Yes, I’m Happily Pregnant—But The Roe V. Wade Decision Could Hurt Me Too

I’m not usually one to weigh in on political matters, but as I sit here almost 20 weeks pregnant, I can’t stop thinking about the decision that was made by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. I share my perspective knowing it might not change a lot of minds — as that is very hard to do these days — but with the hope that it at least gets some people thinking, and that it perhaps personalizes the issue a little bit more for those who feel passionate yet far removed from it.

There are many facets to the abortion debate, but for now, I’m only focusing on one of them. This is not a discussion about whether abortion is right or wrong, and I’m not going to touch the complex intersections with race and socioeconomic status. This is about who gets to make the decision. Who owns the right to the choice? In a country heavily dependent on legal precedent, this is an issue that has far more outreaching implications than this one hot button topic.

Soon, I’ll have my anatomy ultrasound. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a big scan where we get to see the baby and they ensure everything looks good. We haven’t seen him since I was nine weeks pregnant and he looked more like an alien gummy bear than a human. During this next ultrasound, his little body and organs should be well formed—should being the operative word.

There is a chance that at this ultrasound, we will not get good news. There is a chance they will discover our baby is deformed or has some kind of defect. For argument’s sake, let’s say he has some condition that will require him to have several painful operations once he is born yet still likely only live for a short time.

Currently, in the state of Florida, women can receive abortions up until 24 weeks. My guess is the 24 week mark was decided because this big anatomy ultrasound usually takes place between 20–22 weeks. Now, I don’t know what my husband and I would do in this horrible hypothetical scenario. It would be a heart wrenching decision. But arguably the more important question from a societal standpoint is: who gets to make the choice? Is it up to my husband and I to make the decision together as his parents and the ones who would have to watch him suffer for his short little life? Or is it up to the government?

It’s not about what you would personally choose in this scenario. It’s not about what you think is right or wrong. It’s about who has the rights to the choice.

Let’s say you’re very anti-abortion and you would choose to still have the baby. Okay. Well, what if the laws were different? What if, one day, the government decides that all these babies born with birth defects needing multiple surgeries is too much of a financial hardship on the healthcare system? So, instead, the law was that if certain conditions were discovered at the anatomy ultrasound, the pregnancy had to be terminated. You’ve lost your choice in the matter.

Just because the laws currently align with your beliefs doesn’t mean they always will. You either believe in the rights of the individual or you’re okay handing them over to the government and whatever partisan wave it’s currently riding.

Another scenario. Let’s say that at some point in the remainder of my pregnancy, I’m diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. My only shot at surviving is to undergo chemo and radiation that would undoubtedly end the pregnancy. Who should decide who gets to live? Who chooses whether my husband and I have to say goodbye to our unborn child or decide that he will live on without me as a single father to our son? Is that a choice for the government?

The argument here is that there can be clauses in anti-abortion laws allowing them when the mother’s life is at stake. But who makes the call on how risky it is? The way most current laws stand, it is up to the doctor. But what if my husband and the doctor don’t agree on how much risk is acceptable? To the doctor, a 50% chance of me surviving might be reason enough not to treat me, but I doubt my husband is okay with those odds.

(I know of this scenario happening in real life. The courts got involved and the woman was forced to have a cesarean section even though the baby was extremely premature. Both her and the baby died a couple days later.)

Let’s look at another scenario that often comes up in abortion debates: rape. Some anti-abortion laws have exceptions for instances of rape. But rape isn’t always clear cut either. Let’s say your daughter is in college and goes out to a party where there’s a lot of alcohol. Maybe she imbibes and maybe she doesn’t. She ends up having sex with someone at the party. The next day, she swears that she said “no” several times and tried to get him to stop but he wouldn’t. To her, it was rape. He argues it was consensual. Maybe the university police get involved or maybe they don’t because these cases of “he said vs. she said” have proven to get way too much bad press. She ends up pregnant. Because the incident was never deemed rape in the eyes of the law, she has no option but to have the baby. This is your daughter. She’s in college—what’s supposed to be one of the happiest times of her life. Her whole future ahead of her. And now she’s traumatized by the rape and has to carry what she sees as her rapist’s baby. Don’t you think you all should have had a say in that decision? Isn’t it a conversation you would have wanted to have as a family and come to a decision that is best for all the people intimately involved?

No matter how many exception clauses you add to anti-abortion laws, the fact remains that you are still taking a choice off the table. Taking a right away from families and giving it to the government. And that is a very dangerous notion that goes against the very principles this country was founded on. Think about what individual rights could be next; all the personal choices you have the freedom and autonomy to make throughout your life. Are these rights you’re willing to put in the hands of whatever political party is currently in power?

The point is that you can be strongly against abortion but still pro-choice. You can hate the idea of people terminating pregnancies yet still understand and respect the nuanced difficulties of these decisions. You can stand strong in your religious convictions yet also see that there are certain very personal areas of life where the government should have no authority. For many families, the decision on whether or not to continue with a pregnancy is the first of countless difficult decisions that parents must make on behalf of their children. And sometimes—just like in taking someone off life support or putting someone in hospice—the best decision in that particular scenario might be to end the life.

Pro-choice isn’t pro-abortion, it’s simply keeping the rights to make the decision privately within the family, not a political party. This issue is bigger than your personal feelings about abortion. It’s about protecting the personal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.