Pregnancy

I Vote Pro-Choice, But I’m A Personally Pro-Life Mom

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Four years later, when I became pregnant intentionally with my husband, I could barely look at the screen at our first ultrasound for fear there wouldn’t be a baby. But there it was: a peanut with wriggly arms and legs. She was, and is, perfectly healthy, and she’s the cornerstone of our lives. The joy of my daughter and the distress of my failed first pregnancy are the reasons why I’m personally pro-life.

But here’s why I’m politically pro-choice. From a humanitarian standpoint, no human should ever be forced, especially by the government, to do something against his or her will—especially not something as life-altering as carrying and delivering a baby. Pregnancy is more than swollen ankles and awkwardly fitting clothes. It’s a reevaluation of who you are and how you fit into the world.

And childbirth is more intense than anyone can describe. My midwife, Judith, warned me early on: If you have anything traumatic in your history, it will resurface when you’re in labor. She told me of attending the birth of a sexually abused Mennonite woman who didn’t make a single noise during her long, grueling labor. Judith suspected the woman feared any loudness would unleash the pent-up horrors of her past. She recounted stories of other women whose bodies actually seemed to shut down because they so feared opening up to the pain. She saw stable women break down and become helpless little girls.

But imagine how horrifying the act of giving birth would be for a woman who didn’t want to have a baby in the first place, especially a woman who had become pregnant by abuse. Why should any human being have to have a reminder of that abuse for nine months and then, to top it off, relive the pain and anguish of it all during childbirth?

I chose not to abort my first pregnancy because I think, deep down, I wanted a baby and I knew I would be a good mother. But I’m not so brazen to assume all women feel this way. There are a million little arguments and mitigating circumstances on both sides of the abortion debate, and I’m not here to address them. Instead I hope that my story invokes a little more sympathy for this whole deal of carrying and birthing a baby. The process is felt differently for every woman, so every woman should be able to call the shots for herself.

(photo: Alexander Raths/ Shutterstock)

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