A letter writer has recently implied that it’s the right-wing, western-based, redneck crowd that is to blame for all social ills… that pro-life types are nowhere to be found when babies are born and that young girls who get pregnant benefit from abortion–flourishing careers, you know. As a 20-something (now 30-something) who got unexpectedly pregnant after one year in university and who sacrificed her studies (I have a law degree but was never admitted to the bar) to raise a family this question is of more than academic interest.
13 years later, I have completed some of my studies but my career is unmistakably mommy-tracked. I had dreams of traveling the world and I now find myself the least traveled person of my acquaintance. I have carried my pregnancies to term and I do harbor regrets about all the things I might have been able to do, especially when I look at my peers who are paying off their mortgages at 35 while I wonder how the heck I will pay back the $60 000 line of credit I incurred to buy a Master’s degree and with it, the possibility of developing a career.
These struggles are supposed to make me pro-choice. They don’t.
We live in a misogynistic society. This is not our children’s fault so much as our own. When we flaunt abortion as the panacea for our inability to recognize motherhood as an important contribution to society and to acknowledge that mothers may have ambitions in life other than motherhood – ambitions that are not per se incompatible with motherhood but that are made so by a myopic outlook on motherhood and ambition – we effectively reinforce prejudices against mothers, children and families. This is the heart of my position against abortion.
I am not “anti-choice.” I only firmly believe that choice in matters of pregnancy has effectively reduced the range of options available to women in society. And this occurred principally when we made childbearing a personal choice for which women alone are held accountable.
Where pregnancy is a personal choice for women alone to make, everyone else is off the hook. Fathers, families and society. You might blame “anti-choice folks” for being nowhere once a child is born. I can personally assure you, pro-choice liberals aren’t anywhere to be seen either.
For proof, I could rhyme off anecdotes from my personal experience over the last 13 years – which covered both Liberal and Conservative governments by the way – but this post is getting long enough. Let me leave you all with this homework assignment: I submitted my Master’s thesis in late June and have been looking for work since early April with no success. I am well qualified but completely inexperienced. I have spent 12 years raising five children and finished my law degree and got a Master’s degree but I don’t have experience. That’s a problem—incidentally, not pro-lifers’ fault. Had I aborted my babies, I would have plenty of experience by now. Employers demand this experience, why? Because they can. And certainly since pregnancy is a choice, they don’t need to accommodate women who don’t choose experience over life.
About three weeks ago, I found myself a little queasy and peed on a stick. Surprise: I am – very unexpectedly – 2 months pregnant. And still looking for work (see aforementioned “$60,000 line of credit.”) Now, that’s complicated. Who looks for work pregnant? Who hires people for 6 months? Where is my mat leave after 6 months? What guarantees do I have to have my job back after I give birth? Don’t look, there aren’t any, I already checked. The choice of abortion has made unexpected pregnancies an aberration, a thing of the past. Abortion and its correlating ideas about motherhood-only-when-convenient and as an individual choice have created a brick wall with a one-way sign and a prohibited u-turn for women.
P.S. I should add that I have just found work for the next six months with a pro-life, so-con employer who knows about my pregnancy. Liberal pro-choicers—top that.