Changing the face of abortion rights

I always wanted three children. Two boys and a girl: Blake, Bronco and Brixton. I had it all planned out, even down to the alliteration to match their father’s name. You know what happens to best laid plans. Two sons later, it’s clear that my ex-husband never did like the name Bronco. And although I have a cat named Brixton, it could easily have been another child, if I hadn’t had an abortion three years ago today – January 24, 2014.

It didn’t pop up on my Facebook feed “On This Day.” It wasn’t something I paraded on social media for all to know. It was a dark and difficult decision based on a failing marriage and my own mental health issues. It was one I hid, and lied about to anyone who had known I was pregnant. It was a decision made jointly, and one I do not regret. I’m sharing it now because I am finally strong enough.

I am a strong believer that progress cannot happen in murky waters. It’s way easier to squash a fight when it has no face or name. There is a lot of talk about abortion rights, and protecting a woman’s right to do what she wants or needs with her body. But few of us – for good reason — are actually willing to admit we are the ones who need protecting. I was one of those people. I did not go to Planned Parenthood to get an abortion but I am so grateful I was able to get one safely and economically when I realized that was the right CHOICE for me and my family. If I had lived decades ago, I would not have been so lucky.

I share this now for so many reasons. I was listening to a sermon last night, and the pastor talked about the difference between being interested in something, and being committed to it. Many of the 750,000 of us at the Women’s March on Saturday were merely interested. We wanted to see the crazy signs, the pussy hats, the mayhem, the crowds, the celebrities. But it is those of us who are committed that will be able to protect what we – ALL WOMEN – are so close to losing. It’s not just about holding up a sign up with a picture of a hanger and chanting “Never again!” It’s about helping to demystify the process – clearing up the shame – making this a “real” issue for those who are afraid of it.

Contrary to what many people think about women who get abortions, I was not young, poor and uneducated. I have a Master’s degree. I have lived in four countries. I was 36yo, married, with a good salary, and two beautiful children at the time. (In fact, I had done about 10 rounds of fertility treatment because I had wanted children so badly.) In that sense, I am a girl who is not – and never has been – afraid to make hard decisions. This was an incredibly difficult one, but it will not be the last hard decision I make in this lifetime, I am sure of it. I am not afraid to protect myself or my well-being like a mama lion. And I am not afraid to protect the rights of other women in the same way.

I share this also because I know firsthand how hard it is to find information – or support – when it comes to making this decision. Does it hurt? How long does it take? What will happen after? Will there be protesters throwing glass or grenades at me when I walk in the door? HOW WILL I LIVE WITH MYSELF AFTER? These are questions I now know the answers to, and I am extending a hand to anyone who has (or will) find themselves in the same situation I did – full of fear, uncertainty, shame, with no one there to ask. I do not PROMOTE abortion. But I believe that any woman considering one should be able to do so safely and with the support of those who love her. I will be that person if you need me.

I have no doubt about the hypocrisy that surrounds this issue on so many levels.

I have no doubt that some friends or family — those who have made different but equally difficult decisions — may un-friend me when I post this.

I have no doubt that those same friends who un-friend me have *many other close friends* who have also had an abortion, but were afraid to tell them for fear of judgment. (Just like I was.)

I have no doubt that many of the men who oppose federal funding of Planned Parenthood – or who stood behind Trump as he put a global choke on federal funding of abortions in developing countries today – are the same ones who would encourage their girlfriends / mistresses to get an abortion if they felt that outing the child would hurt their “real” relationship or political career.

That is because there is NO ISSUE ON THIS PLANET that is 100% black and white, no matter how perfectly people like to paint it.

It wasn’t for me. It never will be. But I still believe it was the right CHOICE.

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