Photo Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI, Getty Images
Before I became a mother, I was staunchly pro-choice. I supported a woman's right to an abortion without adding "but I would never have one." Instead of quantifying my support, I took to reading about women's history and searching for a career that meshed with my political views. After I left college, I took a job as a grant writer at a women's clinic in my community that provided abortions as well as pap smears, breast cancer screenings and more. Every Friday morning, I would walk two flights of stairs and let women I did not know put their hands in mine. They would squeeze and release and then bear down on my hands like I was an anchor at the bottom of the ocean keeping them tied to a different beginning.
I held the hands of countless women during their abortions before I had my own.
Two years ago I was pregnant for as long as it took me to schedule my abortion. I harbor no regrets or second thoughts about my choice. I do not suffer through sleepless nights or longings for a baby. I am not filled with sorrow when a friend announces she is pregnant. The fact is, I was already a mother when I had my abortion and it didn't change a thing.
Abortion never comes up at the playground or the parent pick-up line. Mothers, it's true, rarely, if ever, talk about abortion. We barely talk about miscarriages, either, except to say we've had them and then offer each other apologies and sympathy. But we know who has had them. Abortion? I told only my closest friends and I went by myself to face the gruesome, inaccurate and inflammatory signs held by protesters attempting to lure me away from the door as if a woman having made a decision is a fickle thing that can be swayed with macabre arts and crafts.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. As the mother of a daughter, I want her to be known for her accomplishments and kindness, creativity and spirit rather than lost potential. I want her to become a mother when she decides and I will love her children with my whole being. But, and if need be, I will hold her hand and let her know that I held many others, too. And that someone held mine.
She has my support, my voice and my fight. In a way, that's how motherhood changed me: I'm in this for an even longer haul than I imagined.
Liz Henry is an award winning blogger and freelance writer. She lives with her family in Philadelphia. Follow her on Twitter @sixyearitch.