“She heads for the clinic and she gets some static walkin’ through the doors. They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner, and they call her a whore. God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes. ‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose.”
I remember hearing those Everlast lyrics one day when I was a teenager. My thoughts were very different then, but I was at a different stage in my life. I was a devout Baptist.
As a doting follower, I felt that part of my salvation relied upon opposing abortion. What did that mean to me? That there were lost souls in the world “killing babies” and that it was my duty to stop this atrocity. It meant that I was right because I had the Bible and Jesus Christ on my side, and anyone who opposed me was blinded by Satan and obviously wrong. To be frank, I knew absolutely nothing about abortion; not what it truly was or the reasons for women seeking it. I opposed it because my faith told me to, and it wasn’t a big deal to me.
A few years later, I feel that I was given a dose of my own medicine. I was in seventh or eighth grade, thus pegging me at about 13 or 14. There was an assembly at my Missouri public school that all students were required to attend. It turned out to be a long, inaccurate anti-choice rant, complete with gory pictures and overly dramatized stories. Despite not being particularly educated on the subject, I sensed that something wasn’t quite right, so I opted to leave and work on my English homework in the hall. A teacher stopped me at the door and told me that this assembly was mandatory, which I rebutted, pointing out the mention of God and the Bible.
It’s not that I was opposed to religion. Quite the contrary, I was a Bible-toting good girl who attended services regularly and devoured every extra event that my church held. I went “soul-winning” (door-to-door ministry) and memorized Bible verses with my mom. It was just that I went to church three times a week for my spiritual learning and school held a different purpose for me. Besides, I really felt this guy wasn’t being entirely factual, and if I was to form an opinion or become more educated about abortion, I wanted to do so on my own. I was nearly suspended for insubordination, but my parents threatened to sue the school, so I was given minimal punishment.
My health teacher, an older man and a devout Christian who doubled as the leader of our school’s Future Christians of America (FCA) club, set aside the next health class period to point out inconsistencies, to correct inaccurate scientific claims, and pretty much discuss the flaws that we had been subjected to. When I approached my mom about it, she (as suspected) was happy to share her medical books with me and help me grasp the subject of pregnancy and abortion with intellect.
This entire experience left me dizzy and deeply frustrated. The disturbing part to me was the fact that it forced me to realize that I was spouting off a lot of the same things the man from the assembly had said when I discussed abortion. There was a tinge of guilt there. The entire topic seemed like something I just didn’t even want to involve myself in. So I tucked away what I learned from the experience and moved on, avoiding the topic of abortion as much as humanly possible.
That was pretty successful for about 3 years. Until my underage friend nearly died because she tried to induce a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) by drinking a fifth of vodka and overdosing on her mom’s Percocet. She was abused by her father, the abuse couldn’t be proven (she had legally tried), and she couldn’t get the court to grant her a bypass to obtain a legal abortion. I will never forget the vision of her halfheartedly slumped against her bed. There was blood everywhere along with several puddles of vomit. At first I thought she had slit her wrists, but I saw no gashes. The majority of the blood was on her jeans, and the comforter on her bed. A bit was on her fingers, and smudged across her face. It was like something I only imagined I would see in a horror movie. She looked up at me with pupils that were tiny little specs, her lips tinged with blue. Her hands were cold and clammy and her pulse was fading. If I wouldn’t have showed up and called 911, she would be dead today.
No one should ever have to see someone they love like that, and no one should ever have to resort to what she did. That’s why when I was presented with the opportunity to volunteer for Planned Parenthood, I never hesitated. I didn’t care about the “static” the anti-choice protesters gave me when I walked women to the doors as an escort. I didn’t care that they called me a killer when I had to make the choice myself. And I didn’t care that I was dubbed a whore for being intimate with the person I loved and wanted to spend my life with. Some people turned their backs on me when I needed them, some lied to me and deceived me, and some were genuinely good-hearted people who tried to lend a hand even though we didn’t see eye to eye. I’m not here to demonize or hate my opposition. I’m not here to frame them as radicals. I’m here to say that trying to control a woman, either by restricting her access to birth control, telling her not to have sex unless she wants babies, or outlawing abortion will never bring peace to this controversial issue.
I am brought to my knees with humility every time a stranger hugs me or thanks me. I feel empowered when I can talk to others about these issues on a political level and make a difference in my society. My heart tells me that where I stand is right, and no one can argue against that.
Now I’m nearly 8 months pregnant, and (despite some bumps in the road) I am happy to say that I am a mother by choice, not by force. Planned Parenthood has been there for me through abnormal pap smears and close calls with cancer. They were there to give me control of my sexuality and my reproductive health through education and birth control. They have been there when I couldn’t continue a pregnancy. They were there to give me resources for the pregnancy I can continue.
That’s why I’m here for Planned Parenthood. Will you be too? To become a volunteer, send us an e-mail. We’d love for you to get involved.