I’ve always claimed to be pro-choice. In high school, I’d engage in passionate debates about a woman’s right to choose and have control over her own body. I was poorly informed on the complexity and realities of reproductive choice and justice for all women. But, that’s where I was as a teenager over a decade ago. Pro-choice was a primary point in my juvenile form of (white) feminism.
Moving forward to adulthood, a friend of mine experienced an unexpected pregnancy. Despite my long-standing claim to be pro-choice, I did not support her decision to terminate her pregnancy. I used the story of how my mother figured out a way to raise me despite becoming pregnant at 16 years old. I guess I tried to guilt her into enduring an unwanted pregnancy. I was a pseudo-feminist and a failed friend. She went through with an abortion, and I was not there for her.
That was a mistake. A big one, one that will stay with me forever. I should have been there for her. I should have listened, helped, supported her. If I could go back in time, I would be the friend I should have been. But, I cannot. All I can do now is recognize my mistake and do better.
I’ve had my own experiences with pregnancy termination. Despite my pro-choice position, I had no choice in the actions of my reproductive system. As my body violently rejected carrying pregnancies to term, I felt a stronger empathy to those who have become pregnant without choosing to do so. The lack of control or choice and feeling helplessly detached from my body uncovered a connection to women whose pregnancies went against their wishes. Losing wanted pregnancies strengthened my support for a woman’s choice over her own body. I intimately understand the feeling of having no control over your body and the associated physical and emotional pain. If we can prevent others from this feeling, we have a moral obligation to do so. A woman should have as much control over her own body as humanly possible.
As I’ve become more educated on the complexities of the pro-choice/pro-life debate, I’ve learned the issue is NEVER black and white. Reproductive choices must be autonomous. No women should be coerced into having a child she does not want, nor should any woman be convinced she should not have a child. I’ve shied away from the pro-choice/pro-life dichotomy and to a broader picture of reproductive justice. A picture which includes the freedom to create the family of one’s choosing. To learn more about reproductive justice, click here. Many abortion myths still exist, and it’s time to unlearn them!