Why I Am Pro-Choice
Jessie Clyde, Program Officer, Youth
Our friends at Catholics for Choice recently published a series of essays from people around the world called "Why I Am Pro-Choice." Our own Jessie Clyde contributed to this series. Below is her story:
After my first child was born, a friend asked me if my views on abortion had changed. I believe I surprised him when I responded, “Yes! I never thought I could be more prochoice than I was… but I am.” I suspect he thought that my becoming a mother might make it harder to understand why some women make a different decision. However, the experience had quite the opposite effect and served to strengthen my conviction that all women should be able to make this life-changing decision freely.
My son is now a talkative, inquisitive two-year-old who fills my apartment with drawings of dinosaurs, has conversations about trains and popsicles, and gives sticky hugs. There are, of course, times (fairly often) when I get nostalgic for my pre-parenting days, but I have come a long way from the year following his birth, when I suffered from postpartum depression.
Unlike some mothers who delight in their baby’s first smile, cooing, and tentative steps, I felt trapped being alone with a baby all day. I found the experience to be isolating and lonely, at worst, and boring at best. There was not a day that went by when I did not find myself crying helplessly in a heap on the couch. I feared that my life had taken a wrong turn, and that I might not be cut out for parenting. I felt completely without control of my life and missed my job, my friends, and the free time to read, explore the city, or take a run. It also didn't help that it was the dead of winter in the Northeast!
However, the one thing that made me feel empowered and determined to get through the darkest days was the knowledge that motherhood had been my choice. It was a decision that I made with a wonderful partner who was doing everything possible to help me. It brought joy to my extended family and offers to support me in any way possible. It was a decision I made after determining that my health insurance covered all the necessary medical expenses, and that my employer offered sufficient paid maternity leave. Finally, it was a conclusion I came to after finding out that I could pay for childcare when I returned to work.
Becoming a mother was completely my choice, and yet I still struggled day in and day out to care for this new member of the family. Time and time again, I thought of the millions of women out there who go through what I was experiencing without the luxury of motherhood having been a choice. I thought about the women who were forced to become mothers without the emotional and financial support that were quite honestly the only reasons I got through that tough year.
So yes, becoming a mother did change my views on abortion. It confirmed that motherhood, and the ups and downs that come with it, should always be a choice.