A note on National Day of Action.
I considered an abortion.
It’s hard to write because I, of course, didn’t get an abortion, so the admission carries a heavy thought.
The thought of never becoming a mother.
Never meeting my children.
Shortly after going back to work after my first born, I had a conversation with a co-worker who knew I had considered very early on not to have the baby. He said something along the lines of, Isn’t it crazy now to see how any woman could get an abortion after that? I loved my newborn but no, the idea of an abortion didn’t seem any different than before. It still made complete sense.
I knew the repercussions of an unexpected pregnancy, even for someone as capable as myself. Let alone those in more dire situations.
At the time I was a 30-year old woman working in the tech industry at a small, male-run, agency. I was accustomed to working late nights and being available around the clock. My friends were my coworkers. Lean In was the last book I’d read and I’d been in the workforce long enough to understand how much more it’d take for me to get the same things that always seemed to fall right into the hands of the men around me. I worked with less than a handful of women and I’d seen each of them cry at work because of work at one point in time. One time I remember a friend of mine cried because a man made a joke about how she should be doing the dishes in the kitchen while we were in a all-company meeting. Almost everyone laughed but then again almost everyone was a man.
None of us were jaded enough yet to speak back. We laughed along with the jokes, we rolled with the punches and missed deadlines. We did everything we could to be “chill” because being likable is what works for women in the workplace.**
Back then, the gender gap was very real and the white male privilege was palpable.
Our paternity leave policy was four fully-paid weeks off. I knew nothing about babies but my research told me there wasn’t a single daycare that’d take a baby before six weeks. I couldn’t sensibly use PTO to make up the difference because we had unlimited vacation. How much was too much? Many of us were scared to use for a couple days, let alone weeks.
For a situation that lacked in clarity, one thing was very clear. Our paternity policy was a policy created for men, by men. At the time – and even today – four weeks off, fully paid for a man whose wife just had a baby was unheard of. For a woman, it was also unheard of and not in a good way. I brought it up to my boss and without any sweat or real conversation, the policy was changed to eight weeks, fully paid. A policy that, even when I mention it today, some mothers envy.
I will never forget how I was welcomed back by our CEO.
“Dude. You look like you haven’t slept for shit.” He definitely wasn’t wrong. We both laughed and so started a new chapter in my career where everything outside of work came first. And no matter how hard I tried to flip the script, it always failed; “having it all” was not in my cards.
Since then, I’ve watched my female counterparts and best friends sans kids soar in their careers. Their round-the-clock dedication and hard work (double that of their male counterparts in most cases) has paid off but they’re still nowhere near breaking the proverbial glass ceiling. I’ve watched my female counterparts who’ve become mothers accept positions in less stressful and less demanding arenas so they can be home more, make it to the doctor’s appointments, the soccer and baseball games and balance the emotional labor it requires to manage a household.
I considered an abortion because I didn’t want to erase all of the work I’d done. Because I wasn’t sure if the man I’d only been hooking up with for six months would be a good dad. I didn’t really know if I would be a good mom. And I really didn’t know if we could be the parents every child deserves. I only knew every child deserved the absolute best and the number of wild dreams I had would have to be put away.
I didn’t know if I was worthy.
When I think back to those first days after finding out I was pregnant, I really think the only reason I didn’t get an abortion is because I knew myself. I knew I might have regretted it someday, especially if I never got the chance at motherhood again. But I also knew somewhere inside that I’d never regret keeping the baby. I had a decent job. I had a great support system. I had an education. And I had a choice. To me, that was enough to hope I’d be able to do right by my baby.
It was a privilege to have a choice.
Some women aren’t that lucky. Some women aren’t lucky at all.
People talk about abortion almost solely like it’s a choice and for some, like me, it is. One solid choice out of two or three. But for some, it’s not. And the reality is that for all of the women who choose to get an abortion, they feel like it’s their the only way. Why else would they do it?
No mentally stable woman gets pregnant and uses abortion like it’s the Plan B pill.
It’s not a fucking lifestyle.
I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that read, “Adoption. Not abortion.” Adoption is not a solution for everyone but it’s cute that some people believe, because it’s an option for them, that it’s an option for everyone. That’s the fucking problem with the people in this country who call themselves pro-life – which while we’re on the topic seems a little self congratulatory to me considering their stance on pretty much every other living human who isn’t just like them – they talk about abortion as if it’s an evil privilege that only terrible, selfish people take advantage of.
If we want to discuss a wicked privilege, let’s talk about the white male privilege that allows the 25 white MEN to make the laws about whether a woman does or does not have access to abortion in Alabama (with an aim to overturn Roe vs. Wade). Let’s talk about the male privilege that allows a man to impregnate a woman and then walk away from that women and that child with little-to-no social, economic or legal repercussions. Let’s talk about the fucking white male privilege that would allow a white man to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and get three months in jail. BUT let’s add to that and discuss the scenario in which she was impregnated via said rape. If she found a doctor to give her an abortion, that doctor could face up to 99 years in prison. Weird.
Let’s think about where I’d be if I had gotten an abortion. I’d probably be kid-free competition to some white man, in some company somewhere. I’d be available to work all the hours, I’d have the education, experience and common sense to compete and the drive, focus and fearless naivete to win.
If a woman doesn’t have control over her own body, what does she have?
If you’re not ready to set your hair on fire, there’s something amiss.
Here I go again, getting ahead of myself.
I’m sure those white men in Alabama – who don’t give a fuck about the kids dying in detention centers or the children suffering in our impoverished communities across the country, just to name a couple – really are pro-life. I mean, why else would they only care about the embryos inside of a woman’s body and not those created by IVF?
Pro-choice doesn’t mean you love abortions, or even support them, it means you support the idea that women have the right to choose what is right for them. And if you don’t believe that, you’re an asshole – or a man. Whichever comes first.
I read an article just this morning, written by a woman who has had three abortions and supports the ban in Alabama. She had her first abortion when she was 15 because her parents thought it was the only way. She was never the same. She went on to have two more.
She writes, “I saw a photo recently of a woman holding a sign that read, ‘My abortion was fabulous.’ Her abortion changed her, too. Many Silent No More women talk about becoming involved in the pro-choice movement as a way to validate their own choices. Eventually, though, each one of us has had to face the truth that our choice was fatal to our own children.
The latest effort of abortion supporters to normalize this lethal procedure is the #YouKnowMe campaign that asks women to come out of the shadows and declare that they have had an abortion. This is what the women of Silent No More have been doing since 2002, with much less support from the mainstream media. The truth is that everyone probably knows at least one woman who has lost a child to abortion, and many of us were broken by the experience. Abortion was not the solution we thought it would be.”
I’ve never had an abortion so I’m not going to assume I have an inkling of knowledge to be able to speak on everyone’s behalf. And I think that’s a good rule of thumb.
Whether you’ve had one or not.
If a woman doesn’t have control over what she can and can’t do with her own body, what does she have?
**And for women, being likable is all about taking shit, staying quiet and being chill.