Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pro-family and pro-choice

I'm borrowing a bit from the slogan, "Pro faith, pro family, pro choice" and other variations but I realized I had to come to the conclusion for myself to realize that these two adjectives belong together.  Unfortunately, the pro-life movement likes to portray feminists, pro-choice activists and professionals, and the use of contraception as anti-family.  I don't think they're getting an accurate picture of their audience.

This won't be a post about facts or knowledge, this is simply about my personal experience.

My companion and I have many dreams for our life together.  While we are tying the knot next year, he and I are staying outside of the commercialized wedding planning stuff and trying to focus on building a successful marriage that allows us to accomplish our dreams.  I want to pursue an international career, he's getting more involved in social justice work and we're both trying to become members of the community we live in at the same time.

A dose of reality.  I'm currently working a temporary assignment. Granted, it's long term but my non-profit is struggling and I don't see a guaranteed hire coming soon. So, I am applying for other work. He's looking for work and is starting to hear back, but nothing is certain.  While we are able to put some cash aside to save, it's hard.  We even altered our wedding plans to reflect our circumstances-maybe we don't need the commercialized stuff to reflect our lives together. On top of our short term situation, our long term plans include graduate study, international travel and service, a possible move to a city that has opportunities and proximity to both of our moms (something that is important when we do decide to have kids).  I'm seeing a lot of room for growth. I just don't see that growth extending to the state of my womb any time soon.

I don't support abortion in my personal life.  However, the thought of experiencing pregnancy in the near future scares me. My family has experienced poverty and I'm determined to not put a kid through that.  Further, insurance companies don't have to cover pregnancy care or maternity care if you benefit from parents' insurance and I don't qualify for FMLA or any type of leave.  We're a couple of well educated, sensitive, thoughtful people who love children and can't wait to have a couple.  However, if we had a kid right now, we'd be screwed.  Not to mention that I don't want my kids to know, "Oh yeah, I had all these dreams but then I had you."  I don't think it's fair to put a kid through any of that.

I now understand why college students, low-income women, teens, and women in all situations may make the choice to have an abortion, even if they don't necessarily want to, even if they're involved with a loving and supportive partner, even if they have a loving family and are well educated, even if they've seen better circumstances and know better times are coming soon, even if they consider themselves pro-life and wouldn't have an abortion if they could see a way out.  It depends on your life sitiuation and those have a way of taking precedence over your religious beliefs and political ideology.

I love telling people, I used to be pro-life. I used to be pro-life until I went to Kenya and learned the consequences of making abortion illegal. I was pro-life until I worked in an inner city school and my students told me of the things their moms had to go through.  I was pro-life until I actually had a committed relationship and realized that even when married, we'll have to be careful to not get pregnant.  I used to be pro-life until a woman in Arizona had to have an abortion to save her life and the bishops would rather the nun let her die. I used to be pro-life until I realized that the same movement wants to get rid of healthcare I benefit from, limit my access to family planning services, make it nearly impossible for me and mine to raise a child in our circumstances and doesn't even think I deserve a salary that reflects my abilities rather than my gender.  In short, I can't support a movement that encourages sexism and ironically wants us in situations that would make abortion become the most logical decision. 

I wrote this because I wanted to show that not all of us are careless with our sexuality. Not all of us are "bad girls" and, even if we were by society's definition, that doesn't mean we shouldn't get help.  I wanted to show that, contrary to the abstinence message, waiting till marriage or until you have a committed partner doesn't automatically put you in an ideal situation to procreate. I wanted to show that people use birth control because we're making responsible decisions for our families and are thinking of the children we will have in the future.  I wanted to show that, yes, ultimately we want a society with as few abortions as possible. However, the only way we can decrease that number is by supporting policies that would make the lives of women and families better. Until the mainstream pro-life movement starts working together with the pro-choice movement and retires it's tired, sexist goals and platitudes, I can no longer consider it pro-life. Nor can I consider the same thing for myself.

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