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I’ve always been pro-choice, but never thought I’d have to make the choice myself. Then, when I conceived a much-wanted pregnancy with my beloved husband, only to discover at the end of my first trimester that my developing child suffered from a condition that would lead to a shortened lifetime of physical and mental maladies and suffering, I made the agonizing, heart-rending decision to end my pregnancy, to have a second trimester abortion.
I believe it was a moral choice to prevent the suffering before it began, before my child’s consciousness or ability to feel pain developed. Imagine my horror at such a personal choice being the target of political controversy and ill-informed debate and increased legislation.
You can never know what you’ll do when faced with such a dire prognosis for your child, when faced with certain illness or early death or extreme cognitive disability. I certainly didn’t know what I would do until I sat in the doctor’s chair and felt the world fall out from beneath my feet. But I am grateful I live in a country where I have the right to make the decision that I feel is best for my family and myself. Unfortunately, anti-choice activists and right-wing politicians hack away at that right every day.
They believe it’s better to carry sick, severely cognitively impaired and fatally ill children into this world to suffer, that parents must accept it as “god’s will” to endure agonizing years of watching their children struggle through surgeries and therapies and slow death.
I reject that as the morally superior argument, and I reject the imposition of the State, at any time, to demand a woman to bring a pregnancy to term against her will. I was pro-choice before, but now I’m passionately so. Unfortunately, because of my family’s conservative Catholic views, I can never openly share these views or my experience in my writing or public speaking. My family would disown me if they knew.
That is another great loss for me. But I pump all my extra dollars towards Planned Parenthood and NARAL and am fighting mightily against the growing amount of state legislation that limits abortion access.
I grieve for the pregnancy I lost every day. I rage and I ache. Nothing will patch the hole in my heart. And yet I trust myself enough to know that I made the right decision. I wish the government and politicians could trust women too.
-Katherine B. is a writer living in Phoenix.