Waldlaw Blog

Monday, January 09, 2006

Abortion on my Mind

I don't often think about abortion. I mean, now that I'm in my mid-40's, it isn't much of an issue for my peers any more. And my clients are mostly lesbians and gay men striving to become parents, or straight singles or couples involved in adoptions, so the children in my law practice are very much chosen children. But in the past couple of weeks, abortion keeps coming up, and it has me thinking.... I remember marching with my mother in demonstrations during the days of Roe v. Wade. I remember the fight for safe abortion on demand being a big deal during my childhood and young adulthood. But now, as I prepare to teach a family law course at the University of San Francisco, I'm thinking that many of my students will have grown up taking abortion completely for granted. I have always been deeply conflicted about abortion, although I have NEVER been conflicted at all about women having the right to choose abortions. But I'm very kid-centric myself, and I have always felt that I could never have gotten an abortion if I had an unintended pregnancy (and this isn't just recent -- I felt this way when I was 17 and living with a boyfriend in Boston). I remember some folks saying "once you've been pregnant and had a baby, you won't be for abortion any longer." That was exactly the opposite of my experience. Once I went through pregnancy and childbirth myself, I really couldn't imagine forcing any woman to go through that to deliver a baby she didn't want, against her will (although I certainly admire and respect women who choose to deliver unwanted babies and give them up for adoption). I felt about pregnancy sort of the way I felt about law school -- I put up with law school because I genuinely wanted to be a lawyer, not for the pleasure of the experience, and I never understood my fellow students who were there just because they couldn't figure out what else to be doing with their lives. Likewise, I gladly went through pregnancy twice, because I deeply wanted the babies that resulted. But I didn't love it, as some women do -- it was a means to an end that I knew I wanted. So going through a pregnancy to give birth to a baby that I know I won't be raising?? Thanks, but no thanks. Anyway, as I've sat in my livingroom reading up on all the abortion cases over the past couple of nights, in preparation for teaching them next week, I've been sickened by descriptions of the "partial birth" abortion procedure while simultaneously being worried sick that Alito's addition to the Supreme Court will mean the end of a woman's right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy in a medically safe way. I guess this is another example of what I was saying last week about those younger days when I thought things were simple.... What I know is this: as ambivalent as I am personally about abortion -- as much as it makes me cringe to think about the "partial birth" abortion procedure -- as much as I wish every baby conceived could be born into a loving home -- we had better be ready to fight for abortion like we've never fought before. As I go into class next week, and look at the women in their 20's who've never had to think about going to another state to get an abortion, or trying to induce a miscarriage without medical supervision, or the myriad of other ways that women their age had to deal with unwanted pregnancies before Roe v. Wade, I recommit myself to fighting for every woman's right to have access to safe abortion procedures if and when they need them. Will my sons remember marching with their mother in demonstrations about abortion, as I do? I truly hope not.


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