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Though I live in Nebraska now, I was born and raised in South Florida to a family of Democrats. Though my family was not overtly political, I would say we were a pro-choice family. I grew up into feminism from an inherent sense of equality, and as I delved into academic and activist feminism in college, I became very familiar with the standard feminist pro-choice position. I even wrote an op-ed in my college newspaper stating that the only difference between Gore/Democrat and Bush/Republican was abortion rights. (Boy was I wrong there!) I understand and support the standard pro-choice reasoning.

However, shortly after college, I got pregnant. I was not married. My boyfriend lived in another state (Nebraska). I was in an entry-level job and lived with my parents. An ardent feminist and pro-choice supporter in a classic scenario, right?

I never once thought about abortion. I was so happy to be carrying a child. The love my son has brought into my life is beyond anything I could have reasoned. My experience as a mother has colored my thoughts on the abortion debate. And as I have matured, I have tired of the strident positions and negative energy on both sides of the debate. It's time to rethink things when this one single issue informs your vote. There are so many things going badly right now. It's time to introduce tolerance and nuance back into the American dialogue.

I am still a supporter of legalized abortion, but there are some things that I have never had the courage to say out loud. Having carried two children in my womb, I believe that every conception is a life. And if you have an abortion you are ending a potential life. That being said, I believe that women have the right to have an abortion. It is their choice. God gave us free choice. If it's good enough for God, why isn't good enough for pro-lifers?

I have heard that it is murder. Yes, if I believe that every conception is life then I have to admit that it is a type of murder. But I think that even murder has nuance and that laws are established to protect societal peace. Killing an adult in the act of passion or with calculation has societal consequenses if left unchecked. An abortion has no negative societal impact that I can pinpoint. We have accidental murders. We have state sanctioned murder. We have self-defence. We let people go without healthcare that could save them. Murder has shades of grey.

I would like us to ask ourselves - WHY does a woman have an abortion and what can we do as a society to support that woman so that she doesn't feel like she has no other choice? That is a debate I want to see. If we have pro-life values in this country, that shouldn't stop at birth. If we beleive that it is worth it to save a life, then we need to support mothers who want to keep their children. If that means welfare and education and child-care support then so be it. If that means creating a national dialogue around adoption that gives diginity and support to a mother to carry her child for 9 months and then give that child up to someone better sitauted then so be it.

I think abortion is a values debate. But I think that we need to be ready to put up or shut up. If you don't want women to have abortions than give them a good reason not to. I have carried two children in my womb. I know that it would not be an easy decision to kill that child. We need to be ready to give them other real options. THAT is the way to reduce abortions in this country.