A few months ago, I chatted with a newly pregnant friend over ice cream. Eventually, after we exhausted the areas of the politics of maternity leave and the excitement of decorating her baby’s room, our conversation turned to reproductive choice. Specifically, we talked about her decision to terminate her pregnancy if she and her husband learned that the fetus had developed a major chromosomal abnormality that would drastically decrease its chances for a viable, healthy life. Although both she and the baby were currently healthy, and tests proved that the likelihood of such abnormalities was negligible, she and her husband chose to keep the option of abortion on the table, in case they truly needed it later in the pregnancy. “I want to be a mother,” she told me, “but I want my child to have the best possible chance at life.”
I am relieved that, for my friend’s sake, this is probably not a choice on which she will need to act. In all likelihood, her baby will be healthy and safe. But in case a difficult decision needs to be made, it is critical that such options exist for parents to consider. I thought about our conversation when I saw Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s new documentary, “After Tiller,” an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Like my friend, the majority of the women featured in are women who want to be mothers. They want to have healthy, happy children, and they want to provide their children with the best lives possible. Yet, when faced with the reality that their babies will not have the lives for which they planned, the mothers choose the option that they believe will demonstrate the greatest display of love and dignity. “After Tiller” shares these stories through the perspectives of the mothers seeking third-trimester abortions and the doctors providing them. Keep reading »
“Look at me. Look in my eyes. Let me tell you why I’m here. I’m here because I figure that the women who come here have already agonized over this decision enough. They have considered their own circumstances, looked at all the options, and come to the best possible decision that they can make. Once they get here, they deserve support. So please don’t listen to those people, because they aren’t listening to you. Only you know your story, and only you have the right to tell it.”
Clinic escorts are never supposed to say “good morning.” We are taught to never presume anything about the women and men whom we guide into the clinic, including however good or bad their morning is going. I usually ask them if they had trouble finding the clinic or I make a generic comment about the weather. During these raw moments of extreme vulnerability, I would rather that they judge my clichés than focus on the self-righteous hate speech emanating from the protestors. Most of the time, I am able to get them safely from their cars to the front door of the health center with little more than comments about traffic and Google maps. But sometimes it’s not that simple. Keep reading »
Every week, one couple is lucky enough to get prime real estate in the Vows section, the New York Times‘ wedding announcement page, where their romance is told in a long story, and friends and family contribute adorable anecdotes. I’ve read about many a bride and groom (or bride and bride, or groom and groom), but this might be the first I’ve read where the couple talked about their abortion.
Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat and Faith Rein, who married in August, were candid about an unintended pregnancy during her junior year of college. The couple’s reasons for terminating that pregnancy are common among many couples: it was simply a terrible time to take on the big responsibility of a child. Both were still completing their educations, had little money, and he was already caring for a child from a previous relationship. Rein was a campus track star at University of Florida in Gainesville, where Haslem played basketball. And Haslem, a self-described “Miami ghetto kid,” already had a son, Kedonis, from “a high school fling” who he was struggling to financially support. Keep reading »
Texas’ most recent spate of anti-abortion legislation has effectively destroyed women’s access to reproductive healthcare in the state. Your chances of getting a safe abortion in Texas are now dependent on factors related to class and privilege: where you live, the flexibility of your job, access to transportation, and financial resources. It’s a terrifying reality, and it’s also the premise of a new video game called “Choice: Texas,” created by two Texan pro-choice activists, Allyson Whipple and Carly Kocurek.
The game will feature 5 female characters in need of reproductive healthcare, all facing different struggles and personal obstacles. “None of them have it easy, because even if you have the privilege of money and paid sick days at work, there are still other obstacles to deal with,” Whipple said in a recent interview. “But certain characters will be much harder than others. The obstacles each character faces (geography, money, time, transportation) will influence what choices a player can make throughout the game.” Keep reading »