The vicious game of politicizing abortion

Akasha Khalsa

Last winter I wrote an opinion piece for The North Wind about the importance of depoliticizing personal discussions of abortion. Since I wrote that piece, the issue of abortion has become a great deal more heated. Recent laws in many states have left liberals outraged and conservatives defensive. However, discussion in the public sphere remains entirely focused on the political facet of this issue. Personal identities tied to political ideas are felt to be under attack by zealots on both sides, and actual considerations of effects on people are left out of this game, except to be appealed to on a merely rhetorical level.

When discussion turns to this topic, are we willing to turn to the women among our loved ones and ask, “Aunt Sue, what are your real life experiences with pregnancy scares and considerations of abortion in relation to your own life? Knowing what you do, what do you think is the most socially responsible policy?”

Any woman who is sexually active is forced to consider the issue from an extremely intimate point of view. Yet the questions surrounding abortion are used in the political game without much regard, without any true intention of coming to a workable compromise, and it’s simply taboo to relate to our own lives and experiences in the public realm. So, allow me to break these taboos and be personally revealing.

I am sexually active. Like so many other women, I’ve experienced a pregnancy scare. I decided then, that if I was pregnant, I could not have a baby. I would not carry a child at 18, when I had no resources, no desire to start a family.

I won’t lose my scholarship, I resolved. I refuse to let my travel plans go. I will not let this happen. If I am pregnant, I said to myself, I will go to planned parenthood, and I will get myself abortion pills, and I will bleed. For the love of Roe v. Wade, thank the feminists I can even get those pills, I thought, and thank my indomitable mother I was taught it’s okay for me to take my own needs seriously.

I informed my partner I was concerned that I was pregnant. I told him that if I was, I intended to bleed. This choice made him sad, but he respected my decision.

After a week of arguing with myself, I worked up the gumption to buy a couple pregnancy tests at Walgreens and, hands shaking, fumbled with it until I had an answer. Not pregnant.

Later that year, I found out my boyfriend was nearly aborted by his 19-year-old mother. I don’t want to imagine the nonexistence of my much-loved partner. This made me much less certain of my own hardened “abortion is okay” stance, but my pregnancy scare still left me with a conviction that the choice of abortion is critical for the socioeconomic well-being of women.

Honestly, there is no moral high ground in this debate.

This is only my story. It’s not so uncommon or particularly enlightening, but it did force me to feel out some of the true complexities of the abortion debate.

These political games are solving nothing. These fights are being fought for the power play, for the personal gratification that comes from self-righteousness, for the love of fear, for the satisfaction of group identity. True, honest, deep discussion isn’t entering into the public sphere.

We’re refusing to look at the truth of the issue: it’s a moral tangle. No path is right. I find the politicians using this sensitive issue for votes and power disgusting.