When I started thinking about what I would write to mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I knew I couldn’t top my post from last year. I put it all on the table in that post. Prior to writing that post, I had discussed with my mother that I’d be sharing her story and we talked through the likely responses and reactions we’d get for “coming out.” But, it’d be a lie to say that when negative reactions and responses came they didn’t hurt. They did.

I, of course, hoped that sharing my story would change minds, that it would be an Aha! moment, and, of course, it wasn’t. I should have known. I know no matter how many pictures of bloody fetuses antis choose to show during the Super Bowl, my commitment to abortion rights and access is steadfast and stalwart, and in my heart, I knew their beliefs weren’t any different.

But, what I do hope my post last year accomplished is this. I hope it made people, both pro- and anti-choice, stop and think about what this debate is actually about. The women, often young women, for whom the world is still an oyster. These women are still able to chart a course for their lives and an unintended pregnancy can reroute their entire life. For my mom, her unintended pregnancy and subsequent abortion rerouted her life, but for her this new direction allowed her to excel. No matter what a woman chooses, she can excel in her new path, but the important factor is allowing her the ability to make that choice.

Often in this debate, advocates on both sides can get sidetracked, and who and what is really at stake can get lost. The reaction to my blog post last year was a good reminder. There were awful things said about me and mother. But there were also really incredible things. Other women broke their silence and shared their stories. For every comment that hurt and cut me, there was another that filled my heart, and reminded me why I’ve committed myself to this work.

And it isn’t just for them, it is also for those who criticized me and my mom. For if they, or their sister, or their daughter ever finds themselves carrying an unwanted pregnancy, I’ll advocate for their right to choose, regardless of their choice, as well.

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