Let me tell you a story that starts with choice. We will all do what it takes to pay the bills and put food on the table, include having a kid because the Xbox just couldn’t fetch enough money to pay for an abortion. What we won’t always do is unconditionally stand with the rest of our gender because of their choices. This story isn’t about the right or the wrong arguments. This story isn’t even about abortion really. This story is about friendship. When I chose this title and this subject to write about, I had a completely different idea of the article’s direction. I had pre written a lot of the background information in a tone that would work with how I expected things to turn out. Now I find myself in the rewrite with a completely different view.
I made a friend, at an abortion clinic. A dear friend of mine, we’ll call her Abby after my favorite NCIS character, had an appointment to get an abortion. I use the term appointment loosely as it took about five hours from start to finish. Four and a half of those hours were spent waiting. The people were nice; the chairs uncomfortable, and there were only two outlets in the whole waiting room. Phone charging was a passive aggressive shuffle of seats every hour or so. The whole experience wasn’t too terrible. By the end even the protesters outside were more of a nuisance than a trauma.
In a waiting room filled with pregnant women and supportive friends, significant others, and even a couple parents, it’s easy to see how the atmosphere could be oppressive. True there were a few tears, but more than that I think it was a fear of feeling normal. Like for some reason, everyone felt they should be in mourning rather than okay with their decision. Until, as I said, I made a friend.
Abby noticed the girl and her friend chatting and implied she’d like to get to know them. I took my hint and started a conversation with the two. My new friend and I share a name, and she was also there supporting a dear friend of hers, we’ll call her Sophia, because I like that name. It didn’t take long for the four of us to hit it off and strike up a slightly loud and enthusiastic conversation. With in ten minutes the whole mood of the waiting room lifted. Gone was the solemn silence and in it’s place chatter and friendship, camaraderie amongst women instead of uncomfortable silence. Suddenly it became okay to be in that room to make this choice. Suddenly the four and a half old men outside creepily whispering and calling everyone with a vagina, “mom,” was humorous instead of distressing.
I originally wrote this article about the importance of choice, the importance of a woman’s right to have an abortion. I was focused on the protestors and how their presence was unnecessary and almost cruel. The truth is there were five old men with crappy signs and zero effect. Not one woman was present with the protestors. That spoke volumes about the demographic of pro-lifers in our area.
Instead of the resounding negative I had anticipated, I found unity amongst women. I saw first hand why such solidarity was so important. My namesake and I discussed abortion and choice and the protesters, loudly and with lots of gesturing. We made our opinions known. What a woman does with her uterus is her business and no one else’s. God is smart enough to know what he’s doing, if he didn’t want abortion there wouldn’t be any. Abby and Sophia agreed with us, obviously. To quote a good friend, “We mess up a lot. We’re humans. But to prey on other people for their mistakes is inhumane.” Everyone makes choices. Sometimes those choices have serious consequences. Sometimes those choices leave our friends teary eyed in Planned Parenthood hallways. Sometimes those choices make a waiting room filled with people a little less uncomfortable. More important than the pro-choice and pro-life arguments is the third option pro-compassion.
Whatever your belief, something out there gave us the equipment and the emotions to make a decision. To bring life or not to bring life, that is the question. Whatever you choose for yourself is your business, but as women we need to stand together and support each other regardless of our beliefs. We make the difference between a tear filled wait in uncomfortable chairs with sweaty palms and a growing sense of anxiety, and friendship.
For some reason, the only ones who are capable of bringing life into this world are sometimes torn down, persecuted, and broken. We are raped and beaten. We are abused. We don’t always have rights to protect us. We are told to cover up because we are asking for it. We are vilified in religious texts and taught that we are helpless. However, in that moment, chatting in a waiting room, we were strong. We were the powerless, the powerful, the meek, and the resilient. We were the devastated, the okay, and the still happy. We were there for each other. We were women.
Roe vs. Wade wasn’t the beginning of abortions, it was the end of women dying from abortions. The alternative to sterile clinics with counseling and people who know what their doing is back alley procedures filled with unsanitary conditions, broken equipment, and untrained individuals. That or short trips down long stairwells. I don’t know, honestly, what I would do in Sophia and Abby’s situation. I do know this, I hope that if I ever find myself in that situation, someone befriends me and makes the wait a little more bearable. I hope that a lot of women read this and take to heart this message. Whatever you choose to do with your body, I will always be your friend. I will always support you. I will always comfort you. I will always stand between you and those who wish you harm. I will always do my best to make you smile. Most importantly, whether or not I agree with you, I will always and with out fail support your choices. As women we are never alone. We need only reach out to the nearest woman to find a safe harbor from any storm.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with an unplanned pregnancy, please visit Bethany.org
For more information about pro-choice please visit ReproductiveRights.org
For more information about pro-life please visit All.org
For more information Pope Francis’s Abortion Absolution please visit this article from The New York Times
For more information about women’s rights in the United States please visit ACLU.org
For a friend in this situation, e-mail me on the contact page.