Friday, January 28, 2005


I was brought up firmly planted between Mainline Protestantism and Midwestern Morality. There were many things that were not discussed explicitly, but I knew that certain things were Wrong, among them premarital sex, politicians, and abortion.

I remember the night I made some statement at the dinner table, assuming that the familial position was pro-Life. My mother, a plain, god-fearing, black and white kind of woman, was horrified to find one of her children turned against her. I was horrified to find my mother one of the enemy.

Mom took it upon herself to instruct me in the Way Things Were before abortion was legal in this country: the women who died, were maimed, or otherwise had their lives changed forever. She was the one who introduced me to the "not for me personally, but for anyone else who needs it" position.

I went to college and learned there were different ways to see things. I started to come around to my mother's way of thinking. I had my first scare and it taught me a little of the ache of the decision, and gave me compassion for those who truly have to make it. I began to call myself pro-Choice.

I grew even older, and my father's Libertarian views began to grow on me. On an individual level, I saw abortion as a personal moral/ethical decision. On a legal level, I couldn't comprehend making it illegal. I simply could see no compelling reason why it was any of the government's damned business.

I thought the question was settled in my mind. I thought I was decided. I thought I was certain. Then a few years ago, a friend came to me. She was on powerful prescription meds and had been warned against trying to get pregnant. Now she was late. She could not afford an abortion and had come to ask me for a loan. I had no financial reasons to object, but I didn't feel entirely comfortable giving her the money. It looked like things weren't quite as settled for me as I'd thought.

Last week, one of our friends asked me if she could request a favor. It's a little early to make the call, but it seems she's pregnant, and for a variety of complicated and personal reasons, this is not a child she can have. "I know what I need to do," she said, "but I don't think I can go by myself." This time there was no hesitation, no second thoughts. "No worries," I told her. "I'll take a day off and we'll do whatever you need to do."

Last Saturday marked the 32nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. For practically my entire lifetime, women have been called to make their own decisions and to come to grips with the consequences of those choices. I hope my daughters will have that same freedom, that same power.