Monday, October 25, 2010

I was a wanted mama

I've been thinking a little bit lately about abortion.

Laurel posted a great thread on Full Spectrum Doula Network about the emotional and mental realities of abortion entitled "Abortion as Perinatal Loss".  One of the other commenters said something poignant about how abortion can have the emotional repercussions of miscarriage.  And I've always thought that it's a damn shame that so many of the strong, in-tune women I know who have gotten abortions have swept the experience under the rug, seemingly afraid to admit the full spectrum of their emotions due to the fear of their emotional pain and physical healing being used against them by people who want to take away their rights and make them feel guilty about their decision.  Do I blame them?  Not necessarily.  I just think it's really fucking sad.

Also, I've been chatting with a good friend of mine about working with The Doula Project in NYC to get an abortion doula training here in the Midwest, something that this area desperately needs.  I see this work as incredibly valuable in light of the very thing I was just discussing- the emotional and mental realities of people who choose abortions. 

Maybe this would be the best time to disclose some very personal information.  I have, and always will be, pro-choice.  I am also anti-abortion.  This means I'm pro-everything-that-could-prevent-abortions, such as comprehensive sexuality, access to contraception and improved maternity care, as well as programs to end poverty and the subjugation of women.  I think abortion is a sad thing, that we should be working to minimize abortions, because they have no positive effect on a women's sexual health (dare I say a negative one) not to mention take place in a society ill-equipped to support the healing that must take place afterward.  Until all of those things are in place, it will sadden me that it must be integrated into modern womancare.  But I graciously offer all my support and love for any woman who chooses this, because she deserves it.

On the other hand, my partner was raised extremely pro-life.  We've talked and talked about this, and he agrees now that he is pro-choice, but also has such a deep-seated aversion to welcoming abortion into the norm of my work due to it's nature- or what he perceives as its nature.  And ultimately, I agree with him that the nature of abortion is that it's a hard decision nobody wants to have to make, yet he feels that it runs deeper than just that- that it's a loss- and it's hard because I don't exactly disagree with him.  It's just that his feelings on the subject are in the way of me moving forward with working as an abortion doula, and I want to respect his feelings but also want him to respect what I'm called to do.

What to do, what to do.  I am fierce when it comes to ladies' access to abortions, supporting them and their ability to make educated reproductive decisions for a lifetime.  I would NEVER question somebody's intent on having an abortion.  Yet today I saw a bumper sticker of a Mother Teresa quote that said "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so you can live as you wish."  And it struck me with involuntary truth.  And maybe it's because of the crisis I had when I was pregnant, as a pro-choice woman, thinking, "This is a baby."  And knowing how relatively easy it's been to be a good mama to my baby despite my struggle to elicit support and resources.  But this is my privilege.  He was a wanted baby.  I was a wanted mama.


DoulaHara said...

I hear you. A lot of the things you said resonate with me, and some of them don't so much, but all of them are valid as your experience...

It must be a really tough spot to be having conflict over an issue that you both feel so strongly about! you are a strong, brilliant mama, though, who will figure out how to navigate this--meet both of your needs AND still do good work.

A close friend and I have had a few conversations about what it was like to be fiercely pro-choice women who have both had abortions, and then to experience pregnancy & birth & become mothers of babies. I've never come to any conclusions about what that experience was like, but I know it was thought provoking and intense. I wouldn't say it made me commitment to abortion rights & access waver at all, but it spurred a new set of understandings about the whole thing.

Thanks for posting this!

Stephanie said...

Sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment, mama. I don't think I've resolved anything about the connections between being pro-choice and being a mother, but it's deepened the conversation I have with myself about it. I see it as more of a story to tell, and making space to hear other mama's stories.. and not creating definitions of what it (our opinions, values, ideas) should look like after having a baby. Letting our bodies talk (like if walls could talk, you know?)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I love that we share this common mental pathway. Every think you wrote here has been a thought in my mind. Many thoughts that I twirl around my finger each night. Just what I needed.

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