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My husband and I hoped to become parents after getting married. This Spring, I was overjoyed to give birth to my son. Motherhood has strengthened my commitment to work for a society where all people have access to abortion care.

Despite the typical symptoms of fatigue and discomfort, I was fortunate to have a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy. When recounting some of these symptoms, the nurse at my obstetrician’s office said, “pregnancy is hard on the body.” Her words resonated—pregnancy has numerous health risks and can cause dangerous complications. Dangers associated with pregnancy are one of the many reasons a pregnant person may decide to have an abortion. The birth of my son was a strong reminder that no one should be forced to remain pregnant if they don’t want to be.

My labor was more complicated. After 20 hours, my son’s heart rate dropped suddenly and I was rushed to the OR for an emergency cesarean delivery. The medical team mobilized so fast that my husband was barely able to get his scrubs on to hastily follow me. We were both quite scared, as I felt nauseous and was unable to move. My husband, concerned for my wellbeing, stared at me with such seriousness that he hardly looked at the baby when he was born. The experience was traumatic and certainly not what I hoped for. I can only imagine the extent of the trauma if I was forced to give birth.

The magnitude of parenting hit me and my husband as we cared for our newborn without help in the early days of the COVID pandemic. While it was not what we envisioned, we were immensely grateful to be employed at places with parental leave, have health insurance, own our home, and have each other’s support. However, our resources are a contrast to the circumstances of many people across the country struggling to provide for themselves. Adding to health complications, financial consideration is another reason one may decide to have an abortion. In fact, the majority of people who choose abortion are already parents who understand the enormity of the job. And many who are not parents and decide to have an abortion do so as they recognize and respect the extent of the responsibility.

Ultimately, the decision to have an abortion never requires justification. As a basic health care decision, it is fundamental to a person’s health and safety.

Becoming a parent has served to reinforce these values. The ability to parent my son the way I want and the way he deserves is rooted in my autonomy. All parents and children deserve such affirmation. All people deserve dignity rooted in autonomy.

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