Notes & Musings: Reflecting on a Recent Publication “What It Actually Means To Be Pro-Choice”

choice-2692466_1280I had first written a piece about having an abortion over twenty years ago, then fifteen years ago. Each revision a nuanced version of the previous one, reflecting how my thoughts had grown throughout the years. One idea remained, and that is the procedure itself didn’t bother me. What vexed me was keeping it a secret from specific friends and family. I don’t mean to say that I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, but there have been many times when I wanted to insert it in a relevant conversation, like, “so when I had an abortion…” to support a point.

Here’s what I mean. Thanksgiving 2019, I was with my cousins. One of them works for his state’s health department. He was recalling how difficult it is to tell parents that their children have an STD or worse, HIV, mainly because (according to him) suburban housewives don’t want to admit their children are having sex, even after he tells them about their child’s sexually transmitted disease. One story led to another and we ended up on the topic of abortion and how that same woman demographic is pro-life. And that’s where I wanted to say, “so when I had an abortion,” but I didn’t.

It’s so taboo and it doesn’t go well with turkey and dressing. But, it’s because of this taboo status and made-up social rules that I believe many of us choose to remain quiet, instead of opening up authentic dialogue that could offer another perspective on issues that impact us all.

I imagine some people won’t relate to what I’m about to say, and I’ve made peace with this part because everyone can’t connect to everything, but for me, it is very important that I can be my whole self with people, no matter what. Being myself includes being able to open up about nearly everything. But, like many other things in my life, I’ve not only kept having an abortion a secret, but also my unashamed feelings about it. Both secrets were tucked away on a digital drive, until February.

female-454868_1280That’s when this personal essay was published. It was finally time. It was the opportune moment for my thoughts and writing to align with the era. Twenty years ago, wasn’t the right time. Sure, people were discussing abortion; they have been since it was legalized, but there wasn’t a full-on assault on the practice. Even with the novel coronavirus taking up much of our attention, abortion clinics are closing, and doctors are being fined and jailed. The actual abortion practice is shifting.

Had my article been published twenty years ago, it would’ve just been another story. Currently, the narrative is integral for women’s rights and for reproductive rights.

So, *here it is. Of course, I’d love for you to read it, no matter your political beliefs or whether you agree with my stance or not. My point is not to achieve consensus on the topic, but rather to start a conversation that begins with, “so when I had an abortion,” in order to humanize this event.

Because guess what? We’re never going to progress if we continue to keep experiences locked up in a proverbial closet.

*The referenced piece was first published on PULP, a sex/uality and reproductive rights publication celebrating this human coil.

45 thoughts on “Notes & Musings: Reflecting on a Recent Publication “What It Actually Means To Be Pro-Choice”

  1. I like and agree with your ending, “We’re never going to progress if we continue to keep experiences locked up in a proverbial closet.” Those stories nicely tucked on our digital drives can hold us captive. Great post! Now hopping over to read your essay.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post and article, Kathy. Stigma is only lessened when people are willing to share their stories. I get it that sharing this with your grandparents would have been awful. Ten years ago, my sister was the first person in our big Catholic family to get a divorce. Of course, she couldn’t hide from it. Word got around and a cousin stuck in an unhappy marriage, emboldened by what my sister had done, also divorced. You know what my mom said? “Look what you started!” No wonder we don’t tell. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As I slowly step back into the world of social media, allow me to say that you always come with the REAL! I love that about you!
    In regards to your commentary on covid-19 and our reproductive rights gradually, and often violently, being snatched away, I have to say that I believe that this whole patriarchal (and racist) domination is currently experiencing karmic rebalancing; we’re seeing that on a macro level as we speak. Corrupt and selfish societal structures are failing.
    My prayer is that we can build a new world that is more equitable and harmonious. I am holding out hope chile! LOL!
    Keep sharing your gifts and speaking your truth Doc🙏🏽💋

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay, here’s my other answer lol: I totally agree. We need a re-set…we = WHOLE world!!! I secretly hoped/wished we’d let all businesses crumble, so we can start over. And I hope that we’re out long enough so that some of us can learn the lessons we should’ve when we were free-er.

        Anywho, let me jump off my soapbox. I’m glad to see you here! Sending you all the light and all the love ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I read it, but with all the virus stuff, it’s been very hard for me to focus and I meant to leave a comment yesterday. My daughter had the virus, but thankfully she is doing much better. I haven’t seen her, so I’m not worried about having been exposed. This would be a great time for blogging, but again – the mental distraction makes it hard. Good for you to keep blogging with such thoughtful posts!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m so glad to hear she’s doing better! I understand about the mental focus. I’ve turned my phone off a few times in order to totally focus on what I’m doing. Also, I have a few scheduled posts 😉

        Glad to hear you’re well!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I was able to open the link just by clicking on “my personal essay.” I admire your honesty and the courage it takes to tell a story on a controversial subject. I think you are right in that more women need to tell their stories in order to get the conversation going. Personally, I can see both sides of the argument, and honestly believe that is why it’s so hard to talk about: there are valid points both for and against abortion. And people don’t like to admit that there can be any validity to any point of view but their own. But until a woman can’t get pregnant without wanting to, I think abortions need to be safe and legal. That’s just my opinion.
    I was also touched by how honestly you wrote about what happened to you after your mother died. In this essay, you not only opened up the conversation about abortion, you opened it up about living in a dysfunctional family, learning to embrace your own emotions, and learning to be willing to tell you own truth in a world that is quick to smack you down for having an opinion someone doesn’t agree with. That all takes courage, and it helps move us forward as a society. Thank you for that!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ann. Yep. I think the points for/against are valid, depending on your personal perspective, of course, because what I’ve learned over the years is no matter how valid, the person may see your point, but they’ll never make the same decision as someone else. I think that’s where it gets murky. The only entity that needs persuading is the government. I guess I’m saying we should maybe stop trying to sway one another’s opinions and instead try to listen.

      Thank you for also recognizing that last part. The editors had to push me a bit in parts because I wasn’t really connecting all the dots. I’m glad with this final product though, because that’s really my point. No one wakes up one day and says, “I think I’ll make a decision that leads me to having an abortion.” Each decision we make is shaped by our environment in some way.

      Anywho, thanks for your ongoing read/comment/support ❤

      Like

  5. Well written article. Two things stand out:
    1. Women being shunned because they know they are making the best decision for themselves as far as career and education.
    Women are labeled as “welfare queens” for having children and relying on welfare to make it through. People judge, so its like damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    2. The lack of education about reproductive health.
    As a middle school P.E. and Health teacher, I will not touch on any topic relating to sexuality and reproductive health. Although I have students who are sexually active, (one is pregnant right now) there is no approved curriculum. So, if I teach something I am at risk of having parents report me to the board of Ed who I know will not support me.

    It does boil down to being a woman’s choice. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kelsie! So, yeah…judgments all around…funny but not lol and definitely understand about #2. When I taught high school English, I once had a pregnant student and used to do these discussions about current events. One was about teenage pregnancy. That didn’t go over well with the principal, who had tons of calls later lol

      Thanks again for reading and commenting. It’s appreciated 💕

      Like

  6. Kathy, your writing inspires me. To speak your truth is encouraging to others to speak theirs. This society forces women to feel ashamed of our experiences, some of the ones that are forced upon us, and the ones the we bring upon ourselves. Rape, molestation, unplanned pregnancies, miscarriages, and abortion. It’s up to us to share our stories for our healing, for other women’s healing. We need to know that we are no alone. Nothing that we’ve experienced has not been experienced by another women. We will be so much better we talk to each other. Thank you, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. o-m-g dear Kathy!!!!! you are the utmost when it comes to inspiring!!!!! & I haven’t even clicked over to your original post yet! I’m going do my own post about it soon, I’ve just this moment decided, tx you wonderful you!! now I’m off to your first post…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you. There are so many reasons, and it helps to share them, helps us and our daughters. But I say, I have had an abortion and I am not ashamed and I do not apologise. My daughter will be told, it is a choice; it is our choice.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Perhaps unusually for a guy (we’re allowed opinions on sensitive subjects) I’m very much pro abortion. I get the against arguments, I understand, but at the end of the day no one has rights over another woman’s body, abortion is her decision to make and hers alone. I appreciate your honesty 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I am having trouble opening the link. But no matter how you look at it, I appreciate your honesty and openness, and I completely understand your point of view of why you keep quiet, yet how difficult it is. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

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