Happy Anniversary, Roe v Wade! It's also Blog for Choice day, so:
I've been pro-choice (or, as LadyRed of Postcards From Guyville puts it, against forced birth) since the second grade. It was Bush vs. Clinton, and I didn't know much about politics, but I did know that Bush wanted to take away women's right to have an abortion. And I knew that sometimes women needed abortions, and it wasn't their fault, and they should be able to not have a baby if they didn't want to have a baby. I remember sitting near the baseball field with Lily, Kristin, Kristen and Ayla and discussing how to make sure our parents were voting the way we wanted them to.
One night when I was in the third grade, my parents went to bed and left me in the living room watching nick at nite. I got bored with Mary Tyler Moore (I was more of an "I Love Lucy" girl at that age) and started flipping through the channels. I ended up watching Melrose Place. When it was over and I was upstairs kissing my mother goodnight, I guessed she had been watching Melrose Place too and I asked her if she thought that so-and-so was going to have the abortion. "I don't know, honey," she said, "But I think she'll make the decision that's right for her." I could tell by the look on her face that I wasn't supposed to be asking about abortion. The next day, Melrose Place joined 90210 on the list of TV shows that were off limits.
I was pretty young when I started having sex, and I was stupid about it -- for all my rhetoric about safer sex, I certainly wasn't having it. Sometimes I think it's a miracle I didn't end up pregnant, and sometimes I think I must be infertile (I'm hoping it's the miracle, though). Anyway, if I had gotten pregnant, I would have had an abortion. I talked to my mother about it once -- told her that although I supported other women's right to abortion unconditionally, I didn't think I could have one. I was 16. My mother calmly disagreed with me. She didn't push the issue, but she made it clear that I was going to be childless until after college, period. I didn't argue, because on some level I knew she was right.
Now, one of my 16 year old sisters is pregnant. This sister is my biological father's daughter; for most of our lives she's lived in upstate NY, and we don't see each other often. I cried when I found out she was pregnant, and I wish I could say they were happy tears. I felt like on some level I had failed her, by not being around to protect her, to remind her to be safe, to teach her about her options. But when we talked, I realized that for all of my pro-choice fervor, I had forgotten something: having a baby is a choice, too.
"People are so shocked when I tell them I'm having the baby," she said. "They feel bad for me. They try to tell me how hard it's going to be. And yeah, I know, it's going to be really hard. The timing sucks, the circumstances suck. But it's a baby, not the plague. I'm having a baby."
So my little sister made a choice, and she's having a baby, and I'm going to be an aunt. I am pro-choice because all children deserve to have mothers who chose them, and all women deserve to be able to make that choice.