Women and Children and the Choices We Make
The public shaming of abortion will never stop being outrageous.
I wrote a version of this piece on abortion in March, 2011 at my blog, Ramona’s Voices. More than 10 years ago. Has anything changed? Yes, but not for the better. At long last the Republicans are nearly to their goal: to end Roe v Wade and make every aspect of abortions illegal.
Texas had made abortion a criminal action and has put a bounty on anyone involved with one. Anyone can now turn in friends and neighbors and strangers in order to collect a snitch fee. Six Right-leaning members of the Supreme Court took just over a minute to think about it and said, in effect, “Problem? We don’t see a problem.” A clear criminal and unconstitutional action, and they’re okay with it.
So here I am again, because silence is out of the question.
Call this a companion to the piece I wrote a couple of days ago, or call it a continuation. I need to speak out, I need to talk about it, and since I’ve said it all before, this is how I’ll do it. I have more. Sadly.
I have met thousands and thousands of pro-choice men and women and have never met anyone who is pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is not being pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is trusting the individual to make the right decision for herself and her family, and not entrusting that decision to anyone wearing the authority of government in any regard. --Hillary Clinton
In the summer of 1954, just before we entered our Senior year, my friend Rosie, with no forewarning or even a goodbye, went to live with her aunt. A few days earlier we were leaving a drug store after having a couple of cherry Cokes and she fainted dead away, crumpling to the ground right in front of me. It was a hot day and she convinced me that the heat had caused it, but later, when I called her house and her mother told me she had gone to live with her aunt in a town many miles away, I put two and two together and realized with a shock that she was pregnant (or PG as we said back then).
None of us who had been Rosie's friends knew the torment she was going through, or even had a clue about who the father might be. We never heard from her again. Later, we heard that she had given her baby up for adoption. Shame was the reason she didn't tell me there on the sidewalk, and shame was the reason she never kept in touch with any of us.
Shame was big back then. So was sorrow. When I was a young mother myself, living in neighborhoods where most of us barely had a pot to pee in, shame and sorrow kept many of my friends from admitting they were pregnant until the evidence was beyond the point of ignoring. Then the coffee table conversations went something like this:
"Well, I'm PG again."
"Oh, GOD no!"
"_______'s gonna kill me."
(Crying here. Sighing. Muttering.)
"I can't have this baby!"
"Maybe it'll be okay."
"No, it won't."
It was always the woman's fault. Birth control was either with condoms or diaphragm or the rhythm method, and if they failed it was because the woman did something wrong. That accusation was so ingrained, the women themselves believed it was their fault. There were the lucky few who welcomed another pregnancy, but many, many more were devastated. I can't say I knew any woman who went the coat hanger route, mainly because they never would have admitted it, but I know for a fact that many women tried drinking supposed miscarriage herbals or douching with chemicals or bumping into things or "falling" down stairs.
This, you should note, was before birth control pills.
The feminist movement and Roe v. Wade, if they hadn't ever done anything else, can be credited with changing the prevailing perception that there were no choices for women who found themselves pregnant. It meant that women could seek help and nobody but herself and her doctor had to be involved. The fact that the works for conceiving were built into them no longer meant that women would be forced to conceive. That is the underlying wisdom of freedom of choice and it's what the Supreme Court saw as a constitutional right.
If every child born in this country was assured the kinds of protections necessary to ensure health and happiness, safety and well-being, the concept of ‘pro-life’ might make sense.
The sorry truth is that14 million American children live in poverty right now.
Over 17 million children live in households where there is not enough food.
1.5 million kids go to sleep without a home of their own each year.
In 2007, approximately 5.8 million children were involved in an estimated 3.2 million child abuse reports and allegations.
A woman who makes the choice to abort a fetus can never be accused of doing it lightly. That is a cruel falsehood perpetrated either by men who will never know the pain of having to live with either choice, or by women who consider their own life choices so superior they have no problem forcing others of their own gender to bear children--which they then have no problem forgetting about completely and entirely.
None of them lose any sleep over their own actions, but will band together, collecting millions of dollars that could be used to save children living in misery and instead use it to convince the public and a few callous legislators that aborting a fetus is akin to murder and should be outlawed.
Children are our precious gifts and should be our foremost obligations. There is something crushing and terrible about the fact that lawmakers across the country are systematically defunding social programs currently helping families to just get through the day, if nothing else. Many of those same lawmakers vigorously support the supposed pro-life groups without once considering the damage they're doing to the children we need to protect. These children, no longer fetuses, need us. The women who make the decision to terminate a pregnancy are not pariahs. Our moral obligations are to the lesser and to the helpless already in our keep.
I’ll end this by sharing an essay by Dr. Misty Hook, my friend and a subscriber here. She’s a family psychologist working often with women and girls who have had or are contemplating abortions. She says:
While I’ve always been an advocate for women’s productive freedom, it wasn’t until I hit my doctoral internship that I gave a lot of thought to the impact of abortion on the women who’ve had one. I’d kept up with the headlines and read about clinic blockades and the brave volunteers who fought for women’s rights but knew little of the intimate details. All that changed during my year-long internship at a student counseling center.