In response to Jason Damron’s column entitled, “Choices that must be made for choice” first published in the Daily Vanguard on Friday, January 23, 2004 (vol. 58, issue #44). Now available on our Web site, www.dailyvanguard.com.
Jason – thank you thank you for this editorial. No, you are not alone in your critiques, and it is becoming increasingly frustrating for those of us who believe in choice to hear our representatives create messages that sound so cold and non-inclusive of women and men’s true experiences. Thirty-one years after Roe, I feel it’s time to go beyond the “My Body, My Choice” message that won us this right in the first place, and recognize that a new generation has come up that wants to explore beyond legal vs. illegal and delve into the immense complexity of people’s decision-making around pregnancy.
We must recognize that in this new era – an era where technology and politics has changed forever the debate around when life begins and more and more young people are identifying as anti-choice – we cannot protect our right to choose by acting as if women and their partners march into our clinics, assured and confident, ready to exercise their fundamental right to have an abortion.
As an abortion counselor, as a doula and as a volunteer for a local adoption agency, I hear stories from people of all walks of life – different socio-economic, religious, cultural and political backgrounds – who do not make their choices in a vacuum but rather weigh the pros and cons of their decision with the intensity and emotion that any life-and-death decision deserves. Some of these people choose abortion, some choose adoption and some choose to parent, but regardless of their path they are each inalterably changed as a result – a change which I encourage them to celebrate as part of the fabric of their lives, not as “right” or “wrong” – I feel that as a nation and as a movement we can have no greater goal than to help people understand that life is not always easy and often the most important decisions are the ones that do not subscribe to the black-and-white morality of conservative doctrine, but rather exist in a gray area, the place in which we are all large enough to hold contradictions and human enough to understand that because we mourn and grieve over a decision does not mean that this decision was wrong or morally reprehensible.
In a truly democratic society, the pro-choice movement would not have to resort to terms such as “products of conception” because we would trust women and men as capable decision makers – capable of making loving decisions about whether or not to be parents and capable of speaking the truth about their joy, relief, sadness, guilt, heartbreak, and confusion surrounding these decisions in a way that did not threaten their fundamental right to make them.
There are a multitude of organizations that are now working to create a dialogue around abortion that goes beyond the political and embraces the truth of people’s experiences. For more information about these organizations and the work they are doing, please visit www.abortionconversation.com.
Thank you again Jason for sharing your thoughts and your experience.
It takes a real man to drive his girlfriend to the abortion clinic and wait while she has an abortion. Most men just shove some money at her and want her to “take care of it” without taking responsibility for the fact that both parents are making the decision to terminate the pregnancy. I hope that this experience has brought you and your girlfriend closer together as you celebrate your ability to choose abortion, even though it is hard to face. Keep speaking out against people who would have prevented you from having this life-changing experience.
This is a needed element in the debate. Honest and thoughtful about the consequences, good and bad, of these decisions.