kid, having abortion be illegal would be complete BS.

A couple years ago, I started reading Shapely Prose. Not only did I learn about the revolutionary concept of fat acceptance, I also got an education in the basics of feminism. I had considered myself mostly a feminist before that, without knowing more than a rough summary of what that meant. And I usually caveated it with “not that I really count as a feminist, because I’m pro-life.”

Anyway, it was after I’d developed a major blog crush on Kate Harding that Dr. George Tiller was murdered. And I read about Operation Rescue’s comments, which can pretty much be summed up as callous and evil: We really hope this doesn’t negatively affect our ability to keep intimidating and harassing people. So…terrorism. You’re for it, then. Nice.

Between reading that, and reading these stories about the situations people are actually in when they have late-term abortions. This was a sad and scary revelation for me, because all I’d ever heard on this topic was the rhetoric around partial-birth abortion, nothing about the fact that it’s pretty much always done for major medical reasons, not somebody changing her mind at the last minute. In a lot of cases, these abortions are essentially taking a baby who isn’t going to survive off life-support, rather than condemning them to a short and excruciatingly painful life. That analogy brings up a whole host of other contentious subjects, but when the life support apparatus is a *person,* it should be her call.

Around the same time and from a lot of the same sources, I started reading about crisis pregnancy centers, and learning that they are often sources of misinformation and manipulation.

I went to an evangelical church since I was a teenager, and having heard that crisis pregnancy centers were there to help women in desperate and difficult situations. I remember thinking that they were a good thing, a “money where your mouth is” kind of pro-life stance that was actually compassionate and helpful.

So, between those two things, the realities of late-term abortion and the dishonesty used by crisis pregnancy centers, I felt betrayed in a pretty personal way. I thought about the change I’d collected in those little baby bottles for CareNet, in a program sponsored by my church, and I felt kind of ill.

I already had more than a little bit of cynicism toward the more fundamentalist parts of Christianity at that point. And I was familiar with the evil and vitriol spewed by guys like James Dobson and Jerry Falwell. So I suppose I shouldn’t have really been surprised that I’d been lied to, systematically and deliberately.

And as much as I felt used and betrayed, all I’d been conned out of was some spare change. How much worse for a pregnant woman who goes to a crisis pregnancy center who lies to her about the risks of abortion, or withholds her test results to make it harder for her to get one. Or promises support and provides help, right up until the point where she can’t abort, then tosses her out to fend for herself.

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6 thoughts on “How I Became Pro-Choice, Part 1 of ?

  1. […] (abortion, feminism, pro-choice, women's rights) Previous posts in this series are here: How I became pro-choice, part 1 of ? How I became pro-choice, part 2 of […]

  2. David says:

    I’m with you on the extremes. Extremes are never good. The extreme right Operation Rescue, or the extreme left stab-the-baby-in-the-head. I think it should be a choice, as long as it’s an informed choice. When a woman is pregnant she should hear ALL the choices available to her. She doesn’t need to hear “You shoulda kept your legs closed…” arguments, nor should she be subjected to pictures of torn-apart fetuses. I think she should be given a free sonogram, so she can see what it is she’s doing. She needs a hand, a shoulder to cry on and someone to lean on. Maybe an adoptive parent, maybe just a financial aid counselor who can show her where to get daycare. But all the options should be explored, which is why I endorse a waiting period. 1 week. You could even schedule the ‘procedure’ on the day of the visit, but choose to cancel that appointment at any time. Abortion should not be the first choice, whenever possible.
    50,000,000 abortions in 25 years is way too many.

    • KellyK says:

      Free sonogram? Sure, if it’s optional. Not if it’s a tactic to guilt her into a certain decision.

      The problem with the idea of a waiting period is that women actually face a lot of barriers to abortion already. Clinics tend to be few and far between, getting time off work can problematic, and that’s before you even face the gauntlet of protesters. Adding a week waiting period just magnifies that hardship. And really, people are going to give serious decisions as much thought as they themselves are willing to give them. Most people showing up at an abortion clinic have probably already thought long and hard about it. The other issue is that there’s a pretty narrow window between knowing you’re pregnant and a first-trimester abortion, which is both an easier medical procedure and a lot further from killing a viable fetus.

      • David says:

        I think that it should be a requirement for the woman to know what she’s doing and how it can affect the rest of her life. Many, many who have had an abortion without understanding have regretted what they did, except it’s too late.
        Also, many women are pressured into having an abortion by others, and should have time to think things through.
        I don’t think we can force anyone to do anything, honestly. But just like when you buy a home, you have to sign off that you agree to all these points, or when you rent a car, there should be signoff that these choices were offered and declined. Isn’t that very ‘pro-choice’?

  3. KellyK says:

    I think that it should be a requirement for the woman to know what she’s doing and how it can affect the rest of her life. Many, many who have had an abortion without understanding have regretted what they did, except it’s too late.

    Can you provide specific details on this (studies, citations, etc.)? Everything I’ve read indicates that giving up a baby for adoption is a much more frequent cause of emotional trauma than abortion.

    I totally agree that information should be provided. Factual, medically accurate information, not information skewed to push the woman to decide against abortion. Factual information about the risks of pregnancy should also be provided to women who are pregnant and not downplayed in the hopes of convincing them to continue the pregnancy.

    Family planning centers already do this, though:

    Pregnant women — or women who suspect they may be pregnant — can get accurate, truthful and compassionate advice — help no matter WHAT choice they want to make, and in considering their options to determine which is the right choice for them, not by anyone else’s standards — through their general physician, gynecologist and/or through family planning clinics. Abortion clinics — which are staffed with real medical professionals — also usually provide options counseling for women who want to discuss all their options. I assure you, no abortion clinic wants a woman to have an abortion who is not sure that is what she wants, and all take many steps to BE sure that is truly what a woman wants, even when she has come in expressly for an abortion procedure. If and when a woman comes to an abortion clinic and clearly is not sure she wants an abortion, the general procedure is to make clear to her that she then cannot be given an abortion that day, and only if she changes her mind and DOES want one should she return.

    • KellyK says:

      There are several main reasons why I think a mandatory waiting period is anti-choice, not pro-choice:

      -It assumes that the woman hasn’t already taken the time to think about the issue.

      -It’s condescending in implying that she “doesn’t know what she’s doing” and needs to have it explained to her.

      -It assumes that all decisions to end a pregnancy are so complex that they require a week’s worth of thought. Would you tell a woman with three kids, who’s been told by her doctor that another pregnancy will likely kill her, to wait a week for an abortion to “make sure she’s certain”?

      -In practice, it can prevent women from getting an abortion all together. A week doesn’t sound long, but if you make that a minimum, clinic staffing and scheduling, the woman’s access to transportation, and her ability to get off work may push it longer than that. First-trimester abortions are much easier to get than second-trimester abortions, and by the time you know you’re pregnant, your first trimester is already half gone. More for a woman who has implantation bleeding or irregular periods.

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