CW: anti-abortion language (including graphic descriptions), pregnancy loss, mention of medically managed abortion
As someone who grew up in the culture of conservative Christianity, I’ve heard all the pro-life arguments and name-calling.
*graphic images and descriptions of fetuses being dismembered*
I was once even in a church play about abortion. My role was a fetus being aborted. I was 13.
These things were normal in the environments I grew up in. It was also normal for these same environments to shame and shun women who were pregnant and unmarried.
This fact is probably why I, despite being “pro-life”, chose to use Plan B when faced with the possibility of being pregnant and unmarried. Of course, Plan B is not a medication used to terminate a pregnancy. It’s a high dose of progesterone that can be used as a back-up, emergency form of birth control when usual methods fail. Although I knew this and felt comfortable using it, I was still shamed by those who believe it is an “abortion pill”.
Scripture was quoted: “the wages of sin is death“… a verse that haunted me every time I had a miscarriage
Did I deserve to have my babies die because I had sex before marriage?
Because I used Plan B?
I’ve come to know that’s not how God works, but my native culture of conservative Christianity overpowered every thought. It’s no wonder that the majority of women who get abortions are Christian.
That was the first experience that made me think about why women might want or need an abortion. The next experience that changed my view on abortion was my third pregnancy loss.
My third miscarriage was not as simple as all the others. My very first time seeing my baby on the screen and hearing their heartbeat was overshadowed by news of an irregular placement and a referral to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist referral. I’d never heard of angular pregnancy and didn’t know that anything was really wrong. But at the MFM appointment a few days later, I was hit with a sobering realization: my pregnancy was dangerous.
Angular pregnancies are rare. And although they can occasionally be carried to term, there are many risks, including uterine rupture in the second or third trimester and placental retention. Many of these result in pregnancy loss, which was the case for me. I didn’t have to choose to end my dangerous pregnancy, but I thought about if I was faced with that choice. And honestly, I don’t know what I would have done. It was terrifying just to think about. (And after multiple miscarriages, knowing how unpredictable and fragile pregnancy can be…I don’t think that I would choose to risk my life.)
I carried my dead baby for 19 days.
I was prescribed misoprostol (an “abortion pill”), but didn’t take it. I was afraid to. Because, even though I saw there was no more heartbeat, I thought “what if it’s wrong and I accidentally abort my baby?”
I ended up in the emergency room because I was bleeding and contracting, yet my body would not release the pregnancy. A D&C was the eventual solution, and I’m grateful to have had that option. It was the biggest relief to know that it was finally over.
As someone who struggled to get and stay pregnant, you might think I’d be angry at the thought of someone terminating a pregnancy. But my experiences have only made me more compassionate to women who find themselves faced with a difficult choice. I am completely of the belief that most people aren’t FOR abortions. And the conservative Christian “pro-life” image of a “liberal, abortion-loving feminist” is not real. Violent, graphic, descriptive language of abortion procedures only hurts the women you love.
After my D&C, I could no longer tolerate any “pro-life” arguments or imagery. It hurts too much to hear descriptions of “babies being torn apart in the womb” when my baby was scraped from my womb. It hurts to hear of “aborted fetuses tossed in the trash” when I knew by baby was not buried, but discarded with medical waste.
After facing the possibility (not even the reality) of a pregnancy as a single woman, fearing the shame and rejection I would receive from the conservative Christian culture I was saturated in, it hurts to hear that “there’s no reason for someone to have an abortion” or “people who get abortions are selfish” or “people who get abortions don’t deserve to have children.”
How much more painful are these words for women who are faced with an impossible choice?
These arguments come from people who have no idea of (or no care for) the nuance of these impossible situations. And that is exactly why I’m pro-choice. Because no one, aside from the person going through it, understands. No one, aside from a person’s doctor, can know the physical complexities and risks. And whether abortion is legal or not, they will still be needed and performed.
Can we please leave it to women and their doctors to decide what is right and safe for them?