Pro-choice but conflicted Decision: Though grateful for the Roe v. Wade ruling, a woman says that she probably wouldn't have an abortion.

January 25, 1998|By Caitlin Francke

At 28 and yet to be married, I have always valued my right to choose whether or not to give birth to a baby conceived in my body.

This week 25 years ago, the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade gave me that right.

Though I was a toddler at the time, the significance of the decision was not lost on me as I grew older. In college, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in an abortion rights march.

I plastered "Keep Abortion Safe and Legal" stickers on my little blue Honda's bumper.

But the truth is, I value and fight for something I am not sure I could ever do: have an abortion.

I find myself conflicted. To me, the idea of an abortion is devastating.

It angers me when I read articles about women who have had two, three or even six abortions. It disturbs me even more to learn that friends of mine have had abortions because they were not using birth control or were otherwise careless.

It's irresponsible, I think to myself. It's wrong. It's murder.

Wait a minute. Aren't those the words of the so-called enemies of abortion?

Whose side am I on anyway?

I guess my position is this: Women who are sexually active, but do not want to have children, have the duty to protect themselves from becoming pregnant. They should use spermicide, the pill, condoms, whatever means necessary to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

Women are blessed with the miraculous ability to create children. I love babies and look forward to having my own. So the idea of a conception stopped short, a could-be wonderful child, deeply saddens me.

Once conception occurs and those cells start to multiply, you have created a little thing, a little wonder that from that instant could be developing your blue eyes or your companion's laugh.

You have made another person - out of you.

Yet I think women should have the right to have an abortion because it is their bodies that the hormones will run through, it is their lives that will be forever changed.

In my mind, abortion is justified if you have done everything you can to prevent those cells from multiplying and dividing and growing and forming.

Accidents do happen. But abortion should be a last stop, a final heart-breaking resolution.

Perhaps my views on this issue are conflicted because the means to avoid abortion have long been available to me. Birth control can be found in every drug store, not to mention in most bathroom vending machines.

At college, they passed out condoms. Women's magazines continually run articles on new forms of contraception. And because of Roe v. Wade, I could have a safe abortion if I needed one.

Throughout my life, pregnancy really has been a choice.

Thirty or 40 years ago, women did not have this choice. There was no reliable birth control until the pill came out in the '60s. Presumably, male and female hormones operated the same way before the pill.

If women became pregnant, their options were social banishment or a scary, illegal, life-threatening procedure that often saw them end up in the hospital or dead.

It was for those women that I think Roe v. Wade was fought. Those women needed the right to have a safe abortion and be in control of their reproductive lives.

My generation should not need abortions. We have too many other ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It is up to us to use them.

Yet I feel it is important that women have the access to a safe abortion if they must. If they absolutely must.

Caitlin Francke is a reporter for The Sun.

Pub Date: 1/25/98

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