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I attended my first national march for women’s rights when I was in high school, and started volunteering for feminist organizations while in college, where I focused my coursework on international relations, our domestic government, and women’s rights throughout the world. 

It was so clear to me that feminism was about true equality, that anyone who wanted progress in this world should feel the same. Though of course I oversimplified some things when I was younger – not understanding, for instance, the way that white feminism had traditionally marginalized the voices and needs of Black women – I have returned to this idea again and again: feminism is about wanting people to have equal rights, to be treated fairly. In that, we all become stronger. 

Being pro-choice was always part of this calculus. I didn’t see a world where women could be fully free if our bodies were regulated by government. I wondered vaguely, then, if my beliefs would change once I had children of my own. I didn’t know if becoming pregnant would impact how I saw what I already knew to be the miracle of life, if it would impact my definition of autonomy or reorder my sense of purpose. 

Decades later, I finally found out: becoming pregnant and having a child definitely changed the way that I saw the miracle of children, my own definition of autonomy, and certainly my sense of purpose. Being a mother is my favorite thing, and: 

it has made me more adamantly pro-choice than I have ever been

I had an easy pregnancy; I was one of those people who glowed. I marveled at the changes in my body and at the ways in which I got to know my child as he grew. And I understood how devastating it would be to have to go through those enormous changes if I didn’t want them. 

When I found out I was pregnant, my husband had just boarded a plane for a new life, thousands of miles away. We were on the same page; I drove him to the airport. Still, I was mourning our marriage. And a few weeks after he left, when the doctor confirmed my pregnancy, I was shocked. I took home with me a pamphlet about my choices. In the midst of a pandemic, newly single, I wanted to understand what was in front of me, know my options. 

I am lucky to live in California; abortion was not talked around, but instead was directly addressed. I took the pamphlet home, read it, decided what I wanted, and was all in with my pregnancy. That choice – the choice – granted me the freedom to knowingly, consciously, fully give myself over to my child. And if he ever asks about whether or not I read the pamphlet, I’ll tell him yes. I am not ashamed of that. 

I am, however, angry at the leaked SCOTUS decision. Angry at the people who think it’s all right to put any restrictions on my body. But then again – now I’ve been through pregnancy and childbirth – I understand why the power that comes along with that would threaten people. I understand why it’s terrifying to those in power to acknowledge the incredible strength that my body carries. Whether or not we ever choose to carry a child to term, people born with female-designated bodies are capable of it. And if we talked about that power more openly – if people knew from the beginning what an awe-inspiring thing it is, to grow a human – I believe this patriarchy would come crashing down. 

I am fully convinced this is not about children; if we loved them like people swear we do, then our laws around guns, and childcare, and parental leave would reflect that. If we loved them like people swear we do, then childhood poverty would be a thing of the past, and services for children with special needs would be extensive and supportive, and children who needed families other than the ones they were born into would find loving homes, every time. 

This is not about children; it is about policing my incredible body. It’s about exerting power over my autonomy. It is about making me smaller, simply because I am a woman. Motherhood almost didn’t happen for me, and I don’t take it for granted. But forcing people to become parents – no, forcing women to become mothers, since men are never mentioned as part of this equation – is just wrong.   

My child is waking up. I am excited, every morning, to see him; I’m so lucky that he’s here. And my decisions have nothing to do with anyone else’s. I believe that women can make choices for themselves. 

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