I have met thousands and thousands of pro-choice men and women. I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is not being pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is trusting the individual to make the right decision for herself and her family, and not entrusting that decision to anyone wearing the authority of government in any regard.
~ Hillary Clinton
Breakfast: Fiber One
THROWN A CURVE
23 April 2004
I wish I could say that I quit Curves for moralistic reasons, but the truth is that, my membership contract having run its course, I quit because I am not working and couldnt see paying $40 a month when I havent been able to take full advantage of the program.
But Im feeling less guilty about that decision when, on a tip from a reader, I was led to San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carrolls column Tuesday, where he reveals:
If I hadnt already submitted my letter of resignation to the local Curves, I would quit the group on hearing this news, not wanting to know that a portion of my membership dues were going to fund anti-choice organizations.
Supporting gay rights is an easy issue for me. Abortion is a much more difficult issue. I suppose that its not really an easy issue for anyone.
For many years I described myself as "adamantly wish-washy" on the subject. It was a cop-out. There was a part of me that felt that women had the right to make their own decisions about their own bodies--and remembered the horror stories about back-alley abortions and their often tragic aftermath; there was another part of me--the part that gave birth to five children and knows what it is to hold a baby in her arms--which was uncomfortable with the idea of terminating a pregnancy.
I had also read contradictotry texts about when various groups considered a fetus "a life." Some considered life to begin at conception; others at "quickening," others not until birth. I knew that in my own mind there was a "baby" there from the moment of conception, but I also knew that there were those who did not believe that and I respected their beliefs.
But there came a day when I had to face the issue squarely in the face and decide where I stood.
The day came when I took a job with Womens Health Associates (an office that no longer exists, having been swallowed up by the monolithic monster that is Sutter Health).
WHA was not an abortion clinic. It was an ob/gyn office where once a week abortions were performed.
Women came in on Tuesday morning for counseling, had laminaria inserted into the vagina to soften the cervix and facilitate the procedure later in the day, and returned in the evening to have their abortions.
I was the on-call transcriptionist and set my own work schedule. I always made sure that I never worked on Tuesdays and figured that if I wasn't there I didn't really have to confront how I felt about what was happening on Tuesday nights.
But then came the time when I had the offer of a full time job and I knew I couldnt hide any more.
After I considered all sides of the issue, the decision I came to was that I did not think abortion was not an option for me personally, but that I could not impose my own feelings on another woman. I realized that every woman is different, every situation is different, and that I could not condemn any woman for making a difficult decision that she felt was the only one right for her under the circumstances.
I saw an awful lot of women for whom abortion was an obviously understandable choice. I also saw women for whom abortion seemed to be merely a matter of convenience--the pregnancy was bad timing (one woman who had an abortion was back six months later for infertility counseling). I saw women usually teenagers who seemed to take the whole thing frivolously (though perhaps the laughter was a kind of bravado). I saw women who cried because the decision had been so painful, but they felt they had no choice because of their circumstances.
If I were to make judgements and decide each case on its own merit, there were cases where I might have denied access to the procedure, but thats not the way it works. I decided that nobody could know what was going on in a womans life, inside her head, inside her heart the way the woman herself could and that if we are going to permit the 15 year old raped by her father to terminate the resulting pregnancy, then we also had to give that right to the woman for whom Wednesday was a bad day to become pregnant. One cannot pick and choose to whom rights should be granted. A right made accessible to one should be made accessible to all (much like marriage rights for gay couples!)
If I hadn't already decided that I could accept what was going on in our office on Tuesdays, the actions of the Right to Life people outside our office each week would push me over the edge. Women who were coming for regular obstetric care were accosted and accused of being murderers. At age 55, I was physically stopped on my way to work and begged not to kill my baby (I thanked her for the compliment, thinking I could be pregnant...or maybe I should have been insulted at the reference to my size!). Police were called to the office each week to keep the protesters from attacking our clients, only a very small number of whom (3 or 4) were actually there for abortions, but most of whom were there for other routine gynecological or obstetric care.
One of our doctors had three children. Protestors camped out in front of her house with signs calling her a murderer, signs which her children had to see each day as they left for school, until the police put a stop to the protest. When we had a reception for a new doctor, protestors lined the streets of the town and people who were coming to the reception were prevented from entering.
I dont like the fact that we have to have a procedure like abortion, but Im glad that women have a choice about what happens to their bodies. There are always going to be women who have abortions for what appear to be frivolous reasons, but from years of reading notes about women who have made this difficult decision, I know how painful the decision is for most women and how carefully thought out it is.
And so, even if I hadnt already closed my Curves account, on reading where my Curves dollars were really going, I would have resigned anyway. I would rather support organizations which allow women a range of choices than organizations which would limit those choices.
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