On a day that we celebrate freedom in this country I just don’t feel…free. Or like celebrating. I feel a lot of things in fact—but I do not feel privileged or honored or proud to be an American. I do not feel grateful to raise my daughter here. I think above all, I just feel lost today.
I can understand how easy it is to simply say that you are anti-abortion. It’s a perfect sound-bite. What could be more wrong than killing innocent unborn babies? It’s black and white. That was how a lot of people in my hometown thought about it. That’s how my church raised me to think about it. I was pro-life until college because I could not possibly understand how one could be anything else.
But then I grew up. I left home. I met women with so many stories. I had my own stories. And what seemed like something that was black and white started to become really gray. The older I get, the grayer it gets.
I didn’t know what an ectopic pregnancy was. I didn’t realize that banning abortions would put 1 in 50 mothers in grave danger by banning aborting these life threatening pregnancies. I did not understand the fear of actively bleeding to death and waiting for someone else to tell my doctor it’s okay to proceed with my life-saving procedure.
I didn’t realize that 1 in 4 women miscarried their children until I had a miscarriage myself. I didn’t understand the trauma of a miscarriage and I didn’t know that for some women, a D & C is the only way to remove their miscarried child and the scarred tissue in their body to prevent sepsis and further infection in our bodies. I didn’t realize that when we banned abortions we banned this life-saving procedure as well until just days ago. Did you know that a D&C is considered an abortion? Did you know that if you’ve gotten one if your lifetime that you’ve had an abortion?
Today, I read a story about a 10 year old girl from Ohio that was raped that could not get an abortion in her own state because she was 6 weeks and 3 days pregnant. 10 years old. I still can not understand who could choose to force further trauma on that child’s brain and body to carry that baby to term after having already survived such trauma. For any raped woman to be forced to do anything with their bodies after their bodies were already forced to have sex is disgusting.
I didn’t think about the 7% of women that have abortions because of fetal health problems and health problems for the mother. And I NEVER considered the quality of life for a mother or a child after the birth occurred. It’s a really easy soundbite to say “well some life is better than no life at all”, but I think there are plenty of people in the broken support systems in this country that would argue differently. I never had to live that life so who am I to speak on their behalf? Did they ask for me to speak on their behalf? If I got pregnant at 15 I knew that my mom and my family would be disappointed, but that they would help me pick up the pieces, help me finish school, and give me financial support. What about the women who don’t have those options and who are alone? What about their children?
You might say that these are just nuances—but these nuances make up almost 50% of abortions. If that’s not grey I don’t know what is. Mothers in the US have the highest mortality rate compared to other developed nations. It’s not just high, it’s literally double, and banning abortion will lead to a 21% increase on pregnancy related deaths overall. Mothers. Women. We are all going to be in danger because of this law. We are going to die. I really wish I was being dramatic but I’m not.
When I was young, abortion was akin to murder. And worse—I saw it as just lazy. I saw it as a black and white decision because my life was still black and white. You met an amazing man. You got married. You had kids. You got a decent job that paid the bills—but that wasn’t that important because family was the most important thing. That was all that I saw around me. It was a list. Check the boxes.
But life is grey. There is joy and pain and panic and it’s all intertwined. Life is not a list that you check the boxes off of. It’s a discovery. What makes life so interesting and hard is that it’s a series of choices. And those choices create more choices. It’s not predestined. I should have the right to write my own story and not live someone else’s list. I am grateful that I have had the right to change. I am certainly not the same girl I was when I left Ohio.
I think there are a lot of people that would love to go back to a time when life was a little more like a checklist. A little more black and white. When it was “simpler”. So they will force a policy that will make life “simple” again. “Great” again. They will make women fit into their frame of what and who they think women should be—mothers and wives and that is all. The only reason we would allow these laws against women is because somewhere in the deepest crevices of this country, we still see women as second class citizens whose lives we should control. And I think that’s what this is really about.
I don’t think abortion law is about life at all. No. It’s about control. Not just over a woman’s body, but over the entire trajectory of a woman’s life. There are people that know that overturning this law will send women back in time and take away more than just their rights to their body. And that’s what they want. The right to my life. All of it.
No one should have that right. No one should have control over a person’s body, their mental well being, or the trajectory of their life, except for that person. I should have the right to my own life. My daughter should have a right to her life. She should get to choose her path. That is the true pro life. This is really just about control.
So I want us to stop calling it pro-life and call it what it is.
And pro-control is wrong.
I woke up this morning and all I could think about was how sad my dad was going to be when he realized I wasn’t celebrating today. I was raised to honor this country. I stand and put my hand over my heart every time the national anthem plays. I know how to fold a flag. Once my husband left our flag in a storm and I freaked out because we didn’t take it inside. I used to think that living here meant I lived in the best place on earth—the only place you could create your own life from scratch. As a poor girl from Ohio that meant everything to me. The land of the free. But apparently that free only applies to you if you are white MAN in the country. And as a half Mexican Woman, all my heart is crying today is—Daddy, does this rule still apply to me? Am I still as important here as you’d promised I’d be? Is Vivie? If I get pregnant again will I be safe? When the projected numbers of maternal death keep raising, 17 women, 20 women, 24 women, and next year 29 women—will I survive? If I moved to Ohio like you beg me to, and we found out the baby was sick at 6 weeks and would kill me—would you seriously look at your daughter, that looks the way she always does with not even a baby bump as evidence—would you look at me and say, “I choose the baby.” Would you kill me, for the baby? Do you think that you should get to make that choice or should I, the mother, the owner of the body that is making that baby, get to make that choice?
I am sorry, but I’m not proud to live in a country that sees me as a second class citizen. I’m not proud to live in a country that doesn’t value my life. As a woman that leads a brand that fights for mothers, I am at a loss.
I’m not proud.
Right now, I’m scared.
*It should be noted that my dad is apolitical and the views expressed do not necessarily represent his views, but rather the views and choices that many fathers over 50 in the US seem to believe they should have onus of.