This week brought us the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and made me reflect on a moment from about 15 years ago when I was in a committed relationship with a woman who I knew was not the one. She also knew it probably wasn’t going to work out. Then she got pregnant. And I was terrified.
I’ve always known the importance of family in building kids into strong adults. I know I would not be who I am if not for growing up under the watchful eye of two people who loved me and each other. I knew that pregnant woman and I were not going to be able to form a lasting family.
She decided it was best to have an abortion and days later she did. We did. And in some ways that choice saved my life. I was not then smart enough or man enough to build a family or raise a child and I only would’ve contributed to making a mess of three lives. Years after that I met another woman, married her and after we decided to get pregnant, I went to her doctor’s appointments, our doctor’s appointments, with joy.
It was a thrill to watch that boy grow inside her but I must admit that during the second trimester, as we watched him move around on 3D sonograms, I saw how human they are at that stage and my lifelong belief in abortion rights was, let’s say, jostled. It was life colliding with belief system. I had to rethink my position but I remained committed to being pro-choice because I cannot imagine arguing against a woman’s right to control her body and thus her life.
I believe in, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, “a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course.” Yes there is a reasonable and unsolvable medical debate about when exactly life begins but I find something undeniably misogynist about the impulse to deny a woman’s dominion over her own body and limit her ability to shape her life and impose another’s sense of morality on her. Family building is at the heart of nation building and taking away the ability to choose means the ability to build lasting families is challenged.
Urban researcher Richard Florida finds a the higher a state’s abortion rate the lower it’s divorce rate. But even though abortion is legal, ever since Roe was passed the right has been working not just to overturn it but also to constrain it. In 87% of counties there are no abortion providers and in several states its nearly impossible to get an abortion and over the past two years 130 laws have been enacted restricting abortion rights and curbing the number of abortion providers.
I want abortion to be legal, safe, and rare, but restricting access makes it rare for the wrong reason and drives many women to self-administered abortions that endanger their lives and their reproductive future. In a nation where 40% of children are born to unwed mothers we are hurting our nation by making family planning harder.
I thank God and country that when I fell into a bad situation abortion was there to save me and keep me on a path toward building the strong family I have now. I pray that safety net remains in place. People who have children when they’re prepared leads to stronger children, stronger families, and thus stronger adults and a stronger America.