Three years ago, I stood on the corner of a busy intersection, 7 months pregnant, proudly holding a sign that boasted, “Pregnant by Choice.” It was the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and I wanted to remind people that choice means more than abortion. My mother’s pregnancy with me was unplanned, but not unwanted. It was 1979 and she had the choice to abort, but didn’t. Her boyfriend at the time wanted her to terminate the pregnancy, but she didn’t and left him instead. Take THAT for choice!
Two years ago, I stood on the same corner holding my 10-month-old in one arm and a sign in the other: “Pro-Privacy, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice.” Some young man walked past, pointed to my baby and said, “Wouldn’t she be dead?” He missed the point completely. Having a choice doesn’t mean having an abortion. Having a choice means that a woman has the right to decide what happens: parenting, adoption, abortion. Having a choice means that a woman has access to medical care, birth control, and community resources. It’s not a choice when a woman has to choose between paying for birth control and paying for her rent. Birth control should be free to all men and women who want to use it. Greater access to birth control, education, and medical care means fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer abortions – it’s pretty simple.
This year, I again stood on that corner, reproductive justice sign in one hand, 13-week-old fetus in my uterus. I was standing next to an older feminist who actually knew what it was like to live in a time when abortion wasn’t legal and we were commenting to one another how there were so many more honks of support than in years past. I believe that the attempts to outlaw abortion (personhood, TRAP laws, etc) are helping people form their opinions about abortion AND helping them find their voice to speak up in support of the Roe vs. Wade decision. Most Americans are in support of the Supreme Court decision; many of them are just too afraid to speak up.
Before I drove down to the corner to rally, I dropped off some HIV tests at the Health Center. It just happened to be the day many abortion patients were scheduled. As I stood there on the corner looking at the few thumbs down/negative comments coming from the cars, I couldn’t help but think that these people looked just like the ones sitting in the waiting room. I know plenty of people who have had abortions, real women with jobs, families, degrees, and not one of them carries shame around with them. And you know some too – you just might not know it. After all, 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the time they reach 45.