Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion, edited by Karen Bender and Nina de Gramont, plaits twenty-four essays about the choices women make in all avenues of reproduction, whether one is pro-choice or pro-life.
Contributors include novelist and critic Francine Prose, Philadelphia Magazine senior editor Sandy Hingston, educator Kimi Faxon Hemingway, authors Kate Maloy, and educator and writer Stephanie Andersen. As they lift the curtain on these private moments of decisions and the ramifications of choice, readers witness such journeys as a pro-choice mother discussing abortion with her pro-life, teenage daughter; an abortion gone awry; a woman who, after years of infertility, finally conceives only to discover the fetus has tested positive for disabilities; a woman who chooses not to have children despite pressure from family, friends, and society; and an examination of the language of Roe v. Wade and how far off course the current debate has veered.
As the editors promise, the contributors really do lift the curtain and allow us not only to see events in their lives, but truly understand their thoughts an emotions and how that leads them to the difficult choices they make. The result is a very raw, heartfelt, and intimate portrait of the very real decisions all women face, regardless of political position. After all, this isn’t a simple matter of ideology, but the lives and hearts and minds–and the rights–of women.
It’s an act of bravery to share these stories in any climate, but particularly today with a political regime transparently against pro-choice legislation, and one that has made villains out of those who speak up against them. Yet it’s time women–all women–once again come out of the closet and share openly the feelings and thoughts surrounding this complex issue, and the importance of allowing women, and men, to govern their own life decisions.
Excerpt from “Thirty-four Years Old Today” by Pam Houston:
“Today is the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and I am forty-five years old. What that means is that I got my first period the same year that the history of women’s reproductive rights changed (hopefully) forever. … Until I wrote this essay I had no idea that I had arrived at the smug expectation that my body was my own domain by such a narrow margin. My elders will no doubt remind me how lucky this proves I am, but hard as I try, I can’t imagine a world in which a woman does not get to choose whether or not she will have a baby. In the same way that when I was little, I couldn’t imagine a country in which the Protestants were killing the Catholics; in the same way that in my country, I can’t imagine why any woman would ever vote for George W. Bush; in the same way that I don’t understand why, if we have the right to bomb countries who make weapons of mass destruction, why the conversation never turns to the fact that we have weapons of mass destruction ourselves.”