Blog for Choice
Melia is seven months old today. It’s hard to believe how quickly these precious months of babyhood are slipping by.
Watching her grow and play with her brother fills me with gratitude for the many privileges I have had that have made my current happiness possible.
I gave birth to Darren when I was nineteen. Very few women who become parents so early in life enjoy the kind of lifestyle I have grown accustomed to.
I have had the emotional and financial support of a responsible, intelligent, loving husband. Thanks to his hard work and sacrifice, I have been able to stay home with my little ones and have been free to parent them according to my own instincts, without the additional pressure of having to provide for our family, secure childcare and transportation, etc.
I have had the support of my parents and sisters, as well. They have each, at one time or another, allowed their lives to be disrupted for the sake of my children.
The government has also played a major role in my success story as a teen mom. I have received medical and food assistance, benefited enormously from the availability of reliable public transit, and we have been able to turn our situation around and become financially independent thanks to the Pell Grant and other forms of financial aid.
I can understand and sympathize with people who want to see abortion banned. It is an emotionally-charged issue, and it presents many layers of troubling difficulty to a person of faith. Fortunately, it is not necessary to choose between honoring the women who will make decisions regarding their pregnancies, and the religious people who can’t in good conscience ignore what goes one around them.
Abortion can’t be ended through legislation; a woman who knows in the core of her being that she must end her own pregnancy will find a way to act on those deep convictions regardless of the law. As the law must reflect what we know to be right, the best and only ethical recourse for those opposed to abortion on principle is to support struggling parents in practice. I know first hand the immense value of government programs that assist young mothers in caring for their children. Single-issue voters must be proactive in demanding access to food, medical and education assistance for struggling families. A woman who knows that her neighbors are with her and will help her raise her child into a healthy, productive adulthood is much less likely to feel that abortion is her best or only option. Ultimately, all parties involved in this debate share the same goal: we want all people to be whole and happy. I believe that we can bring that ideal to life.
I view abortion as a terrible tragedy. It is more than just the termination of a pregnancy; it is the termination of a future life path. It is saying goodbye to baby dimples, birthday parties at the playground, camping trips, family holidays. I can’t think of a weightier decision that anyone could be asked to make, and yet every woman faces it. Every day that a woman chooses to carry on through her pregnancy is her decision to pursue motherhood, whatever the cost -and there is a cost, an enormous one. Some people can’t afford it. To stigmatize such an excruciating moral quandary through rhetoric and legislation strips acceptance of its meaning and denies the intensity of our feelings as humans. There is only room for one voice in the abortion debate, and that is the voice of the woman grappling with it in her own life.
When you abstract one life path and call it bad, you do not create a clean, good life path in contrast; rather, all of our decisions begin to deteriorate into varying shades of gray, all fraught with stigma, shame and silence. Because there is no perfect way to live life, there are no perfect people. We are all shaped by our upbringings and confined by our circumstances, and no one looking in from the outside can dictate a morality to us that will be sufficient for the complexity of the decisions we face.
I won’t lie: I struggled with the decision to carry through with both of my pregnancies. There were dark nights when I wasn’t sure which path I was going to land on.
I won’t let anyone rob me of my struggle, my ambivalence, my fear, my doubt and shame and pain. That moral certitude would come at the cost of my eventual, complete, authentic, wholehearted embrace, the moment when I wrapped my arms around my flourishing middle and whispered to my child-to-be, “I choose you.”
Let every child be born into this kind of love.
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