Originally published in the Dallas Morning News
“I was pregnant this summer, too,” she said as she sat down across the cafeteria table from me. “Was?” I thought. And then I realized what she was trying to tell me.
We were both juniors in high school, but while I returned from summer break with a bulbous belly, she did not.
My silence was becoming an unintended form of judgment.
“Oh. So how far along were you?” I sheepishly asked. She pretended to do the math in her head then looked off saying, “I dunno, like 12 weeks or something.”
Without thinking I blurted out the only random factoid I knew from a fetal development email I’d received my previous trimester: “Twelve weeks … fingernails and toenails, right?” As soon as it flew out of my mouth, I knew it had stung. She looked at me, her eyes filled with tears, slammed her fists down on the table and swore at me. I mumbled off an apology, but she was already storming out of the cafeteria.
I was born a decade after abortion became legal, and admittedly I knew little about the pro-life movement aside from the stereotypes I’d seen portrayed in movies — the screaming outside of clinics, the bullhorns and giant images on poster boards. I know times were different back then, but to me that never made any sense.
I didn’t have to raise my voice at the girl in the cafeteria or show her graphic pictures. I meekly rattled off a factoid. In that moment I discovered how powerful information was. That is the most powerful tool we have as activists, as humans, as women.
This month marks the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Both sides of this debate have come a long way in that time. The anti-abortion side used to predominantly focus on the child, but four decades later they’re seeing the humanity in taking care of the woman first. They’re realizing that so many of the reasons women feel the need to abort can be eliminated when we acknowledge their very legitimate concerns and assist them by providing basic needs for them and their children.
The pro-choice side has always cared about the woman first, which I greatly admire, but my fear is how they seem to be focusing more on her immediate emotional needs the long-term effects an abortion might have on her.
We see them contesting sonogram bills all across the nation right now because they say they are simply there to pull at a woman’s heartstrings and guilt her into carrying her fetus. But it’s not as though her emotions will go away as soon the pregnancy is terminated. Keep in mind, the sonogram will be preformed either way by the practitioner to determine gestational age, and the woman still has the right to refuse to look it.
However, if a woman has all of the facts and still chooses to abort, at least she knows exactly what it is she is terminating, and I have to assume her psyche will be a lot better for it. Facts empower us. Information and resources empower us. Both sides need to realize we are strong enough and capable enough to have them, all of them.
Let’s all put the bullhorns down. No one makes the decision to end a pregnancy lightly, and we certainly do not want to inflict unnecessary emotion pain on women, but let’s also not assume keeping them from it now means saving them from it later.
It’s been 40 years. If we truly want abortion to be safe, legal and rare, perhaps we should all focus more on facts, information and resources.
Destiny DeLaRosa of Richardson is a pro-life feminist blogger and will be speaking at the March for Life in downtown Dallas on Jan. 19. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.