Anyone who has read my blog over the years knows that I stay about 8,000 feet away from posting anything that can be remotely considered political or a hot-button issue. Not because I don’t care about important issues, but simply because we seemed to have lost our ability to let others believe what they want to believe, and vitriol spews forth on social media faster that lava from a volcano. I grow weary of the drama and anger, and strive to share just light-hearted and amusing quips. Which would be obvious to anyone who ever scrolled through my daily feed, it is full of puppy and kitty videos.
I’ve been struggling over the past week or so to stay quiet about a topic that has my stomach in knots. Lord knows there’s a lot of news out there that can keep us up at night. But this topic, well, let’s face it. It’s about women. And my blog is about real women. So I’m stepping into danger zone knowing I may lose some of you.
Whenever there is a big news story or issue in our world, my brain automatically tries to simplify it to a real-world relatable level. What is the impact to real humans? If whatever it is, was happening to me, or my loved ones, what would that mean to us?
I was 8 years old when the Supreme Court made their decision in the Roe vs Wade case. I was of course too young at the time to really understand the details. But even then I learned one key thing: women could make their own decisions about their bodies.
When that ruling was made, it was based on the right to privacy that is protected by the 14th Amendment. Seems simple enough. No matter where you land on the concept of abortion, I believe this to be a basic human decency concept that no one – especially white middle-aged men in government – should have the right to decide what a woman does or doesn’t do for her own health and body. Just as I am sure those same people would never make rulings over what decisions men can make for themselves and their bodies. Can you imagine if there was ever a proposed law that declared it was illegal for men to have vasectomies? Would never happen.
The desire to make our own decisions will never change. But those decisions could get more dangerous. I’m scared that the very real new potential of rolling back a decision that was made almost 50 years ago – yes, 50 – will create larger health issues…mentally, emotionally and physically. In the 1950s and 60s, before Roe vs. Wade, the estimated number of illegal abortions in the U.S. ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million PER YEAR. And so many of those illegal acts were dangerous and even deadly. The year after abortion was decriminalized, the maternal mortality rate in New York state alone dropped 45 percent. Yowzah.
The latest news on this topic has of course re-ignited arguments, protests and a myriad of digital debate. One post I saw on social media this morning hit the nail on the head for me. A portion of it is here:
I’m not pro-murdering babies.
I’m pro-Becky who found out at her 20 week anatomy scan that the infant she had been so excited to bring into this world had developed without life sustaining organs.
I’m pro-Susan who was sexually assaulted on her way home from work, only to come to the horrific realization that her assailant planted his seed in her when she got a positive pregnancy test result a month later.
I’m pro-Theresa who hemorrhaged due to a placental abruption, causing her parents, spouse, and children to have to make the impossible decision on whether to save her or her unborn child.
I’m pro-little Cathy who had her innocence ripped away from her by someone she should have been able to trust and her 11 year old body isn’t mature enough to bear the consequence of that betrayal.
I’m pro-Brittany who realizes that she is in no way financially, emotionally, or physically able to raise a child.
I’m pro-Courtney who just found out she’s already 13 weeks along, but the egg never made it out of her fallopian tube so either she terminates the pregnancy or risks dying from internal bleeding.
You can argue and say that I’m pro-choice all you want, but the truth is:
I’m pro-life. Their lives. Women’s lives. You don’t get to pick and choose which scenarios should be accepted.
None of these examples above are unrealistic or sadly, that unusual. Heart-wrenching life decisions happen every day for very real women. I was lucky. I was only pregnant once, it was planned, I was healthy, and I was blessed with a healthy baby boy. But I have heard stories from very real, very brave women in my life who were nowhere near as lucky as I. And if any of them had been forced to make their decisions in the 60’s, (or possibly in the future), not only would their choices be devastating, but potentially illegal. No decision about what to do with our own bodies – whether it is a pregnancy or another health issue – is made lightly or easily. And no one should make those decisions for us unless we are totally incapacitated and unable to make them for ourselves.
Ideally, hard life decisions aren’t made alone – every woman should have the opportunity to talk to people who will truly listen when she is brave enough to do so. Very personal stories can feel too scary to share, and it is easy for women to feel ashamed by their situations. But faced with daunting decisions, women should have the right and opportunity to get recommendations, medical advice, and learn about options. Then consider their own values, beliefs and Faith. They shouldn’t feel they have to hide in a dark alley. Above all, women should be understood and supported and allowed to make their own decisions — not blasted or condemned. The concept that someone who doesn’t even know you or understand your plight is allowed to dictate your personal choices about your own body is unfathomable to me.
What is clearly missing in the minds of the law makers who are pushing to overthrow 50 years worth of support of women’s rights is the ability to truly listen. Have any of them truly talked to, and heard, a woman tell her story of the choices she’s had to make in life? I doubt it.
I pray that clarity and love will prevail. On this eve of Mother’s Day, let us think about our daughters and grand-daughters and the world we are leaving to them. Don’t we want them to be able to determine what is best for themselves? I know some of you won’t agree with my view, and that’s fine. All I ask is that you not start an argument, don’t throw rage and anger into an already difficult time. Feel free to just move on. But please, do me a favor. When the opportunity presents itself, just listen. You may be surprised what a difference it can make.