Monday, January 22, 2007


At 19 I had a pregnancy scare. I had a boyfriend, the condom broke, and I spent $20 -- a huge sum to me at the time -- on a pregnancy test that didn't provide an intelligible result. Fortunately, I got my period a few days later. But I wouldn't have hesitated for a moment to get an abortion, even though my Catholic boyfriend told me later he would have been upset about it. My body, my responsibility, my choice.

Yesterday's New York Times magazine has an interesting and maddening article about an anti-choice movement that claims abortion harms women psychologically. The movement relies on debunkable, quasi-scientific studies that say women who've had abortions have more psychological problems than those who didn't. One of the main characters in the story is a woman who's had four abortions and mourns them; she now organizes memorials for aborted embryos. She has three daughters and didn't teach them about contraception, because, she says, "“Abstinence works better than birth control, really. It’s just that people don’t do it.” So, big surprise, her 17-year-old daughter got pregnant. It makes me crazy to think there's a woman out there who claims to be advocating for women's health, yet failed to teach her own children about contraception.

I deeply mourned my miscarriage -- a spontaneous abortion in medical parlance -- at eight weeks. It is possible I would have mourned an abortion when I was 19, but I can guarantee you that whatever psychological harm might have been induced by that procedure would have been far eclipsed by the harm -- both to me and to a child -- of regretfully becoming a parent as a college sophomore.

I don't disagree with Bill Clinton's position that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare." Abortions will be rare when women are educated about birth-control options, when more men start being willing to wear condoms, and when both sexes have access to affordable, effective contraception.

Until that time -- and even after -- let's celebrate. Today is the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Here's to many more.

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

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