How I became Pro-Life.
This is a re-post of something I wrote for my personal blog.
I went to Catholic school for my entire education. I’m proud of this, I am glad for it, but a negative byproduct of all that Catholicism is that I spent a HUGE portion of my life as a Protest Pawn for the Pro-Life movement.
Dressed in peter-pan collars, plaid jumpers and knee socks, with my rounded cheeks, my freckles, and my two french braids, I – along with twenty or thirty or forty other children – made good mascots for the movement. How can you kill your baby, look what he or she will someday become?
I saw videos, I prayed rosaries, listened to talks, wrote papers. I marched, attended breakfasts, and could regurgitate facts and teaching: Fingernails, heartbeat, nothing added or taken away. And when one of my good friends had a late-period scare when we were freshmen in high school, we both were certain (in our immaturity, selfishness, and fear of repercussions) that she had to ‘get rid of it.’ Now, it turned out – as nearly all things did with that particular friend – to have been a false scare, & all was well, but the conviction stuck with me – Nobody should have to deal with the repercussions of having sex.
The ironic thing about this whole thing is that I wasn’t having sex. Yet I clung to this idea that those who did shouldn’t be forced to give birth. I was never pro-abortion. Nobody – not even pro-choice activists! – is pro-abortion. But I couldn’t stand to be associated with the pro-life movement anymore.
My resolve was strengthened when, as an 18-year-old senior, I opted NOT to attend the school-wide March for Life. My father and I had a predictable blow up over this, at which he said something terrible, I replied with something terrible, and then he said something that made my blood go cold. It still haunts me – though I’ve forgiven him long since – but I swore that nobody would catch me in a Pro-Life March for as long as I was alive.
I remember in college, seeing the old women kneeling on the cold concrete, in the February snow outside Montante Cultural Center when Hillary Clinton came to speak. It was one of those gray, frigid Buffalo days when the wind cut through your coat, your clothes, even your flesh to permeate your very bones. One of the old women had brought two children along – neither more than five years old – and the poor babies didn’t have mittens. They stood, red-nosed and raw-fingered in the cold, snot freezing on their upper lips, staring glassy-eyed at the students in line, too cold – I imagined – even to cry.
What’s wrong with these women?? I shouted in my head. It’s imperative to protect the unborn, but once you’re out of utero, you’re on your own, kid? It made me furious.
Years went by. I watched Cider House Rules, I registered as a Democrat (previously I’d been a member of the Green Party – yep), I took women’s studies courses and read through a feminist lens. I blithely ignored anything I disagreed with.
And then I met my husband: a man so perfectly fitted to my personality that I know with certainty that God created him to be my partner. I learned that he was very nearly never born, as his 16-year-old mother struggled with the same fears and consequences my friend and I faced years before. I can’t tell them that I did this. They can never know. I am too young to have to deal with this massive thing.
And thank God – THANK GOD! – she had a moment of clarity & maturity. She overcame her fear and selfishness, she conquered the message our society sends of You don’t have to deal with the mess you made, just make it go away. She chose life for her son – my soul mate – and gave him the gift of life, and gave his parents the gift of a child. Even if we’d never met her, I’d love her – only for that.
And in the face of that, my pro-choice sentiments crumbled. If you are old enough to willingly engage in sex, then you need to own up to what you did. Avoiding punishment and shame will never be an excuse to render a life void.
My change of heart is even more poignant to me now that Adam & I face the possibility of infertility. It offends me that a woman blessed with the immeasurable privilege of creating life should throw it away – simply because it has no value to her. This is abhorrent to me. Even the vilest, most selfish nitwit will give old clothes to the GoodWill. Infertile mothers cry with one voice of anguish, You might not want them, give them to me!
Yes, pregnancy is inconvenient. It is worth it.
But more importantly inconvenience is not an excuse to avoid things. The poor, the elderly, the infirm, the handicapped – these are inconvenient people. But we cannot suggest that their inconvenience renders them inhuman and maintain any shred of our own humanity. The same goes for the unborn.
The ability to foresee and deal with the consequences of your actions is a hallmark of maturity. The desire to “make it go away,” to avoid repercussions, to hide – these are childish, immature traits.
I am not pro-choice anymore. I am pro-woman, I am pro-responsibility, I am pro-my wonderful husband.
I am pro-life.