NARAL is celebrating the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade by asking bloggers to write about why it's important to vote pro choice. This is one of those topics that is so broad that I'm actually having a fairly hard time saying anything that isn't blah, blah, blah on it. It would be like asking the devout to write about why religion is good. Or making Ms. Pac Man explain why she eats the dots. Duh. What's to be said?
Of course, many people out there obviously don't think it is important to vote pro choice. Every single viable GOP presidential candidate right now is officially antichoice. So, I'm going to talk about the small little corner of pro-choicedom that I know very personally, which is termination for medical reasons.
I'm addressing this to all those married, middle-class, suburban, thirty-something Americans who routinely vote Republican because they don't think the abortion issue has anything to do with them. Please, start making this a priority in your voting. I'm appealing to your self interest now, because if abortions are restricted further, you are likely the first people that bans will impact directly. That's because abortion rights are getting chipped away in the second trimester before the first. And contrary to popular belief, the woman who ends a pregnancy in the second trimester isn't a callous bubblehead who forgot to schedule the appointment at the clinic for five whole months. Women who get second-trimester abortions are often married, middle class, suburban, thirty-something mothers who loved the unborn baby they aborted. I am the face of second-trimester abortion. And that means you potentially are, too. This is happening to women with wanted, planned pregnancies all the time.
Wait, you say I'm wrong -- you'd never have an abortion under any circumstances? You say you'd keep your baby, no matter what?
That sentiment is sweet, but also a trifle smug. Oh, the viscous, brutal things that can happen during a pregnancy. Things that no prenatal vitamin is mighty enough to thwart. Unfixable, misery-inducing predicaments for babies. Some of these afflictions are fatal, some not. Many in both categories are entirely devastating, for both the baby and his or her entire family.
Do you know the details of any of these potential problems? I'm guessing not. I didn't either until my unborn baby was diagnosed with one of them. And that's when I discovered that what can sound so correct on a bumper sticker might feel wrong when it comes to your actual child. I'm not saying all will want to have an abortion under my circumstances ... just that you will truly not know what you might do until faced with a real scenario. When staring down a poor prenatal diagnosis, all the easy rhetoric falls away. And wouldn't it be terrible to discover, too late, that abortion was an issue that impacted you directly after all, but was now completely off the table because you voted for people who didn't respect your right to make a choice?
I think that the pro choice agenda is, in many ways, a victim of our wealth and success in America. We live in a magical bubble of comfort and luxury where most of the time, people are healthy and things turn out alright. That kind of prosperity is great in a myriad of ways, but has one big ironic drawback: when people don't experience serious hardships on a regular basis, that can lead to a colossal failure of empathy and imagination among citizens. Many people out there simply cannot understand the challenges facing those who are not lucky or healthy in life. Under these circumstances, it's much easier to buy into the antichoice assertion that anyone who aborts must be completely different, both inside and out, than they are.
Don't buy into that argument. Remember that a pro choice vote is many things to many different people. For you, it is the way to protect your parental rights so you can make a full range of decisions if your wanted pregnancy goes disastrously wrong. So vote pro choice. Not because you want an abortion, but because some day you may discover that you need one.