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**long, personal & potentially triggering**

I got pregnant at the age of 18 the summer after graduation. Throughout high school I was a multi sport athlete, honor student, and had just been accepted into my school of choice The Citadel, with plans on studying criminal justice and a minor in Spanish. When I was told “you’re pregnant” my life flashed before my eyes. My dreams were crushed and I felt like my life fell apart. I was always against abortion solely based on religious teachings growing up, but here I was faced with a decision to make. I strongly considered abortion and even had a friend who offered if that’s the route I wanted to take to take me and help me pay for it. I was scared, no, I was terrified. Every thought imaginable penetrated my mind.

“This was the consequence of my actions, now I have to pay for that. How hypocritical to even have this thought. No, Jessie, it’s not that simple, you can’t even fully take care of yourself let alone be fully responsible for another life. How TF could you be so stupid? (I will also add that I was battling my own sexuality during this time and trying to live a life that everyone else deemed “right”. ) I never wanted kids, but if I were to ever have them I always said I wanted to be ready. I was far from ready. WTF do I do now? I can kiss my career plans goodbye. I then also felt trapped inside the relationship. *cue the exit* How am I gonna support a child? Neither of my parents were at retirement age, who was gonna keep them while I worked? I’m terrified. I want to go to school. I’m being selfish.”

These were just a snippet of the thoughts that played on repeat in my mind. Ultimately, I chose to keep my baby and he just turned 16 this year. I’m forever grateful for the choice I made for me. It’s strengthened me over the years but unfortunately that’s not the case for everyone. I’m grateful that I had that choice and that no one dictated that right for me. I’m grateful that my own mental health was strong enough to sustain life with a new baby. I’m grateful that I made a way. I’m grateful for the friends and family that helped along the way, but I’m also cognizant of the fact I’m a neurotypical, able bodied, white female.

Just because you would never consider abortion, just because it’s against your religious and/or personal beliefs, just because you struggled to get pregnant, just because you make enough to support a child, just because you struggled and made it, and any other justification you can come up with here doesn’t mean you should dictate the choice that someone needs to make for themselves. That’s a projection of your own insecurities and mental unhealed wounds onto others. Hurt people hurt people. Misguided efforts focus on the unborn when there are a myriad of living children and adults that need help to prevent an even more hurt and damaged society.

There’s a war on drugs but there are still drug dealers and addicts. It’s a crime to kill yet people are killed daily not just by criminals, by law enforcement, by societal neglect, and by lack of resources and affordable mental health care just to name a few. Stricter abortion laws will not stop abortions, it will restrict safe abortions, cause more deaths, will not ensure the children will be born into homes where they will receive the care they deserve and need. And criminalizing people based on your own personal beliefs further oppresses already marginalized communities, and the cycle continues.

If you’re gonna be Pro-life it seems a little hypocritical to also be in favor of the death penalty, anti government social programs that support low income families, anti gay families adopting…(Our foster/adoption care system is already overflowing with kids receiving half ass care and being thrown into the world at 18 without proper guidance because they’ve “aged out” of the system.) If you’re gonna be pro-life you should also probably advocate for the poor, homeless, equal pay, better education, affordable contraception, healthcare, and housing you know, to help the lives that are here and help prevent cycles from continuing. If you’re going to be pro-life, play with science and support fertility and reproductive rights for some women then it’s only fair to keep that same energy for all women by not denying them the autonomy over their bodies.

Also, lets not pretend that sex is still only for male pleasure and procreation. Let’s not pretend that teaching abstinence only is an effective method. Sex is a natural part of human desire and women are taking control of their pleasure. You’re not an elitist if you choose to wait til marriage and you are not damaged goods if you choose to engage prior to marriage that’s antiquated logic. Relationships look different for everyone and our efforts need to be spent on safe sex, preventive measures, proper sex education, mental health and breaking generational curses instead of just the aftermath and trying to regulate that. It’s like clearing the smoke without looking for the fire causing it. And newsflash…. These conversations need to be had with children earlier than they use to have to be. Your child is not exempt from knowing a lot more than you think unless your family just doesn’t subscribe to any kind of modern technology.

The past few days my notes section of my phone has been a sounding board for my jumbled thoughts on the matter. I think I finally found the flow of what I wanted to release and while I know this piece of my mind will likely not change anyones stance on the matter, I hope to offer perspective. Hopefully you read its entirety. Please note, I will not debate you. I choose exactly where I put my energy efforts and it will not be in an online debate.

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