Why men should be fighting just as hard for women’s reproductive freedom

Men, you need to be fighting for women’s reproductive freedom just as hard as anyone. Why? Because there is a 51% chance you will have a daughter. The last thing you want is for her to be tied to a man she doesn’t love, a man that you probably hate, and a man that will now always be in both of your lives. I’m sharing my story as an example of how reproductive choice saves lives; how it saved me from spending my life surrounding by negative influences. The pro-life movement likes to pull on your heartstrings by telling you about all the things that the unborn fetus may have done with life. It’s true that the fetus has about a 1 in 6 billion chance of becoming President. However, it is statistically much more likely that it will become a serial killer. This is the story of how one woman having the courage to have an abortion saved countless lives and found justice for many others.

When I was about five years old, my mother asked me if I wanted a brother or sister. A wave of panic rushed over me. I simply asked, “Will we have less money for food?” Years later, during an awkward Thanksgiving conversation, I learned my mother was pregnant when she asked.

My mother grew up in extreme poverty: sharing a bed with three sisters and going to bed hungry on many nights. From the age of five, she was making sure her siblings had food, went to school, and stayed out of harm’s way. My grandmother, who was married by age twelve, suffered a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse. She had limited parenting skills and was happy to allow my mother to assume the role of matriarch.

My mother vowed to herself that she would create a safe, stable environment for her future family.  She married my father at 18, mostly out of a desire to escape her home life. However, neither her marriage nor my birth, were able to heal the wounds of her childhood. The marriage quickly fell apart due to my father’s drinking and inability to maintain work. We moved back to Austin after their divorce and Mom began waiting tables at a little Austin coffee shop. Like many freshly divorced people, my mother began dating the first person that helped her forget she was lonely. He provided an occasional escape from the demands of single parenthood and the mental fatigue that comes along with trying to figure out who you are. He also had some typical ‘80s Texan bad habits: drinkin’, smokin’, and brawlin’.

I was a very sickly child, nearly dying on two occasions. Without insurance, the lengthy hospital stays turned into astronomical bills — more than a coffee shop waitress would ever be able to afford. One day my mother saw an ad that the Austin Police Department was seeking female police officers. She had never thought about being a cop but was desperate for a job with benefits. She applied and was shocked to be chosen to join Austin’s police force.

My mother broke her leg in a motorcycle accident shortly after being offered the job. She was so committed to the new opportunity that when she found out the break would keep her out of the academy she lied and said it was only sprained. She took her own cast off with a table saw and garden hose.

Then she received another blow. Despite consistent use of birth control, she was pregnant. What she thought was going to be an easy break-up conversation now took a completely different tone. However, after she told him he was pregnant, it came out that he had been sabotaging her birth control. Although she still did not know what she wanted to do about the pregnancy, it was clear he was toxic and needed to be out of the picture.

My mother knew that her life had afforded her few choices and that another child would have limited those choices even more. We would have survived if she had not terminated, but never thrived. My life would have become a daily struggle, no different from what she had to endure as a child. I am so proud of her for considering what was best for she and I before anything else. She made her choice when she felt the worry emanating from her five-year-old son.

It became quickly apparent that my mother was born to be a cop. It wasn’t just part of who she was, it became how she was defined. She was the first female homicide detective in Austin, then the first female Homicide Commander, and one of the first S.W.A.T. team certified women in Texas. She caught serial rapists, solved closed homicide cases, and became a nationally recognized interrogator. All of this came to pass because she had the legal right to have an abortion that she exercised. I had food, stability, and a strong role model because she had a right to choose. My mother’s decision to have an abortion allowed her to make a life-changing difference for hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

Now I fight to ensure my daughter has the same rights as her grandmother. It’s sad that we still need to advocate for rights recognized decades ago. Men, do you want her to be forever tied to a man that you know is only temporary? A man that may prevent your daughter from reaching her full potential? Fight for your daughters, your sisters, and every woman in your life. Fight so she can control her own destiny. Women’s reproductive justice is just the first step in the battle of equality for all. Your vote does matter. Please only support candidates committed to empowering women. Your future daughter might be who you are protecting.

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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