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Thursday, April 28

Family Values

by somegirl
Special Guest Blogger

Unlike one quarter of the children born in this country, my sister and I both resulted from planned pregnancies. My parents made a point of telling us this at quite a young age as I recall, and my mother has always seemed quite proud of this fact. We were taught that you don't bring a child into this world without being able to care for it, that creating a family is an act worthy of careful consideration. It was one of the many values that my family instilled in me, in the same way values are learned in any other family.

When I was 25 I found myself with an unexpected but not exactly unwanted pregnancy. Making a decision was easy but the living it wasn't. My boyfriend, who had previously wanted to have a child with me, decided to leave me instead. I desperately wanted him and the baby but I knew there was no way I could manage it. I was pretty much penniless, living a hand to mouth existence as so many were in the early eighties. The country was ostensibly coming out of a terrible recession, but I and most of my peers, almost all college graduates, were barely eking out a living in crappy jobs. And frankly, no matter how much I wanted that baby, I knew that I was in no way emotionally stable enough to be a parent. I would have been a terrible mother, and I shudder to think what would have happened to me, and my child, if for some reason I had not been able to terminate that pregnancy.

I couldn't get the abortion right away because I couldn't scrounge up the money for it. I don't know whether I would still be eligible for MediCal today and I doubt they still cover abortions, but in 1984 they did and they paid for mine.

And it was pretty horrible. Since the provider received public funding, they were required to have a little group counseling session beforehand to try to talk us out of it. No one changed their minds. All you want to do is get it over with and get out of there, and being forced to talk to strangers about an intimate and private medical decision is humiliating and abusive. I have seen this kind of humiliation used against women in other situations too, and it is beyond offensive.

So why am I talking about this? I've been thinking a lot about how urgent it is that the entire abortion debate be reframed, especially when many democrats now seem willing to cave on a strong pro - choice stance. Yes, it is a private issue, but maybe women need to come out about their abortions and how necessary they were, and how much it's meant to them over the years that they were able to get safe legal abortions. There is no shame in having an abortion, and an unwanted pregancy is not a crime. I am proud of this unselfish decision I made in my life, and also grateful that the state took care of me when I was barely able to care for myself.

I'm also really pissed that the religious right has been able to steal the use of the term “values” so easily, as if mine just don't count.

This story sums up what we've lost so far:
House OKs Bill Toughening Abortion Consent
Other links:
Senate approves bill on abortion restrictions
House Passes Bill Tightening Parental Rule for Abortions

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