The argument for unborn babies is a rough one to share, especially for someone like me. See, I was a crusader for the other camp once. I believed 100% that the choice should be left to a woman if she wanted a baby and no judgmental conservative was going to tell me differently. I didn’t believe that my sex life had ANY bearing whatsoever on whether or not I might have accidentally gotten pregnant and it wasn’t MY fault if an “accident” happened and I got pregnant. It was easy enough to take care of, should that happen… because really… what sort of life would it be for a child to come into my unstable, insane world?
How dare some crazy church lady tell me I had to keep a baby I made with some guy I barely knew who took me home for a one night stand or a guy I’d been casually dating but really didn’t like very much? How dare I be forced into parenthood by someone’s religious belief I did not share! How dare anyone who didn’t know me judge me for my choices when it was MY body! Was that broad going to pay my medical bills? Was she going to put my kid through school and pay for daycare or buy me a car that could fit a car seat? Was SHE going to make sure that baby grew up happy when I would have to be a single mom with a full time job, barely home and no real connection to it‘s father? I believed I had a choice because I was the woman, I was the one who’s life, body and future would be torn apart and rebuilt. I believed I held the power. I believed it was best for everyone involved, because if a mom didn’t even want the baby, what kind of life would that baby have, anyway? What was the point, bringing a life into this world that even it’s own mother didn’t want? Why create such misery? Why not just release the spirit back to the universe, “thank you, but no thank you, be on your way with blessings and find a family who will love you” and guilt-free, move forward into the next chapter of our lives? Why not? And what about rape victims? Were we really going to force them into motherhood with the demon spawn of the person who violated them? THAT is what’s cruel, right?
See, I’ve made all the arguments. I have also walked friends through those doors and sat with them, held their hands and cried with them as they made their choice. I knew it was the hardest decision of their lives and I loved them through it and supported them. Now, please don’t misunderstand, I didn’t wake up one day and think “wow, my friends are terrible people I can never respect them again!” NO. Please don’t ever read into what I am saying to think I don’t love people who have made decisions I don’t agree with. I still love them and I don’t judge them for decisions made 20+ years ago. I know why they made their choices and they are THEIR choices to bear. Or not. Either way, I love them. Nor am I saying abortion should be banned, impossible to get or illegal. Illegal abortions are nothing less than torture and often result in death or severe medical complication and the idea of them being illegal is nothing short of horrifying. But that doesn’t mean we have to encourage them. That doesn’t mean we have to lie to prospective mothers and tell them it’s “easy”.
Anyway, here’s what happened to turn that tide for me.
Once upon a time, I was pregnant. 6 weeks in, working as a supervisor in a corporate office in Los Angeles. Outside of my husband, I had only told one person; my boss, and was terrified. I’d already lost one pregnancy 2 months prior and I was walking on eggshells trying to do everything right so this baby would stay with me.
At the time, I was a total “pro-choice” person. I believed that even if I wouldn’t be able to do it myself, it was not my right to judge, or to get in the way of another woman’s right to make that choice for herself. Anyway, at one point around the 6-7 week of my pregnancy, one of my team members came to me in confidence, as her supervisor (not my friend), asking for advice. She didn’t really want advice. She wanted validation for the decision she had already made. She wanted to abort her child. She was two weeks farther along than I had been when I miscarried just 2 months prior and she was explaining to me all the ways her life would be ruined if she went forward with the pregnancy. As I sat with her, wanting to be supportive and caring, I was physically repulsed instead. I didn’t mean to be, it wasn’t intentional. As I spoke with her, she discussed what days would be best to take off work and how she intended on being back and ready to work again after as little down time as possible and she was earnest in her commitment to do better at her job for her future and her life… to make the “sacrifice” worth it. As though the death of her unborn child would be the foundation of her success… the sacrifice to her golden temple gods, the ones who give her plastic surgery, Prada shoes and a handbag worth more than my paycheck. I couldn’t support her. I wanted to and I couldn’t do it. I didn’t judge her, I didn’t think I was better than she was, I didn’t get angry with her… I just couldn’t sit there and hold her hand and tell her whatever she decided was okay.
I explained to her that I was pregnant, trying not to lose my child, a child who was younger than the one inside her. I told her all of this made it difficult to hear what she was saying. I explained that I’d already lost a pregnancy a few months prior and I was in dodgy waters with this pregnancy. I told her I was so sorry but I couldn’t be her confidant, her counselor, I could not support her, not this time. I would grant her the time off, support her at work in any way I could, but to protect my own heart, already so fragile from losing a baby a few months before and my brain now flooded with pregnancy chemicals, I just couldn’t engage in the conversation to support her decision to terminate the life of her baby. When I was trying so desperately to hold onto mine, it was, in every way, repulsing me to talk about this.
I told her I understood she’d made her choice, but to do herself one favor and really consider her decision and what was motivating her to make it. Was it fear? Was it lack of support? Was it money? I didn’t try to lead her to any choice or thought, only to do herself the favor of making sure she was 100% sure and that she was not being led by some outside voice to care less than she actually did. I encouraged her to do this only so that when looking back, she wouldn’t be looking with regret, feeling manipulated by people who were willing to allow their judgement to rule her and her baby’s life.
She thanked me for that, explained that she did care, but had no support and only people telling her to terminate it and move on. I wanted to hold her, to hug her, to support her and to help her understand that she DID have support and that her baby deserved a mother who was strong enough to keep it alive as long as possible…. but I didn’t. I nodded and I told her I was so sorry she had to make this terrible decision and that if she DID want support, if she decided to change her mind, I’d be here for her and would do whatever I could to help her. She cried and said thank you and we moved forward in the conversation. Eventually it was over and we were both back to work. I had a sick stomach the whole rest of the day. My heart was sad for her and worried for the tiny life within me. I agreed to make it easier for the death of one baby while I was trying so hard to keep mine alive. It was a brutal, confusing, conflicting and hypocritical place to be and I was literally, physically sick with it.
I expected her to understand, to see that I bared my soul in ways a supervisor shouldn’t, shared with her my loss and my hopeful future to explain why I just couldn’t agree with her choice even if I gave her time off… but she didn’t. She became angry and it turned into an HR issue because I wasn’t supporting her “right to choose”. I had to explain to the HR manager that I supported her as much as I could as a supervisor, but not as a friend. That I’d had to make that clear to her because there were some things I just couldn’t bear to hear right then. I explained why and they understood. The issue was dropped, but it became a problem at work. Interpersonal turmoil was stirred up as a result; All her friends, who also reported to me, ended up hating me because I was, apparently, a “self-righteous bitch”. It became one part of a downward spiral at that job for me which eventually showed me just how much of myself I had to sacrifice for the sake of my job.
Two weeks after that conversation, I lost the baby. My baby inside my body died, just a few days after “the cells” were removed from her’s. Where it was called a “baby” in my body as it passed, it was called “tissue” in hers. It all no longer made any sense. It was a wakeup call. It was a revelation.
I’ve kept the reality of my perspective to myself for years. I am surrounded by women who fight for the right to choose and it puts me in an awkward place, but with this whole crusade pretending to be for women when it’s really just a profound example of agism and prejudice against children, mothers and parenthood in general, I just can’t keep my mouth shut anymore.
The fight for abortion is a lack of respect of women, not a fight to empower them. It’s saying, creation is not as important as money. It’s saying, don’t inconvenience anyone by being a mother. It’s saying, stuff, stature and money is more important than life.
So, my fight now is to encourage people to change the conversation. I believe if we were more willing to support mothers, if we were actually respectful of women and children in this world, we would fight for them and stand up for them and we would demand the world respects them. We need to provide more services for women and girls who find themselves pregnant to honor them as mothers instead of making them feel they have to hide it, kill it and pretend it never happened. Most abortions are motivated by fear. Fear of loss of a guy, a parent, respect from community, fear of change. If we could change this conversation to one where a girl felt empowered when she realized she was literally a source of creation instead of ashamed of it, if we allowed her to be Goddess instead of Jezebel, maybe she wouldn’t be afraid. If we as a world community could support these women instead of condemning them, they wouldn’t be afraid. If we respected mothers in the workplace, women wouldn’t have to terminate their pregnancies in order to be successful. If we truly respected women and children in our society, maybe women wouldn’t terminate their baby’s lives in order to keep their friends and boyfriends.
The truth that I believe most feminists are not seeing, is this; if you deny motherhood, you do not respect women. If you are ashamed of becoming pregnant and encourage a girl to terminate their pregnancy and deny this aspect of their being, you do not respect women. You respect convenience, materialism and power… not women and certainly not children.
I believe the world needs to hear the stories of moms like me who fought for the other side, who understand the fear, the judgement the hatred and the pain of those who have gone through it and STILL stand with the babies who don’t get a choice about whether they get to live or die.
My new “soapbox” with this isn’t to judge anyone who has done it, but only to ask them to please consider we change the conversation and our perspective. Respect and support mothers. Stop making it okay to treat a life like an unwanted possession. To please honor, respect and support women of any age who are with child at ANY stage of their pregnancy and to honor the lives they are building within them. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind, but only to share my thoughts and maybe allow people an opportunity to consider another perspective.
As October is Child & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month, I found it particularly important to share these things with others, as so many mothers or would-be mothers grieve the loss of CHILDREN who were taken at the same gestation age as those purposefully removed who are NOT called children, but only referred to as “tissue” or, “cells” and this reality needs to be better brought to light.
I’ll be talking more about this in the coming weeks, probably writing things no one will read because it’s not popular to take this side, especially when you’re not a right-wing conservative. In the end, I just want everyone to have a voice, especially those who can’t speak for themselves.