Sep 052010

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As the youngest of four kids who grew up in extreme poverty in the 1960s, I saw firsthand how women were devalued, overworked, underpaid, and could be quickly and easily abandoned with children by their deadbeat husbands. (My own father abandoned us, leaving us with no income.) I vowed never to be one of those women I saw around me, with their haggard expressions and limited lives. But this realization, this vow, didn’t help me escape from my harsh environments- a violent, abusive home-and it also didn’t help me cope with the fact of coming out as a lesbian at 16.

In my confusion, I fell into a relationship with a boy my own age who was kind, understanding, knew about my orientation, yet decided that it was OK if we helped each other survive. I ended up getting pregnant at 17 (1980) and knew immediately it was a mistake that I would never make again, and one that I would not allow to create bigger obstacles to survival in my life. I had an abortion-paying for it with money I earned with my part-time jobs that I also used to support myself since I no longer could endure living at my original home. I have never regretted that decision. In fact, I was so happy on the day it was completed, I cried with JOY-because I knew with a certainty that this was MY moral choice, that my body was my own, and that my life would have possibilities again if I was brave and resolved this mistake immediately. I cried with happiness that other women before me had fought to make it safe for me to control my own destiny.

Since then, having ended my relationship with my male best friend, earned my GED, come out fully and happily as a lesbian and in a happy, loving relationship with my life partner for the past ten years now, I have earned a bachelor’s degree (the first in my whole family to do so!), earned a master’s degree (both summa cum laude), and am earning a comfortable living as a professional in an academic setting. I am certain that this would not have been possible had I not been able to resolve one mistake that I made as a CHILD. Women will NOT be equal citizens if the government claims ownership of our very flesh. My belief is that abortion is not murder, but it is a killing of sorts, of a biological life. This still does not make me sad about the abortion I had, but only makes me realize how much more important it is that women decide this issue for themselves. Because even if it is a “biological life,” women’s lives are first, and must always come first, before any potential human life takes precedent, or else we are just conceptually wombs and not valuable beings unto ourselves, as ends unto ourselves. We also, just as men do, get to decide life and death issues. This is one area that should ALWAYS be decided by the woman involved, and not men. As the saying goes, “Pro-life men have got to go – when you grow a womb, let me know.”

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