What annoys me most about the anti-choice (or as they like to call themselves, “pro-life”) camp, is that in their fight to “save” embryos and fetuses, which they believe are people, from abortion, they assume that the resulting person will embrace life and be grateful for it. This assumption itself also assumes, wrongly so, that every parent will love and nurture their child and that every child will be born into a family that can and will provide for them. Anti-choicers live in a fantasy world of their own imagining; a world in which they ignore the hard truths of the real world, a world filled with poverty, neglect, and abuse.
Truth be told, I would love to live in the world that anti-choicers pretend exists; a world in which every embryo would become a baby who would be welcomed and loved and taken care of. But I do not, instead I live in this world; a world in which millions of children are born into homes that are trapped in poverty or into homes where one or both parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol. In this world, every year millions of children suffer from neglect and/or abuse, be it sexual, emotional, or physical. In this world, every day thousands of children die of diseases from lack of healthcare, from starvation or malnutrition, or from war.
I wonder if anti-choicers have ever once stopped in their self-righteous crusade to consider whether or not these children would have preferred abortion to birth. In all of the rhetoric about the sanctity of life, have they ever once contemplated the quality of the life that unaborted embryos and fetuses might one day live? I don’t think they ever really have. I wonder that if they knew that there were people in this world right now, who, if given a choice, would have preferred abortion to a life of pain and suffering, if they would put as much effort into making the world a better place as they do into filling it with more people?
Surely, at this moment, many of you are thinking that it is highly unlikely, if not wholly impossible, for anyone to think that abortion would have been the better choice for them, and their mothers. But I assure you, there are. I personally know a few people who feel this way. And I admit that I am among them; something I have voiced to very few people. It is not that I do not love my life, because I do. I have much, especially now, for which to be grateful: a loving and supportive husband, a wonderful and darling child, friends who make me laugh and who are always there for me when I need them, a chance to pursue my dreams of being an Historian, and a roof over my head and food on my table. But I endured *a lot* of pain and suffering to get to where I am today; mostly at the hands of a mother who was not fit to be one. Had she aborted me I would never have had to watch her self-destruct and drag our family down with her. It took years for me to come to terms with the past; and there are times at which I still struggle to not feel angry and sad because of what my mother put us all through. The repercussions of her terrible choices, of her self-loathing and self-centeredness, have affected not only my life but the lives of my own family as well. For this I cannot even bear to have her in my life because even the mere sight of her makes me want to scream at her, to list every ill that has befallen me and those whom I now love as a result of her actions.
I love my life, especially now that I have a family of my own and am becoming the person I had hoped I could be. But a lot of how I have lived my life up to now, the determination to make something of myself and to never let anything break me, comes in part from a need to prove that I am not nor will I ever be her. I’ve gotten better at living for me and for those whom I love, rather than to spite my pain and its source; but that desire to spite it all is still there, deep down, and I doubt it will ever go away completely. Although, I hope it will because I’d rather live life for love and happiness than to spite the pain and self-doubt my mother caused me to feel.
Do not confuse my stating that I think abortion would have saved me from suffering with an adolescent’s temper-tantrum exclamation of, “I wish I’d never been born,” or with a depressant’s suicidal tendencies. It is not a wish, it is an expression of understanding that life is about more than quantity, more than mere existence; it is about living a good and happy life. And yes, life is not without it’s hardships, but there is a profound difference between difficulty and suffering. Moreover, believing that abortion would have saved me from suffering is not a confession that I want to die because I don’t want to die. I am here now and I have established relationships with people whom I would never want to make suffer the pain of me ending my own life nor would I want to stop living a life that has, because of the choices I have made throughout it, become better and even mostly happy. Suicide would end a life already established and would hurt the people whom I have come to know and love; whereas having been aborted would have prevented that life from having ever existed at all. I would not know this life. The people in it would never have known or loved me, nor would I have known or loved them. I would simply have never existed. Period. But, since I am here, I will live life to its fullest and I will love, and learn, and be the best human being I can possibly be.
This confession is not to be misconstrued that I think life is a curse because I do not. Life can be, and for many people *is,* wonderful. However, for many of those of us who walk this earth right now, life is pain; often more pain than wonder. We are starving to death. We are living in nations ravaged by war. We are watching one or both parents fall deeper and deeper into addiction (and more often than not depression and attempts at suicide). We are being or have been sexually abused, physically beaten, or emotionally battered. We have been diagnosed with diseases that will prevent us from ever becoming adults. For many of us life is a constant effort to find the aspects of it that make it worth living. Some of us eventually find those aspects and cling to them like a life preserver; holding on to them with every ounce of our being, often worried that they will slip away and plunge us back into the abyss of pain that we fought so hard to not drown in.
I would like for anti-choicers to consider this when they insist that every life is a gift. I would like for anti-choicers to recognize that life, for many of the embryos and fetuses they hope to “save,” will be filled with unimaginable suffering and pain, and that, if they truly wish to “save” life, they start improving its quality while they concern themselves with its quantity.
If there is a sanctity to life, as so many people claim, shouldn’t it be about ensuring that everyone can live the best one possible? I think so.