Despite being a self-proclaimed feminist and identifying with feminist ideologies, one facet of this movement that I could never truly agree with was the idea that women have the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
Why have I always struggled with this? Perhaps it is my own strict Catholic upbringing, in which the concept of abortion is severely condemned and essentially defined as being murder; a mortal sin that ultimately separates one from God.
Or, perhaps it is because my own mother was encouraged during her pregnancy to abort me and my twin sister, because the pregnancy was deemed “extremely high-risk.” Despite the recommendation, my mom knew that she could never go through with such an operation -- it went against her personal moral code. Had she, I would not be here today, writing this article. I am indebted to the fact that she is pro-life.
However, for the first time in my life, I have begun to try and understand the viewpoints of those who are pro-choice.
I didn't pass an abortion clinic and have some kind of revelatory moment in which god-lights shone down upon the establishment and melodious birds sang. The situation was not quite as epiphanic.
After years of body-shaming and self-loathing, my sister has started to become more comfortable with her body, and she's starting to engage in sexual activity. No, she has not actually had SEX, but she’s done stuff -- you know what I mean! And to that I say right on! (Plus I always say I’m living vicariously through her, so I have my own selfish reasons for why I support this)
While visiting her this past week at college, she came forward to me with concerns that she might be pregnant. I gently reminded her that this was not possible, seeing as the actual deed of vaginal intercourse had not yet occurred, and I began to patiently explain the “birds and the bees." Admittedly, I think there have been stories where women have indeed been impregnated sans vaginal intercourse, but that’s like a one-in-a-million type of deal. Not an actual statistic but the bottom line is that it’s quite rare of an occurrence.
And yet, she immediately saw her doctor, researched different types of birth control, AND bought two pregnancy tests, just to be on the safe side. In all honesty, I thought she was being too reactive, but if taking these precautions made her feel better than I was all for it! Side-note: She’s not pregnant! Cue sigh of relief.
After all was said and done, we sat down and she said to me, very quietly, “I used to think I was pro-life. I never once thought that if I were to get pregnant that I would get rid of my child. But now…I don’t know. I can’t believe I’m saying this. But I’m not in a position to have a baby!”
And it’s true. She’s in school right now, she doesn’t have a serious boyfriend/spouse, she’s involved in like, a billion extracurriculars, she doesn’t have a job, and I know for a fact that she is not emotionally mature enough to handle raising a kid. She could never afford it, either.
Yes, adoption is always an option, but my sister (understandably) does not want to put her body through such a transition at this stage in her life. She has long-suffered through physical ailments and is prone to getting sick -- I have no idea what could possibly happen to her or the fetus during pregnancy.
If my sister were to become pregnant, would I force my pro-life beliefs down her throat? Would I estrange myself from her if she were to have an abortion? Would I shame her? Would I hate her?
No. And I have realized that if I can understand why my sister would terminate a pregnancy, then certainly I can try and understand why other women would do it too.
I’m not saying I’m a completely converted pro-choicer, but for now I think I’m much more receptive to the opinions and beliefs of those who are. And that’s a start, right?
So, I really want to know-can any of you educate me further on what being pro-choice means? Why are you pro-choice? Or, is anyone in the xoJane community pro-life? How do you identify being both feminist and pro-life? Is it even possible? Please enlighten me in the comments!