In the state of Kansas, where I live, views on this topic are what differentiate our two parties, dividing the conservative Republicans and the moderate Republicans.
Back in the days before I had kids, I was guilty of some black-and-white thinking on abortion, too, and stood firmly on the side of choice. Motherhood was not on my radar until an accidental pregnancy the summer I was 33 changed my view on when life begins.
The August morning I did the home pregnancy test and the stick turned blue, I felt terrified at first, then nervous, and finally, excited.
It didn’t matter that I wasn’t married. I supported myself. I had family. My parents, after the initial shock, were thrilled that I was having their first grandchild. My neighbor across the hall in my apartment building promised to babysit whenever I needed her.
“This baby is only the size of a lima bean but I love it already,” I told a friend who writes romance novels. She gave that line to a heroine in one of her books.
The biological father was another story. He offered to write a check for an abortion. When I refused, his parting words were, “You’re going to ruin the rest of your life.”
Halfway through my pregnancy, I met a man who fell in love with both me and the baby. We eventually married and had a son together, and he formally adopted our daughter when she was 4 years old. I remember the judge telling her, “I hope you live happily ever after.”
Last month, that baby – our daughter Rachel – celebrated her 20th birthday. She’s smart and talented and beautiful and has a kind heart. I’m ridiculously proud of her and love her more than I ever knew was possible.
I look at her and see what could so easily not have been if I’d accepted the offer of an abortion.
But I’m still pro-choice, although it’s a tough call, and that doesn’t mean I’m pro-abortion. Despite not wanting to end my own pregnancy, I believe that abortion should be legal. I don’t want to see a return to the days of coat hangers and back-alley butchers. And there are circumstances that may warrant an abortion. Heartbreaking stories emerged of why some women sought late-term abortions after late-term abortion provider George Tiller was gunned down while at church in Wichita.
I think it’s up to each woman to make her own choice and make her peace with her God over what she decides.
My dream, though, is of a world in which no woman would want or need an abortion. Instead of attacking each other, why can’t we address the reasons that women seek abortions in the first place?
Nearly half of all pregnancies in America are unintended, and 43 percent of those end in abortion.
Does this mean funding Planned Parenthood? Yes.
Let’s make sure every woman has access to good prenatal care. Let’s put more money toward medical research into birth defects.
Let’s make affordable and dependable child care available to working mothers, especially those who are single.
While we’re at it, let’s finally achieve equal pay for equal work. I can’t believe we haven’t accomplished that one yet.
Let’s work toward ending violence toward women. Around 1 percent of abortions each year are due to a pregnancy resulting from rape.
In short, let’s work toward creating a society where no one wants, or feels like she needs, to end her pregnancy.
Diana Reese is a freelance writer in Kansas City.