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a choice

Not surprisingly, it appears that my most recent post about the MS. magazine article where they will publish the names of 5,000 woman who have had an abortion has sparked some discussion. The comments here, for the most part, have been respectful of the sensitive nature of this topic. I am in awe of the courage and bravery in some of them, as well. It is for those women that I write this.

This is what I believe: 

  • Forcing woman to stay pregnant by a matter of law is incomprehensible to me.
  • Abortion should not be used as a primary birth control. It should be determined based on the circumstances of the pregnancy.
  • It is interesting to observe that the most staunch opponents of abortion are the often stingiest when it comes to supporting social programs to help millions of unwanted children who are born each year.
  • People don't simply get pregnant because they are under-educated or careless. Accidents happen.
  • Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion.

I was faced with a choice.

I was on the pill. I had sex with a man who I had just recently broken up with. Three weeks later, I found out that I was pregnant. I called my ex and told him. He said, “Hey, you don’t want to be with me. You take care of it.”

So I did.

I chose to keep my pregnancy a secret, even from those closest to me. Not out of a shame that I was pregnant, but out of a desire to stick with my choice to not keep the child.

During the early stages of my pregnancy, I made two different appointments to have an abortion. I chose not go to either. Instead, I kept an appointment with a lawyer. I chose a family to adopt my child. I chose to fight in court not to name the father, because the moment he told me to take care of it, his rights to any voice in the matter ended. I chose to never subject a child to that kind of indecision and indifference.

I chose a private adoption, meaning that there would be no contact between the adoptive family and myself. I imagine that there are plenty of people that can successfully maintain an open adoption. I knew I could not. I forced myself to admit that if I were going to do this, I needed to do it all the way. This was a serious act, and my life would forever be changed because of it. I chose to continue to keep the secret to ensure that I would not be talked out of my decision.

On the morning that my water broke, I drove myself to the hospital. I made two phone calls while I was there. To my lawyer and my doctor. That afternoon, I delivered a healthy 7 pound girl. She was lovely. I went home the next day, and she remained in the hospital.

Her family flew in early the following week for the court proceedings. Because of the nature of Ohio courts, I did not see them there. I had to fight for what seemed like a very long time in the judge’s office to not name the father. There is an Ohio law, however, that states that any time a man has sex with a woman, there is a Knowledge of the Fall, meaning that he understands the result of the union could produce a pregnancy. Beyond just knowledge, I argued, this man knew exactly the result, and chose not to participate. I chose to deny him further access to this child by naming him.

After the court proceedings, I went to the hospital. There was nothing that required me to do so, as the adoptive family would be able to pick her up shortly after their time in court. I, instead, chose to be there to give this child to them. I sat in a small room with her, waiting for their arrival. As I held her, I tried to fit a lifetime of understanding into her tiny body. I told her that I loved her. That I had every hope in the world for her. And that I was doing this with the hope that she would someday understand that.

Her family arrived and they were as lovely as I was incoherent. Through my sobs, I tried to explain to them that I was really a very nice person and I was sorry that I seemed like such a mess now. They understood. A young boy of three with them, also adopted, was standing on his tiptoes to see his new sister. He said she was pretty. I placed her softly in her new mother’s arms and said goodbye.

I made a choice.

I made a choice because I was lucky enough to live in a society where I had a choice. It was a difficult one, to be sure. But I believe that the choice is never an easy one. Nor is there a single one that is right. I would never presume to think that the choice that I made is right for all women, or even that it would be the right one for me again. If I were faced with a pregnancy today, I am not sure what choice I would make.

I do know that I stand up with the thousands of woman who had their names published in that magazine, with the thousands more that didn't, and with woman everywhere who deserve to be able to make that choice freely, privately, and legally.

I am Pro-Choice.