To be or not to be...
I guess this is something of a personal reflection more than it is an observation of anything tangible.
It wasnāt long ago that there was some minor uproar in the blog section regarding the issue of abortion. Everyone drew battle lines, picked sides, and faced off against the enemy in what turned out to be a waste of text. I even tried to write something about it, myself, but it turned into a blog about dicks and cum. Itās likely thereās some sort of deeper Freudian-esque connection that could be made about that, but itās a tale for another day. Ahem.
The most telling fact behind all of these opinions we felt compelled to share was that I couldnāt find a single one in which the author had a personal experience with it. There was open minded and holier-than-thou reasoning on both sides, there was some speculation, and there was even some second hand stuff. What was absent, however, was someone saying anything along the lines of, āI had an abortionā, or, āMy girlfriend/wife/whatever had an abortionā. Itās likely that this was just because itās a touchy and very personal item and someone may have been loath to share their pain, but cāmonā¦ this is the internet. More to the point, this is eBaumās World, and your blog likely wonāt get more than a few hundred views, anyways. Anonymity is the name of the game around here. I feel safer revealing some things online than I do with my own family.
I would never tell my family any of my banking details, but when that Nigerian prince proposed via email that we engage in a lucrative business arrangement I was all about it. I would never tell my family that Iām pretty sure Iām bisexual, but on the internet anything goes. I would never tell my family that I was only an abortion away from becoming a father, but I was. Or am. Iām getting my verb tenses confused. Listen, a girl with whom I had been having friendly occasional relations got pregnant and had an abortion, and on the internet I feel that I can share this story with you.
To begin, I am what can be considered āpro-choiceā. Furthermore, Iād like to establish that I have a penis. While it may be a glorious and awe inspiring thing, unless it was directly responsible for a pregnancy itās very presence negates my say in whether or not it is terminated. Not my body not my choice, you know? I donāt believe life begins at conception. This hadnāt ever really developed into a more prolific and detailed set of opinions or anything, though. It was always something removed from my everyday experience. I didnāt have a personal narrative to draw precedent from. All I had were vague what-ifs and maybes to try and expand on. Suddenly, though, with a few text messages and a phone call I had personal perspective. I had insight into the issue which I previously lacked. I had a brand new outlook on this debate. I had a problem.
While neither one of us is young or inexperienced, neither one of us was in a position that accommodated the advent of a child. We live hundreds of miles apart, see each other only a few times a year, and arenāt even in anything that could be creatively construed as a relationship. Itās worth noting that where thereās a will thereās a way, but I canāt see this having worked out. Without divulging too much of our own private lives, we are at such different points and on different paths that this would, likely, have been a disaster in the long run.
Iād like to share, or attempt to, the train of thought I chuggachugged through all of this. Iām not sure if Iāll be able to provide much in the way of clarity, though. I am clearly a being of a higher sort than you primitive savages are and I might not be able to simplify and distill my thoughts down to your mundane standard. Strap on your velcros and letās take a walk.
As soon as she broke the news that a pregnancy was a possibility and that I was the patriarchal candidate I admit to freaking out a little bit. It took some doing, but I was able to remind myself that Iām fucking 27 years old; I have a career, and am no longer a fuckup teenager. This had the intended calming effect I needed. Realistically speaking, this was something that I could, in theory, accomplish. Like I said, where thereās a will thereās a way. It would have been a tremendous setback for me, but not an endgame. I was going to pony up and accept responsibility for the product of my carnal urges. My mind briefly lighted on the many questions that this sort of thing tends to inspire. Boy or girl? Name? What will it look like? How expensive is this going to be? Will it one day overthrow my rule and supplant me? And so on and so forth. Even that taboo word abortion crossed my mind. I thought back to all the times Iād been told that I would change my tune if I was in that situation.
I called her and we spoke for a few hours, exchanging small talk and dancing around the situation at hand. We both kept justifying our current lives to each other and it was blatantly obvious that we were both avoiding mention of that socially insidious thing hoping the other would bring it up. I finally broke the ice and just blurted it out. I think it probably sounded like this,
āā¦ and if you knew much about military contracting youād know that without proximity to a fort or base then, uhh, do you think we should get an abortion? Why did I say āweā? I canāt get one.ā
She breathed a long sigh, and told me that she had been giving it a lot of thought. For the record, she is a fantastic, wonderful, and excellent girl. I cannot stress enough that she is one of the best people I have ever known and if she appears at all thoughtless or cruel it is due to my failure as a writer and not in any way due to her failure as a good person. Without saying as much it became clear that she was leaning towards it but was withholding final judgment until I had made my own thoughts clear. She had closed off the only cowardās path away from this dilemma by, essentially, giving me the swing vote. I told her as much, told her I understood and accepted, and asked for a day to think it over.
I know why. She was already a single mother, the father of her child having pathetically absented himself. She was scared at least as much as I was and, furthermore, wasnāt interested in engaging in a relationship with anyone. There were simply too many other priorities. Not to mention the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth. My own burden would have been a lesser one. As Iāve been actively resolving much of my family debt I donāt have a lot in the way of savings put aside, and the act of leaving my job and moving would eat up what Iāve got. It would boil down to what would serve them best, either my presence or my money. I could be there, physically, but without the means I command now, or I could provide remotely.
Those situations in which a family has little money but remains happy are due mostly to there being a lot of love in the household. This girl is special to me in many ways, but there isnāt the bond of real love. We would be connected by a child, and help it or not I could foresee some resentment on both sides that would fester and grow. Despite how much I would not want this child to have a remote father who pays child support but lives hundreds of miles away I kept that in consideration.
We spoke more before I made my final deliberation. Throughout all of it there was the undercurrent in her words that pulled me towards a termination. Iām not trying to displace responsibility for anything, mind you, but neither of us was feeling positive about this. I didnāt want to go through with it, but I didnāt want to not go through with it, either. I wanted a time machine. A second chance. A do-over. The best option I could see was to gauge her deeper feelings on the matter and go from there.As it turns out she holds some views that almost parallel my own. Neither of us feels that life begins at conception. She said she never even considered giving any love to her daughter until the moment she was born. Until she filled her own lungs and ceased to be a part of her, but a part of the world, she was somethingā¦ else. She was the potential for life. The possibility of life. Neither alive nor dead. A SchrĆ¶dinger's cat.
As I am incapable of childbirth this is a concept that will forever remain slightly alien to me, but the fundamentals were there to be seen. I called her back and struggled to find the words to acquiesce. How to you say it? Go for it! Break a leg! Git ār done! Engage! I was able to verbally mime it out, and after a long pause she tried to console me and say it was the best choice available. I was pretty sure that her mind was more or less made up before I even called, but that she tried to be conciliatory was a nice touch.
It was just a pill and some sort of cryptic remark about a āheavy dripā and it was done. Obviously we all know how it works, and I was going to try and work a joke in about coffee or something, but I donāt have the heart right now. Itās time to be serious, if only for a little while. Damn a religious upbringing and childhood indoctrination, but a part of me will always feel a bit maudlin and somber about this. Mostly just remembering those few hours in which I pondered about potential, though.
My views remain, and are possessed of a bit more clarity and insight than before. Having been personally involved in the act I had a say in the matter. I chose to do what she wanted, but wasnāt able to ask for, out of concern for my feelings. After all, I had a vote but the choice still wasnāt mine to make. A womanās body is not a democracy, and despite what others may think, I believe that life begins when life can sustain itself. Thereās more to this argument than what Iām willing to include. Epics could be written on the subject. I just wanted to share the story of one who has had personal experience.