Have I ever written about what changed my views from staunch anti-choice to absolutely pro-choice?
There was a woman in my cancer support group. She had Stage III breast cancer. Her husband decided he couldn't deal with her illness, so he left her for another woman while she was going through chemotherapy. She had three children to care for. One was a young tweenie and the other two were just above toddling age and she had just found out that she was pregnant with a fourth child.
Now, she could have tried to go through with the pregnancy but it would mean she'd have to stop her chemotherapy. She was already in a position where her oldest daughter was forced to carry out almost all of her duties as a mother (cooking, bathing the kids, cleaning the house) because of how the cancer and treatments had begun to weaken her. The hubby had walked out on her and didn't seem too eager to take the kids they already had over to where he was now living with his young girlfriend.
When I heard about this, I was floored. This woman was already facing a long battle even without the pregnancy. Stopping the chemo would be signing her own death warrant. She wasn't bleeding to death or anything that might make some feel confident that this was an emergency situation. However, she was not going to live without chemo and anything that delays chemo diminishes the possibility for a cure.
I agonized over this situation. The woman was Catholic and she was agonizing, too. However, her feeling was that God didn't want her to leave the three children she had completely orphaned and there was a good chance that she'd die before she could give birth even if she did try to keep going with the pregnancy. To her, an abortion seemed like the only rational decision. I still can't argue with that. I realized that my arguments against abortion didn't take into consideration the range of situations that women can find themselves in.
This woman was married, faithful to her husband (she was still hoping he'd come back home even though he'd already moved in with someone else), a good mom, a good Catholic. She wasn't engaging in any of the behavior that I saw as irresponsible or licentious (according to my religious conservative weltanschauung ). Yet, here she was in need of an abortion. That woman's situation has stayed with me from that day on.
Someone recently pointed out to me that this kind of situation is quite uncommon and constitute a sort of special circumstance. These kinds of "special circumstances" didn't mean much to me until I met someone who was in one. Now, my feeling is that I don't want to be a part of anything that would say these women don't matter, that they don't deserve to be able to control their own bodies and their own destiny. I don't want to say that these women should die because their situations don't occur often enough for us to take them into consideration before we pass rules that will affect them.