Ever since I was an irresponsible teenager, raised by a single mother, I have considered myself pro-choice. The way I rationalized it was by asking myself what kind of life I would like to live, and what kind of life I wouldn't be willing to live. There were all kinds of scenarios in which the answer to this question seemed obvious to me. I would not want to be raised by an irresponsible teenage mother without the support of her family. I would not want to live so severely mentally handicapped that I couldn't think about the things that matter to me or engage in meaningful relationships. Thankfully, I was never faced with this choice... until now. My partner and I finally became pregnant after careful consideration, and several repeated tries. At our ultrasound last week, we found out that there are at least three common markers of down syndrome present in our baby. Ironically, we had spent the previous evening making not-so-appropriate comments during the vice presidential debate about Sarah Palin's decision to carry her baby with down syndrome to term. Though we are not actually at that point yet, it is likely, or at least possible that we are going to find ourselves in one of these places where we will be forced to make a decision that, previous to it actually coming up, we thought we knew the answer to. Enough so to joke about it. The truth is that we don't know how to make this decision. We are not even thinking about it in the same way that we were able to, so abstractly, so detached, as a voter, or as an opinionated citizen. The decisions we make as citizens, the decision to take one side or another, is completely different from the actual decision of whether or not to have an abortion. You do not even use the same part of your brain. I have heard many people claim that they are pro-choice, but would never have an abortion themselves. I wondered about the circumstances they imagined themselves in, how they knew what kind of decision they would be able to make or not. It seems almost foreign to me, now, to think of myself as the pro-choice, cynical, rational, level headed person I was before last week. I am not that person now. I think that there is room for much to be done in terms of separating out these two, very different, kinds of decisions people are faced with and, in the case of the decision to take one side or another, I believe that there is far less content to either position than we initially assume. It is not at all clear to me that I meant ANYTHING by being pro-choice before this happened.
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