I am pro-life. Meaning, I believe in the sanctity of life, from the unborn to the dying. War and excessive violence in all forms makes me extremely upset. This belief is very much influenced not only by my own heart but also by my Catholic upbringing. I no longer identify as Catholic and am aware that my morals stem from that religious system. I am also pro-choice. Meaning, I believe in every human being’s right to make choices that they feel best suit their life regardless of my convictions or disagreement.
When it comes to abortion, I have an emotional reaction to it when I think of having to make that choice for myself. I know this feeling might be subject to change and that one day I may be put in a position where having a child would be considered unwise. However, I deeply feel I cannot emotionally, mentally or spiritually survive it. I know myself well enough to know that it would take a very long time to recover from it, if ever at all. I neatly tuck my personal feelings about it away as well as I can when it comes to other womyn and their choices. I truly feel that it is a choice that some womyn need to make for themselves for a multitude of reasons. I have seen this choice prevent womyn from being in abusive relationships for longer than necessary, financial instability, loss of educational/career opportunities, and other reasons. I once served as an abortion doula last year. It was hard to do, and necessary. My emotions came secondary to her needing a compassionate and grounded womyn by her side to get her home and make sure she was okay the days after. I would do it again if it was asked of me because at the end of the day, I am committed to womyn, their health and their right to choose what happens to their bodies. Period.
The word pro-choice also applies to womyn who choose to carry their fetus to full term. I have my own personal feelings about birthing and the way it is done in this world, and again, my emotions come secondary to what a birthing womyn’s needs and wishes are at that moment. As a birth doula, it is my charge to hold the space for a womyn and support her choices. Unfortunately, womyn, doulas, midwives and birth activists are constantly under attack by a system that seperates womyn from their right to choose. A system more concerned with the “welfare” of the child than the womyn. We have come to a point in the reproductive health movement where keeping abortion rights and childbearing rights apart is no longer conducive for the simple fact that at the end of the day, it is about womyn and her rights. To make abortion illegal because a womyn is “killing” a child and she can get fired and be disrespected in her workplace if she is pregnant makes no sense. To eliminate birth control methods and coerce womyn into unnecessary Caesarean sections, induction of labor and ignoring their inner wisdom all falls under the fight for the right to choose what happens to our bodies.
This was all made abundantly clear to me after I had the pleasure of sitting at a meeting with the National Advocates for Pregnant Women yesterday morning. As a womyn on my way to becoming a certified nurse-midwife, it is important for me to know the legal discourse around childbirth. At this meeting, I also met sisters from Mexico with an organization called GIRE, who works on reproductive rights with a focus on abortion. What I loved about the meeting was that GIRE was there to learn more about childbearing rights because they wanted to expand their work to pregnant womyn and their rights. I heard about how in this country and abroad, womyn are in court because of having miscarriages, abortions and refusing to go along with doctors with matters in their pregnancies. What I came away with was this piece I have written.
To save children is not to call in child services, prohibit abortion or demand pregnant womyn follow doctors blindly. To save childern, hell, to save this world, our womyn must be respected. Their right to their bodies, to express their nurturing energy in any way that is not just biological must be upheld and protect.
Save the womyn.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Ending Gender-Based Violence 2012.