The question of who gets to decide when and if a woman gets pregnant has always been one that’s fraught with controversy. Whether we’re talking about abortion, birth control, or the right of women to say no to their husbands, historically pregnancy has been something women are expected to do rather than allowed to do.
Unfortunately for many women today, the right to choose pregnancy or not is still not guaranteed. Even beyond the fight over abortion, many doctors refuse to provide women with permanent birth control…sometimes at the cost of their health.
But don’t take it from me. Take it from someone who’s been there. Twitter user Salome Strangelove went completely viral when she shared a story that made it 100% clear why women need to be in control of their own bodies, and if you make it to the end without tearing up a little then you’re basically heartless.
It’s no secret that personal stories can be the most powerful form of persuasion.
Especially when it comes to pregnancy, the stories of what can go wrong are often intimate and heartbreaking.
These stories are not often the ones we hear.
It’s easy to assume that people pushing for birth control, abortion, and other pregnancy-related rights are irresponsible or could have made better choices.
But the stories of actual people seeking these procedures tell a different story.
Which is why it’s so important to listen to the struggles people go through. You have no idea what someone’s circumstance is.
That’s why Salome Strangelove decided it was time to start a conversation.
There was a personal story in her family that needed to be seen, and she needed to share it.
This is the story of Salome’s mother.
It starts off with a young, timid woman who had a hard time standing up to authority. You know, like most of us do when we’re 20.
Oh hey, fun fact: unplanned pregnancies are often not because a woman is irresponsible.
In fact, birth control is actually quite complex. It doesn’t work the same for everyone and finding an effective birth control with reasonable side effects is incredibly difficult. See also: doctors not properly informing their patients.
Pregnancy can be incredibly dangerous.
Did you know that the rate of deaths during childbirth in the U.S. has increased since 1990? That 25% of pregnant people don’t get adequate prenatal care? That the U.S. overall has some of the worst child and maternal healthcare outcomes among developed nations?
It turns out that sometimes pregnancy is so awful you don’t want to do it again.
And beyond that, it’s 100% reasonable for a woman to decide she’s not into it anymore. A woman shouldn’t have to put her health at risk for pregnancy.
Ah yes, the “what would your husband think” argument.
It turns out that what my husband would think doesn’t actually matter because he doesn’t have to grow a baby inside of him for 9 months.
Ah yes, women should just stop working.
This doctor is getting awfully close to a “tired and unconvincing ways to shame mothers” bingo. Women have the ability and right to have a family AND a career.
If you get nothing else from this story, understand how hard it is for women to convince doctors to respect their reproductive choices.
Personal anecdote time! Your very own author has her tubes tied and it took multiple years of documentation and different doctors to convince them that she was old and responsible enough to make the decision. This problem still exists.
Reminder: pregnancy can be dangerous.
Between 10 and 20% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage, which comes with potential medical problems, emotional turmoil, and a great deal of stress. Asking women to put themselves through that repeatedly for the sake of “a son” is pretty screwed up.
The Good News
Younger doctors are generally growing more sympathetic and understanding of the idea that women should have control over their own reproductive choices.
What a brave woman.
Imagine being harassed by your doctor into silence despite being afraid FOR YOUR LIFE. Imagine the courage it takes to finally speak up again. Women are forced into these positions all the time.
There are too many issues to explore fully here.
Don’t even get me started on the way that women’s post-partum mental health issues are disregarded, or the way that mothers are often expected to ignore their own health and well-being for the sake of the family.
It’s deeply inhumane to expect a person to put their own life and health at risk because YOU expect them to produce a child.
A report from the U.N. even states that denying women the ability to make their own reproductive health care choices could amount to torture. Women deserve the right to decide if and when they should be pregnant. Full stop.
Oh, and if you think that it’s pro-family to force people to give birth?
Note that these traumatic pregnancies and miscarriages make it significantly harder for a woman to be a good mother and partner, much less a healthy human being.
Doctors wield a lot of power over their clients.
It’s incredibly important that woman have protection over their own reproductive rights.
These kinds of stories can change the conversation.
Next time you imagine the woman who doesn’t want children, imagine pain and fear because pregnancy can be an overwhelming experience.
Sure, we’d love it if every person had the time and energy to fight for their rights.
But why not protect those rights from the start instead?
Oh, and by the way, the lack of information that doctors share about birth control?
It’s awful. Side effects get downplayed, med interactions go ignored, and the level of pain and discomfort is brushed off.
THIS is why abortion is a health issue.
Pregnancy can and does put women’s lives at risk.
These pregnancies changed a woman’s life.
She had the right to decide for herself, without shame and pressure from a doctor.
This story might sound horrific but it just scratches the surface.
There are hundreds of ways that society steals women’s choices about their bodies.
While this story might not cover everything…
It allows us a peak into the pain that comes when we don’t trust women with their own decisions.
Kudos to Salome.
We’re so grateful that she took this stand and shared a story so personal.
It can be hard to be vulnerable.
Sharing your darkest moments and the times you needed help but no one was there does not feel good.
But vulnerability has its own kind of strength.
Sharing honest, open moments with other people helps to expose systems that hurt people, and that’s hugely important.
So here’s to those who share their stories.
You’re doing the hard, good work that we really need.
Just remember: you have no idea what someone’s story is.
An individual’s reproductive choices are incredibly personal. No one has the right to dictate them to another person.