Why I Am Pro-Choice.

7 Apr

I believe very strongly in intersectionality—the idea that power and oppression are woven together, making a system of social inequality that affects us all.  While I have been a reproductive justice activist for a long time, I do not work in a reproductive health setting and was not the president of Students for Choice as an undergraduate or graduate student.  My story is intersectional, as I am, and my particular passion for being unashamedly pro-choice comes from the intersections of being raised Catholic, someone who works within the movement to end sexual and relationship violence, a queer woman, a researcher, a student, a friend and a formerly pregnant person.

In no particular order on why I became pro-choice.

  • Catholicism – I was raised in a conservative area as a Catholic.  Some people talk about being raised Catholic and being dragged around by their parents until they could move out and become adults to make their own decisions who are politically left. Not me.  I was a devout Catholic involved in every capacity of my Church.  I did this by choice. My parents were not religious but had sent me to catechism to prepare for the sacraments (going to Church themselves on Christmas and Easter). I went every Sunday and sometimes multiple times during the week.  I loved the community of the Catholic Church and its commitment to social justice and tried to maintain being politically liberal with being religiously devout (not easy).  It was a hard juxtaposition to take often.
  • Sexual and Relationship Violence – This is not a fringe issue to the reproductive justice discourse.  I know so many women who were raped by their husbands, boyfriends, or strangers who became pregnant and felt guilty for having abortions or kept having children but being incredibly traumatized by that.  Rapists and abusers control women’s bodies and so coercion in relationships is tacitly accepted.
  • Queer – I am queer.  I have a partner who is a woman, and this makes people wonder why I even care about this stuff.  Queer youth are much more likely to be abused and raped, and experience much more teen pregnancy than youth who are not LGBTQ identified, in part because of stigma, trying to “sleep your way straight” (to prove you’re not gay), and a complete lack of discussion on sexual health for queer and transgender folks.
  • Researcher and Student– I know the facts.  A fetus is not a child.  Abortion is not murder.  We live in a society in which women are controlled by being deprived of their reproductive choices. Unlike the videos on various anti-choice websites, many women are glad they had abortions.  Birth control is not abortion and should be made widely available because it prevents the need for more abortions and unwanted pregnancies.  And we have a separation of church and state in this country (even when the right makes you think otherwise)
  • A friend – I went to Catholic school and many of my friends became pregnant. They were upset when they had abortions because of the stigma not because of the act.  The men who impregnated them often had no share to face in dealing with the burden—it was a woman’s “cross to bear.” A friend of mine became pregnant when she was raped by a guy in our youth group in a car in the parking lot of our church.  I was the only one she told because she thought no one else would believe her. She ended up being right when she later told some more people.  She found out she was pregnant.  She was terrified.  Her mom was incredibly anti-choice and Catholic, and her father was a drug abuser who had molested her as a child. She had to have her dad take her for the procedure, and her mom refused to talk to her. Her mom blamed the school and so told the school what had happened. Everyone found out. She was shunned, called a sinner, etc.She committed suicide and called me so that I would find her. The pressure had become to great and she had nowhere to which she could escape. The young man who raped her went to a prestigious university and was on the cover of the student newspaper for our brother school (we were all-girls) for, you guessed it, his role as a leader for planning the March for Life. No one believed her, even when she told everyone he had raped her and then refused to talk to her when she became pregnant.
  • A formerly pregnant person – I had an abortion three years ago.  When I found out I was pregnant, regardless of how pro-choice I was, all the years of Catholic school and Silent Scream and ridiculous, inaccurate things sprouted up in my mind.  It made for a really hard time for me leading up to having the procedure, and it was hard to sift through the information for what I needed. Missouri laws also made it incredibly difficult for me to actually get an abortion, and I had to wait around and listen to false claims that abortion kills women.  I had an abortion, and I have not spent one day regretting it since.

This is why I remain pro-choice and fight for reproductive justice, sexual health education, and talk openly about abortion as a viable choice. It is because if life were as simple as the anti-choice proselytizers would like us to believe, we would be living in a very different place. It is because our lives our intersectional, and we live in a society in which stigma around abortion is so great that  I know so many women who will not talk about their abortions and still remain “pro-life” even though they are happy with their own decisions to have abortions.  I am pro-choice because all people deserve a right to choose in a society in which oppression, classism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, ableism, and so many other forms of power and control of our bodies and our lives keeps us from being able to make many choices that are truly free.

8 Responses to “Why I Am Pro-Choice.”

  1. Kate April 7, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    Thank you for this post. I often struggle with being Catholic and a feminist… and I love finding others who are in the same boat.

  2. Steph April 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    I love this post for so many reasons. The reproductive justice movement is about confronting intersecting oppressions and that is exactly what you enumerate here. Very inspiring.

  3. S.L April 7, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    My blood boiled reading what happened to your friend, especially on the lack of repercussions for the guy. I was raised pro-life catholic in a country where abortion was illegal, but questioned the grouds for opposing abortion, not long after I abandoned the faith and never looked back. But people like that guy make me wish for Hell to be real.

  4. WeCanChangeIt April 8, 2010 at 12:29 am #

    Thanks for the support. What really bothers me about the anti-choice agenda is that it’s just that–anti-choice, but it masquerades that our movement is solely pro-abortion. They throw out stories of women who were coerced into abortion and say “see! see! look! women regret abortion!” There is then such little room for women, like myself, who had abortions that think it was just that–a choice, a decision made with some real thought (just in the same way to have a biological child, have a child you biologically create adopted, adopt yourself, etc.), and that choice should be made freely in whatever direction makes the most sense for that woman’s context.

    What I say about the women who have experienced domestic violence who are making difficult decisions about staying or going and risking or getting help here or there–my clients are the best experts on their own lives. This holds true for decisions about pregnancy. That is what all women deserve.

  5. KushielsMoon April 10, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    I just thought you should know, that Jill Stanek quoted you on her blog.

    I am so sorry for your friend. I wish antichoicers would see the harm they cause women by refusing to accept and acknowledge our choices and life experiences. I am sorry that you, too, had to overcome antichoice lies.

  6. WeCanChangeIt April 10, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    Those people are hilarious. I do not necessarily find it productive to engage them, so I am torn.

    I think it’s funny that they know about “why” I’m a “lesbian” in the “homosexual lifestyle.” I have been queer since before I had words to describe sexual orientation. If anything made me anything, it was the tools of oppression that told me how I SHOULD be. I like that my abortion “made me gay.” I’ll leave it there, because that’s just ridiculous.

    Also, I enjoy that even though I repeatedly stated in my post that I knew that I wanted an abortion, that the right choice was a an abortion…apparently the anti-choice rhetoric is my “conscience.”

    I hope wholeheartedly that we can create a world that produces more choices for more people and that works to dismantle all forms of oppression. Reproductive justice is an issue that affects all people, and I hope that we can join together in that (non-violent) fight.

  7. Maggie August 19, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    This brought me to tears. If only our world had more people like you.
    I had an abortion about a year ago at 16 and it was the best decision of my life. I’m so happy to have found this site. At the time I was lucky enought to have my mom and sister for support. My “friends” were not supportive. It went as far as the morning of my abortion someone leaving a note on the cars in my driveway adressed to my prolife dad telling him “I was having an abortion and he needed to talk to me.” I lied and said it was another Maggie who was pregnant at school. He still doesn’t know and i intend to keep it that way.
    I have no regrets just ambition to become successful. Now, I apreciate my youth so incredibly much and am living young, wild, and free. As a 17 year old should be.


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