Archive | February, 2017

Why I won’t say “I would never” anymore…

21 Feb

 

Hearing plenty of pro-life talk, the common theme seems to always be some variation of women who choose abortion are irresponsible and selfish.  Judge-y adjectives to describe people who could never be “like me.”  Not me, not any of my friends or family.  Those types of adjectives serve one reason–to separate the people using them and make the people using them feel superior. “We would never make that choice.”

 

And for a time, while I have always been pro-choice, I would even say it–“I would never do it, but if someone else chooses to, that’s her choice.”  Just that statement alone, in some way, casts judgment on a woman who chooses abortion.  I would never…

 

And man was it easy to say I would never have an abortion when I’d never been in a position to have to make that choice.  I’ve never even been pregnant, via “mistake” or attempt to get pregnant.  So I’ve never had to face that difficult choice.

 

Until I did have to face it.

 

In our quest to become parents, there have been plenty of ups and downs, and ultimately no kids, despite years of trying, fertility treatments and even a brief foray into the world of fostering. But wait…what does any of that have to do with abortion??

 

After years of trying to conceive, we’d exhausted all of the “easy” oral treatment options, and had to move on to the “big guns”–needles and IUI/IVF.  I remember being told that before we could go any further with infertility treatments, we had to attend a class on injectables. I was already heart broken over the previous failures, and there were many. I was tired, depressed, scared, nervous about the prospect of needles and all of the possible side effects of over-stimulating my ovaries. But going to that meeting, we were faced with yet another possible “side effect”–the possibility of “selective reduction.”  And yup.  That’s exactly what it sounds like–in the chance that too many eggs fertilize (with injections/IUI/IVF, the chances of this happening are increased), genetic testing would be conducted and then we would be asked to select embryos to eliminate based on health and gender.  To protect my life, to protect our babies’ lives, to give us the best chances of taking home healthy kid(s).  Selective reduction.  AKA selective abortion.

 

Abortion.

 

At first, I was incredulous–I couldn’t help but laugh.  What are the chances that after years of trying to conceive ANY baby, we’d be faced with TOO MANY babies???

 

And then I sobbed.  What the actual fuck.  We were sitting around the doctor’s waiting room, with 4 other couples we didn’t know (who were in the same baby-making boat as us), having a conversation about aborting babies.  The real possibility of having to make that choice.  And before we could proceed, we had to acknowledge that we understood this possibility and would be ready to make difficult choices as needed.

 

And so we talked.  We cried.  I cried some more.  I cried a lot back then–when I think about how I was feeling during that time frame, it’s pretty dark.  Infertility is hard.  Maybe the hardest thing I’ve done.

 

I can’t imagine judging someone for making the decision to have an abortion.  I had always been pro-choice for a million different reasons.  Because I am a feminist.  Because I believe women should have control of their bodies and therefore their lives. Because I KNOW you can’t take that decision away from someone. Because abortion will always be an option–it’s just a matter of whether it’s a safe one or not.  Because I have seen what happens when kids are born to parents who aren’t ready or able to care for them–I’ve worked with many of them through the years, and it’s devastating and heart-breaking.

 

But being in that moment, having to possibly face that decision, I had an all-new respect for the women (and men) who have to have those difficult conversations and make those decisions.

 

And so we ultimately decided to go for it.  To cross “that bridge” if and when we came to it.

 

But then I cried more, agonizing over the fact that “if and when we got to it,” we would be judged by people.  People who would say there’s no reason to have an abortion, no circumstance–my life, our babies’ lives–that could justify it.  People who would tell us that just by pursuing these treatments, we were wrong, we were messing with “god’s plan” and that we needed to leave it alone.  Some people, after all, just aren’t meant to be parents (the number of times I’ve heard this sickens me).

 

All that judgment shouldn’t have bothered me…maybe it was all the fake hormones…but feeling that, whether real or perceived, was at times paralyzing.  I felt like no matter what decision we made regarding my treatment, someone would be upset with us, someone would feel what we were doing was wrong.

 

We obviously never became pregnant.  “That bridge” was never crossed.  And for that I am thankful because I can only imagine the heartbreak and sorrow it would cause.

 

And so one more reason, a much more personal one, was added to the reasons why I will remain staunchly pro-choice. And that I won’t say “I would never” anymore. Critics of this reason will point out that selective reduction makes up for a very small percentage of abortions. But my point will continue to be that abortion, for whatever reason, will always be a deeply personal, deeply emotional decision.  I used to think that the face of abortion was the irresponsible, selfish woman.  Now I know that abortion has many faces.  And some of them look just like me and, yes, even you.

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