I believe very strongly in intersectionality—the idea that power and oppression are woven together, making a system of social inequality that affects us all. While I have been a reproductive justice activist for a long time, I do not work in a reproductive health setting and was not the president of Students for Choice as an undergraduate or graduate student. My story is intersectional, as I am, and my particular passion for being unashamedly pro-choice comes from the intersections of being raised Catholic, someone who works within the movement to end sexual and relationship violence, a queer woman, a researcher, a student, a friend and a formerly pregnant person.
In no particular order on why I became pro-choice.
- Catholicism – I was raised in a conservative area as a Catholic. Some people talk about being raised Catholic and being dragged around by their parents until they could move out and become adults to make their own decisions who are politically left. Not me. I was a devout Catholic involved in every capacity of my Church. I did this by choice. My parents were not religious but had sent me to catechism to prepare for the sacraments (going to Church themselves on Christmas and Easter). I went every Sunday and sometimes multiple times during the week. I loved the community of the Catholic Church and its commitment to social justice and tried to maintain being politically liberal with being religiously devout (not easy). It was a hard juxtaposition to take often.
- Sexual and Relationship Violence – This is not a fringe issue to the reproductive justice discourse. I know so many women who were raped by their husbands, boyfriends, or strangers who became pregnant and felt guilty for having abortions or kept having children but being incredibly traumatized by that. Rapists and abusers control women’s bodies and so coercion in relationships is tacitly accepted.
- Queer – I am queer. I have a partner who is a woman, and this makes people wonder why I even care about this stuff. Queer youth are much more likely to be abused and raped, and experience much more teen pregnancy than youth who are not LGBTQ identified, in part because of stigma, trying to “sleep your way straight” (to prove you’re not gay), and a complete lack of discussion on sexual health for queer and transgender folks.
- Researcher and Student– I know the facts. A fetus is not a child. Abortion is not murder. We live in a society in which women are controlled by being deprived of their reproductive choices. Unlike the videos on various anti-choice websites, many women are glad they had abortions. Birth control is not abortion and should be made widely available because it prevents the need for more abortions and unwanted pregnancies. And we have a separation of church and state in this country (even when the right makes you think otherwise)
- A friend – I went to Catholic school and many of my friends became pregnant. They were upset when they had abortions because of the stigma not because of the act. The men who impregnated them often had no share to face in dealing with the burden—it was a woman’s “cross to bear.” A friend of mine became pregnant when she was raped by a guy in our youth group in a car in the parking lot of our church. I was the only one she told because she thought no one else would believe her. She ended up being right when she later told some more people. She found out she was pregnant. She was terrified. Her mom was incredibly anti-choice and Catholic, and her father was a drug abuser who had molested her as a child. She had to have her dad take her for the procedure, and her mom refused to talk to her. Her mom blamed the school and so told the school what had happened. Everyone found out. She was shunned, called a sinner, etc.She committed suicide and called me so that I would find her. The pressure had become to great and she had nowhere to which she could escape. The young man who raped her went to a prestigious university and was on the cover of the student newspaper for our brother school (we were all-girls) for, you guessed it, his role as a leader for planning the March for Life. No one believed her, even when she told everyone he had raped her and then refused to talk to her when she became pregnant.
- A formerly pregnant person – I had an abortion three years ago. When I found out I was pregnant, regardless of how pro-choice I was, all the years of Catholic school and Silent Scream and ridiculous, inaccurate things sprouted up in my mind. It made for a really hard time for me leading up to having the procedure, and it was hard to sift through the information for what I needed. Missouri laws also made it incredibly difficult for me to actually get an abortion, and I had to wait around and listen to false claims that abortion kills women. I had an abortion, and I have not spent one day regretting it since.
This is why I remain pro-choice and fight for reproductive justice, sexual health education, and talk openly about abortion as a viable choice. It is because if life were as simple as the anti-choice proselytizers would like us to believe, we would be living in a very different place. It is because our lives our intersectional, and we live in a society in which stigma around abortion is so great that I know so many women who will not talk about their abortions and still remain “pro-life” even though they are happy with their own decisions to have abortions. I am pro-choice because all people deserve a right to choose in a society in which oppression, classism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, ableism, and so many other forms of power and control of our bodies and our lives keeps us from being able to make many choices that are truly free.