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Why I Find It Hard to “Celebrate” Roe v. Wade

Reblogging, January 22, 2014

January 23, 2013

I am many things. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am black woman and mother to black kids. I am a Christian. I am a liberal. I am a feminist.

I am pro-choice.

I am pro-life.

I am anti-abortion….for me.

I am pro-Roe v. Wade.

2012 Commemoration of Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court

2012 Commemoration of Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court

Roe v. Wade…abortion…life…choice… these words mean so much. And we talk about them as if they are opposites, as if life and choice and abortion cannot coexist. And I’m not sure that they can. But one thing I do know — the right to abortion cannot be disconnected from the cultural context in which it exists.

I don’t think it makes much sense to argue about when life begins. Any woman who has experienced the loss of a miscarriage – whether it happened at 8 weeks or 8 months – will tell you that the life lost began as soon as she knew the life existed. Other women will tell you that the life did not feel “real” until that child actually appeared out of the vagina. But I don’t think that really matters.

For the right to an abortion is not about the abortion at all. It’s about self-determination in a world that hates to let women have a say and hates to make sure children have a life worth living.

As much as I know in my heart that I will never have an abortion (hence my “anti-abortion”), I also know that the right to have one is a pivotal right for every woman to hold in the world in which we live. This is a world that throws food away while people – including children – starve. This is a world that does not guarantee each person clean water and fresh food and preventative health care. This is a world that uses the education system to perpetuate and exacerbate racial and class inequality. This is a world were women are blamed for sexual violence. This is a world were many women cannot earn enough to support the children they have. This is a world where our kids can’t even be safe in school.

This is a world where no one is assured a life worth living – especially if you are female and/or a child.

No woman should be forced to bring a life into this world.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t value life. Because I do. My children are the most precious thing in the world to me. They give me three reasons to live each and every day. I think I was destined, by God, to be a mother. It’s the most important thing I do. If I were to have another pregnancy, unexpected, I would birth that baby. No doubt in my mind. But I would do it because I wanted to. Not because God told me to. Not because anyone else wanted me to. Because I wanted to.

I would likely not feel that way if I didn’t have a choice.

Which also means that if the world were perfect (not sure what that would look like), I would still be pro-Roe v. Wade. Because as distasteful as abortion is to me (and to most people – I don’t think anyone takes pleasure in the loss of life), the moment we start policing how and whether and when women bring life into the world we have made life less perfect, made life less equal for some of us. As soon as we start telling women that their bodies no longer belong to them to do with them as they please in pursuit of their liberty and happiness they no longer have liberty and they are forced into someone else’s conception of happiness.

I’d rather have free, happy women than constrained, oppressed women. I’d rather trust that the person who will be responsible for nurturing that life growing inside of her as to whether she can or is willing to do that responsibly.

I think there can still be restrictions, because I still think that abortion is the taking of a life. Freedom does not mean carte blanch. But I think that should be left to a truly democratically-elected legislature, and not a court of nine individuals who are not elected. Because it is that democratically-elected legislature who determines whether an unemployed mother will be able to rely on the social safety net to feed her children. They are the ones who decide how much money we put into educating children. They are the ones who decide who is worthy of health care. And who is not. The same people who want to force women to have babies should be the same people who will make sure those babies have healthy, happy lives.

So I support Roe v. Wade, but I don’t “celebrate” it. Abortion is not a cause for celebration. But I understand that choosing to end a life often means choosing to lead a life worth living. Who is to say – other than the person making the decision and living the life – which is more important?

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About LaToya Baldwin Clark

Mommy. Wife. Scholar. Child of God.

4 comments on “Why I Find It Hard to “Celebrate” Roe v. Wade

  1. smilecalm
    January 23, 2013

    Wonderful reflection and confliction on this issue. If only citizens and leaders demonstrated their respect for life with outrage of our endless wars and violence and economic disparities, so much as they demonstrate for, or against, a fetus’ rights. May you be well.

    • LaToya/gradmommy
      January 24, 2013

      Thank you for your comment! I absolutely agree with you – we cannot talk about the sanctity of life but have no regard for the quality of those lives.

  2. napturallyflyy
    January 23, 2013

    I hear you. But disagree. I think its absolutely important to promote that life begins at conception bc the language of the opressor offers or denies personhood. Its not innocent men women and children that died in a drone strike.Theyre simply casualties. They’re terrorists, not people so its ok for our government to torture them. Theyre Black and Blacks arent people so we are morally good to go because we would never enslave a person. Shes a whore not someones teenage daughter so its ok for a pimp to sell her and ok for 40 yr old John to get his.Its not a baby. Its a fetus so its ok to kill. Once people convince themselves someone is not human it opens the door to denying them basic human rights for the sake of convenience and greed. Its how we clear our conscience. And this is just my experience but many pro choicers do think that abortion means ending a life…and could care less. The individual rights of a woman to choose mean more than those of an unborn baby. Then theres others who dont believe its shameful to have an abortion because its like getting a tooth pulled. Xojane had an article a while back that made me sick…and I try to be open minded. Its a movement designed to remove shame and stigma by promoting tshirts that promote sentiments like “i killed my baby and liked it” and “abortion try it” etc and just promotes glee around the subject. No way should a woman be shamed. No way should she be gleeful either.

    • LaToya/gradmommy
      January 24, 2013

      Thanks for your comment.

      Like I said in the post, I think whether or not we define life as beginning at conception is irrelevant to the decision of whether or not abortion should be legal. I think the people you are writing about do exist, no doubt, but crazy people exist on the extremes of every issue. I know of no person who expresses glee about the idea of an abortion. I know of no woman who was lackadaisical about getting an abortion. But even if such people do exist, I don’t think their existence is a reason to deny the right to an abortion.

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This entry was posted on January 23, 2013 by in childbirth, current events, family, health, motherhood and tagged , , , , , , .
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