When Did He Stop Being a Choice? – Opinion

Author’s Note: This piece originally ran in April 2019. It was brought up again in the context of the recent discussion following leaks from the Supreme Court indicating that Roe V. Wade could soon be overturned. 

This morning I woke up early. Though it’s Saturday and I didn’t Not required to be up yet, I have a lot on my mind (work-related) and knew I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. Twitter allowed me to unclog my coffee-induced brain. (I know, that’s probably not the best approach.)

As I did, I happened upon a thread in which a woman was responding to Ohio’s recent passage (and Governor Mike DeWine’s signing) of a “heartbeat bill,” which prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected — typically around the sixth week of pregnancy.  Ohio joins several other states which have recently passed heartbeat bills — Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi. Missouri’s House passed a similar bill in February, prohibiting most abortions after eight weeks, which is now being debated in the Missouri Senate. These bills are in stark contrast to the recent pro-abortion legislation passed from Virginia and New York. They allow abortions to be performed late-term, or even post-term, as some may argue.

The thread in question detailed the woman’s personal experience with both abortion and motherhood. She described having undergone three abortions — one, when she was quite young, two when she was older — and having one child, a little boy, whom she loves dearly. I don’t doubt that at all. These comments by her were clear, compelling, and emotionally charged. And I’m certain many who read them will applaud and cite them as persuasive argument in opposition to legislation aimed at limiting abortions.

I’m not going to call her out by name or share her tweets as what I’m about to say isn’t aimed at calling the wrath of the Twitter mob down upon her individually.  I was struck at the cognitive dissonance that she displayed, despite her compelling story. In one breath, she described her rationale for “choosing” to have abortions because she simply “wasn’t ready.” In the next, she spoke of her “choice” to have her son. I was left wondering: What happened to him not being free?

Did it happen when she saw the heartbeat of her son for the first-time? Did it happen when she broke the news to her friends and loved ones? It was when she found out he was a boy. It was when she started to show? Did it happen when she experienced her first kick? It was when she chose his name. It was when she hosted a baby shower. Did it happen when she was in labor? It was when she held her son for the first time? Did it happen when she felt ready for him to be hers?

How did she know she was ready to go? Does that make her so special?

I don’t know that I’ve written about it here at RedState but I used to be “pro-choice.” I’d like to share something I wrote about the topic a few years back:

I wasn’t always pro-life.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I was raised a liberal and remained so until roughly 8 years ago.  I have, at times, discussed the various reasons for my “conversion.” The stories of Rick Santorum’s little girl call to mind one of the keys.

Although my family is liberal and holds most of the old liberal views, it never actually discussed abortion. Without being prepared to really think about the matter, I simply described myself as pro-choice. You would never personally choose to abort my child.  I maintained that it wasn’t my place to make that decision for someone else, and carefully side-stepped any deeper exploration of the issue.  In fact, I’m somewhat ashamed to acknowledge, I felt smugly superior holding this nuanced and “enlightened” view of the matter.

Six weeks pregnant at the time of September 11, 2001.  I’ve detailed my recollections of that horrible day elsewhere, but one of the salient memories of it is coming home to a message on the answering machine from my doctor’s office — my hormone levels were low, and I was at risk for miscarrying. The doctor had already written a prescription.  When I picked it up from the pharmacy, still numb from the day’s events, I read the warnings, which included possible birth defects, and called the doctor’s office back in a panic. The benefits were greater than the dangers, so I took the medicine.

My pregnancy went very smoothly from then on.  We were thrilled when the time came for our 20-week ultrasound.  Even though I never really could make out most ultrasound pictures, it was still fun to see our baby as she developed — and yes, we learned at that point we were having a little girl.  It was also revealed that there may be a problem.  The tech advised us that the ultrasound revealed choroid plexus cysts in our baby’s brain, and left to get the genetic specialist to come talk to us.

Though not definitive, there is thought to be a correlation between the presence of these cysts and a condition called “Trisomy 18”, which is a genetic abnormality in which a third copy of chromosome 18 is present.  The vast majority of children born with the condition will die before they turn 18.  People who do live will have very poor health and an extremely low chance of living long.  An amniocentesis would confirm if our baby was indeed suffering from this condition.  The time was given to discuss our options.

I was aware that amniocentesis carried with it its own risks — I recalled reading that there was a 1 in 200 chance it could cause a miscarriage.  As my husband and I discussed it, I kept thinking to myself, “So what am I going to do if the test confirms she has this?”  And I knew — in a heartbeat — I knew there was no way I would ever opt to terminate the pregnancy, regardless of what the tests showed.  There was no reason to take the additional risk of amnio.

Although my 6-week-old daughter did have some complications, her genetic condition was not a problem. She is now almost ten years old and happy.  But the experience of being faced with that choice — even theoretically — was a crucial step in my journey towards becoming pro-life. Yes it was. My baby I was considering, and yes, I’d always Think about it I’d never choose to terminate a pregnancy. I was forced to look at it in concrete terms, which made it easier to see what it meant to others. It wasn’t so easy to keep it in the realm of the abstract anymore.

It is amazing to see the devotion they have to their children, and life in all its complicated and difficult forms.  Their love and commitment to their child is an inspiration to me and all parents with seriously ill children. I think Rick Santorum put it best:  “While Bella’s life may not be long, and though she requires our constant care, she is worth every tear.”

My daughter was never a “choice.” She was — and is, even when her 17-year-old self is challenging my patience mightily — a wondrous gift.

Twitter user, @sarah_saint1, clearly thought a lot about abortion. As I said, I don’t doubt at all that she loves and adores her son. But I do wonder if she’s ever thought to ask herself: When did he stop being a choice?


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