When I was first envisioning my blog and getting myself established, this was one of the few posts I knew I really, really wanted to write. But on the other hand, up until now I really, really did not want to write it at all. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to quite phrase my opinions correctly, or that I would lose followers, or a billion other things. But finally I realized that I was going to have to sit down and write it sooner or later so, here it is. My stance on abortion, and all the weirdness that comes along with it. If you don’t want your religious sensitivities offended, or if you have triggers relating to the topic, then please, don’t risk reading this post. I know that abortion is a complex and intense issue that I don’t have a full grasp on, but I still want to say my piece. You’ve been given fair warning.
When I first heard of abortion, I was around nine. My mom had taken me with her to vote, and I asked the man at the desk why I wasn’t allowed to vote until I was eighteen (I was a very opinionated little tween, you see, and I thought my voice deserved to be heard as much as anybody else’s). And he asked me kindly to give him list of the issues that the current candidates were discussing. To be honest with you, I can’t really remember what the issues plaguing the nation were during the 2008 presidential election. I’ve got a short and selective memory. But I somehow managed to rattle off a list of issues, and my opinions on them, that the man told me was quite impressive for someone of my age. And then he asked me, “What about abortion?”
I felt a flush spread across my cheeks. I had no idea what he was talking about. And for a second there I had even believed I might’ve been on the way to gaining myself the right to vote.
After we left, I asked my mom what abortion was, and she took a few tries before she figured out what to say. I was young, with a poor understanding of the birds and the bees, and on top of that abortion is a pretty heavy topic even for adults. It probably wasn’t an easy parenting moment for her. But finally she explained to me that they take the baby out of a mom’s “tummy” so that the baby never gets born. And being the naïve little child that I was, my immediate response was, “But why would they kill the baby?”
My mom tried to explain to me again that when they took the baby out, it was “nothing more than a few cells like a cold virus.” And this made more sense to me–it was easier to wrap my little brain around if I didn’t imagine this entity of baby as an actual person.
But I was getting frustrated with her. I had to repeat my question. “Why would they kill the baby?”
My mom has never, ever believed in sheltering me, but I think the topic was just a little too much for her. She shut me down, saying that people could have a lot of reasons, and that it wasn’t something that I should have to think about anytime soon. I just accepted that I wasn’t getting my answers and went back to playing on my Gameboy or frying a frog under a magnifying glass or whatever else a nine-year-old does in their spare time. I put the thought from my mind. Abortion, and babies in general, didn’t really apply to me. So I forgot about it.
I’m not sure at what point I formed my own opinion on abortion. I grew up listening to my dad rant at the radio about something called a “Planned Parenthood” and something else called a “Republicans” but it was a long time before I actually came to know what those words meant. I was probably around twelve or thirteen when I started researching and reading on the internet, trying to form my own thoughts and views, trying to develop my own sense of justice.
I didn’t want the cold, hard, clinical facts or statistics–I knew most of those already from school and from general common knowledge and from listening to NPR with my dad on the way to school every morning. No, what I wanted was personal stories, survivors’ accounts. The actual, emotional impacts of having your baby taken out of you before it’s born.
And what I found was so, so incredibly heartbreaking.
I read stories of women who were forced to have abortions by their partners. I read stories of women who were told the sex of their baby after it was terminated. I read stories of women who regretted their abortions and gave names to the entity that would have been their child. I read stories of women who put flowers on a tombstone that rested over an empty grave, so consumed with regret for the life they had taken. And I did not know what to make of any of it.
In my personal, honest opinion, I am pro-life. And I know I’m supposed to be all “Rah-rah girl power!” about the whole thing, but I can’t change the way that I feel. I think that abortion is a terribly sad, and intense, and misunderstood topic. And just thinking about it makes me feel really, really terrible.
I am pro-life, but I am also pro-choice. Because when I think of the emotional impacts of giving up a child for adoption–when I think of the countless children being raised in foster care–when I think of the lives that may have been ruined because of a cluster of cells being allowed to become a consciousness–I realize that it is not my right to make anybody else’s decision for them. It’s not like choosing to abort a child is an easy choice for somebody to make. It’s not like a woman wakes up one day and thinks “I’m going to get pregnant, and then I’m going to terminate it!”
If a woman wants to have an abortion, then it is my personal belief that the woman is the one who gets to decide. Nobody else gets to choose for her. It is my belief that not all unwanted pregnancies have to be terminated–but the choice to terminate the pregnancy should be given. And it is my belief that if an individual chooses to “kill” the cluster of cells growing inside of her–a cluster of cells which hasn’t even developed a consciousness yet–then that is her decision.
However, I do not think that abortion is an acceptable alternative to birth control. I think that if a woman does have sex, she needs to ensure that the sex is as safe and responsible as possible. And while this responsibility also falls on her partner, nobody can fully ensure a woman’s safety but themselves. I think that our public schools (trust me on this, I attend one of them) need to have more thorough and comprehensive sex-education courses that extend beyond “abstinence only” mentality. I think birth control needs to be more readily available and I think that our nation’s teens need to be educated on how to use it.
However, these are only my opinions. I know I still have a lot to learn. All viewpoints and opinions are welcome and I am always, always looking to educate myself. Please feel free to comment below and join the discussion.