I’m not a woman. I don’t know (or will ever) know what it’s like to spawn a child inside my body. I’ll never know what it’s like to give birth, or for that matter, terminate a birth that’s inside me. But I do know what it’s like to terminate a birth from the male side of the equation.
When I was in my early 20’s a former partner and I got pregnant, completely by accident. She was on the pill, but as they say, they’re not 100% effective – apparently especially so when you miss a pill. The relationship – while long term at the time, was on the rocks. We were in absolutely no position to have a child. Our respective parents knew about the pregnancy and there was a lot of discourse prior to making the choice to terminate. I was there when she took the pill the night before, and was there with her to, during, and from the hospital. It was absolute hell from my side of things and one of the more horrible experiences I’ve had to endure in my life. I can’t even begin to think I could equate that to what my partner went through. At the time I fully believed it to be the right choice. I have never waivered from that. If we hadn’t have made that choice, that child would now be 17 years old today.
I think about how that would have changed my life – how it would have changed her life – and what the ripple effect would have been. I can safely say I don’t in any way believe that I’d have been able to do the things I have, or gotten to the places I have should we have kept that child. My only regret about the experience is the pain that I saw in my partner (primarily) and a distant second, the pain I felt myself. We split shortly after and she has gone on to have a family of her own. She has two daughters and a son who are all particularly awesome.
I learned as a young teen that my younger brother was not my only sibling. My father had a child when he was in his teens with his high school sweetheart. They gave that child up for adoption. That child is about 55 years old right now, barring they are still alive. I haven’t the slightest idea who, where, or what that person is. My father doesn’t either. He explicitly asked me to promise that I would never look that child up, and I agreed. His reasoning was simple. “I made the choice to give that child away, I signed off on my right to intrude into their life when I signed those papers. But I did opt to provide my name should they ever wish to look me up. I left the choice to them, and if they ever want to talk to me, I’ll be faced with difficult questions which I will have to answer”. My father and I do not see eye-to-eye, and we haven’t talked in 20 years, however I respect that man for his stance in this matter.
I’ve been curious who this person could be for a long time. Maybe they turned out to be Steve Jobs, Faith Hill, Skrillex, Marilyn Monroe, or Ray Liotta; all adopted – although none of them fit the timelines. Maybe that child turned out to be a C-level executive at a big bank. Maybe they’re currently in jail as a rapist or murderer. Maybe they’re the guy who replaced my window a few years ago, or maybe they’re someone I’ve worked with in the past. I’ll never know, and as much as I’m curious, I respect my father’s wishes, and the promise I made to him to not find out. Maybe this person has no idea that they were ever adopted to begin with.
My father told me that there’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about that child. I can safely say that I think about that half-brother far less than he does. I think about the child I terminated more often, which usually sends my mind into a string of thoughts bringing up my half-brother, and so on. Every few weeks, I’d imagine. They’re usually triggered by seeing something that would remind me of it all – kind of like what happened tonight.
I came across a Reddit article about a woman who got pregnant while using an IUD and was in no position to be able to continue the birth. She lives in Texas, where abortion is a very serious crime. Here’s the tread if you care to read it through. I live in Canada – where if you need an abortion – you get one. It’s not an experience I’d recommend, but it’s one I’d choose again in an instant if I felt it was needed. I can say that it’s a hell of a lot more pleasant than what most of the USA makes you endure. We were never subjected to church groups telling us how we’ll burn in hell for eternity, or how we are horrible people. We were never forced to watch the baby’s heart rate. There were no signs being shoved in our faces, or red paint thrown on us as we walked into the hospital.
The USA has battled this whole abortion debate for decades. Canada, while not in any real danger of women losing their rights to abortion – has had a few scares. We have certainly had many of our recent Conservative party leaders refuse to (or give ridiculously vague) statements about their stance on abortion. There’s a bunch of Conservative party members who are anti-abortion pieces of trash, most notably Sam Oosterhoff who has compared abortion to the holocaust. I occasionally wonder what the sex life is like for any partner that choses to have sex with him may be like (or, doesn’t choose – is just forced into it). I feel like he’s the type of guy who’s going to tweet about how the female orgasm is a myth because he’s never actually seen one in real life.
It’s not exactly a state secret how horrible the USA has become in some places with anti-abortion legislation, let alone some other areas of the world. This was all more or less standard “ugh, yet another story” feelings for me when reading it. But, what really struck me was one comment. It was someone who had more or less bought birth control pills and abortion pills for her 6 year old daughter to stockpile them in fears that their state may flip from blue to red, and this child would loose access to such things in the future. Fuck. I can’t fathom the thought that I’d be sitting here thinking “you know, I should probably buy a ton of birth control pills – at least 10 years worth, and maybe for good measure, a few abortion pills, and I’ll put them in my fire-safe for when my unborn daughter comes of age and becomes sexually active, I can ensure she’s at least offered a choice”. I don’t understand that fear. I can’t. I’ve never been subjected to it, and I’m thankful that I (likely) will never be. This poster went on to question the shelf life of these pills – which – apparently is about a year before they lose their potency. A wonderful (and, sincerely heartwarming) sentiment, but sadly this stockpile this person was amassing for their 6 year old was going to be nothing more than garbage by the time she’d become sexually active.
The point is – this is fucked up. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a high likelihood that you feel the same way.
I’m still blown away by this idea that the majority of the lawmakers in the USA (and, Canada too) are more or less old white men who were raised on the tail ends of slavery. Some of them are almost old enough to remember a time when women were not allowed to vote. While we’re (currently) working with Justin Trudeau (49) as our PM in Canada (I feel that’s a fair age for a country leader), we have Joe Biden in the USA (79), and prior to that Donald Trump (75). We have begun to see a shift in politics to younger leaders as they rise up in the past decade – which is something I absolutely support. I’m 39 at the time of writing this and I firmly believe that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a politician being in their 30’s, or even 20’s. They’re fighting for their futures. I’m a hair away from 40 (which in itself is sobering), and I’m beginning to question if I even have the same right to a voice in the future of my country. These people who are one foot in the grave – they’re going to be dead inside a decade or so, what the fuck do they care? Granted, they’re overwhelmingly the ones drafting new laws (read: regulations to restrict in their own interests).
But what rustles my jimmies more than anything is this notion that a bunch of old men are trying (and in many ways succeeding) in depicting what a woman is and is not allowed to do with their body. These are (generally) the same people who are saying “my body my choice” when it comes to getting a vaccine, or wearing a mask during a global pandemic. They spout the lines “if you say my body my choice for abortion, I can say the same thing about my vaccine or mask!”. Except the critical point of abortion doesn’t affect anyone but yourself – and a mask / vaccine not only protects you, but everyone around you.
I could go on about how countless amounts of politicians, public figures, and otherwise have basically forced their respective mistresses into having abortions when they inevitably knock them up as to keep it all hush-hush. We could go on to talk about how many of these politicians are secretly having gay affairs with other men (or, outright raping young boys), meanwhile going into “work” the next day to vote against gay-rights. It’s gotten to a point where sites like The Onion and The Beaverton begin to more or less write themselves.
So here I am. A man who has a half-brother out there who’s been put up for adoption that I don’t know, and who’s had one abortion where I was the father. Maybe it’s possible there’s been other women out there who I’ve impregnated and have had an abortion (or, even had the child!), but I certainly don’t know about it. And, if that’s the case, then that is a choice that they have made in what I sincerely hope is their best interest. The thing is, that’s not my choice. It’s theirs.
Just in the same way that it should be every woman’s choice. That should not be stripped from them by someone they don’t know, especially some old man they’ve never met, and will (likely) never have the chance to talk to. One could argue that it’s a choice that should be made between the mother and father – and I don’t necessarily disagree with that – however – it’s still the mother’s body. As a man, I think of it like “should someone else be allowed to tell me if I should be circumcised or not”, but then again that’s a choice that’s routinely made by the mother/father far before that child could ever make that choice for themselves. What if it was something like “the government is going to choose if you’re allowed to keep your testicles, and if you do, we’re going to mandate that you use them whenever we tell you”.
That’s a horrible example, but it’s the best I can come up with at this moment. Nobody should have control over my foreskin, and most certainly not over my testicles. So why in the fucking world should I have any control over how some woman I don’t know should be utilizing her uterus? How have we gotten to a point where people are stockpiling birth control pills for their daughters that are currently toddlers, in anticipation for the moment they’re sexually active in fears that they may loose access to their reproductive rights?
That’s fucked up. Abortion however – that’s not. It’s a horrible experience that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. It’s one that’s made out of sheer knowledge that following through with the pregnancy is not the right choice. We have made incredibly steps in science within the past 100 years – especially with our own bodies. We have prevented worldwide plagues, we have killed off insanely contagious diseases, and we have broken barriers that were unimaginable 50 years ago. On the grand scheme of things, we’re completely kicking ass in progress lately.
Yet – we’re still dragging this ball and chain. The dead weight. And that’s what it is. Old men who are one step away from being dead, telling young and able minded women what they can and can’t do with their bodies. And that’s not right.