On January 22nd, 1973, landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationally. Today, we still fight to keep abortion legal, and the common procedure is already effectively banned in various states. On the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a contributor reflects on how, had Roe not guaranteed her mother’s access to safe, legal abortion and family planning options, neither she nor her sisters would have ever been born.
People often speak about abortion as if it determines the direction a woman takes for her whole life. She either chooses to have children, or she doesn’t.
When my mom was 19, she found out she was pregnant. She and her boyfriend at the time had recently ended their relationship, and she knew that she wasn’t emotionally or financially ready to have a child. It would have blown her life apart, forcing her to move back in with her parents, leaving friends, her apartment, and her job. Now I am older than the age she was when she got pregnant, and I can’t even imagine the shock and uncertainty she must have felt. After heavily weighing her options, my mom decided to have an abortion.
That is, simply put, her abortion story. But the effect that decision had on her, and the way it would go on to shape our family, didn’t end there.
My mom’s unexpected pregnancy and subsequent abortion made her realize that she did want to have children—when the time was right.
She saw the possibility, however briefly, open in front of her, and she knew it was a door wanted to walk through, one day. She had me when she was ready, and my siblings followed. I am now the oldest of four.
Because she had a choice, my mom was actually empowered to become a mother later in life. Because of Roe v. Wade, she had access to a safe and legal abortion.
Without Roe granting her access to legal abortion, she could have been killed or had her reproductive system permanently damaged by an unsafe and illegal procedure. Then, my siblings and I would have never existed.
I don’t take my mom’s story lightly because, now, we live in a different world. Brett Kavanaugh was elected to the Supreme Court, and we could see Roe v. Wade overturned in our lifetime. Conservative states wait in the wings to dismantle reproductive rights, and the Trump administration attacks them every chance it gets. My right to control my own body is in danger, and when I realize that my sisters and I may not have the same freedom of choice that my mom did, I get even angrier.
I think there are lots of stories like my mom’s in the world, but we don’t hear about them because they don’t fit into the black-and-white narrative that the anti-choice movement tries to push. Having a child and properly caring for that child requires a significant amount of resources. Every person deserves the right to decide whether they’re ready to take on that responsibility. I know that because of my mom, and I will always be grateful for her choice.