10 January 2001

One Woman's Reasons

A Personal Response to Professor George
January 2001
(used with permission)

When I was eleven, my girlhood innocence was shattered by a television movie. In The Cardinal, Tom Tryon was a priest whose pregnant sister was near death. He was told by the doctor that he had to make a choice. Either his sister would live or the baby, not both. He agonized over the decision. I knew he would choose his sister, as I knew my parents (in my 11 year old mind) would choose me. Tryon chose the baby.

I can't express what a profound affect this decision had on me. I was appalled. As a girl, soon to be a woman with the potential of carrying a baby at some point in my life, I felt as if my total worth had been diminished by that decision he made. It made me feel as if, I, didn't exist as a girl/woman except to create babies whose worth was much greater than my own. It made me feel that even if I reached adulthood with potentially great ideas to offer and great things to accomplish, none of this would matter. Only the life of the child I might carry would matter. My existence would be peripheral to my capacity for motherhood.

In the battle between Pro Life (a misnomer because in my experience most prolifers believe in the death penalty — don't kill them in utero, but it's ok when they are adults and screw up — again the judgement by man) and Pro Choice, one thing is never given adequate consideration. A pregnant woman carries her embryo/fetus/child in her body, her most private self, her being. When discussing abortion, people treat the ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth as if it were as trivial as a tonsillectomy. This is not the case. That's why I have a real hard time with any man who says I don't have a right to have an abortion. What about my life as a woman? One could say, that is I'm not ready to have a child, I shouldn't get pregnant, but some Pro-Lifers (especially Catholics) oppose my right to birth control as well. So much for that argument.

I, personally, would never have an abortion and never have, but no human being on this earth has the right to tell me I can't. That decision is between me and my God. After all, He put me here for a reason — and God has told me that reason isn't just to procreate.

As I've gotten older, I've come to the conclusion that the abortion debate is really about power. Men have it a particular kind of power relative to women (men don't have to be pregnant for nine months and then put their careers on the "mommy track") and they want to keep it. They want to be able to "keep" women barefoot and pregnant, literally. This is why there is such hoopla over the RU-486 pill. The thought of giving women a right to control their bodies in private without exposing themselves to the pointing fingers of judgement at the abortion clinics is more than they can bear. Why, the puritan taunters (and worse) would be out of business.

So, there it is in a nutshell — one woman's reasons why she is Pro-Choice. My only hope is that reincarnation is real and that all Pro-Lifers come back as women, get pregnant and are faced with the decision to have the baby or not. As far as the women who are adamantly Pro-Life — Yes, Virginia, there is a Phyllis Schlafly.

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