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Is it possible to be both pro-choice and pro-life? How about calling it pro-women and children. Now get ready, 'cause I'm about to get brutally honest.

As a 44 year old woman, I was faced with the awful choice of ending two pregnancies that left me with tremendous hurt and pain. I have a daughter who, if she ever found herself with an unwanted pregnancy, I would encourage her to have it and either give it up for adoption, or I'd help her with raising it. If my now 20 year old son fathered a child, I'd help him with that one too.

Not too long ago, the Leonard Lopate show on WNYC had a guest who was pro-choice and she said something about women who've chosen to have abortions never feeling life-long hurt or guilt or something (I don't remember off hand) and I called in to correct her (gave a different name). The first abortion I had was when I was 19 and despite my pro-life beliefs, I had no support from the father (who was trying to deny it), his family or my family, so I capitualated and afterwards lost most of my friends, suffered from post-abortion depression, self-destructive and suicidal thoughts for years. I directly attribute that experience and my lack of getting proper emotional support as the reason I married my first husband who I later felt was on the verge of phyiscally abusing me. In addition, these self-loathing feelings interferred with my finishing college and were feeding my terrible self-esteem, again, for years -- possibly even until now to a lesser degree.

That abortion sent me down a road of drug abuse for a few years and man-hating promiscuity. Eventually I decided I needed forgiveness and I got involved with a questionable religious group called The Way International, which is where I met my ex-husband (he seemed to accept all of me at first). TWI's interpretation of the Bible suggested that abortion may not actually be murder since the Old Testament did not require the death of someone who maliciously caused a woman to mis-carry, but instead the husband could set a price. This was liberating to me and allowed me feel slightly above unworthy for the first time since having ended that pregnancy.

Some years after having ended my first marriage (we had a son together), I had a car accident that injurred my back to the point of my having a limp and nerve damage. About a year after that I met my current husband and we had an unexpected pregnancy within the first few weeks of seeing each other. My delemma or Sophie's Choice became trying to figure out if I was going to be seriously disabled by this pregnancy and thereby unable to continue caring for my learning disabled son (he's dyslexic and I've been his only advocate). Despite the fact that I wanted another child, my husband and I didn't really know each other and I vowed I'd never terminate another pregnacy, but I hadn't had enough time yet to heal my back sufficiently, so I felt I had to choose my 11 year old son and preserve my health -- not to mention that I didn't have health insurance at that point.

My coping mechanisms are a bit better developed by now and I found some relief through traction therapy and activator chiropractic. My husband and I had a wonderful little girl 6 years ago (October 22) and she has healed my heart tremendously. My back was worse for a while after having her, but not to the point of being disabled.

I look at my son as saving my life, because when he was 3 months old, he was the motivator for my seeking out and remaining with a psycho-therapist for 4 years. The birth of my daughter then brought us all back to life after some terrible experiences by bringing new love to all of us.

What I wish people would do is to stop arguing about this topic from an idealogic stand-point, and instead talk to the real people who have walked the walk to find out the reality of what's needed. If so-called pro-life people want to stop abortion, then universal pre-natal and post-natal care should be automatic, as well as actual options for young women and girls who have an unwanted pregnancy. It's as if they want to shame these women by not supporting them in having these children and then calling them baby killers if they terminate the pregnancy. Why is it that they're so concerned with the unborn, but seem to have total contempt and condemnation for the living. Newsflash: From what I've read about God, he's a God of forgiveness and if we're supposed to be more like Him, then it's a no-brainer. As for pro-choicers, they try to say that there are no long-term emotional scars from abortion -- well I'm here to tell you that there are and the truth of this conversation needs to finally be told.

I believe that abortion should remain a choice, but that real alternatives should be more available for all women of all classes. However, I will never let my daughter live with the guilt, sadness, grief and hurt that I will always feel. There is no easy way out of pregnancy, it changes the life of the parents no matter what route is taken. I just hope to God that those other two babies will forgive me.

Please contact me first, if you're thinking of publishing this story.