You don't know everything that someone is going through, and regardless of what choice they make, it wasn't easy for them.
OK, class. I have chosen the topic and the teams. We will be debating abortion.
The year was 1997, and I was 14 years old. I was partway through my freshman year of high school and halfway through this creative writing class. It was my favorite place in the world. It wasn’t just the class where we wrote poems, short stories, and songs; but rather, it was somewhere I felt safe.
I loved the teacher, Ms. May, and she was privy to all the drama surrounding my life. When she spoke those words, I felt my pulse quicken. I shook as I waited to find out what side of the debate I would argue.
At this point in my life, I was toying with the idea of being a lawyer when I grew up. My team had to win this debate, or every hope of a future I had as a lawyer, was doomed. Mind you, this wasn’t even an actual competitive speech and debate, but rather an introduction. (I didn’t ever grow out of my flair for melodrama, in case you are wondering.)
Then she started to call out everyone’s name and tell them whether we were “for” or “against.”
Abortion was a taboo subject in the 90s for sure. And heavy. But I could do “heavy,” and then she called my name and told me I would be arguing for abortion rights.
We had a few days to prepare, and then it was time. The “against” side went first and enumerated all the same reasons we hear today:
- It is murder
- It’s immoral
- You can always give the baby up for adoption
The time for our side to argue our point had come, and again the argument sounded like today’s rhetoric:
- A woman should have the right to choose what happens to her body
- An abortion done when a fetus can not survive on its own is not murder
- Religion shouldn’t be a factor because not everyone has the same views
I pushed my chair back, took a ragged breath, and spoke:
I ask myself every day why my mother didn’t abort me too. You see, my mother had a rough total of about five abortions. Some came before me and some came after me.
My mother, has no business being a mother. Her relationship with heroin is the most important relationship in her life. She did drugs while pregnant with both my sister and I.
When I was a baby, I didn’t sleep well. I didn’t like to be flat on my back. The only way to get me to sleep was to drive around aimlessly for hours. Thankfully, I don’t have any visible, or learning, disabilities due to her drug use.
I haven’t seen, or spoken to, my father since I was five years old and I don’t remember him. I live with the knowledge that I wasn’t loved enough by either parent every day. I haven’t lived with my mother since 1st grade. At least, I have seen her, though.
I have lived through the agony of being abandoned at my grandma’s. I have tried to talk to her on the phone when she is high. I have visited her in jail. My mom left to go into the witness protection program months ago, and the arrangement of living my grandmother is permanent.
I have been “adopted”. Legally. I do not view this as some great testimony of love.
My grandmother doesn’t like me much either and I wonder why my mother had me at all, if she was going to leave me with her mother, whom she blames for all her faults. If, my mother had aborted me too, I wouldn’t have to live with the pain every day.
I listed the statistical probability of me being a complete drain on society when I grew up. I took another deep breath and looked around the room.
I will never forget the sound that kind of quiet makes, the look of sadness on the teacher’s face, and the air of discomfort that hung in the room.
These were not the exact words I spoke because that was 22 years ago, and my memory is not that good, but they are close.
Now it is 2020, and I am 37 years old. I have a more liberal view on abortion than others. However, I am glad I am here and have stopped questioning my place on this earth.
This piece is not meant to change anyone’s mind. I hope it can serve as a reminder to people that no matter which side of this debate you find yourself on, someone out there is living it in a personal way.
There is a pregnant teen who is scared, shunned, and alone. Somewhere there is a woman who wants this baby more than anything, but it might kill her. A couple is praying for a healthy baby, only to learn something is not right.
As of September 30, 2017, there were 442,995 children in foster care or family members who do not want them. These children ask themselves every day why they are here at all.
In case you were wondering, we won that debate. (I’m still not a lawyer). However, I’ve learned that there is no winner in this particular debate over all the years in between. Either way, lives are impacted in irreversible ways.
Your argument about abortion is a waste of breath. We would be much more productive if we all stopped arguing and actually did something.
Please stop picketing at Planned Parenthood. Please stop wearing vagina hats. If you want to help stop abortion, then it starts with changing the patterns of childhood trauma.
You can volunteer for organizations like CASA or Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Spend some time at youth crisis centers. Foster children that need it. Give money, resources, or time. Whatever you choose to do, make it count. You may be impacting more lives than you will ever know.