Friday, January 23, 2009

Blogging for Choice (one day late): People I Know

Since yesterday was the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, bloggers everywhere celebrated by blogging for choice. I'm a bit late, but I thought I'd share some stories about people in my life, and their reproductive choices. A totally autobiographical, policy-free journal entry.

Since moving to Chicago, I’ve gotten to know a beautiful family of six – we’ll call them the Rogers family. The husband and wife are young, happy, and in love. They have four children under the age of seven. Their father is a Catholic youth minister and a graduate student in theology. When I met Cara, their mom, I was struck by how very young she was to be the mother of four children. As I got to know them, I began to realize that Cara fully expected to bear more children – she didn’t know when, but she assumed another child would someday come. It became clear that Cara and her husband didn’t use contraception. Cara is vehemently pro-life, and is frightened by Obama’s presidency for this very reason. She has four beautiful children, and her husband was adopted. When she discusses abortion, you can see the “What if” in her eyes: What if I’d “chosen” to abort my oldest daughter, who’s now learning to play the violin? What if my husband’s birth mother hadn’t “chosen” adoption?

And then I think about the reproductive history of my own family, and the way even we – a middle-class, white family from the Northeast – represent so many different kinds of reproductive choices. One member of my family gave a baby up for adoption twenty-five years ago. Another aborted her pregnancy in secret last year. Another experienced horrible post-partum depression after the birth of her only child. Another couple adopted a baby girl from Korea, after the birth their biological son a few years before. My family includes one childless gay couple, one childless straight couple, and at least one granddaughter - that's me - on the pill.

I take that little white pill, knowing that it gives me the freedom to have an adult relationship without becoming a mother. Knowing that it levels the playing field of sexual consequences for me and my partner. Knowing that it protects my body from an experience that my life can't contain yet. Knowing that this pill is -- in many ways -- the reason why I can apply to graduate school, play my instrument, go for a run, plan a vacation, write in my blog, and yes, have sex, all in the same life.

In my family, and across the country, there are mothers who stayed at home, mothers who went back to work, and mothers who made the decision they weren’t ready to be mothers yet. These were all people who had a choice.

And then there’s my friend from Tanzania, who learned she was pregnant with twins just after graduating from high school. She wasn’t with a man she had any intention of marrying. Those babies were born two weeks ago, and received a joyous welcome from their mother, father, and grandmother. Those babies were born to a woman who had a choice.

So sure, I want fewer abortions. Therefore I want accessible, affordable, safe, awesome birth control for everyone. I want scientific, shame-free, comprehensive, compassionate sex education for everyone. I want affordable child care and health care for parents, so that they can take care of their children. I want good jobs in our country, so that parents can work and support their families. I want a society with MATERIAL PROOF of its appreciation for mothers, and fathers too.

And even when all these things are in place, many women will still need abortions. Because people make mistakes, because it’s not the right time, because there’s no money and because he’s not the right person and because you can’t do it. And when they go to get their abortions, I don’t want it to be frightening or sad. I don’t want any woman to have to go through abortion alone. I don’t want abortion to be shameful, I don’t want it to be secret, and I certainly don’t want its access to be restricted.

And in this little utopia, I want all the above named people – friends, family, mothers, fathers – to respect each other’s choices. Is this too much to ask?

1 comment:

Arvilla said...

Lovely post. I like your utopia.

Also, can I get an amen for the peace of mind the very existence of Plan B provides?