Wednesday, October 05, 2011

May my daughters get to choose

Driving back from a 1 year old's birthday party in Naperville on Sunday, we passed two dozen anti-choice picketers holding up signs.

"Abortion... kills... babies. Mommy, what's an abortion?"

Although I winced, I'm not one to ignore pointed questions from my bright almost 7 year old 2nd grader. We've discussed where babies come from (I recommend the book It's Not the Stork), but I wasn't prepared to discuss abortion. How would I provide a truthful answer while that also conveyed my solidly pro-choice perspective?

Now, I'm not pro-abortion. I can't imagine anyone is. But I believe there are valid reasons a woman may want to terminate a pregnancy, and it is not my place (or our government's) to interfere in what is a very personal, private, emotionally-fraught medical matter.

"Well, honey, an abortion is what happens when a woman had a very tiny baby in her tummy and either that baby is very sick and might die or that woman is very upset that there is a baby in there and doesn't want to be pregnant and have a baby. It is very sad when there is an abortion and some people believe they shouldn't be allowed. But your mom and lots of other women believe every lady has the right to decide if she wants to have a baby. It is her choice."

I walked through another batch of anti-choice protesters today, these ones shouting and holding up far more gruesome posters. It was an uncomfortable approach to NARAL's Pro-Choice America's Chicago Power of Choice Luncheon, but one women in crisis deal with daily as they try to approach a Planned Parenthood or other women's health clinic for reproductive services.

The speakers, journalist Sylvia Ewing, NARAL President Nancy Keenen and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, drove home how anti-woman the so-called pro-life movement is and how much scary legislative progress they've made in states across the U.S.

Now I understand wanting to end abortions, but the anti-choice lobby is anti-contraception. Contraception! Last I checked, the Pill, IUDs and condoms were without a doubt the best way to prevent unplanned, unwanted pregnancies. And as if that wasn't galling enough, some Republicans want to ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest. This cause matters. For my friends, who've endured so much pain and heartbreak securing second trimester terminations for non-viable pregnancies, and for my daughters, who most certainly will need affordable, reliable contraceptives before they decide to start having children.