"We are a sovereign nation and we are not being treated as such." Image credit: Shield the People
By Elyse Anders
I really fucking love abortion. A lot. It's one of the greatest equalizers between the sexes. Abortion and birth control. The ability to control my fertility and my family is a privilege. No, I take that back. The ability to control my fertility and my family is a basic human right that should never be offered to me or anyone else as a privilege.
Last year, I asked for an abortion for Christmas.
Now let me back up a little. I'm not some defiant firebrand hipster feminist trying to be ironic or edgy by asking for an abortion for Christmas to teach men that they can't control me. I'm a wife, and I am a mother of two children. And until I asked for this abortion, I had planned my family "right."
I got married in my mid-20s. We waited a few years to have kids. When we wanted to start trying, we were never given the opportunity to actually try. I couldn't ovulate. We tried minor medical intervention. But it wasn't happening. So we started the process of adopting. And we quickly learned that the adoption process was not only expensive but emotionally chafing as hell.
In the middle of the adoption process, the stress of having our lives micro-examined by strangers who were going to decide whether we were deserving of children, and who would then hire someone to pick our child for us, began to wear us down. But one day, during that process, I discovered I was unexpectedly pregnant.
And we were terrified. And we were ecstatic.
And the pregnancy was ectopic.
The doctor didn't give me an option. I was given a couple of ultrasounds, then sent to the cancer center to be treated with methotrexate to terminate the pregnancy immediately. Because ectopic pregnancies are deadly.
But still, I was doing it right. I was still married. And I had an abortion, but it doesn't count as an ABORTION abortion. I still got the blessing of all the white Christian male Republicans who believe abortion is evil...because I get the elusive Life of The Mother exception. And an ectopic pregnancy is one of the most, if not the single most, "life in danger" conditions you can have in early pregnancy. I was golden. I was still living a pure, honorable life as a good woman.
Then we nearly destroyed our marriage by working super fucking hard to get pregnant by injecting hormones into me that made me into an unstable, unbearable and perpetually angry woman...IUI (intrauterine insemination, aka artificial insemination) kind of works itself out nicely that way, though. My husband still wanted a baby, but like hell he was going to be alone in a room with me throwing furniture around, so he'd just drop off some sperm in the morning, head into work, and I'd have the doctor put it into me later.
Now maybe fertility treatments are starting to break the rules. But it wasn't like IVF where I would've been creating precious blessed embryos and probably murdering them with my uterus or leaving them to cry for me in a freezer for decades ("MAMA! WHY WON'T YOU IMPLANT US? WE JUST WANT YOUR LOVE AND APPROVAL!") until some mean scientist threw them out and they never learned to love. This was IUI. The doctor just made me ovulate with science and gave me some sperm. Jesus would totally approve...probably, I think.
But it doesn't matter. Because that shit didn't work. And we quit IUI after three cycles. I wanted to feel human again. And few things are as dehumanizing as injecting yourself with SheHulk-serum and having a bunch of strangers hook you up to a machine and pump you full of sperm.
After quitting adoption and fertility treatments, I maybe made an upsetting-to-society decision to not have kids. BUT MY UTERUS CHANGED ITS MIND! And I got surprise pregnant, gave birth to a totally beautiful and healthy 8lb 13oz boy just 2 hours after his due date expired. THAT, my friends, is doing it right. HIGH FIVE!
Two years later, as mandated by the Elders of Proper Family Planning, we started trying again. I got pregnant quickly then miscarried at 9 weeks and had a D&C. Now technically, this is an abortion, but it's still an okay kind of abortion because The Beating Heart has already stopped. So it's okay to take my feelings into account and let me decide if I want to have a natural vaginal, non-medical miscarriage or a doctor assisted and drugged miscarriage.
Two months later, I was pregnant again. This time with my daughter.
Now maybe I didn't do this one exactly right, but I think technically it still passes. I mean, I didn't bond with her when I was pregnant. I hated every minute of having a wriggling human being taking up my body. I resented her for being in there. Then when she was born, she had to be rushed to the NICU and we failed to bond. I went through a bout of postpartum depression that nearly killed both of us.
We got through it. Because that's how you do it right. (Also because of Paxil and a loving and supportive family.)
And we decided that we would never have another child. I decided I never wanted to be pregnant again. But that's okay, because two kids is still doing it right. One boy. One girl. A proper family. My uterus got the societal greenlight to retire.
I had an IUD implanted and went on my way knowing I would never have to worry about pregnancy for another 5 years, and even then, I could just get another IUD.
But then, a couple of months ago, my plan and my family were threatened when that IUD failed.
I was feeling off. Tired. Nauseated. My breasts grew two sizes in two weeks and hurt. I took a pregnancy test and it came back negative.
A week later, I took another one. This one did not come back negative.
This time, I did it wrong. All wrong. The moment I saw that second line, I chugged a giant glass of wine, and I had no doubt in my mind what the next step was: to figure out how to get an abortion...in Texas. I chugged a couple more glasses, panicked because if there's any place in the US you don't want to be unexpectedly pregnant, it's Texas. With the restrictions in place, finding a provider is already difficult. But then you also have to get a transvaginal ultrasound. And there's a waiting period. And it was the end of the year, which meant my husband was out of days off to take me back and forth to these appointments.
We knew we had to wait until the new year. And the only thing I could possibly think of to want for Christmas was an abortion.
When we talk about abortion, we have a set narrative about what an unexpected pregnancy looks like. She's young. In school. She doesn't want her parents to find out. She is irresponsible. She probably needs to take responsibility for her mistake.
But that's not me. I'm 36. I'm married. I have two kids already. I don't want and can't afford another kid...another car...a bigger apartment. I was on the most effective and foolproof birth control method available. I WAS DOING IT RIGHT.
And when we talk about abortion, we talk about the hand wringing. The indecisiveness. The longing to keep the baby. The understanding that the woman already knows a part of her will always regret her decision. There's pacing around the house. There's sleepless nights trying to make a decision. There's waffling. And there's tons of crying. So much crying. When we talk about abortion, we imagine every woman feeling nothing but profound sadness over the decision she is trying to make. Choosing between herself and her child.
But fuck that narrative. It's bullshit. It robs women of their right to be viewed as fully actualized human beings. We are not people who are a lot like men but with a psychological and biological mandate to become mothers one day, struggling to figure out if that day is today, worried that if we don't seize this opportunity, right here and right now, we will never become what we were always meant to be: moms. We are people. Just like men are people. And just like men, some of us want to be parents. Some of us do not.
And we need to stop talking about pregnancy like it's some kind of fucking alternative to ecstasy. Women who are carrying pregnancies they planned don't always bond with their babies-to-be. To paint the picture of the unwanted, unplanned pregnancy as one that causes grief because of instant maternal instinct that begins around two minutes after pissing on a stick is harmful to women. It's harmful to families. It teaches us that mothers like me are less than. We don't love enough. We're broken. It's hard enough to try to nurture and support a person who moved into your abdomen and that you don't necessarily like. It's harder when you think not loving them makes you a sociopath.
I was fortunate. I didn't need to have an abortion because the pregnancy terminated itself. But I can't tell you how ready I was to have one. I have the family that I want. I have the family that I planned. I have the family that I've budgeted for. I have as much family as I can emotionally handle, all with special needs. I hate pregnancy. I hate newborn-hood. I do not want another baby.
Being pregnant and being a parent has only solidified my stance as being not pro-choice but pro-abortion. No one should have to take on the immense sacrifice and responsibility of pregnancy if they are not ready. No one should be pressured into it, and no one should be forced into it. And you know what? Taking responsibility for your actions means doing the responsible thing. It doesn't mean being forced into having a child as some kind of slut punishment. If having a baby right now is an irresponsible decision, then the only responsible move is to not have that baby.
We need to change the way we talk about abortion. We need more women to understand that knowing, unequivocally, that abortion is the only right decision for you does not make you less of a woman. We need more women to understand that not wanting to be pregnant is not a moral flaw. We need more women to understand that abortions are good and safe and they save lives.
And it is totally okay that, if you need one, you ask for one for Christmas. It's the best gift you'll ever get.
Originally published on Skepchick.