I have a friend; we’ll call her “Becky.”
Becky had a difficult childhood, the victim of a broken adoption system, multiple moves and, therefore, multiple homes. Becky struggled with school, was arrested on a number of occasions and was eventually institutionalized for drug addiction.
But she got out, clean and reborn, and now Becky is a fully-employed member of the American workforce. Becky has a daughter now, a newborn little girl who has brought light and happiness to Becky’s life. The father lives with her and is as involved as possible in the lives of his two women.
Almost three years ago, Becky had an abortion. Pro-life advocates have long bemoaned the lives of women like Becky. The pregnancy did not immediately threaten her life and there was no medical reason for the termination. Becky was getting an abortion because she couldn’t have a baby, much to the dismay of moralists everywhere.
But Becky is proof that you don’t need laws restricting abortion, because women are smart enough to choose for themselves. Becky was using the birth control pill when she became pregnant the first time. Her significant other was less than supportive. In fact, he was clear: if you have this baby, I will leave you.
He would leave her in the apartment they shared; he would take his money, his bed, his furniture. He would walk out if Becky gave birth. Becky was 19 and alone with her pregnancy. Becky wouldn’t give her baby up for adoption because of her own experiences as an adopted child.
So one afternoon, Becky found her way to a Planned Parenthood clinic downtown and had an abortion. She was quiet for a while and she cried a lot after. Becky wanted children and this isn’t how she had imagined her life.
She was a victim of prejudice and assumption. She was called a slut and tramp. Her boyfriend left her anyway and she became another statistic for Republican congressmen to spit at.
It didn’t matter that Becky had always been safe. It didn’t matter that, generally, using contraception regularly is a mark of responsibility, not irresponsibility.
Becky started socializing with a better crowd. She met a new man, started new birth control and, a little more than one year ago, she got pregnant again.
But this time, it was different. Becky had a different man now, one not so insistent on abandoning his child. She had a better job this time, she was healthier and her neighborhood was nicer.
Becky decided to keep her baby. She quit smoking, gave up alcohol and refrained from any substances that could pose a threat to her child.
Her child changed her. Her rowdy weekends are behind her and the revolving door of half-pint losers normally drawn to her was permanently shut. She was healthy and she smiled more.
Becky’s story is neither a tragedy nor a hero’s tale. She is neither saintly nor demonic. Becky is the reality, and her story is the story of choice, pregnancy and motherhood most familiar to the world. Abortion is a touchy subject, and contraception isn’t much easier. The landmine field of controversy makes the landscape of humanity a little harder to see.
Images of dead babies and Bible quotes paint broad pictures. But Becky is proof that these stories are never simple. Rarely are the women entering Planned Parenthood there because they are stupid, lazy or incompetent. They go because they have no place else.
Becky doesn’t deserve pity or praise, but recognition might work. Becky shows us, and showed me, you don’t need to tell women what their morality is, or what to do with themselves — because woman’s intuition exists, and they will always know what is best for themselves and for others.
Women are destined for motherhood and, even when they choose not to become mothers, they are maternal. They will protect, they will sympathize and they will make the most responsible choice. Becky chose for herself and her child, and her choice made her life today possible.
Becky is a woman, a mother and a friend. And, in response to the growing abortion argument in our public debate, Becky votes.