Shortly out of high school a very dear friend of mine hooked up with a Navy boy who eventually left her pregnant and bruised. He didn’t know she was pregnant when they split up and she was terrified that if he found out, he’d eventually end up killing her. After, of course, stealing the kid. He was all sorts of special.
She spent a lot of time with her choices, talked in length with me (and others) about it and finally made the decision to abort the baby. It was the hardest decision of her life and I got on a plane as soon as I could to go sit with her afterwards and help her figure out how to heal her heart. We spent the better part of a week driving all around her state, building snowmen at rest stops, eating bad food, singing so loudly and badly our throats became sore, stepping to the edge of the Seattle Space Needle even though she was afraid of heights, talking and talking and talking about nothing at all. Eventually we made our way across the boarder to sit in a park at the shore of a lake, stare at Canadian money and giggle at the absurdity of how far we’d go to avoid the real reason for my visit.
Then we cried. A lot. And we talked about what happened and what it meant and how it changed her and how it changed those around her and the unexpected bond it formed with her father (who had taken her to her appointment) and every last thing we could pull out of the experience. It was awful and necessary and shifted a part of me that I didn’t even know was there.
The hard part of this story for me is that this friend is no longer in my life. Years after her abortion she married a good man, became a mother again and “found God.” I was a reminder of what she did and apparently finding God meant that she was no longer OK with her choice, therefore no longer OK with me. She took a small disagreement we had and used it to tell me to kiss off. I’ve never heard from her again. She doesn’t know I am a mother. She doesn’t know that I too felt the quickening of life in my belly. She doesn’t know that I understand how hard the choice really was and still think she did the right thing. I understand that by letting me go, she let go of some of that pain and I can accept that; after all, I loved her like crazy.
I am pro-choice. I will always be pro-choice. I don’t think it’s an easy subject for anyone, those who are pro-choice or anti-abortion alike. As the mother of two girls, I only hope it’s never a choice they have to make. But if they do, I will happily drive them all over the world, sit with them in a foreign country and cry with them at the shore of a lake if that’s what they need. Or I will hold their hand while they interview midwives, whisper sweet promises to my unborn grandchild and wake in the middle of the night to comfort if that is what’s needed. I will do all of this because I am pro-choice. I will do all of this because in my framework, it is simply what you do for those people you love with your whole heart.