I respect the intention to connect and consider the unborn; but ultimately, it is the decision of the mother to nurture the fetus or not. The debate does not recognize the magnamity of being a parent nor does it respect the needs of the mother which have to drive the decision nurture or not. No mother makes that decision lightly: it is agonizing and it has dire repercussions for the future of that woman.
I want to understand why the "pro-life" movements thinks that society has a collective right to override a woman's decision on such an intimate and life-altering decision. The way I see it, government legislation over fertility sets dangerous precedents in family planning issues like access to procedures such as vasectomies and tubal ligation and in end-of-life care issues such as DNR orders.
Why should government be so involved in these kinds deeply personal health and family issues?
I grew up with no information about birth control and with a deep need for the love and protection I didn't get from my father. I am deeply familiar with the kinds of emotional needs that drive women to make poor choices in intimacy. At 23, I was still not using birth control, and became pregnant. Deeply depressed and alone in my life, I chose to have an abortion. The clinic visit for the abortion was the first time I had any comprehensive review of birth control options, and I went on the pill.
At 20, I was raped by the uncle of a friend in a foreign country; I did not go to the police. Fortunately, I did not become pregnant. I simply cannot fathom a society that would force a woman to have a baby originating in a rape or incestuous relation.
I think that human sexuality is a complex issue, that there are so many intricate factors that play into whether a woman has an unplanned pregnancy. I believe that the conversation should shift to policies that lessen unplanned pregnancy. Men should be included in the discussion. Centering the conversation on abortion criminalizes a women's role in sexuality. And in criminalizing that role, we are left with an environment in which it's okay to kill doctors who perform this procedure, in which women don't feel safe sharing their stories, and which doesn't look at the very depressing statistics of women raising children alone.
Two in five women have had an abortion. It's a open secret and those of us who have had abortions don't talk about them and can't talk about them. The frame of reference should include privacy, whether women have a right to own their uteruses or whether the government gets to legislate that. It should also include the impact on women's equality - unless women can control their family planning, they can't achieve economic and social equality.
I am a practicing Buddhist. I do not believe that life begins at conception. And I believe that this decision is for the individual who will have to answer for whatever karma derives from abortion.
Thanks for opening this dialogue. I am 47 now, and I am raising two children alone. Being a parent has compelled me to do a lot of healing work to be a better parent. But I have resources most don't have.
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