I stupidly walked myself into an abortion debate, regarding the Bill #M312 (re-criminalizing late term abortions) being debated within Parliament in Canada.
I know, I know! Walk away from the fanatics screaming at you, and just carry on. It’s like a trainwreck that you just have to keep watching, even though you are completely horrified. The next thing I knew I was asking these anti-choice people if they understand the damage their rhetoric could do to women, the fact that unplanned pregnancies aren’t always a simplistic situation and if they generally had any compassion for the living and the breathing population.
And all the while balking at the underlying theme that women who have unprotected sex somehow deserves to be treated like she’s the moron who doesn’t understand biology or sex. As if women are at fault for having sex when they are the most fertile, even when they use contraceptives. Even if they are raped. Even if they are completely and entirely responsible about their sexual health. The debate wore on; it was the old tiresome statements I had learned and heard as a child from my own fanatical parents. Though, I was introduced the comparsion of abortion and slavery (color me baffled), and the closing argument of the fetus seeing the scissors “murdering it”. If you don’t laugh, you feel faint at the idea that there are millions of people walking around with these sorts of incredibly backward ideas regarding women and abortion.
But it happened, somewhere in the middle, and about the time I had to tell this Twitter fellow to fuck off.
He mentioned adoption.
Oh, yes, glorious, fantabulous, miracle working, gift-giving adoption! How did I ever forget about that? Okay, sure, now let’s recriminalize abortion, and just make these women be slaves to their bodies for the next nine months, and then go through the not at all traumatic experience of losing their child.
Yeah. That sounds great. Perfect, and I have NO idea why I didn’t think of this before!
Once you wipe all that sarcasm off, let me tell you a story:
It was just shortly after I had found out I was pregnant with The Kiddo. I had met with LDS Family Services several times already, and they were keeping on top of me as though I might take off at any given time. My mother was still barely talking to me, my friends were backing away from me, and the rumors were spreading by those that were supposed to be my closest friends. I was petrified. I was depressed.. A was mad at me for the way I had delivered the pregnancy news. I was mad at myself for how I had delivered the pregnancy news. I was just lost.
That specific day, I was home from work, and luckily so. I hadspent the morning hopping between my bed and the bathroom wretching up yellow bile, and crying. I was sick, I could barely eat, and I was so alone. So incredibly alone. A couple weeks ago I had called my mother crying on my bathroom floor when I had gotten sick for the first time. She callously told me it was my own fault and hung up. She was the only woman I knew with pregnancy experience, and I quickly learned that she would offer no support or solace.
I sat on my bed with my back against the bright yellow wall writing in my journal. My throat was aching, but I still forced myself to drink some water, and eat some crackers. My journal had become my place of refuge, and this day was no different. I wrote about how alone I felt, how I missed A, how I was trapped, and how I just wanted to be free. Free to be me again, without all of this drama, and pressure. Free.
Then, it came into my head.
It was a whisper. It was a tiny whisper that got louder, as I raced upstairs to find the phone book. I almost fell down the stairs as I launched myself down them back to my room, I locked my door so no one would know what I was doing. Kneeling now in front of my bed, I peered through the big phone book, until I found it. Right in front of my face. The number to a sexual health clinic that would do referrals.
I dialed the number, and then I hung up. I dialed the number and I hung up again. I did this five more times.
Instead, I dialed A’s number. I dialed and waited. No answer. I asked him to call me. I knew he wouldn’t and he never did. Even though, I knew he had wanted this from the get-go.
He had wanted me to abort the pregnancy. I had refused initially, but now, on that cold fall morning, I had no reason why I shouldn’t. I could easily fake a miscarriage, and go on with life. I could easily walk away from this catastrophic mess.
Again, hands shaking, I picked up the phone and dialed the number. This time, I didn’t hang up. I found myself giving basic information and making an appointment. The day before my birthday. It would have been the day before my birthday.
Obviously, I never went. And you know why I didn’t go?
Because I had decided I wanted to parent that baby. There was no other reason than I had decided that I would like to parent. I wasn’t going to get married, like the agency told me I should, and I wasn’t stuck on adoption. I wanted to raise that child, because I felt that I could. I wanted to raise my own child.
The beauty of this situation is that because I was able to have access to that choice, I was able to figure out what I truly wanted. Did I want an abortion? No, I decided, this wasn’t the choice for me. It had nothing to do with any religious belief or morals, or anything controversial. It simply was not the choice I wanted to make.
What I wasn’t told is that my other options would suddenly be removed from my list too. When parenting was an option before, it was taken from me because I would then be a (gasp!horror!) single mother. I would be a young single mother. I would be a burden on the system. I would obviously be a whore, and ruin my children.
So abortions are out. Single parenting is out.
And that leaves with adoption. In case you suck at math like I do, I’ll break it down:
3 choices – 2 choices= NO CHOICE
This is what frightens me about the discussion on re-criminalizing abortion. You take away a choice, and the other choices don’t become choices, they become ultimatums. What happens, is that these women are pushed toward organizations that veil themselves as crisis pregnancy centers when in reality, they are simply adoption agencies waiting with propaganda that will deter you from parenting. Often they aren’t interested in your needs, they want that baby, and have no true investment in you as a woman. In this sense, they are anti-woman, completely.
Adoption is not pain free, it comes with it’s own set of trials. It comes with devastating loss, the kind that could be argued would be more devastating than an early term abortion. The impact of adoption is far reaching, and yet, we’re still hearing the idea that adoption is this fix-all solution for an unplanned pregnancy. The harsh reality is, society as a whole has no idea what the ramifications of adoption are- for adoptees and for the women who relinquish. Since our focus has more of a god complex of saving these women who don’t really need saving, and on the parents who selflessly adopt these unwanted children, we have this skewed vision of what real life adoption looks like.
Abortion, adoption, and parenting are not the same choice. They don’t even remotely fall under the same category, but what they do fall under is the ability for a woman to decide which of those choices fit well for her, for her life and for her body. She has the right to choose. She has the right to reflect on her life, on her choices, and decide what she wants. Anti-abortion rhetoric is all about the baby, but they fail to look at the lasting impact that child will deal with at the hands of an adoption. Even in the greatest circumstances, there is still residual impact from adoption. The child does not remained unscathed in this transaction, I assure you. I speak from personal experience, the impact of adoption on the mother is never-ending. I’m still learning about what wounds adoption has left on me to this day, almost 10 years later.
I may have wound up, reluctantly in an adoption process, but I can tell you this about me- I do not support taking any choice away from women. When you do, in ten years, you’ll have a woman, like myself who feels sick when these discussions come up, because she actually understands the kind of unending damage not having a choice has.
As I summed up on Twitter,
If you want to have your hands in my uterus, or near it, you had better be a doctor or my sexual partner. Otherwise? Fuck off. #M312
— Danielle Barnsley (@danielleb_c) September 21, 2012