Why I March – A Woman’s Right To Choose

pro choice

I was raised in a fundamental Christian home. I learned early (and often) that a woman’s place is in the home; that God is vengeful; and that without knowing John 3:16, a person’s eternal destiny would be Satan’s hellfire and damnation. Those were mostly lessons from my father, with reinforcement from the pastor on Sundays.

When I was about six years old, my dad told me that, without his intervention, I would have been aborted. This story was originally shared with me around 1976, and retold many times, just in case I might forget. My father felt it was important to enlighten me on how he saved my life.

His side of the story went something like this… in 1969, when my mom first found out she was pregnant, she was so distraught that she wanted to have an abortion. According to my father, he saved my life by promising her that he’d take a more active role in parenting and that God promised him that I’d be a blessing in their old age.

He’d always wrap it up in a nice red bow, close it out with a prayer to our Heavenly Father, and send me on my way… probably to go play with baby dolls,  run through the sprinkler, or something like that.dolls
To recap… in 1976, as a six year old, in a very religious conservative home, I learned four epic life lessons:

  1. my mom didn’t want me
  2. abortion meant killing a baby (yes, he explained that as well)
  3. my dad saved my life
  4. it was my life’s destiny to be a blessing in their old age

That’s a lot for a six year old to take in. In fact, it’s a lot to carry with you for four decades. But, we all have our cross to bear.

1976 was then… this is now…

Fast forward to November 2016. Shortly after the election, I decided to join the Women’s March on Washington. My reasons are many, but I’ll focus on a woman’s right to choose in this particular post.

Over the years, thanks to inspirational mentors, insightful friends, and surviving 25 years of marriage and raising two kids of my own, my worldview has changed dramatically.  However, in my heart of hearts, there is still a fundamental little girl trying to make sense of morality and life while also desperately seeking peace, light, and universal love in the process.

zen girl

Recently, the little girl inside led me to searching for deeper personal meaning in a woman’s right to choose. I couldn’t remember the historical facts of abortion law so I did a quick Google search on the topic. Within a few clicks, I learned that Row v. Wade changed the laws in 1973.

1973.

As in, Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Three??

Wait a minute. Stop the presses. You mean, my mom wanted an abortion 4 full years before it was even legal?!

This was cause for some meditation and discernment.

The result, I believe, may well be the OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY,
and it goes something like this…

In 1969, after two miscarriages and giving birth to five children, my mom found out she was pregnant again. Professionally, my father was a traveling salesman. He was home about 50 days a year… the running joke was that he “was home just long enough to knock her up, and then he’d be back on the road.”

For all intents and purposes, my mom was a single mom during those years. The cooking, cleaning, shopping, homework help, cheering at football games, shuffling to ballet, mending socks, up at 3 a.m. dealing with fevers and vomit, diapers, tantrums, house repairs, and discipline were all on her shoulders — except about 50 days per year. On those days, Dad expected Mom to have seared steak (rare) and potatoes (mashed) on the table, his laundry and ironing caught up, and time to watch football and WWF. That’s a lot of parenting, with little support, and even less self care for my mom.

large family

In 1969, four years before Row v. Wade, my mom (who by the way was also on birth control) found out she was pregnant for the 8th time. Suffice it to say that she’d had enough. She had reached her breaking point.

In addition to legal issues, she also faced the heavy hand of my father, as well as a vengeful God who would curse her for making such a savage and selfish decision.

Desperation cannot even begin to describe the fear and panic she must have felt.

At that time, she had the strength and courage to verbally articulate her desire to end the pregnancy. Please note that her option would have been a hanger, back alley clinic, or driving countless miles to find a physician willing to help her out. She’d need my dad’s financial support, no matter which option she chose.

If I haven’t already mentioned it…
I’m Pro Choice.

And,

in the life that I’ve lived,
I choose life.

But, I haven’t walked down the path my mom walked, in a time when women were submissive to their husbands. I haven’t faced harsh medical consequences of pregnancy that made me choose my life over the life of a developing fetus. I haven’t been the victim of rape which resulted in an unwanted pregnancy. I wasn’t in high school dealing with a decision of college or motherhood. I didn’t have to make a choice between pregnancy or promotion (or travel, or or).

What I do know is that it’s not the government’s (church’s, husband’s, society’s) job to dictate how a woman is to deal with pregnancy. We live in a world where men can have as much sex as they want, and they are never forced to pee on a stick and deal with the outcome.

WomensMarchWashington

On January 21, 2017, I will lace up my shoes and participate in the Women’s March on Washington. I’ll march in honor of my mom, who against all odds in 1969 decided to unleash her inner warrior and articulate her desire to take control of her body.  I march in honor of her conviction to keep me to term, and the hours she spent in the depths of birthing pains, like only a woman can do.

I march in solidarity with women across our vast nation who will not sit silent and allow laws to regress to pre Row v. Wade norms. Let’s save the hangers for our shirts and the back alley for wandering Tom cats. Too many women (and men) have fought the tenacious fight to give a woman complete control of her body.

Period.

My Body My Choice

© 2017, The Musing Maven, all rights reserved.

6 responses to “Why I March – A Woman’s Right To Choose

  1. Tracey Seyfarth

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story. I am currently binge watching Call the Midwife on Netflix. They portray women’s stories so beautifully and one was very similar to this. The many children, the husband but, in the story, a heart wrenching back alley abortion. I remember my mom, a labor and delivery nurse and conservative woman, talking about how she’d rather it be legal than watch what she saw in the aftermath. I will be marching with you in spirit here in Denver.

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    • Tracey, first off, thank you for reading and taking time to reply. As a writer, that is the biggest gift I can receive. Your comments took courage. I didn’t see this comment until today (I was in DC from Thursday-Sunday). Coming back from a very inspirational time on our nation’s capital was humbling. So much history there. Many reminders that this is not our first rodeo AND many reminders that women and men came before us to bravely face adversity of all kinds. Hearing your mom’s story, taking place in *her* time, is extremely inspiring. We live in a both/and world (and country). Things happen every day that we may not agree with AND we have to figure out how to live in that reality in a way that shares peace, love, and light. It’s not easy. But mom’s like yours show us it can be done. And girls like us, raised by moms like ours, have big shoes to fill. I’m excited to hear that you represented us at the Denver march. The world is watching, and clearly supporting this movement. May we now realize that Saturday was not a finish line, but a starting point. Our real work begins now. Sending peace and light and love to you and your beautiful family. Namaste.

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    • Ah, my NYC blogging buddy! Thanks for the kind feedback. I can’t wait to see that memoir. I know it’s been a lot of work and years in the making. Sending you peace and I look forward to connecting next month. Stay strong!

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  2. The times were definitely different. Thank God we have changed and women can choose how they want to envision a married lifestyle or to stay single. I grew up in an equally unfair household that limited my mother’s choices of her desires and goals as a bright and capable women in so many ways. Regarding pro life vs pro choice it is really complicated and like so many issues involving politics, law or religious beliefs no one side in my view is right or wrong. I personally believe that not all abortions are wrong for any number of reasons. But, I can see the pro life viewpoints too. That said, I am a man and will never have to face that decision. Also, I have two daughters and would never stand in the way of their decision to abort or make them feel any guilt from dad in such an emotional situation.
    As far as the march on Washington or other cities like Denver, I feel like it is a protest disguised as a women’s rights march. Why now if it is not really about protesting the in coming elected president. I believe that in light of all the reasons that Trump can make you wish the clock could be turned back in time regarding this election, that he is still “our” president. That is how “our” system works and I plan on honoring that even if I spend 4 years disagreeing with most of his actions or statements – I just spent 8 years doing so, what’s another 4? You might have guessed by now, I am a third party guy. Washington has been out of control and “our” President Obama was not the great prrsident of our time. A good husband and father, yes. I don’t hate the guy, but anytime I’ve spoken out against him I was viewed by almost all my liberal friends and family as a racist. Trump is the incoming guy because people are tired of the political correctness, the labels that have become out of control (on both sides), and the insisting of whose moral values are right causing us to become a nation that no longer talks to each other vs just yelling at one another. This to me is what we should concentrate on moving forward. Part of the “elite” in this country are sitting right there in Washington and Trump is the culmination of people like me that were and are fed up. I wish all who march (my daughter is marching in Denver) a safe day that will be very emotionally and politically charged.
    My two cents and sense!
    Ed

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    • Ed! So great to hear from you, my friend. People from around our nation (and vast world) took to the streets for many reasons. For some, it was strictly women’s rights. For others, it was LGBT. Still others are appalled by comments on a bus (which inspired a sea of pink hats). There were old people using walkers, blind people tapping canes, immigrant workers who clean toilets and pick corn seeking asylum for them and their children who are here legally. There were old guys who marched in the 60’s appalled at many things. Police officers who believe that all lives matter. Teachers who fear for the future of their students AND to teach their students that it’s ok to stand up and do something when you don’t agree with what is happening around you. There were trump voters who are hearing the rhetoric and lies. One of my big reasons (in addition to so many others) was speaking out to protect our press who provides important checks and balances in what is becoming an “alt-truth” environment on Capitol Hill. For Americans who showed up, they were embracing our democratic principles of freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest. For those around the world, I can only assume they were standing up against what they fear to be a tyrant nationalist (just based on what I’m reading from solid news sources).

      I appreciate your insights and would love to get together to find common ground. We both want what is best for our daughters (and for me, my son). We both want a strong economy. We want safe borders and equal rights. We may disagree on the tactics, but I believe that between us there’s enough peace, light, and love to figure out how to work together for progress that we can both agree on. One thing that this election cycle taught us is that for meaningful change to happen, we must represent and show up. (I posted a couple Trump related posts right after the election… take a peek, if you are curious to see more details on how I feel that democrats missed the boat.)

      As I mentioned to Tracey, thank you for taking time to read and reply. My fingers type my blood, sweat, courage, and tears. Reading your heart-felt and passionate opinions keeps the conversation moving in a forward direction. And I believe that we can all agree that going backwards is not an option. Namaste, my friend. The passionate seeker in me blesses the passionate seeker in you.

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  3. This is such a great post! In writing my memoir I’ve journaled about Roe vs. Wade because I was born in 1973. My childhood was a very difficult time in my life, and reflecting upon it I couldn’t help imagining the world without me in it. I agree that women should choose what is best for them. And I also believe that not everyone should be a parent. Thanks for posting this and for standing up for what you believe in.

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