By SARAH ERDREICH
I tried for almost a year to become pregnant. I was 33, then 34; not old by any measure, except the very particular one involving fertility.
One month before I was going to see a specialist, I took a pregnancy test and watched a faint positive sign appear in the window.
My daughter is now six months old, and every day I realize anew how fortunate I am to have a healthy, happy child. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I can’t imagine life without her.
And every day, I also realize anew just how deeply I support abortion rights.
These are not mutually exclusive ideas to me, but to a lot of people, they are. In fact, situations like mine seem to create particular confusion. Not only was my pregnancy wanted and my health good throughout the entire nine months, but my daughter developed normally in utero.
My husband was thrilled to become a father, we were financially stable, and our friends, family, and employers were all supportive. To top it off, we had good health insurance. If you were to make a checklist of the ingredients needed for an optimal pregnancy, I would tick off every box.
Yet it is because I had such an ideal experience that I have become even more strongly in favor of abortion rights than I was before I became a mother. Because even with all the stars aligned, pregnancy was a confusing, emotionally overwhelming, and occasionally downright scary time. I couldn’t have remained pregnant if I wasn’t so convinced of, and so supported in, my decision to become a mother.
The first trimester of my pregnancy coincided with the uproar in Virginia over proposed regulations for abortion clinics and mandatory ultrasounds for all women seeking abortions. I vividly remember having my first ultrasound and staring at the screen as the tech pointed out barely discernible features and organs. How horrible it would be, I thought, if someone forced me to do this for a pregnancy that I needed to terminate.
And in that darkened room, I understood for the first time in a very visceral way that it doesn’t matter if it makes perfect sense on paper to become a parent, or if it objectively looks like the worst idea in the world. Only the woman (and in many, but not all cases, the man) responsible for the pregnancy occurring in the first place should have the authority to decide if it should continue.
This idea, that a woman can love her own child and passionately support abortion rights, should not be a provocative one. But our national discourse about abortion is increasingly dominated by headline-grabbing stories like North Dakota’s recent decision to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. While this law, which could outlaw abortions as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, will likely be challenged in court, North Dakota is far from alone in restricting women’s access to abortion care.