People ask me why, when I'm so passionate about so many issues, my focus is on abortion. The short answer is, "Because I have a low betrayal tolerance."
I was always prolife by inclination. But this wasn't enough to make an activist out of me. Abortion was distant, vague. It had no pull on me.
Then I went away to college and noticed something fishy about how sex education was handled by my prochoice professor, Dr. Z. The stages of pregnancy during which abortions took place were decidely absent from our studies of embryology. A chart in our text listed the risks of various methods of birth control, from the most dangerous -- none! -- to the safest -- abortion. I wondered snidely how any of us survived to reproduce a second time if childbirth was so deadly. It also shocked me to hear the racist things he said: that the only reason white people opposed abortion, for example, was that we preferred letting black children grow up to rape white women so we could execute them.
I also noticed creepy behavior of the nurse and doctor when I went to get a rubella vaccine. The nurse counseled me, "Be very careful with birth control, because if you get pregnant in the next three months, you'll have to have an abortion." The doctor repeated this caveat. I went home preplexed. If this vaccine posed that great a threat, why not admonish me to abstain for three months? The other thing that struck me was the admonition, "you'll have to have an abortion." Weren't they supposed to give me the information about what kind of birth defects the vaccine might cause, and let me make the choice?
Then I had a pregnancy scare during that three month period. I had been taught that my choices were to impose a horrible disability on an innocent child, or to abort. It took two weeks of agonizing before something dawned on me. If I didn't abort, I wasn't causing a child to be disabled. I would just be allowing an existing disabled child to live. I began to resent the nurse and doctor who had advised me at the time of my vaccine. How dare they try to guilt-trip me into an abortion before I was even pregnant?
The scare prompted me to get the Pill. There, again, another doctor and another nurse both reminded me that I had to follow my instructions carefully: "We don't want you back here for an abortion." I resented that they presumed to choose for me before I even got pregnant.
After I married, I decided to start a family, even though my husband and I were a couple of uninsured college students. Then the pressure to abort really piled on. I asked for a referral for cheap prenatal care, and was sent to a midwives' clinic for poor women. The receptionist turned me away because I had no medical assistance card.
I cried out in the parking lot. I was heartbroken. Nobody cared about our baby. But a woman came running out of the hospital looking for us. Panting, she told us, "I'm glad I caught you before you left!" She introduced herself as one of the midwives. She assured me that she would make sure that I got proper prenatal care, and led us back inside. I never forgot the despair as I stood crying in the parking lot, or the relief and gratitude when the midwife reached out to me. I swore that I'd never leave a pregnant woman alone and despairing, as I had been. I had my baby girl, and headed out to California with my husband, who had joined the Army.
Then came the double whammy to my awareness. My babysitter told me about two abortions her mother had forced her into, and how Planned Parenthood had lied to her, telling her that at 8 weeks there was no baby, just "a blood clot." And I heard the local abortion clinic administrator complaining about a billboard showing prenatal development. She said, "We've been getting hundreds of angry calls from women wanting to know why they weren't given this information before their abortions. We want that billboard down!" So what had happened to my babysitter wasn't a fluke: It was systematic deception.
We were poor, the lower enlisted at Fort Ord. And I got pregnant again myself. I'd already been brainwashed -- excuse me, educated -- in college about how poor women "need" abortions. Now I was one of them! My "education" had taught me that my choices were abort or starve, and paralyzed my thinking. Fortunately, I had a prolife friend who saw that our real problem was our apartment. He dragged us out and made us find what we thought was impossible to find: a better place to live. That one simple thing made all the difference. That brought it home in a profound way how the lies and omissions and decption of the prochoice movement worked together to deprive women of real choices, and to deprive them of their children, as I'd very nearly been deprived of my son.
That was the jolt that got me off the fence and turned me into an antiabortion activist. That's why, of all things, abortion is what I focus on. I can not tolerate the systematic, deliberate betrayal of women. Period, paragraph.