Friday, January 22, 2010

Trust Women: Why 37 years later, I'm still celebrating Roe v. Wade

I'm happy to support NARAL's Blog for Choice Day.

Today is the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I was 18 years old, a college freshman, and a virgin when Roe was decided, but I knew it was important.

I can still picture me walking down High Street in Middletown, CT when I heard the news. I quickly thought back to my college friend who we had arranged to go to New York City earlier that year, because abortions were legal there. I thought about the girl in my high school biology class who dropped out of school when she found out she was pregnant. I thought about the story my grandmother had told me about her illegal abortion in the thirties.

In those 37 years, I've counseled hundreds if not thousands of women faced with unplanned pregnancies. I helped write a manual on pregnancy options counseling in the late 1970's. As the Director of Counseling at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington in the early 80's, I sat with hundreds of women facing unplanned pregnancies. Sometimes they were the daughters of anti-abortion protesters at our clinics, not knowing where else to turn.

I think about all of my friends, relatives, students who have chosen abortions after soul searching. One in three women in America have been there. One in three -- someone you know.

I think about the women and men I've counseled since I've entered the ministry: the couple with the 20 week pregnancy who finds out that her very wanted fetus has a devastating illness; the pregnant 13 year old with the mental illness and her mother; the woman who after infertility treatment finds out she has three live embryos and knows she can only take care of two.

Each of them had to decide for themselves what was right in their very own particular life situations.

I trust women because I believe they have the moral agency to make those decisions.

And that it's not ever the government's role to make these most intimate decisions in people's lives.

My 18 year old self was overjoyed to learn about the Roe decision. I was naive then to think that the issue was settled once and for all.

My 55 year self sadly knows differently. But, affirms how important it was then...and is today.

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