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When I was pro-life

It was a long time ago . . .

The first time I ever thought seriously about the issue of abortion was in my late teens. At the time I could only view abortion from a sort of fetal point of view, not that I believed they had a point of view. "What if my mother had aborted me?"  I couldn't imagine myself not existing as I already was, although I did take a little comfort in the fact that my soul would probably born to someone else. I didn't identify with myself as a woman at that point in my life. I had only occasionally been on dates, and I had never experienced sex. I had no comprehension what it would be like to have to make that choice. I've seen some arguments that speculate that the reason there are more pro-life men than women is because they can only identify with the fetus, as that's the only role they've had -- they'll never be a pregnant woman, but they were once an embryo.

I remember during the '88 election season how there was a big deal made of the fact that Dukakis was pro-choice. After one debate that I had watched, I spent several hours making my pro-life arguments to the imaginary Dukakis in my head. They were surprisingly similar to the arguments that my recent posts on abortion have received by pro-lifers.

I had my first serious boyfriend at 19, and I was shocked at my physical responses to him. The religious sexual education I got -- "Just say no" "My body is a temple and you don't have a recommend" "Good only after marriage, bad before" left me woefully unprepared to deal with my emerging sexuality. I was shocked to discover that I had a libido to rival any males I'd ever known. I never felt guilt and felt quite natural about my sexual experiences, and this also surprised me. The religion I had been brought up in had been very clear about how much of a sin it was, and I had fully expected to feel as horrible (if not more horrible) as I would had I stolen something or intentionally hurt someone.

While doing it was natural and easy, talking about it was not. I knew the facts of life and about birth control, but I was horribly embarassed to talk about these things with my boyfriend (this is where good comprehensive sex education, that talks about issues frankly would have come in handy). It took a little bit to get the process of finding birth control, but eventually we had it covered.

While I knew I was in no physical, emotional or financial position to raise a child, I would occasionally have romantized dreams of having that sweet, little, perfect baby. I had fantasies that I would convert my boyfriend to Mormonism, and that we would get married in the temple and we'd have a couple of beautiful kids and live happily ever after.

One thing I WAS aware of -- I'd known for most of my life that I would not want more than 2 kids. I grew up in a family as the oldest of 6 kids. I'm a person that likes quiet and a space to think, and in a house with 8 people it's pretty rare thing. I disliked the jostling for attention and the animosities with my siblings. I had also babysat starting at the age of 9 and going to the age of 19 for other  people's children, and I had an inkling from those experiences  that I didn't really enjoy children all that much (I did always had a softspot for babies, though).  I was pretty sure that I would enjoy my own more.

I had been raised to believe that the most exciting things in life for me as a woman were to get married and have kids. I didn't fully buy into the kids part -- I thought it was an important experience to have at least once as a woman, but only if I didn't have to have more than two of them. I did buy into the idea that marriage was the ultimate goal for me.

As I grew more mature and spent some time in college and out in the world, other ideas about what I wanted for my life began to emerge. Suddenly the world became a place with lots of exciting opportunites and things to try. I still wanted to be married, but I wanted to do a lot of other things, too.

This was also about the time I learned about what women had to do to get an abortion before Roe v. Wade and the women that died from back alley abortions because carrying the fetus to term wasn't an option.

My consciousness as a woman was developing, and I could empathize with many of the stories I heard from women who chose to abort. My views began to change. I now believed that while I personally would never get an abortion, it was vitally important that the option remain safe and legal for the women that made that choice.

A few years later I became unexpectedly pregnant. I had been a bit baby-hungry at the time I conceived, as I had totally fallen in love with a friend's new baby. I was not in a financial or emotional position to be a mother, but logic wasn't dictating my actions -- the powerful allure of that baby-hunger was. I made the choice to have the child and raise it.

I won't bog down this narrative with the horror stories of single-parenthood, the stress I lived with almost constantly for 8 years (the stress likely accounts for the fact that  I'm going grey and developing more wrinkles at a younger age than both my parents did); or the financial price I'm still paying. Let's just say that my experiences of choosing to see the pregancy through and then raise my daughter has only solidified my belief that no one should be forced against their will into what I had to go through or (as happens in most cases) worse. They should only do it willingly or not at all.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
silvermapleleaf
Feb. 9th, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)
What a very good post. I am linking to you by the way

http://gritinmyteeth.blogspot.com/
green_jenni
Feb. 9th, 2007 06:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Your earthbag home looks fascinating. I'll have to keep checking back to see the progress.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 10th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
More people like you...
More people like you should have children...the people that believe in choice and in being open-minded and raising children to be open-minded. Unfortunately, it's the narrow-minded people who keep reproducing.

Juniper
green_jenni
Feb. 12th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC)
Re: More people like you...
Thanks Juniper --

I have some faith that it all evens out in the end. I'm the oldest of 6 kids. Only 2 are politically conservative and pro-life, despite our conservative upbringing.

My true nature kept peeping through my upbringing at different points:

I discovered my passion for the environment at about age 7, when I started a "Pitch In" club with neighborhood kids.

I discovered part of my feminist side as a teenager when I tried to comprehend how God could see the teen-age boys in my church youth group as supieror to myself.

I have always thought that war was wrong, ever since I can remember. I've also always believed that all people are equal.

It just took me until my late teens and early adult years to realize that the political party I affiliated with due to my parents affiliation and my religon's preference didn't match my most important natural values at all.

So take heart! Even if it's only narrow minded people who keep reproducing, it doesn't guarantee -- thankfully -- that they produce carbon copies of themselves.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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Sunflower A
green_jenni
Jennifer Killpack-Knutsen
I'm on Common Circle.net

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This blog is an ever evolving project. I write about local and national politics from an independent-left point of view. I'm also exploring ways to live with less impact on the planet and trying new ways to be an involved and active citizen.

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