I was 29 and pregnant the first time I was faced with the consideration of an abortion beyond an ideological discussion in which I was, of course, pro-choice. My husband and I were newly married and found ourselves very quickly expecting our first child. Our birth partner was a midwife in a large teaching hospital and when given the options of fetal testing, we turned it down. We had discussed the options early on and made the decision together that even if we were to be given the knowledge that our child had some form of birth defect, we would not abort. That was the first time that the thought occurred to me that something was not congruent in my own belief system about abortion, yet I continued to label myself as pro-choice when the discussion came up.
Being a child of the early 70′s, growing up in the 80′s and taking womens studies classes in the 90′s, I was surrounded by other pro-choice women (and men). It wasn’t until after my son was born and we were regularly meeting new and exciting people via playdates, gymnastics, swimming excursions, etc., that I began to reexamine my ideology on this matter. I was standing on the sidelines of my son’s gymnastics class, which means the year was 2006 and talking to a very well educated, well traveled woman from New York City who was perhaps the most liberal person I had ever met. She was a fundraiser and activist for radical political groups and was quite outspoken on her beliefs. During one of our first get-to-know-you conversations the topic of abortion came up. I found myself confessing to her for the first time that though I was, am, pro-choice, my core being believes that abortion is wrong. Guess what? She felt the same way.
That was when I really began to get an inkling of how complex this subject truly is. Fast forward to today where we once again find ourselves embroiled in a bitter nation-wide discussion of abortion and freedom of choice. When I was 16 years old, I found myself on a bus headed to a political rally in support of a man running for President (yes, of the United States). I have always been outspoken politically and held fast to my beliefs. But, there was a time that I just stepped off the bus – politically speaking. It was around the time of Hurricane Katrina and I sat with dread and grief and guilt and tears as I watching my fellow Americans suffer without the ability to do one…damn….thing. During that time I gave up on our government and began to feel immensely grateful for the religious organizations who were doing what our representatives could not do – provide food, housing, and basic needs for thousands of people who were in crisis.
But this dialogue, this is the one that has roused me once again, for I feel there has to be a place for women like me. There has to be a voice of us who know that we should have the freedom of choice for our bodies but feel it is wrong with the exception of extreme circumstances. Freedom is funny word and it seems to not apply to everyone in our nation. The current Supreme Court ruling does not stand in the way of the freedom of the women wanting contraceptives. It does not prohibit the freedom to obtain an abortion. It does give the freedom of choice to companies who feel that certain types of birth control are similar enough to abortions as to step on their freedom to run their company in a way that reflects their religious freedom, which by the way is protected by the First Amendment.
Yes, this is a very simplified version of this situation, and yes, it could have other implications, but at the end of the day, I have to question why we believe that our employers should be forced to pay for all forms of contraceptives and why my freedom to have contraception is allowed to interfere with someone else’s belief that birth-control and abortion is wrong.
I write this not to sway anyone but speak out as I stand firmly in the middle and know that I do not stand alone.
“Life is a flame that is always burning itself out, but it catches fire again every time a child is born.” ~George Bernard Shaw
If you need contraceptives in Tennessee and are unsure where to go, here are a few sources:
Planned Parenthood (http://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-middle-east-tennessee)(http://www.yellowpages.com/nashville-tn/free-birth-control-clinics)
TN Dept of Health and Human Services (http://health.state.tn.us/localservices.htm)
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