Sunday, January 22, 2006

Blogging for choice

I would not be where I am today if it were not for Roe v. Wade. I would have a 21 year old child.

Yes, I got pregnant at 16. And I ended that pregnancy. It was not something I really wanted to do. It was something I had to do. If I'd carried that pregnancy to term, I would have had to drop out of high school, possibly. I doubt I would have made it to the selective liberal arts college I ended up in, which provided me a wonderful education and opened many doors for me. I wouldn't have gone to graduate school, surely. I had a hard enough time supporting myself as a grad student; there was no way I could have supported a child. Not going to grad school would have meant that I wouldn't have met Mr. Geeky and I certainly wouldn't have had the Geeky Kids.

I got pregnant because I was stupid. I had no idea how to get a hold of birth control. I had no idea how my body worked, so that at the very least, I could have timed sex appropriately. No one had discussed sex with me, not until after I was pregnant. I finally took a sex education class when I was a junior in high school, about 6 months after I'd had an abortion. I'm sure there were others in the class who'd been in my shoes or who'd nearly been there.

Being middle class, I might have been able to obtain an abortion anyway. As it was, I still had to travel to another state. My mother went with me. Much as I complain about my mother and much as I wish she'd talked to me sooner, she didn't make me feel ashamed or as if I'd made a huge mistake. I think she blamed herself as much as she blamed me. She simply supported me. She rubbed my back when I threw up in the parking lot afterwards. This whole experience is the only thing that keeps her voting for democrats. It was hard enough for her to watch me get a legal abortion. I think she can't imagine what might have happened if abortion had been illegal and I had tried to obtain one on my own.

Education is key. We have to stop thinking that the "just say no" campaign is going to work when it comes to sex. If you are a parent, talk to your kids early and often. Make birth control accessible (keep condoms in the closet, for example). If you're not a parent, keep campaigning for better sex education in the schools. We also have to make safe and legal abortions accessible to those in poor and rural areas. Unwanted children increase the likelihood of their parents living in poverty and they themselves are more likely to live in poverty even as adults. In many of these areas, girls need to understand that getting pregnant does not mean the guy will stick around and it's not all fun and games to raise a child.

Though I have no bitter feelings or guilt or sadness about my decision, I certainly wouldn't want anyone to go through what I went through. It's not easy, physically or mentally. It's also not easy, if you've had an abortion, to hear people call you a murderer. I once had to walk past signs of mutilated fetuses on my way to a regular checkup at Planned Parenthood. If anything, my decision has given me a life, a life I never would have had otherwise and a life for which I am eternally grateful. Shouldn't every woman be allowed this opportunity at life?