I am pro-life. Firmly. I believe in minimizing war casualties as moral imperative. I believe that allowing a single one of our citizens to die from an untreated common illness is societal murder. I believe in minimizing the need for abortion with decent sex-ed and widely available birth control. I believe that extrajudicial killing by uniformed agents of the state is homicide, and that the undeniable racism of it is the moral disgrace of our time. And I think that it’s abominable that people who are willing to malign tiny children because of the bare fact of their birthplace dare use the term pro-life.
The intimidation tactics and fear-mongering of the sort of people who put up Nativity scenes while screaming about the impossibility of housing even small refugee children weighed heavily in my decision to have an abortion.
I discovered that I was pregnant not long after a thing I wrote went viral. It was a couple of pages about what it was like to be exhausted and hopeless and be told that you simply needed to work harder or give up more. It was about my life, and the lives of millions of others. Lives spent working for low pay with no benefits, no ladder to climb, no real belief that anything can change.
For some unfathomable reason, this meant that my life choices suddenly became something that it was appropriate for people to opine about. My medical history, financial details, educational records—all these were suddenly fair game for anyone in the world once I’d said it sucked to be poor.
My procreative choices were one of the most discussed topics. Bunches of people told me that I should have never borne my beautiful girls. They seemed split on whether I should have aborted them or whether I should merely never have conceived, depending on their personal politics.
Behind the scenes things weren’t exactly comforting. For every few notes full of support or questions, there was one suggesting me harm somehow. Death wishes. Explicit fantasies of torture and degradation. I knew how one man would rape my infant, as he made sure to tell me in loving detail what he would do to my youngest to punish me for continuing to speak.
He used the word “daring.” The trouble wasn’t that I had an opinion. The trouble was that I claimed the autonomy to express it. This man said that if I didn’t do what he said, if I didn’t come into line with his views, he would kill my tiny baby in the most abhorrent way possible.
That was the backdrop I was pregnant against. And I didn’t plan on coming into line with anyone’s views but my own. I have two daughters that I have to teach how to be women. I want them to do what’s right for them and their families, always. I don’t want them to look for approval from people whose logic and reason are questionable at best.
Some trolls are just trolls. But some trolls come equipped with guns and high moral dudgeon and a firm belief that bullying and intimidation will get you everywhere in life.
It’s nearly impossible to tell the difference from an email.
Here I was watching all this, and I had to think to myself: I’m already going to be a high-risk pregnancy. How much more of this can I bear? I wondered when these people would stop, leave me alone, let me feel as though my children are safe? What would life look like after this? I had no answers. I didn’t know whether I’d be employable when the dust settled—and I was the breadwinner. I had two children whose lives were my responsibility already.
I could not welcome a child into the world with joy, and I didn’t know when the people who hated what they thought I represented would decide that my children were more important than their chance to score a point on the Internet. I made a decision, then a phone call.
I didn’t know where to go. I knew that every minute counted, that at some point I would have waited too long, and this little potentiality inside me would be stuck with whatever damage I had done it when I didn’t eat, couldn’t sleep well, couldn’t stop panicking.
Mommy would be called unfit.
I seriously considered just going to Mexico and getting pills instead of going to a doctor in the States. It seemed safer, on balance, than a sterile clinic and a well-trained staff plus protesters. There aren’t crazy people screaming outside a Mexican pharmacy, grabbing at you as you pass to force you to listen to them babble their factually and morally incorrect nonsense at you. You don’t have to worry about sniper scopes or telephoto lenses there.
My best friend flew me to Ohio. Checked me into a motel. Checked me into a clinic under a fake name, so that at least nobody could find out before the day and show up specifically to hurt me. Because of the waiting period and the travel scheduling, I had to have the procedure a few hours before I was due to be on the radio. It meant I had to turn down painkillers in case they made me fuzzy on air.
Retrospectively, I should have turned down the radio spot. At the time, I only knew that I was caught between people who needed me to succeed—any service worker in America could have said the same things as I did, but nobody had asked them to explain for us all. I was the one people needed to show up. I saw the decision as simple—spend a few uncomfortable hours and refuse to be moved, or cave to the pressure to retreat, to shut up, to go away.
I flew thousands of miles and used a pseudonym because of fear of my fellow Americans and the fact that I don’t know which of them would become unhinged with rage over my constitutionally guaranteed rights to take care of my family. I listened to loud music and gritted my teeth for the procedure instead of taking palliative medicine because of fear of discovery.
I thought I was being paranoid. But the worry that I, and millions of women across America, have felt is the only rational response to life in a country where it’s perfectly legal to scream epithets like a banshee inches from a woman’s face simply because she wanted another Depo shot.
We all have to think about that, about the fact that any one of those people might be homicidally misinformed, that one of them might decide that today is the day to martyr themselves or us.
There is a group of radical fundamentalist religious zealots who are perverting ancient religious texts to justify brutal, savage violence against their own women. We know from their manifestos and YouTube videos in which they crow about their victims and praise their martyrs that they hate our freedoms and will do anything it takes to stop us having them.
This absolute cretin, this man who killed and took people in a medical clinic hostage in Colorado Springs—he’s a terrorist. So is every cowardly “activist” whose work is to instill fear and panic in women who are trying to access basic medical services. So are all the politicians who allows their constituencies to be bullied and intimidated simply because they can’t be bothered to learn how women’s health works. Worse are the ones who capitalize on the darkest trends in America to pander for a few spare votes.
None of those people are pro-life. They destroy life, and peace, and joy, and happiness. They do this by twisting soaring words of hope and faith from their own Scriptures into ugly weapons, and they think their God would approve. They care only for making people so miserable and afraid that they will fall into political line. They have forgotten what love is, and for all their talk of life, their hands are dripping with blood.
Well. I am an American. I do not negotiate with terrorists, and I do not bow to their shrunken gods.
I am pro-life, and I stand firmly with Planned Parenthood.