During high school, college and the early years of my career, I was always heavily involved in reproductive justice. I advocated for easily accessible birth control and abortion rights. I volunteered for Planned Parenthood and wrote about the various policies affecting women’s reproductive choices. When I got pregnant, I remember wondering how my experience would impact my activism. What I found out might surprise you.
Once I gave birth to my son, I found myself even more committed to the fight for reproductive justice. After trying for oh so many years to prevent pregnancy, I found that once I started trying to get knocked up, it was a little bit more difficult than I imagined. I was young and healthy but found out only once we started trying that I had one functioning ovary. So, it took us a bit of time before getting pregnant. Eventually it happened, and then I found myself faced with a pretty rough pregnancy — all-day sickness that lasted well over four months in, stopping just in time for the symphysis pubis dysfunction to start (aka the worst pelvic pain ever). Thankfully my labor and delivery were fairly “easy,” and we settled into life with a newborn.
During that time, I had many opportunities to really think about reproductive health (including maternal health and options surrounding birth… but that’s a post for another week). I thought about everything I went through, from actively trying to conceive to carrying a pregnancy to term. I also thought about the financial strains that can accompany pregnancy, birth and parenting. And then, there I was, with a helpless infant who relied on me for everything. How could I not ensure that every woman had the choice to go through with all of this? Women shouldn’t be tricked, forced or cajoled into keeping an unintended or problematic pregnancy. Pregnancy and parenthood should absolutely be a choice, and there should be systems in place to help out if accidental, unwanted or forced pregnancies occurred.
My desire to fight for everyone to have control over their reproductive health and the right to bodily autonomy only intensified after giving birth. So, I continued to fight for reproductive rights and access to safe, affordable abortion. I let folks know the stats — that 61 percent of women who have abortions are mothers. They are women who are already caring for one or more children. I try to dispel myths based on stereotypes and let them know that women who seek out abortions are racially diverse, with white women making up the largest percentage. I explain that there are many reasons somebody might need an abortion and that there is no shame in needing one. I’ll admit I’ve received my fair share of strange looks, rattling off these facts with a baby on my hip or strapped to my back. But I don’t really care.
What I care about is that women have control over their reproductive health and bodies. My pregnancy and subsequent birth were 100 percent wanted. Every woman should be able to make the same choice. Pregnancies — and subsequently, children — should not be forced upon people, and experiencing my own only made that more clear. My feminism and my motherhood are pro-choice, and I’m proud of that.