We’re all free to choose


A SYTYCB entry

The first thing I would like to say here is I have never written a blog before, although I have been a wordslinger for most of my life. I stumbled upon this site, and contest, while perusing the web in the wake of the Akin fiasco. At the urging of friends and family who are familiar with my wordslinging abilities, I figured I’d give this a go. So apologies in advance if I am using the wrong format or spacing, etc. I usually write on a typewriter. That being said…

As a woman, a mother to four children (three of whom are female) and a woman who chose to have an abortion AFTER I had my four children, I feel that puts me in a unique position to weigh in on this discussion. Most of the women reading this will already know this, but let’s just say it anyway: most women do not take a pregnancy test, and upon the positive results, just say la ti da, let me go yank this thing out like a weed and carry on my merry little way. It is a HEAVY choice to make, one that many women, myself included, struggle with. It doesn’t help when we are judged for our choice, especially when we are more than likely already judging ourselves. I am the only one who has to live daily with my choice. I know it was the best choice I could have made in the given circumstances.

So what about the women for whom the choice, for whatever reason, is just that easy? Are they not really women? Are they evil? As women, many of us are taught that motherhood is our “Sacred Duty”, that it should kick in instinctively. We are taught this because that is what our mothers and grandmothers and so on have been told for time beyond reckoning. Of course, for those of you of my generation, I myself will be 32 this December, we have seen the great tide of feminism roll back, revealing women who choose not to have a marriage, 2.5 kids and a white picket fence, because maybe they choose a career, a fast car, a condo, and casual sex. Does this make her any less of a woman? Is a man who chooses marriage, 2.5 kids and a white picket fence any less of a man for it?

While I don’t have answers to all those questions, I have my experiences, and my experiences as a woman have been many, varied, and not always positive, but positive or no, they were mine.  My choice of birth-control, my chosen method of childbirth, and yes, even my choice to have an abortion, were mine to make. Are still mine to make. Still yours to make too. I for one will put up a fight to keep that choice, yours and mine.

So, let’s get down to it. I found out I was pregnant with baby number five in early 2009, less than a year after I had my fourth child, my son. After I had my son, out of the many birth-control options I was provided I chose a 5 year IUD. I was one of the rare percentage whose IUD failed and as a result I became pregnant. I cried when I found out. I cried for many reasons, I cried because I had the rotten luck of a failed IUD, because I had just had baby #4 and was still breastfeeding and adjusting, I cried trying to accept the fact that I would probably never again wear a bikini, because I had just lost my $15.00 an hour job and my partner’s profession, construction, was floundering, I cried because I wondered how in the hell we were going to take care of the four children we already had right in front of us, much less a fifth. I cried because I loved the baby too, and if things had been different…I cried, and cried and cried, and honestly I almost drown in all those tears. Ultimately it was the faces of my children that helped me make my final choice. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t overnight. But I made my choice, the best one for my family. It wasn’t paid for by any goverment funded insurance, or private insurance for that matter. It was paid for with money I earned working three jobs. Sadly, even three jobs wasn’t enough because we did lose our house anyway. We moved to a new state and many other things changed along the way. Change, just like choice, is a good thing. I now have a manager’s position at my current job, I can provide for my children and they are happy, healthy and even on the honor roll. Looking back, I wouldn’t change  a thing.

Now what if I was living in Akin’s world and I didn’t have a choice? I might not have had access to the sexual reproductive care that I received through Planned Parenthood when I was in my teens and early twenties. Care that provided information, female health check-ups, pap smears, breast exams, and affordable birth-control that allowed me to be sexually active in a healthy, responsible manner, delaying a pregnancy until I was married and had a home and a job so I could provide for and support my child when she came. What if I didn’t have a choice? I don’t even want to imagine not having the choice.

Having that choice allowed me to space out my children to minimize the impact on my health, as I was born with a heart condition. Having that choice allowed me to get an IUD after my fourth child, the number I felt I could take care of.  And when that IUD failed, having the choice allowed me to choose an abortion. I keep using those words, choose, chose, CHOICE, because those are important and powerful words.

Take away my choice, I may have wound up pregnant at 16. Take away the choice it could be one of my daughters pregnant at 16. Take away my choice, I could have had 6 children instead of four, children I might not have been able to care for, which may have forced me to use government welfare and assistance programs, and we all know how Akin and his goon squad feel about welfare. Take away my choice and maybe my heart would’ve given out with baby number five and my children left motherless.

The beautiful thing is that’s just a game of what if because I still have my choice. The beautiful thing is that my choice to go to planned parenthood, my choice of birth-control, my choice of abortion, in no way infringes on anyone else’s ability to choose a doctor, to choose not to use birth-control, to choose to have a baby. Maybe the most beautiful thing of all, to me, is my daughters have CHOICE in their future.

I could tell you I chose to have my abortion because of health issues, financial troubles, or body-image woes.

The truth is I chose to have my abortion for the same reason any one of us make a choice, because I live in America and freedom of choice is supposed to be what we stand for…and that’s what put the proof on the pudding.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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