You have no doubt heard the political kerfuffle of late. Abortion, Contraception, Planned Parenthood... all the overlapping issues that come under the general heading of "Women's Reproductive Health." Some wild discussions about "lady parts" are making the news-- and strangely, almost always in the bass clef tones of people who are, biologically speaking, on the outside looking in.
*ahem* Sorry. Couldn't resist.
Anyway, I'd like to hear more women's voices in the conversation. And I'd be glad to join in, even though there are a lot of areas over which I still struggle. Why?
I'm a feminist. That means I mean I believe wholeheartedly in the notion, sometimes quaintly expressed on bumper stickers, that Women Are People-- adults capable of making their own independent decisions, for good or ill. I neither need nor want a representative from the federal government present when I consult with my doctor.
I'm an adoptive parent because a woman carried her child to term, even though any but the most virulent would have supported her decision to do otherwise (and probably driven her to the clinic). The idea that a fetus is only so much tissue? Can't go there.
I have listened to those who chose abortion because they had suffered abuse, or whose health would have been sincerely jeopardized by a pregnancy.
I have also read the interviews of women who were "still having fun," and thought a baby would get in the way.
I have heard the horror stories from before Roe v. Wade-- tales of coat hangers and evil potions and (for those who could afford it) being quietly whisked out of state for a "procedure" that might or might not have been safer than the above.
I have also known women (yes, plural) who were heartbroken because their "safe, legal abortion" had left them infertile.
I have held sobbing young women who chose to have an abortion because of fear over how a pregnancy would be received. Not the "geez, my folks are gonna kill me if I'm not home on time" kind of fear, but real "I'll be kicked out if I'm not beaten to death first" terror.
I have held sobbing young women who chose adoption, only to have kith and kin just excoriate them for "throwing away your own flesh and blood."
So, what's the answer? I don't know. But here's what I believe:
I believe that people having sex when they are not ready to be parents has always been. Our sexualized culture may make it more acceptable and prevalent, but it is not a new phenomenon.
I believe that the 1950's mindset of shaming a woman for having sex, let alone getting pregnant (and it clearly is always her fault, of course; boys will be boys. Yes, I'm twitching as I type that.) is a sign of a warped worldview.
I believe the 2012 mindset that something is *wrong* with the person who chooses not to be sexually active (either before she's ready, or before they're married, or ever), is equally warped.
I believe that having safe and reliable contraceptives readily available, along with accurate information about how to use them, reduces the odds that the choice of what to do about an unintended pregnancy will ever have to be made.
I also believe there are good and solid reasons for saying no to sex, and they can be taught right alongside the above with a straight face, and without ridicule.
I believe that other options for an unintended pregnancy (either raising the child or planning for an adoption) ought to receive a whole lot more cultural support, emotionally and financially, than they do.
All this means I am sometimes "pro-life," and sometimes "pro-choice," and always in prayer over the very messy reality. Lord, have mercy.