By Carol Rood
I have always been an advocate of reproductive rights for women. Every woman should have the right to decide for herself when and if she wants to have children. This decision is a very personal one, and each woman should have the right to make it for herself. Without interference from parents, siblings, spouses, and especially from the government. There are two points I would like to make. The first is that I am deeply offended by the anti abortion people using the phrase “right to life” as their catch phrase. As if being pro-abortion rights makes you somehow “against” life. That the only group that values life is the people who are against a LEGAL medical procedure. That is the bottom line for me. An abortion is a medical procedure. A LEGAL medical procedure. If people looked at it that way would it remove some of the volatility? Could we look at a heart transplant, or an appendectomy, or tonsillectomy through the same lens? No, you can’t remove that organ because it was given to you at birth and since you are a God created being, it is God’s appendix, so you MUST keep it, even if it kills you…. Women should be in control of their own bodies!
Think about it. The argument against abortion usually stems from a religious basis. That it is against God’s law to “take” a life. Well, what if that “life” threatens the mother’s life because of where the cells chose to implant themselves, or what if the “life” was created from a violent act of rape or incest? At what point does the woman within whom these cells are growing get to have agency over her own body? Why does her agency stop due to religion?
Religion removes a woman’s agency over her own body in more ways than just the abortion argument. What does the religious right say about contraception? Or about her right not to have children? In many cases a woman’s only value is about bringing babies into the world and being her husband’s “helpmate”. And before anyone argues that I may not understand, I wish to let you know that I was married to a man for 9 years and we belonged to the fundamental Church of Christ church. While I was a member of that church I was not allowed to speak during services, not allowed to teach men (because men are the head), not allowed to hold a leadership position in the church, and was taught to be quiet, meek and subservient to my husband. Those of you who know me in real life might understand how these directives affected me. For those of you who have never met me, you need to know that I am a strong, opinionated, passionate, intelligent woman. Having to squash all of that in order to “serve God and my husband” was a heavy chain around my heart and soul. The yoke of religion can be a burden women have to bear, not the spiritual uplifting I think a truly loving, kind and just God would want for us.
However, getting back to reproductive rights, I am all for them. There was a time in my life when I was 18 and dating a very sweet young man named Ron. We were both in Hospital Corps School, and were just about to embark on our Navy career. I got pregnant. I was completely distraught. I knew if I continued with the pregnancy I would not be able to continue my Navy schooling, and it would change my career and educational aspirations. I was only 18. I was not ready to be a parent. Ron wasn’t ready to be a parent. We decided to terminate the pregnancy. My mother agreed and I flew home to Connecticut from Chicago, and she took me to a clinic to have a legal abortion. This was in 1984. As we neared the clinic I noticed there was a chain link fence around the entire building. The fence was there to keep protesters away from the front door of the building. As I neared the fence there was a throng of people standing by the gate holding signs and shouting at me. They told me I was evil, and sinful, and that what I was doing was murder and I was going to hell. My mother grabbed hold of my arm tightly and just steered me through those people. To be honest I was afraid of them. They seemed so angry and so incredibly judgmental.
I think about that day sometimes, even now. Less now than I did when I was younger. I think about the fact that I could have a 31-year-old child. I think about the fact that I would probably not have married my ex-husband if I had chosen to have that child. Then I wouldn’t have my two amazing beautiful boys my ex and I created together. My life would have been so different. I can’t say that it would have been better or worse. I may have still married, I may have had more children, it my have been a beautiful life, but it wouldn’t be the life I have now. We can only theorize about “what if’s” so much. To dwell on them would make me crazy, so I choose not to do that.
What I do know is that I love my life, and I am incredibly blessed. I do mourn that child, and it still makes me sad, but that is what I believed was the right thing to do for myself at that time in my life, and I am incredibly thankful that I was legally able to obtain an abortion. Thankful that my parents supported my decision. Thankful that I had access to a safe clinic. Thankful that I had access to medical care from qualified people. Thankful that I was able to decide for myself what I wanted to do with my body. Thankful that I had reproductive rights.
I think every woman should have those same opportunities, same access, and same ability to choose for themselves. Until this happens, we are not truly free as human beings. And Women should be in control of their own bodies!