Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I support abortion on demand. But I didn’t always.

I was raised Catholic and was vociferously pro-life throughout most of my teenage years. I believed everything the youth group leaders taught me about a woman’s responsibility to carry a child and to sacrifice her life for it if need be, about abortion being a “Holocaust,” all of it. I wore the ABORTION IS HOMICIDE t-shirt to school and believed myself a crusader for those who had no voice. I twice attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., with my youth group, shouting all those cheers (Hey hey, ho ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go . . .) and praying for the little babies unfairly robbed of their “right” to life, “the lost generation” they called it.

I moved away from home for college and tried to attend church on campus with a new friend but immediately realized I’d only been going for so many years to spend time with my friends from the church youth group. Then I understood that I only believed what I’d been taught and had no idea at all what I really believed. I stopped attending church and started exploring other faiths.

About the same time, I had a revelation: because abortion is a really hard choice and an unwanted pregnancy a tough position to be in, I couldn’t help but respect and admire the women who made the right decision for themselves in that situation, no matter what their decision was. As I became a woman, other women suddenly became humanized to me; more than mothers, martyrs, and murderers for the first time ever.

It was a few years more before I adopted a pro-choice viewpoint, and even then I thought I should advocate for “reasonable restrictions” and oppose late-term abortions because I still thought of them as barbaric as the pro-life movement had taught me. But when I tried to reason with pro-lifers, certain there could be a middle ground; I’d been wrong. They had no interest in being reasonable; I was only ever a baby killer to them.

In early 2013 I sat in a presentation by a woman who explained how becoming a mother moved her from pro-choice to pro-abortion, and I adopted the pro-abortion identifier, too. She loves her kids and being a mom, but she spoke about the realities of the pain and dangers of pregnancy and childbirth and how experiencing them herself helped her understand that no one should ever be forced to go through that. She also explored our culture’s weird fetishization and glorification of motherhood and the silencing of any negative feelings anyone has about her own pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum experiences. And how this culture is a lie designed to pressure more women to bear children without their fully informed consent.

I’ve also learned that restricting and criminalizing abortion does nothing to decrease abortion rates but does cause more deaths of people with uteri. It doesn’t matter if one believes life begins at conception. The ways proven to decrease abortion are to increase access to contraception and comprehensive sexual education.

I’ve learned to accept that I was indoctrinated and brainwashed as a child. I try not to dwell on the harm I caused during my pro-life days, and I’ve learned to embrace the challenge of spending the rest of my life atoning for that. I enjoy doing advocacy work: writing, donating, debating, educating, and fundraising.

I support abortion without restrictions. I support abortion on demand. I support abortion for everyone who wants one for any reason at all. Abortion is a social good. Humans have a right to bodily autonomy, even and especially if they have a uterus.

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