When I was 23, I had an abortion. When I was 27, I became a mother. As a woman who has spoken openly about the trials and tribulations of motherhood (as well as the wonderful wins) and as a woman who unapologetically believes in safe, affordable, and legal access to abortion care for all, I have heard it all from anti-choice advocates. While I can respect a difference of opinion, especially a personal one, I cannot get behind the argument that pregnancy is a consequence. To me, motherhood should never be considered a punishment for women. Ever.
Of course, not all anti-choice advocates believe motherhood or pregnancy should be used as a ramification of a woman's past decisions. However, there have been more than a few anti-choice politicians who, in an attempt to pass legislation that would diminish or eliminate access to abortion care, have made comments that position motherhood as a "punishment" for women who became unexpectedly pregnant. In defense of a 20-week abortion ban in Arizona (that has since failed to pass), solicitor general David Cole said later-term fetal abnormalities were, "The woman's problem. She should have made that decision earlier." In the defense of legislation in Virginia that would "make it legal to penetrate abortion-seeking women against their wills by requiring a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound," according to NPR, Virginia State Delegate C. Todd Gilbert said, "Women already made the decision to be vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant." Last, but certainly not least and in what can only be described as heartless in nature and cruel in intention, Virginia State Delegate Robert G. Marshall claimed disabled children are a punishment for their mothers’ prior abortions, stating that “nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children," according to The Washington Post.
In other words, it would appear that at least a few (and in my opinion, a few too many) anti-choice advocates are quick to position pregnancy and motherhood as a "punishment" women must endure in order to be labeled as "responsible." Well, that's just something I cannot accept. As a mother who endured a difficult pregnancy, an excrutiating and emotionally taxing labor an delivery, suffered through postpartum depression, and has been on the receiving end of a very willful toddler's tantrums, I cannot imagine something as difficult and beautiful and exhausting and fulfilling as motherhood be dwindled down to nothing more than a punishment.
Mothers deserve better. Children deserve better. We, as women in this world who are capable of making our own decisions bout our own bodies and our own futures, deserve better. No more.