It would be safer not to talk about this.
I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time, because I think there must be others out there who feel as I do, who don’t know how to classify themselves, and who, like me, are afraid of speaking up, because it’s pretty much guaranteed that people—probably on both sides—are going to come out of the woodwork to berate you. And I, for one, really don’t like confrontation. I’m a listener, an observer. I tend to stay in the background, watching, gathering information, thinking, deciding how I feel, formulating responses that I may or may not share. Gathering more information, amending my responses, and so on and so on. Sometimes I’ll respond in the form of fiction, because I can pretend that these are my characters’ thoughts rather than my own, and that’s safer. Also, I like stories, if I haven’t mentioned that before.
So, this is something that’s bothered me, a lot, for a long time. That you can be either pro-life or pro-choice. That pro-choice is also considered pro-abortion. That it doesn’t appear possible for the two sides to hold a rational conversation. I mean, nothing gets people more upset faster, except possibly gay marriage.
I was raised pro-choice, so I always assumed I was, even though I’ve always maintained that it wouldn’t be my choice. Still, live and let live, right? WRONG, would scream the pro-life side. THAT BABY DOESN’T GET TO LIVE.
The other side, in response: IT’S NOT A BABY. I’ll admit, I’ve even used that rationalization in the past, even though I didn’t really believe it. Not in my heart of hearts. And through the years I’ve read things that made me believe it even less. And then I got pregnant with my own baby, and I never for one second believed she was anything less than a baby, not from the moment I found out she was growing inside of me.
Also, I went to a Catholic college. Most of my good friends are Catholic. Part of my family is Catholic. I’m pretty much Catholic at heart. And, reading one day about how Catholics believe that all life is good, I finally admitted, with relief, that I believe that too. I always have.
The crux of it is, I think abortion is wrong. I think life is life. I agree, it may be growing inside my body, but that doesn’t make it mine. It is part of me, but separate. It is not up to me to decide its fate, no matter how it got there. No matter whether it was an accident, or whether it happened by violence, or whether something’s wrong with it.
BUT. But but but. And here’s the real reason, the heart of it, all these years, that I’ve maintained that I’m pro-choice. I don’t think I’m all-knowing. I don’t think it’s up to me to tell others what to believe, what to feel, what is right. Because there are others who are just as adamant that a cluster of cells does not a human make. Whether they believe this wrongly or not—who am I to say? I have friends and loved ones who have gotten abortions. I’ve only ever known after the fact; in most cases it happened before I even knew them. I don’t think any of them made the decision lightly, and I think they all believed they ultimately made the right decision. I think, to some extent, they have to believe that. How else would you live with yourself? BUT. But but but. If any of them, if she, had come to me, before, and said, “This is what I’m going to do,” would I have tried to stop her? To talk her out of it? Or would I have trusted her to make the right decision for her life?
The thing is, I tend to trust. Looking back on these women who I love and respect and the situations in which they found themselves, I don’t know that I would have tried to talk them out of it. I think I would have just given her all the love I could, knowing she was making what was maybe the hardest decision of her life. I would probably have asked, “Are you sure?” I might have asked, “Have you weighed all other options? Really considered them, and what doing this might mean?” But, ultimately, I would have supported her. Maybe not supported her decision, but her, if that makes sense. The person behind the decision. I would have hugged her hard, brought food and tea. Respecting that ultimately, it’s her life, not mine. Unless I’m going to offer to take her child and raise it, but even then…
It’s a question with no good answer. It’s a gray issue, murky and spotty and riddled with quicksand, but those most outspoken about it tend to present it as black or white. And I understand that, I really do. I understand, and…I have no good answer. I don’t know that I’m truly pro-choice. I don’t want abortion to exist. But, the problem is, it does. And whether it remains legal or not, it always will. I believe the best way to make it as rare as possible is to educate our kids. I do think this is mostly the parents’ responsibility, but the problem is, not all parents are going to take on the task. I think we need more resources for women, for children, for teenagers, for all of us. We need options, health care, help. We need honesty. We need to take better care of each other.