After I gave birth to my first child, I was hooked. I absolutely loved being pregnant and I adored being a mother. For someone who had never really considered parenthood as something that she wanted, I embraced it fully. So much so, that in just under five years, my husband and I had four children, the last three coming over 31 months (no twins, just 15 months and then 16 months between births). Needless to say, it was a busy time.
At this point, I still considered myself to be pro-life. But when we announced our fourth pregnancy, I underwent another big shift.
When we found out that I was pregnant for the fourth time, my husband and I just laughed. We had already done the “terrified to be pregnant” thing a few times, so we just found this surprise simply amusing. We both knew that this person completed our family, so we were anxious to tell everyone about the newest addition. We knew that all of our friends and relatives would share in our joy.
Except not so much. We were met with frustrated looks, half-hearted approval, even one, “Congratulations, I guess.”
Though all of these would definitely use the pro-life moniker, the reception to our announcement of a new life was mediocre at best. When I hosted a baby shower, not for gifts for me, but for the local crisis pregnancy center, one person from our church attended. Numerous “are you done yet?” comments.
Politically, the country was embroiled in two wars, with death tolls rising each day. Budgets were being discussed where cuts were being made to programs like SCHIP and WIC. Shortly after my youngest was born, reports of tortured prisoners were met with silence from those most vocal in the pro-life community.
In the midst of this, I had to wonder what it really means to be pro-life.
Because to be honest, nothing about what I saw felt very pro-life to me.
As someone who had no intention of choosing abortion, these actions had little effect on my decision to embrace my pregnancy. But what about the unwed mother who doesn’t want to admit to her parents that she’s pregnant because she just saw them give a married woman a hard time for being pregnant again? What about the woman in poverty who didn’t have access to prenatal care? What about the woman who is frightened about another pregnancy when she thought she had put her child rearing days behind her?
It seems to me that if we want to be pro-life, we have to celebrate life. All life. Not life when someone can afford it. Not just life when it’s with someone who has it all together. Not just life when it’s a first or second baby. All life.
I still have a pro-life ethic. I think that life is beautiful and worth protecting. But as long as the pro-life label continues to be co-opted by those who celebrate life only when it’s convenient and ignore or impugn those who conceive in less than ideal situations, it’s one that I’m no longer interested in wearing myself.
If you missed the first installment of this article you can find it here: Why I’m No Longer Pro-Life (Part 1)
Alise Wright is married to her best friend Jason and is the mom to four incredible kids. She enjoys knitting, playing keyboards in her cover band, eating soup and keeping an eye out for killer robots. She is currently working with Civitas Press collecting stories about depression for the Not Alone community project. You can read more of her writing at her blog and can follow her on Twitter.