I’m Not (Just) Pro-Choice



On the 41st Anniversary of Roe v Wade

I used to do clinic defense, escorting women past screaming mobs. Standing up to people with their fetus signs and Bibles. I’ve sat in meditation in front of Planned Parenthood because others were doing their “40 Days of Prayer” across the street. I’ve done these things because women’s lives are sacred.

I had one abortion in my early 20s. A condom broke. It happens. The abortion wasn’t easy. It was necessary. I vowed to never have to go through one again.

That abortion saved my life.

Not my physical life, but it saved my life nonetheless, enabling me to work toward the life I have now, one which (I hope) contributes and gives back. That abortion also saved the life of whatever child that fetus would have turned into. It saved that child from a life of poverty and difficulty. It saved that child from a parent who didn’t want it and who still needed years to work through the abuse from her own childhood.

I am pro-abortion. I am pro-abortion early term. I am pro-abortion in the middle of a pregnancy. I am pro-abortion late term. Those people who think a woman in late term pregnancy wants to terminate for any but the most serious reasons? They have to be deluded. Abortion is not a walk in the park, even early term. It costs. For many of us, it just costs less than carrying a pregnancy full term.

I am pro-abortion because a parent’s life is worth more to me than the life of a zygote or a fetus.

I am pro-abortion because, in my religion, death and life walk hand in hand, as part of one great cycle.

Death and life are inextricably intertwined. To deny a woman’s power over the workings of her own body is to deny her right to foster life itself. Fostering life comes in many forms.

We are not chattel. We are not property. We are humans who are willing to face the hard choices of adulthood. Rites of passage. Sometimes the patch of carrots must be thinned for other things to grow strong and healthy. Sometimes the fire moves through the forest, so the pines can release seeds.

I have grown so many things. Yet anti-abortionists would tell me, “not enough.” As one sister wrote to me at the time, “You’ve killed one of my nieces or nephews.” As though my family doesn’t have enough children and grandchildren. As though tipping the scales at 7 billion people and counting isn’t not only enough for this planet, but far too much.

I honor the cycles of life. I honor the cycles of death. I honor my power, as a priestess, to hold out a hand to both. I clasp those hands, bringing life and death together. 


One cannot work for the liberation of all beings if one isn’t willing to sacrifice. To sacrifice is to claim power. It is an offering. The blood pours upon the altar from the calf. The incense rises. The fruits of the land are given. I offered the temporary joining of my body with another’s, that brief coming together of cells…I offered up my pain. I offered these for the promise of a life of creativity and service.

I’m still living up to that promise. I’ve needed all this time.

Thank you Roe, even though by now you’ve changed your mind. I honor your sacrifice, too.

Post Script: Lest anyone think I am chastising poor families for having children, I am not. We all have to make our own choices about whether or not raising children is within our capacity. In my particular case, having a child would have had disastrous consequences for me and whatever child was brought to bear.

127 Responses to “I’m Not (Just) Pro-Choice”

  1. Emerald City

    I don’t normally write about personal stuff like this on the internet, but this amazing piece and the wonderful response have compelled me to. This is a refreshing change from the usual “No one is pro abortion” and “Abortion is the hardest decision any woman can make” rhetoric. I’ve had two abortions, and in both cases it was literally the easiest decision I’ve ever had to make. I knew the experience would be less than pleasant, but nowhere near the utter hell of pregnancy, childbirth and raising a child I did not want and could not properly take care of. See, I’ve never wanted to have kids. It just does not appeal to me at all. I’ve geared my life towards what many consider to be selfish pursuits for a woman; developing my intellectual and creative faculties.
    My mother’s mother’s mother (great grandmother) had 10+ kids. When my mom was pregnant with me, she expressed to her that she only wanted one child. My great grandmother said “I only wanted one, too”. This was in front of my grandmother, who was number 9 or so. Ouch. But really, she didn’t live that way because she wanted too. Back then women didn’t have what we have today. A CHOICE. She turned into a bitter and angry person. Who wouldn’t? On top of that, that one child who she did want, her firstborn, died having an illegal and unsafe abortion, ostensibly to save herself from a similar fate. I’m glad that’s not my life. I’m glad that I have access to safe and legal abortion. Since I’m not a Christian, and I don’t believe that abortion is murder, I’ve never been anguished by my choices to abort.

  2. Dave Linton

    My grandmother died in 1924 of an infection that followed a botched back-alley, illegal abortion in Chicago. Her son (my dad) was two at the time, and I know from reading her letters that she dearly loved him and her husband. Her situation? I found out only through much research – she was raped by her brother in law during an extended visit. She felt she had no options, and in fact, carried her secret to her grave, and I don’t believe her husband (my grandfather) ever knew the story. No woman should ever have been trapped in the no-win situation she found herself in. Had Roe v Wade been the law of the land in 1924, I would have known my grandmother. Being raped should not carry the death penalty, should the victim not wish to carry the rapist’s child to term.

  3. Carrie Skinner

    I’ve been doing an ancestry search for about a year now on my mother’s side of the family and it is amazing just how many children my ancestor mothers were forced to bear. It also was interesting to note the faces of the parents in family photos where there were up to 15 children in some. The fathers always had big smiles on their faces while the mothers always had sour, miserable looks on theirs. I was 10 years old when my poor catholic mother became pregnant with her 4th child and desperately began looking for a way to abort it. She drank a lot of disgusting things and did some pretty horrible stuff to herself. Then when she finally miscarried she went into a deep dark depression over guilt that she never really recovered from. If more of us were to tell these stories of our ancestor mothers maybe we could all realize just what kind of prison women have been bound by when forced to bear more children than they are physically or emotionally capable of.

    • Thorn

      Carrie, your mother’s story is sad. It is really too bad she had no community to support her and no better options to choose from.

      Growing up in a family of 8 children, I had friends from families of as large as 13. Unreal. If it weren’t for the fact that my mom and I both almost died during my birth, she would have kept on. I sometimes quip that I was an activist at birth because of this. My birth made it impossible for my mother to have more children.

    • karen

      Thorn, why don’t we collect these stories or others, with permission, and put them together in a book?

  4. Dorothy

    Hello. I am not a regular reader of you blog, but saw this link while browsing The Wild Hunt. I am and always have been pro-choice. I work at a public library and my husband is a commercial artist. I am happily pregnant with our very desired child.

    Having this child will be hugely financially difficult for us. Having a child in our current society is for all but the upper classes a huge burden in these times. If my husband and I were to separate, I and my child would be in abject poverty. I’ve done the math.

    What I find noticeably lacking in these discussions is the support of women to birth their children regardless of their socioeconomic standing. I hear lots of people supporting the choice of the poor women to abort a fetus, but who supports the choice of a poor woman to birth her child conceived in love. Outside of Ina May Gaskin and the Farm midwives, I have seen pretty much zero activism in this regard. I have always supported my sisters in their choice not to become mothers, but where is the support for those women that do?

    For my many peers who are choosing not to have children, this sentiment about the world’s overpopulation does seem to bring a great sense of comfort. But what future or hope is there for humanity if the best of people, the most compassionate, idealistic, intelligent, and hard-working among us deliberately choose to be the end of their line?

    Humanity is not a scourge upon the earth, and we need to support all the women choosing to be mothers even when that choice is difficult too. To make it sound as if aborting a fetus is the most ethical choice for a child who will be born into poverty implies a great deal that I find incredibly disturbing.

    • carrie skinner

      What you are saying is all true and I agree with most of it . I think that what you don’t realize is that there really isn’t any opposition out there to women HAVING babies but there is ALOT of opposition to them aborting them. That is why you hear more on this subject than you do on the other. I lived in near poverty all of my childbearing years and had 3 children and never had an abortion but I am totally in favor of every woman having the choice to do what ever she feels is best for her own life and body. That is what we are struggling for at this time. I don’t think it has as much to do with being poor or rich, it just has to do with being woman. No one is out there trying to shut down hospitals that deliver babies. They are out there trying to shut down places that supply birth control and abortion. That is why there are discussions like this happening.

      • Dorothy

        I do realize how many people are vehemently anti-abortion, and as I said I am pro-choice, vocally so.

        What I am saying is that we can not fight for our bodies and reproductive rights effectively if we are not fighting for right to birth (and birth safely – maternal death rates in this country are absolutely shameful) in tandem with our right to abortion. Many of us are not making a wholistic argument, and it is part of the reason we are so vulnerable to attack. Poor women who genuinely wish to continue their pregnancies have few sympathetic voices to turn to in liberal communities where overpopulation and pro-abortion have become the rallying cry. My concern is that we are essentially abandoning our sisters to the patronizing and patriarchal care of privately-run crisis pregnancy centers run by the religious right. We are not politically active for mothers (non-existent maternity leave, feh economic and social subjugation of childcare workers, the lack of social security benefits for mothers who provide child are, ect.)

        It is time to fight for reproductive rights across the spectrum. It would make for a stronger case and more mothers who have not ever chosen abortion, and would not choose it would see that we genuinely care for the bodily rights of all women.


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