The Day I Became Pro-Choice


In 10th grade, my teacher for a class on National, State, and Local Government changed how I viewed the abortion debate forever.

As usual, he was goading the class into a debate.  This time, though, the debate centered on the nature of parenting.  Our collected group of fifteen and sixteen year olds felt like we had everything all figured out.  People shouldn’t have children they can’t pay for, we demanded, it just isn’t responsible!  Children should be properly planned for.

"Oh?" he asked, leaning against the chalkboard. "So are you saying poor people shouldn’t have children?  That poor people can’t be good parents, and rich people automatically are?"

A pause hit the room.  We were in a low income school district – lots of us were raised by poor parents doing a good job with what they had.

We rushed to clarify.  "No, no, no, we weren’t saying that – we just think people should be better prepared! They need to think about what they are doing before they do it, and weigh the consequences."

The class continued on in this way for a while, with our teacher listening to us take an overly righteous stance and then poking holes in the argument.  We had finally gotten around to a list of ideal conditions for parenting, and how they should be enforced, and a recommended parenting age when he asked "what makes you think you have the right to tell other people when and where they can have sex?"

We were floored.  The backpedaling started – but the idea remained.  So much of our conversation had, indeed, revolved around policing the sex lives of other people. But we were just being responsible! How could you bring a conversation about parenting and distill it down to people having sex?

As I got older, my teacher’s words stayed with me.  When many of my friends began to have sex, when the first person I knew had a child, when the first person I knew had an abortion, my preconceived ideas about responsibility became looser, impacted by the reality of day to day life.  I began having sex, and responsibility became something I felt I owed only to myself, no explanations to others needed.  And, as I started to understand the full extent of the pro-choice/anti-choice debates, I realized that those too were about the policing of sexual behavior, along with the ownership of women’s bodies, issues of the state and privacy, and matters of women’s health.

On this day, let us not reflect solely on what Roe vs. Wade granted, but on how the right to choose impacts almost every aspect of our lives.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • champygizzy

    There is SO much focus on the, women’s body, the woman’s choice. However, as we all know it take TWO to make a baby. So why isn’t the man ever considered? What if he wants the baby and is willing to raise it on his own? After all 40 weeks, is a small fraction, when compared to the amount of weeks we walk on this earth.

  • colleen

    So why isn’t the man ever considered? What if he wants the baby and is willing to raise it on his own?

     

    Because so many American men are so poorly raised and stupid that they view everything in terms of their rights and never consider their responsibilities?

    May I suggest that you reconsider the temptation to reduce the enormous and dangerous business of gestating a pregnancy to term  by saying mindnumbingly clueless things like:

    "After all 40 weeks, is a small fraction, when compared to the amount of weeks we walk on this earth."

    I cannot imagine a circumstance where any responsible woman would think someone that clueless is up to the job.

     

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • frolicnaked

    What if he wants the baby and is willing to raise it on his own?

    When it’s inside his uterus, that’s when he’s entitled to make that call.

  • crowepps

    If his future children were that important to him, why did he have unprotected sex with a woman who wouldn’t take his feelings into consideration?

  • ahunt

    Naughty crowepps…turning the "she should have kept her legs closed" reasoning upside down.

     

    From what I’ve been able to discern…the anecdotal complaints of men who claim to "want the child" are much less about the desire for fatherhood, and much more about the desire to control the women who are rejecting the sacred sperm.

     

    Indeed…my guess is that the plan is to turn over the scut work to Grandma/nanny…and graciously accept the kudos that come along with the "sacrifices" single dads purportedly make.

     

    Not that I’m cynical, or anything.

  • crowepps

    It’s certainly been my experience in working on child custody cases that the equation for a lot of dad’s is "Now that I have a live-in girlfriend to take care of the gritty details, why should I have to pay child support anymore?"  Some of these guys dump the kids back with Mom when the LIG moves out, and then insist they want to be a full-time Dad again when they line up a new sucker as unpaid housekeeper/nanny.

  • crowepps

    "After all 40 weeks, is a small fraction, when compared to the amount of weeks we walk on this earth."

    I cannot imagine a circumstance where any responsible woman would think someone that clueless is up to the job.

    Funny how it’s assumed that women probably don’t have anything better to do during those 40 weeks (ignoring of course the risk of disability or death involved in the process) and yet when you try to get anyone else to commit to one hour a week of service to the community they’re always "too busy".

  • ahunt

    Quick fix…

     

    (ignoring of course the risk of employment loss/demotion, permanent damage not qualifying as disability, disability or death involved in the process)

  • harry834

    Funny how it’s assumed that women probably don’t have anything better to do during those 40 weeks (ignoring of course the risk of disability or death involved in the process) and yet when you try to get anyone else to commit to one hour a week of service to the community they’re always "too busy".

  • prochoicegoth

    If the man wants a kid, he should be fucking a woman who shares his feelings. NO WOMAN should be forced to gestate against her will. And have you ever been pregnant? I know MANY women who have and it’s no walk in the park. Just 40 weeks? Are you serious? One of my friends was pregnant for 42 weeks. Why should a woman have to sacrifice nine months and a permanently changed body for a selfish man who is only thinking about what HE wants? 

     


    It’s pro-choice or
    NO choice.