This weekend marks the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade that decided that a woman has the right to seek an abortion legally if she wishes to terminate her pregnancy.
Since 1973, this case has stirred up a lot of controversies, with many failed attempts to repeal the initial Supreme Court decision and both sides fighting for modifications to the initial bill, that would make abortion either more or less accessible.
The gravity of this debate has created a deep rift between people who identify as pro-life versus those who consider themselves pro-choice. Each side has vilified the other and there appears to be no hope of finding a common ground.
As someone who grew up in a deeply religious family, surrounded by people who have been deeply involved in the pro-life movement, I was exposed to these ideas from a pretty early age.
I know what it's like to be surrounded by people who wholeheartedly believe that a fetus deserves the human rights afforded to people who are already born.
These are good people.
I've also attended a fairly liberal university in California. I've worked with a poor immigrant community. I've volunteered in a hospital for people who cannot afford health care. I know what it's like to buy a pregnancy test in terror that it may turn up positive. I've seen what it's like to feel like abortion is your only option.
These are good people.
I don't know now where I fall when it comes to this issue. I guess I'd call myself pro-choice solely because I do not feel that I have the authority to tell another woman what decision she should make for herself and her family.
I love babies. I always have and I always will. I'm not a fan of abortion. If I could save every single baby, believe me, I would.
I agree with the end goal of the pro-life movement, but I disagree fundamentally with every way that they go about to achieve that end goal and I do not understand the correlation between people who fight for a child to be born, but will not fight for that child's rights after birth or when they find themselves in their own unwanted pregnancy. I am not pro-abortion, but I am pro-choice.
It is one thing to call yourself pro-life and to spend your Saturday mornings outside of a Planned Parenthood, either praying peacefully or harassing the women that have come to seek health care (hint: most actually aren't there for an abortion).
It is another thing entirely to work for the rights of humans after they are born; to fight to dismantle the social structures that led these women not to want to be pregnant in the first place; to promote a society that sets women and children and families up to succeed.
I know that birth control and comprehensive sex education help lower abortion rates. A movement that wants to prevent abortions but also tries to prevent these resources isn't focusing solely on abortion prevention, they're relying on sexual oppression to achieve their goal. And it's backfiring.
I'm pro-life. Just not in the way you're thinking of.
I'm pro-life for the over 20% of American children that are living in poverty.
I'm pro-life for the black men who are arrested at an extraordinary rate for largely non-violent offenses.
I'm pro-life for the 40,000 veterans that have fought to serve our country and then end up on the streets every night when they get home.
I'm pro-life for the 63,000 children who are sexually abused every year.
I'm pro-life for the men and women who need food stamps to feed their families.
I'm pro-life for the 45,000 people who die and will continue to die every year because they can't afford health coverage.
I'm pro-life for the 1 in 6 women who will be raped in her lifetime.
I'm pro-life for the immigrants in this country, both those who are here legally and those who are not, that are taken advantage of because of their vulnerable position in society.
I’m pro-life for the members of the LGBT+ community that are discriminated against and that commit suicide at alarmingly rates as a result of the harassment they receive.
I'm pro-life for the young women who find themselves pregnant in a situation that they cannot afford, that is dangerous for them or their families, and that would make their lives even more difficult. I stand by them and I advocate for their right to choose, even if that choice is not one that I would make for myself.