Simple answer is, why not? Throughout my childhood and coming of age in the 1990s I never realized a woman would think anything other than pro-choice. My interest in politics/current events/women’s issues stems from having two middle class parents trying to provide their family the American Dream. Voting was always an important dinner table topic of conversation and debate over candidates and issues was always encouraged. I never once felt that I couldn’t speak my mind to my family. This open dialogue became a part of me and shaped my world view.
I graduated junior high, high school, and college all in the 90s and I believe growing up under Clinton, the rise of the Riot Grrl movement, and being taught comprehensive sex education shaped my pro-choice beliefs. I went to a typical cookie cutter ex-urb public high school. My health teacher in high school demonstrated how to properly put a condom on a banana. We openly discussed STIs and how to prevent them as well as how to prevent pregnancy. I don’t remember specifically discussing abortion but I do remember we were not taught abstinence only and we did discuss pregnancy. I have a bit of nostalgia and hindsight for that decade of my life but I don’t think that should discredit my experiences. I remember going to an L7 concert and seeing a table for the ‘Rock For Choice’ group – an organization of women in rock music who performed benefit concerts to educate young girls about abortion rights and voter registration. I took the pamphlets of information and bought a button to wear on my school bag. The next Monday I wore the button and never removed it until it broke and fell off. I very distinctly remember no one in high school giving me a hard time about it or trying to start a debate with me, or any negative reactions from teachers or students. I assumed this was the norm about how the majority of people felt. I wasn’t aware until a few years later that ‘Rock For Choice’ was in part formed as a reaction to the abortion clinic bombings of the early 90s. Obviously the abortion debate was alive and strong, but as a teenager I didn’t know the full history. I just knew I was pro-choice because women have a right to choose and why would anyone argue different?
Once in college, it was a similar story. I was a liberal arts major in an urban school with other like-minded people. My political science classes revolved around various domestic and international debates but I never remember being in a classroom with a vocal anti-choice person. I never had to have an endless argument with someone who misuses quotes from the bible or misappropriates medical facts. My pro-choice life was a honeymoon that lasted nearly 10 years. I slowly started to see the anti-choice movement gain momentum as I was graduating college and George W. Bush was elected president. All the sudden, abortion was a front page topic and all over the nightly news. As the Christian fundamentalists carefully won seats on local school boards and started banning books and changing the scope of sex-ed classes, it was like waking up to a whole new world. Entering the workforce was not like being in my college bubble; I had to be careful what topics I discussed and pay attention to cues from others. The debates really started and I felt such shock for a long time that there actually were people who do not think women have a right to make decisions about their own bodies. Your body is the one thing you have complete control over, and you should be able to make decisions without outside interference.
This all came to a boiling point when I decided to go to the March for Women’s Lives in DC in April 2004. I drove there with two friends and it was an amazing experience. I remember listening to Hilary Clinton’s speech when she said ‘We never had to march on Washington when Bill was in office.’ This was such a powerful statement to me that I felt I was hit with a ton of bricks. I will never forget this and in the six years since then I have frequently quoted her to friends and strangers. It is a terrible thing to feel that we were/are dangerously close to losing a fundamental right to a legal safe medical procedure. Going to the March was another highlight in my pro-choice life. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many others who felt the same way. Seeing doctors, medical students, mothers, children and everyone who held a piece of the movement all come together gave me hope.
With the 90s and 00s over, we are again faced with the reality that abortion is close to being inaccessible and illegal. Health Care Reform has not gone smoothly for Obama and the Democrats, and the one piece that is being shafted is abortion. All I can do is recommit to myself that I will keep marching, voting and speaking out on keeping abortion safe. The rise of social media is so key to the movement. Since I am slightly older than the women who have only known facebook and twitter to speak out, I can dream of how my teenage and college years would have been different with the internet. I am pleased to share my story and thoughts and I promise to do what I can to keep the movement strong.