As I have mentioned before, I am a pro-choice feminist. I am also training to be a doctor, and OB/GYN is very high up on the list of possible careers (as in, in my top 3). And I know that I have a fertility problem in the form of PCOS. Which sometimes makes it difficult for me, on a personal level, to understand someone elses decision to have an abortion.
But here’s the thing: it isn’t my choice to make.
Even when I disagree completely with a personal choice someone else makes, this does not give me the right to judge. I have to accept that this is the best decision for the person making it, and I will help them go through it. Even if I would never make that choice. Even when it’s easy for them and hard for me. Even when it’s hard for them. It would be incredibly snotty of me to assume this person couldn’t come to the right conclusion for him or herself.
All this is not to say that when a woman comes into the clinic for her 12th abortion*, I won’t discuss other methods of contraception, because an abortion is still a surgical procedure and has risks involved.
I’m writing this, because I just had my annual “discussion” with my dad on the subject. Guess what, he’s a one-issue voter and couldn’t disagree with me more. This discussion has come up at least once a year since I started med school and is the same every year. It goes something like this:
- Dad: Emsy, I want you to promise me you’ll never perform an abortion.
- Me: I won’t promise you that.
- Dad: Eeeemmmmmmssssyyyyyyyy! don’t get all snotty-faced femi-lesbo on me now. Now, come on, promise me you’ll never be in the room when an abortion is being performed.
- Me: Dad, listen. I don’t agree with you on this. I believe a woman, or a couple for that matter, has the right to get pregnant and have a child, or to decide this is not what they want/need in their lives right now. Even when I would choose differently. And, as a doctor, I don’t plan on denying people that choice.
- Dad: Abortion is murder. Life starts at conception. It’s Murder!
- Me: The possibility of life starts at conception. Well, in most heterosexual cases it starts with sex. An embryo in and of itself cannot live. it cannot sustain itself. It isn’t viable.
- Dad: What, are you stupid? I thought I raised you better. It’s murder and that’s the end of the story.
- Me: We’re never going to agree, so I’m walking away now!
- Dad: Grumble.
And then, I have to leave the room. And the venue where this discussion takes place. And I don’t talk to my dad for a week. I love my dad, but we disagree on a fundamental level on a lot of things ethical and political. I haven’t had the heart to tell him that I have assisted in abortions, because although it most likely wouldn’t be my choice, I still want the option to be available to everyone.
*I’ve seen this a good few times now, and it really makes no sense to me.