I'm A Pro-Life Mom Of 4 Who Believes ALL Women Deserve Safe Access To Abortions

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War On Abortion Access Threatens To Close The Only Clinic In Kentucky
Buzz, Heartbreak

What's happening in Kentucky should be a warning to us all.

When I hear the word "abortion," the specific law governing women's access to services isn't the first thing that comes to my mind.

I think of personal friends of mine who've had abortions, and I think about my personal experiences as a pro-life mother of four children, a Christian, and a Conservative, who spoke with many women in the moments after their abortions while working in a crisis pregnancy center.

So, yeah, I've heard some stories, and none of them sound remotely close to the urban legends of women using abortion as birth control or as a convenient way to avoid responsibility with utter insensitivity to the concept of the right to life.

 

RELATED: Should 'Male Abortions' Be Legal Within The First 18 Weeks? 

 

Most of the mental wrestling any woman goes through before choosing to have an abortion is centered around her concerns regarding the kind of mother she'll be.

What kind of life will her child have? Is the world she lives in safe and secure?

Women weigh their pros and cons with careful logic and reasoning, and when the weight of the negatives prove to be stacked against her, she makes a heavy decision. It's a choice she'll remember all her life, particularly on each anniversary date as she mourns in silence, even as she is aware that she did what she had to do in her greatest moment of despair.

Shortly after the first Christian woman I ever knew married her high school sweetheart, he changed into a violent person.

She soon found out she was pregnant, and he threatened to end her life if she didn't have an abortion. She tried to get away from him, but the law in her area stated that he had every right to stay put in the house they shared, even if his presence made her feel unsafe.

She was left with three options:

  • Stay in the marriage and bring a baby brought into a life of domestic violence and poverty, in which she had good reason to believe she might be killed.
  • Move out, become a homeless single mother fending for herself and her baby, who would remain an eternal connection to her abusive ex.
  • Have the abortion as her husband demanded and, perhaps, increase her chances of escaping her marriage and going on to lead a far happier life.

And another Christian woman once confided in me that her parents had forced her to have an abortion at the young age of 16 after finding out she was impregnated by a much older man. At the time, her frame was so tiny there was a little chance her body could have safely carried the baby to term.

So when I hear people discuss abortion, I understand that vulnerable women have been fatalities of these conversations.

This insight reminds me that while I do believe we must defend the right to life, we must also defend every individual woman's right to live in a world that makes it possible for her to provide for her child(ren) as a single mother. Women need equal pay, a legal system that justly protects them from abuse of all kinds by intimate partners, and enforceable employment laws that provide greater protections for working mothers.

There is a war all around us on women who wrestle with fear, confusion, and sadness regarding unexpected and unwanted pregnancies.

So when news hit that a federal judge blocked four recently passed laws in Arkansas — "including one that seemingly could require rape survivors to get input from their rapists before terminating their pregnancies" — despite the swift and incisive action of U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker, my fears about women's safety only heightened.

And when U.S. District Judge David Hale found himself in the position of having to grant "a temporary restraining order... establishing a buffer zone at [EMW Women's Surgical Care] Kentucky's last abortion clinic in anticipation of a week of protests by anti-abortion advocates" after the U.S. Attorney's office in Louisville requested that he "enforce the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which bars people from blocking access to reproductive health centers," it broke my heart.

Vice

Again, I am a mother of four children who is pro-life. I have never had an abortion, but that doesn't mean I've never thought of having one.

As a woman who found herself in more than one crisis pregnancy while single and with my own life in jeopardy if I carried a pregnancy to term, I know the pain of wrestling with the thoughts of what to do. I already had children at home to care for and I couldn't bear to imagine the possibility they might be left motherless because I was more concerned about a potentially unviable fetus that might not even survive to term.

I chose to take the risk, but it cost me and all of my kids years of poverty.

 

Related: This Is What It REALLY Feels Like To Have An Abortion

 

I spent years on Medicaid and Food Stamps, unemployed and unemployable for lack of access to affordable childcare, and to this day, my career has suffered in many respects because I made that choice. Thankfully, I did have a mother with an available bedroom my children and I could move into, but without her, we would have been homeless.

I spent years knowing I was a mere statistic and perceived as a "burden on society" and that my children were seen as those poor kids who use up social services while increasing our nation's debt. Despite my embarrassment, I pushed forward under the heavy judgment of others who took pity on me as a woman with no husband and no job, who basically made no contribution to society, all because I didn't know how to keep my legs shut in order to avoid getting pregnant.

But I see my choice not to abort as a decision of empowerment, and, I am thankful that I had the right to choose for myself.

Had I chosen to have an abortion, some may have applauded my subsequent professional success in society, but none could have realized the extent of my private pain. And I firmly believe that ALL women should be entitled to the same right to their own choices.

It's appalling to me that so many pro-lifers, who are mostly Conservative and Christian, take drastic measures to communicate their opposition to a woman's right to choose.

I can only believe that they do this without knowing or truly comprehending the stories behind individual women and their unique situations.

In a perfect world, women wouldn't only be able to afford to raise their child on their own if they have to, but they would also have a support system in place in case they need protection from threats of abuse. But, it's not a perfect world, and too often a sad reality often awaits women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant.

Ironically, despite the fact that there is a federal law in place to protect individual women's right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, each individual state, while unable to officially ban abortions, has the jurisdiction to establish their own laws placing limitations on that right in the name of women's safety.

Sadly, these laws often leave women stranded in more dangerous situations into which another, more vulnerable life will be added just 9-months later. 

When one hears that protesters from Operation Save America, "a Christian fundamentalist group, [that planned] to mobilize hundreds of activists to protest against EMW Women’s Surgical Center... state their purpose unequivocally: to rid Kentucky of its last abortion clinic," it could be reasonable to assume that wow, it must pretty darn easy for women to have an abortion in Kentucky if this group is determined to obliterate the last remaining center available for any woman in the entire state.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, the fact remains that since April 1, 2017, the following restrictions have been placed on abortions in Kentucky:

  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before [the] procedure is provided. Counseling must either be provided in person or through telemedicine. If provided at the facility, the counseling must take place before the waiting period begins, thereby necessitating two trips to the facility.
  • Private insurance policies cover abortion only in cases of life endangerment, unless individuals purchase an optional rider at an additional cost.
  • Health plans offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion if the woman's life is endangered, unless individuals purchase an optional rider at an additional cost.
  • Abortion is not covered in insurance policies for public employees.
  • The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • A woman must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; the provider must show and describe the image to the woman.
  • An abortion may be performed at 20 or more weeks postfertilization (22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period) only if the woman’s life is endangered or if her physical health is severely compromised. This law is based on the assertion, which is inconsistent with scientific evidence and has been rejected by the medical community, that a fetus can feel pain at that point in pregnancy.

As of January of 2017, there are now 7 U.S. states with only one abortion provider left, and "an eighth, Arkansas, has only one full-service provider offering both medication and surgical abortions." 

According to Bloomsburg Business, "Since 2011, at least 162 abortion providers have shut or stopped offering the procedure, while just 21 opened."

 

Related: My Mom And Sister Both Had An Abortion, But I'm Pro-Life

 

And as stated in Vice News,"[These closures] affect more than abortion care; each of these facilities offers a range of women’s health and other medical services, including pap smears and birth control. And even though it’s sometimes possible to get an abortion elsewhere (from a private physician or in a hospital or by driving across state lines), access for most women is limited to the nearest clinic."

In my opinion, women who get abortions don't do so because they truly want to terminate their pregnancy, but because they feel have no other option due to a lack of resources or support.

A woman, whether she is in Kentucky, Arkansas, or California, terminates her pregnancy because she has determined that carrying the child to term is the greater evil in her particular set of circumstances.

She may believe that giving birth to a child who likely to live in severe poverty is irresponsible, and although she probably feels tremendous guilt for not taking precautions necessary to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, she does not want to place a child at risk for facing mental health issues, hunger, or perhaps even worse, being unloved by overly stressed and resentful parents.

Under better circumstances, she may have chosen differently, but without the support she needs, the choice to terminate her pregnancy stands.

She may even believe that abortion is wrong, yet follow through with one anyway at least in part because she doesn't know where or how to get help. According to CNN Money, raising a child can cost approximately $12,000 to $14,000 per year. The average woman who works full-time in Kentucky makes roughly $34,000 a year before taxes. For a woman already struggling to survive, this means that a child, or yet another child, is essentially a "luxury item" she simply cannot afford, no matter how much that knowledge pains her.

These are the women in crisis who seeking help from the last abortion clinic in Kentucky.

Rather than block, harass and shame these women and their loved ones as they enter those walls, groups like Operation Save America should be seeking to empower women by making sure they have the ability to care for their child when it's born. They should comfort these women. And they should stop calling them murderers, and view them instead as what they are — martyrs.

I challenge my fellow pro-lifers to stop their war against women and to instead stepping up to the plate by taking up the causes that truly threaten mothers and children everywhere.

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