Posts Tagged ‘pro-choice’

These past few days, I have been watching American politics with great interest. Things got really fun when Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain’s running mate. I find her very bizarre and cannot believe that she actually has a good chance of becoming the next vice-president. But then, both times Bush was elected I felt like we were living in the twilight zone, so I supposed it isn’t really a stretch to think that Americans will vote for an old guy and a woman who named her first child ‘Track’.

For a couple of days, I allowed myself to think that this wacky choice did not matter much, because look at the roll Obama is on and of course the Democrates will win this time. But then a friend who is a journalist in the States kicked the chair out from under me, reminding me that Obama still has that huge strike against him. He’s black. I’d have dismissed that if I hadn’t recently heard an interview on the radio with a few ‘ordinary Americans’ praising Obama for appearing to be a very smart, reasonable guy. But they still wouldn’t vote for him because, and I quote, “He’s a coloured.” Okay, then.

But that’s just a side rant. What’s really pissing me off the past couple of days is the emphasis on Palin’s choice to continue her pregnancy once she discovered that her latest child, with the equally unfortunate name of Trig, had Down Syndrome. There seems to be the assumption that, were she not so rabidly anti-abortion, of course she would have aborted the baby.

This makes me crazy on several levels. On one level, it suggests Down Syndrome is a truly awful thing, that the only thing stopping Palin from drop-kicking the baby from her uterus upon this discovery were her Christian beliefs, because … ew, retarded baby. It negates the possibility that she, or anyone else, can just decide that Down Syndrome isn’t a big deal and a Down Syndrome baby can actually be a wanted baby.

The narrative seems to be framed like this: Well, thank goodness she holds these good, Christian, anti-abortion beliefs, or this sweet little ‘special’ baby wouldn’t be here today and we must impose this lack of choice on everyone else so that other sweet little special babies like this will be born too.

And then there’s the whole notion that people who are pro-choice are actually pro-abortion, like they think that all pregnancies should end in abortion. Like, if it were up to them, Palin would have been forced to abort her fifth child.

But that’s not the point at all. The point is that the pregnant woman must be allowed to chose what happens in her pregnancy. Beyond the occasional eugenics wing-nut, you won’t find anyone who is pro-choice who disagrees with Palin’s choice. Because it was her choice.

I am as rabidly pro-choice as Palin appears to be anti-choice (my blog, my terms). My last pregnancy, as I’ve mentioned before, was a, um, surprise. A failure in birth control technology. We had pretty much decided that two kids was good and then pregnancy number three happened. And I was already 35, which is when more prenatal screening for birth defects is recommended, as the odds of a problem are higher. According to the anti-choice narrative, this is where I should have run right out and gotten an abortion. But that wasn’t my choice. I decided to have the baby. I wanted the baby, even if she was born with problems.

I had no screening with the first two, beyond the standard ultrasound, and chose to have no screening with the third either. She may have been a surprise, but for me she was already here and I wanted her, no matter how she came out. I decided that I didn’t fear Down Syndrome because, well, she will be who she will be. (I was convinced she was a she.)

I didn’t do this because I am anti-abortion. I was just anti-me-having-an-abortion-at-that-moment. I would never, ever presume to put myself in the shoes of another woman and dictate how she would feel or what she would do. I’ve accompanied a friend to an abortion clinic and waited so I could drive her home afterwards. It wasn’t a happy occasion, and my friend wasn’t happy to have an abortion, but she did not want to be pregnant at that point, and I remember sitting in the clean, professional, safe clinic waiting room, so relieved that this choice was available – not as relieved as my friend was, though.

We are lucky, my friend and I, to live in a society were she was allowed to chose to end an unwanted pregnancy and I was allowed to chose to continue my surprise one without any screening, even if my chances of having a child with Downs was increased. And we just might be lucky to not be living in the United States, where in a few months a woman who would like to take that choice away from American women might be one heartbeat away from the Presidency.

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