Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Time to Ruin Your Day by Talking About Abortion

So, this one time, I had the honor of being asked by a friend to go with her to her abortion.

Now, I know that "honor" is a weird thing to see in that sentence, but let me explain a little: My friend- we'll call her Polly- was dating a man who lived in a different state.  Despite the fact that she was on the pill and he always wore a condom, well... somehow that little ball of cells still got fertilized.  I know, it sounds impossible to a lot of people, because they were totally using protection.  But actually, when you look at the stats, condoms are actually really easy to screw up (and even when you use them right, they aren't infallible). On top of that, it's also stupid easy for the pill to have problems and pregnancy prevention is actually a lot more complicated than most people realize.  On top of that, I'm pretty sure Polly might actually be some kind of genetically perfect super-human, grown in a lab by late-era cold war scientists.  (She denies this, of course, but it would explain her crazy fertility powers.)

The point is, that whole "It works almost all of the time" thing means that it still screws up whenever "almost all" isn't that time, and that's how Polly and her boyfriend ended up pregnant.  And that was a problem, for a bunch of reasons, but I'll just stick to the practical ones: They both worked full-time jobs in exhausting, high stress fields; they lived a thousand miles away; and Polly was finishing her degree.  On top of that, they'd only been dating a few months: this accidental pregnancy couldn't have been more of a terrible idea.  Which is why- duh!- they'd tried everything they could to prevent it.

But as I've said a thousand times before, Nature is a Total Bitch. And that little microscopic protein chain was one tough bastard, and there she was.  Stuck with a newish long-distance relationship and a pregnancy that couldn't have been timed worse.

Straight talk, because I know lots of people will disagree with me (but fuck 'em), I absolutely think Polly did the right thing.  And even if I didn't, it wouldn't matter, because holy shit, it's her body, not mine.  And no one- NO FUCKING ONE- has the right to tell anyone else what to do with their body. Your life, you gotta make your own moral choices about it.  Polly decided that the right thing to do was to terminate the pregnancy.  It was not a decision she made lightly, but it was made with the best of intentions for herself, her future, and her family.

Now, as a dude, I don't know anything about what it's like to be pregnant, to have a baby, or to have an abortion.  Waaaay out of my scope of practice.  So, rather than explain the mechanics of it, I asked Polly to explain what her abortion entailed for herself:

"Driving there was scary but the staff and clinic was so lovely.  There was a couple there that was really depressing.  They were college students who were in love and were trying to hide their sexual activity from their parents.

"They weighed me.  Pricked my finger to figure out blood type and took vitals.  I went and read a book and then had a sonogram with a very nice lady with very cold gel on my belly.  Then I spent an hour answering questions in the counselling section.

"Yes, I understand sex and birth control.  No, I don't feel unsafe at home.  I have a support system and am not going to kill myself.  And am making my own choice.  I did think about keeping the baby and it wasn't feasible (this is the correct response, or they spend another hour discussing other options).

"Then I peed and popped a horse sized pill and drove home.  Woke up at 4 am to shove 4 tiny pills up my twat.  And had the most fiery and painful one-day cramp session of my life.  Gorey, not fiery.  Blood everywhere, like I was murdered or lost a limb.  Then I slept for two days, and had a light bleeding for a month.

"And then you came with me to the two week check-up.  Which was very similar to the first experience, except for the trans-vaginal sonogram which I wasn't expecting, and was violently scary since I wasn't expecting it.  No counselling session that time, though, just a review of my circumstances and bleeding."
-Polly Elders-Luker*
*Not her real name, unbelievably enough, but if you catch the references, good on you!

See?  Before she told me that, I didn't even know that I was only there for the follow-up, not the initial appointment.  That's how little I know about abortions!  Hilarious! And weird.  And sad, and holy shit, is it just me, or does it seem like the public is totally misinformed about this stuff?  I thought trans-vaginal sonograms only happened in horrible nightmare places like Alabama, not SOLID BLUE states like Illinois.  But it does, and it did.  And holy shit, you guys.  That's horrifying.

Why would I feel "honored" to be there for her during this horrible, gut-wrenching experience?  Well, despite the fact that 1 in 3 women in this country get an abortion at least once in her life, there's a ridiculous social stigma against it, considering the country is basically split evenly on the "pro-choice"/"pro-life" divide.  As I said, her boyfriend lived several states away.  She felt she needed someone to be there, just as a sign of encouragement, who wouldn't judge her as "immoral" or whatever, and someone who would keep it private.  And she asked ME to do that.  So yeah.  THAT was a huge honor, to be trusted like that.  If you can't understand that, maybe you need to read up on the concept of "human empathy"?  Just an idea.

The now totally GOP-controlled Congress and various State Houses (which are often even crazier) have spent the last few years doing their level-best to undo Roe vs. Wade.  I could list dozens of cases in which these men- and I do mean men, because most women approve of abortion rights for reasons that should be obvious- have been trying to cripple the law of the land.  These assholes have no respect for women, and no respect for human rights, end of discussion.  I'm sorry, there's just no room to maneuver on this one.

If you're personally not comfortable with abortion, THAT'S OKAY.  Don't get one.  But when you actively try to stop a women form getting their own, from controlling their own body?  Fuck you, you fascist.  No, really, you are a fascist, that is literally the definition.  You think you know how someone else should live their life better than they do, so you're actively trying to force your control over them.  That's awful, and who are you to tell them how to live?  Kindly fuck off.

Birth control, abortion, these things have always been around.  There were Ancient Egyptian remedies for having children, the Roman Empire had there version, hell, they invented the condom in the goddamn Middle Ages. Abortion isn't pretty.  It's not a nice thing to think about, but it's something that we, as a society, need to grow the fuck up about.  Sex is gross but feels great, everybody poops, and most sane people don't want to reproduce before they feel they're ready to have a child.  That's not immoral, that's a totally well reasoned, ethic desire.  Stop saying "the child was destined to happen", because destiny can blow me. Repressed moralists can bitch all they want, but you would think that only a sociopath would want to go back to the days of Back Alleys and Coat Hanger abortions.

I once actually had a debate about that with someone on the other side of this issue.  I asked this friend about the morality of inevitable abortions; how even if abortions were "morally abhorrent", wouldn't clean, sterile abortions be better than a mother-to-be risking her life with a back-alley one?  If the whole "Pro-Life" opinion (what an absurd term) was all about saving lives, isn't saving one life better than risking two?  And what he said (again, it's almost always a "he", isn't it?) chilled me to the bone:  "If she's going to abort a baby, she deserves to die."


That is probably the most fucked up thing anyone has ever said to me in a sincere, honest-about-their-opinion conversation, and it is HORRIFYING.  If you think the possible "life" of a microscopic ball of protein is more valuable than an actual human being, then we have nothing more to discuss.  There is nothing Pro-LIFE about wishing a woman to die.  If you believe that, then fuck you and your homicidal patriarchy.

Again, I'm not trying to tell anyone what they should or should not do!  Everyone, man, woman, or any of the complicated genders in between those old models: No one should make your life choices except for you.  But the kind of assholes who try to control other people- specifically people who aren't rich white dudes- those people are douchebags.  And we should treat them as such.

Because there shouldn't be this social stigma.  I guarantee you know someone who has has an abortion, whether you realize it or not. No one should have to be embarrassed that they decided they weren't ready to have a baby.  That isn't immorality, that's just well reasoned finances! Oh, and "moralist" crowd?  We could spend days talking about the terrible immorality about having kids before you're financially ready. (Also, FUCK YOU, and here's a link.  You should kindly go read it, if you're still confused.)

Polly and her boyfriend didn't work out.  And 3 years later she casually mentioned that one time I went with her to the abortion clinic, and honestly?  I totally had forgotten about it, but yeah, that was a thing that happened.  And I sort of half-jokingly mentioned I could write about it, and then she thought that would be a really good idea, and here we are.  Polly has finished school and continues to work in her rather demanding field.  She and her boyfriend are no longer together, and considering the drama involved in that particular break up, I, for one, am glad there was never a baby involved.

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