As our state legislators consider a bill that would increase the waiting period for abortion from 24 to 72 hours, I’ve had to look deep within to see why the bill resonates with me.
I’ve never had, nor have I considered getting, an abortion. Still, I can relate to not feeling prepared to carry a child to term. I’m admittedly one of those women who wasn’t sure from the get-go they were cut out to be a mom. I wanted to wait until my career was established before marrying and having my perfect children to complement my perfect career.
And then real life took over.
As it was, I met my husband when I was 19, dated him for about a year, painted Washington, D.C., red for three months, and returned to a marriage proposal that I accepted, then rescinded for a week, before saying yes again. And even then, he spent the next six months wondering if I would be a runaway bride.
You see, the prospect of marriage and children at such an early age, 20, uncommon in my Philippine upbringing, scared the dickens out of me. Through three pregnancies, I’ve had to constantly give myself a pep talk from that twinkle in the eye through the whole nine months, and beyond. It would take me years to come to peace with my role as a mom.
So I can somewhat relate to a woman who finds herself pregnant with prospects bleaker than mine were.
Maybe it’s an otherwise good girl who’s carried away in the heat of the moment, despite her parents’ guidance. Maybe it’s a woman who was raped. Maybe it’s a woman who got drunk and had casual sex and regretted it the next day. Maybe it’s a woman who could die if she proceeds with a full-term pregnancy or delivery.
She goes to a doctor to consult about getting an abortion. The doctor provides her with information and alternatives, including adoption, so she can sleep on it. She used to have a day to decide. Now, if the bill passes, she would have three days.
I know many women do not take the decision to keep, abort, or adopt out a child lightly. I’m sure it’s not easy when you’re feeling pressure on all sides from a boyfriend or an ex, parents and a conscience.
Nonetheless, requiring a longer wait may be beneficial.
Folks, over the years I’ve hit the send button on my articles on a night’s sleep, and even then, I sometimes wish I could recall my words. The life of an unborn child, once terminated, is not something one can recall easily.
Despite my enthusiasm for motherhood waxing and waning over the last 16 years, I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade Wall Street cred to being a mom to three wonderful kids. They are my greatest joy and achievement. Still, I can respect that for some women, motherhood is not this glorious end-all.
Neither is abortion a guaranteed, glorious end-all.
Adding two days to the contemplation of such an irreversible decision — one with lasting emotional impact on a mother, and on an unborn child’s life — is worth the inconvenience.
Jewel Punzalan Allen is a long-time journalist who lives in Grantsville. She blogs at pink-ink-pink.blogspot.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.