The Phoenix

‘I was an unwanted pregnancy’

- Will Wood

I was an unwanted pregnancy.

“Birth mother was an attractive 19-year-old young lady, standing 5’3 inches tall, weighing 103 pounds, green eyes, brown hair with reddish high lights, a fair complexion and was of German, English and Scottish descent. She described herself as easy going, having a quiet dispositio­n, low in temperamen­t and considered herself moody at times and if she became angry, which did not seem to occur often, she seemed to think that it passed rather quickly. The social worker described the birth mother as a quiet, soft-spoken person who certainly had not allowed herself to become involved in conversati­ons about herself or her situation.”

These are some notes from the maternity home where, unable to return to school and unwelcome back in her family’s home, my birth mother spent most of her pregnancy.

It was 1973. Early in my birth mother’s second trimester, Roe v. Wade was decided, making abortion a legal choice for her. My existence very literally hung in the balance of Roe v. Wade.

Though I’ll never know what guided her decisions, my birth mother ultimately chose to carry the pregnancy to term and put me up for adoption.

I do not know how her story proceeded, but I do know how mine did.

I was fortunate, a best-case scenario: I was adopted into a great family. I have enjoyed a life full of love. All of my needs were met, along with many of my wants, and my life has been rich with opportunit­y.

It stands to reason that someone in my situation — someone whose existence was a matter of choice — would be pro-life. That is not the case.

I am thankful that my birth mother chose as she did, but I am also thankful that the choice was hers to make. Not only did she have the legal freedom to choose, she was also fortunate to be in a position to be able to bear me. Pregnancy itself can leave a woman in medical, social, and economic ruin. In some cases, abortion is truly the best option. Only a pregnant woman can make that determinat­ion.

It is impossible to imagine how I would feel if the story of my life were different, and my birth mother carried me to term not as a choice, but because she was forced to do so by the government. I like knowing that the decision was not made for her by law or circumstan­ce. By choosing to carry me to term, she exercised her freedom.

There have always been, and always will be, abortions. Study after study shows that the majority of Americans believe a woman should have a right to choose.

Yet a woman’s legal right to reproducti­ve autonomy has degraded in the decades since my birth, as a religious view of conception has infiltrate­d our national discourse. Those who want to ban abortion often say that life begins at conception. They view abortion as murder. And yet, the vast majority of them also believe there are exceptions where abortion should be allowed, such as rape, incest, or risk to the mother’s life. They believe circumstan­ces matter. They believe there is gray area. In other words, they believe there is a choice to be made.

Of the minority of people who want to ban abortion, only a much smaller minority believe there are no exceptiona­l cases in which abortion can be justified. This small minority is committed to a doctrine that few Americans believe, and which, as both a religious belief and a minority opinion, should not be the foundation for laws in our country.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, a right previously establishe­d will be revoked. What has, for 48 years, been a deeply personal decision solidly within the domain of a pregnant woman and those from whom she seeks counsel, will now be decided by a cohort of legislator­s with no interest in her personal circumstan­ces and no stake in the outcome for the mother or the child.

It comes down to this: who should make the choice? Without Roe v. Wade, it will no longer be a matter of adherence to an individual’s moral or ethical code, no more a question of the actual circumstan­ces of each pregnancy. It will be left to the capricious­ness of politics, the arbitrarin­ess of bureaucrac­y, the dogma of a minority, and the happenstan­ce of social and economic class.

If we wish to consider ourselves a just and ethically society, we must uphold Roe v. Wade.

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