Wednesday, April 21, 2004

March for Women's Lives

I am going to the March for Women's Lives in Washington, D.C. this weekend! Anyone else out there going?

Here are my reasons:

Sex ed policy is getting more and more ridiculous. As a science teacher and a teacher of pre-adolescents, I care about this stuff! Abstinence is an excellent way of preventing pregnancy and STDs, that is absolutely true. But abstinence-only education - enforced by funding rules, lawsuits, etc. - is counterproductive. Teenagers are having sex! How can we take the risk that kids who are having sex don't know the first thing about contraception, sexual health, or even basic anatomy??? And I don't want to have to tell kids I can't answer their questions because I might get sued - no, thanks!

K. works at my morning coffee stop. She is about my age, and incredibly friendly and perky at 7 am, recognizes all of us regulars, and takes the time to say hello. She is the reason I get my coffee there, because her warm greetings brighten my mornings. On Monday, she seemed a bit down, so I asked her how she was doing. She said she was tired, and thought she might be pregnant. "Congratulations!" I said, with a grin. "Oh no, I don't think so... it's not like that," she said. That gave me pause. If K. doesn't want a baby, she should have the option not to have one. Supporting a child on the kind of wages most coffee shops pay would be difficult. I don't know any details of her situation, but I do know that I want her, and myself, and my sisters, and my students to have the option of abortion if that's the right decision for each individual woman.

I know at least one woman who has had an abortion, and probably many others who have not chosen to share their experiences. I know women who have babies. I know children who were unwanted, and who are still unwanted (by their parents). I know children who are loved and loved and loved. At least one girl (probably several, by now) from my very first group of students - 8th graders - has a three-year old child today! Her child will be in kindergarten in a couple of years; she could barely read when she graduated from the 8th grade. I know that I have had days when I thought about what it would be like to be pregnant, and to have a child at my age, on my income, how it would change everything, in good ways and in bad. I want to have a child when I am ready and have made a choice, and if I am responsible and yet still get pregnant before I am ready, I want to be able to choose not to bear a child. I want accurate information about contraception to be widely available, so that my sisters, students, and friends are less likely to get pregnant by mistake and face the extremely difficult decision about whether to have the child & keep him or her, have the child and put him or her up for adoption, or have an abortion.

abortionclinicdays is a blog by a woman who works at an abortion clinic; she has an interesting story today about a man who fathered three children through a surrogate mother, then refused to take the babies home for several months, during which time the surrogate mother cared for them. Now he wants them back! Real life is not so simple as many abortion-debaters (on both sides) make it sound - life is a series of choices, and there are many ways to choose life.

And so I am going to march on Sunday.

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