How I Became Pro-Choice

It’s Friday, and I’m watching Glenn Hegar shoot down every amendment – both reasonable and unreasonable – to a bill that will reduce Texas to five abortion clinics and consign many women to the substandard care it’s author claims it will avoid.

I’ve been watching for weeks now as the Senate and House do their dead-level darnedest to drown out the cacophony of actual citizenry demanding better for the women of Texas. And I realized that even if I organized the most hilarious nationwide protest ever (which I nearly did), I wasn’t truly lending my voice to this because I had never truly explained what lead me to be pro-choice – or why I oppose the systemic and pervasive punishment of the female sex by men – specifically men in one party.

I am pro-choice because I am blessed. I have a loving husband, a beautiful child, a wonderful home, and a loving and inclusive church family. It is because of all those things that I realize I simply do not have a frame of reference for the scared teenage girl who just realized she’s missed her period, the woman with the abusive husband who knows that keeping her pregnant and vulnerable is a good way to get her to stay put, the raped woman who has to endure further violation of a transvaginal ultrasound, or even the couple who realizes that one night together does not parents make. While I personally can’t imagine deciding to have an abortion, I also realize that since I’m not any of those women, I can’t in good conscience make my decision her decision. And I can’t abide the thought of women dying – and they will – because they seek a closer and unsafe alternative because the closest clinic closed. Or dying because that same clinic was the one that would’ve caught their cervical cancer when it was treatable and survivable.

But really, this bill is a shortsighted attempt to end abortion. Why shortsighted? Because what would really reduce abortion is comprehensive sex ed that taught science-based, realistic methods of preventing pregnancy. What would really reduce abortion is better access to less expensive birth control. What would really reduce abortion is better prenatal and post natal care for women most vulnerable to have an unintended pregnancy.

And most of those things were offered as amendments to this bill. All were rejected. And what is worse, many who voted and will vote for this bill have a history of voting down legislation that should by all accounts be considered quite pro-life – like covering longer prenatal care for the “preborn” or funding education or expanding Medicaid. They are no more pro-life than I am a blueberry muffin.

But all of that is what is within the orbit of why I am against this bill so adamantly. The real reason is this much more personal, and only a handful of people knew until now. The fact that I need to share this makes me sad, but I’ve come to realize that the only way for people to know that this bill affects their health, too, is for me to share.

So, here it goes. A few months ago, I was pregnant. I excitedly made an appointment with my OB, went in, and had a sono.

There was nothing there. No matter, my blood tests revealed the pregnancy was progressing so far, so I was to come back in for another sono. The next week, there was a sac, so we began operating under the assumption that I ovulated later than I thought. Next week’s sono came around, and there it was – a little flickering heartbeat.

But something was very, very wrong. The fetal pole (the beginnings of the nervous system) was very small. The heartbeat was very, very slow. The yolk sac was larger than normal. It was clear that this embryo would likely die. I walked around with this knowledge for a week until my next sono – there was no heartbeat.

I sat in a fog in a waiting room until my doctor’s scheduler could find an opening for my D&C. I watched happy pregnant women come and go, and tried not to look tragic – I failed miserably. My procedure was scheduled a week away, and I left. Every day I prayed I’d just start bleeding and have to avoid it. But the morning arrived, I arrived at the center, was sedated and woke up no longer pregnant. Just like that.

I was given – as a matter of course designed to cut down on trips to the ER post procedure – a prescription for a drug that is also used for abortions. In fact, the very procedure I had is also used in abortions. The fact that this bill could also make an already horrible time even more difficult saddens and worries me.

It also saddens me that this bill is a trend. North Dakota’s new law prohibits abortions after 6 weeks – and many people don’t find out their pregnant until then. And then there is the fact that in Mississippi, a woman is being accused of a felony because she miscarried, and a Virginia politician would like to make it a crime to miscarry and not report it.

Yes, we have come so far that we would punish a woman for something that is sadly a natural phenomenon. The fact that there are people out there that would’ve liked to place me in handcuffs right after I came out of sedation makes me know for a certainty that there is evil in the world – and it doesn’t wear a burnt orange shirt.

The only way we can change this tide is to go to the voting booth. If they won’t listen to our voices at the Capitol, they will for certain hear us when they are packing up their offices and leaving office. You may think that this bill is not about you, and doesn’t need your attention or voice. But you either have a vagina or came from one. This bill will most certainly harm someone you know in some way. And this tidal wave of misogyny that is trying to invade our country will only harm this country in ways unimaginable.

If the thought of the government telling you that you were not allowed to have children upsets you, well, you are pro-choice.

9 Comments

  1. Little Sister, so sorry to read such sadness. No empty platitudes to offer, except may the next time go better. Which it did for me, and I hope for you too. You are still one of my favorite mom/writers. Oh, and I have a great babysitter for your next date night.

    Reply

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story. My daughter went through almost exactly the same thing with her first pregnancy. It was heartbreaking for everyone.

    I truly hope that the passage of this bill causes women in Texas to mobilize and vote these politicians out of office. Who knows, maybe the Supreme Court will take this up in get it right.

    Reply

  3. A powerful and openly considered take on this endlessly sensitive issue. Those who think being pro-choice is flat-out wrong seem not to realize that they themselves are exercising a choice to ignore the hardship faced by women in all walks of life. They also seem not to realize that choice and privilege go hand in hand, and that they might think differently were they living under tragic circumstances such as those you describe. You are a brave soul for sharing these experiences. Here’s hoping it will inspire others to rethink their sexist (and classist) ways.

    Reply

  4. I am a pro choice Catholic for the same reasons as you. Many miscarriages, and the very emotional medical decision needs to stay in the private and confidential relationship between the patient and the doctor. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

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