(Ready, Cate? 1. Open can of worms. 2. Dump on head.)
NPR recently reported that in some Planned Parenthood clinics, the abortion rate is up.
We’ve seen some people who said that they didn’t really think that they would ever be making this decision, but recognize that this is a time when they have to think about taking care of the families that they have.
I’ve mentioned my mama before around here. She’s the home-birthin’, articulate and soft-spoken, intelligent and wonderful mother of 6 girls. Six vocal girls.
She raised me and my sisters to be pro-life feminists. Then, when I was pregnant with my first child, I became pro-choice.
Birth is natural. Our bodies were meant to do this.
Don’t let the men of the world tell you or show you that what your body was made to do is wrong. You’re just feeding in to their chauvinism.
Men have somehow convinced women to avoid what their body naturally does. That is, carry babies and give birth. Now women are even standing up for abortion and turning away from themselves.
Ever wonder if “pro-life feminism” is an oxymoron? The way my mom taught us, it is most certainly not. She’s a religious woman, but [thankfully] never forced us into church pews any more than she forced us to agree with her beliefs. She also didn’t believe that “God punishes all women for what Eve did with the pains of childbirth.” Because frankly, natural childbirth wasn’t all that bad. (And in my experience, it’s the worst pain you’ll ever forget…quickly.) Women’s bodies were, instead, wonderfully designed to do this amazing thing: grow and provide for a baby, and then give birth.
Don’t let them take that away from you! Don’t let society tell you that it’s wrong! Don’t let them make you feel that children are an “inconvenience.”
I very much believed that, once even going so far as to write a letter to Ms. Magazine asking them to examine “Pro-Life Feminism” (they refused).
But I still agree with that. As the mother of two boys and stepmother to two girls, I believe in birth and life. But it’s just not that simple.
When I was pregnant with Little L, my older son, I left his father. After catching him with another woman (on my birthday, no less) and discovering an increasingly horrible drug problem, I called off our engagement and moved out. And once I realized that the drugs were creating violence in him, I completely cut off contact with him, even though that meant losing out on a relationship with his then-3-year-old son, who I’d cared for 4-5 days a week for two years. It was a hard choice, but my priority was keeping myself and my unborn child safe.
During my transition from engaged woman to single mama, I had a handful of awesome women to support me. When I left Little L’s father, I moved in with a dear friend, who happens to be a bit younger than my mom. Two of my sisters lived here in Virginia (the rest of my family is in the Chicago ‘burbs) and were always around. I had my natural midwife, who very holistically asked me about my mental state and how I was adjusting every time I visited her. When I started to have “cramps” from the stress of the changes, I began to see a therapist, also a woman. I rented a house and moved in with another single mother and her young daughter. I became friends with the Pastry Chef at the resort hotel where I worked, who admired my supposed “strength” and was endlessly encouraging. Every time I needed someone to talk to, there was someone there. To help, to listen. I could pick up the phone and vent to any sister, and when I didn’t, they’d call me.
I was going to be a mother. Alone, which I had not planned. But everywhere I turned, I had support.
I know it sounds contradictory: “keeping my unborn child safe”, while becoming pro-choice. It happened out of nowhere, and was a surprise to even me.
At some point, I realized that most women don’t have to be thrown against a wall during pregnancy. Most don’t have a table thrown at them and duck while covering the belly. Of course, as a feisty feminist, I knew this was not “normal” and got out before it became regular behavior.
But I also knew that most women do not have the support network that I had at hand. Most women overall, not just pregnant women in bad situations. If another woman were in my situation, pregnant, how could I ask her to carry the child? That was my choice, yes. But would my choice be different if I had no one?
I felt Little L move very early for a first pregnancy (12 weeks). I am thankful for him every day. I was thankful for him every day that I was a single mom, too. No matter how I struggled at times. But Little L and I had incredible people in our lives. People who babysat for free so I could work. People who bought us loads of clothes or sent us Whole Foods gift cards. People who thought about what we needed and gave and gave and gave, without us ever asking.
Most women—most poor families—do not have that.
How can we ask women to stay safe, protect the children they have, and leave a bad relationship without support? How can policymakers simultaneously rail against abortion while cutting funding for food stamps or TANF or proposing “welfare reform”?
I don’t think we as a society can. Look critically at your beliefs, especially if you don’t agree with me. Work hard to provide for the life around you. Work to help those with less. Especially in this economy.
If you are against abortion, ensure that the multitudes of poor women have other choices. Until there is justice and support for them, abortion must be one of those choices.