I am aware that many of my friends & most of my family have religious objections to abortion. Coming from the Catholic tradition where even birth control is considered evil, I am not insensitive to those scruples though I do not share them. I am committed to the right of women to control our reproductive lives as fundamental to our freedom.
My mother had 22 pregnancies. It cannot be said she enjoyed most of them. She would be depressed & flat on her back for most of the nine months & once described her years of constant pregnancy as feeling “blanked out.” Her last pregnancy, when I was in high school, was a miscarriage. I was home alone with her at the time & she called me in to baptize the fetus & share the moment with her. It was a very powerful moment for me while we both marveled at the mystery of life. But my mother was jubilant that she had miscarried since she already had 19 kids. That is how woman feel when faced with an unwanted pregnancy & have the option of abortion. When they do not have the option of a safe, legal abortion, millions of women around the world take matters into their own hands & many young mothers die.
The early women’s movement was concerned about how abortion & forced sterilization were/are used against Black, Latina, Native American women & women in other countries of black & brown women. To distinguish abortion as a woman’s right from racist eugenics programs, we formulated the demand “abortion on demand; no forced sterilization” & we fought for that demand. It is not that we don’t have respect for human life but that we do. We trust that women will make the best choice about their ability to give a child love & nurturance or terminate a pregnancy if they can’t. Women’s bodies; women’s right to decide.