What it was like

Ursula K. LeGuin on abortion rights:

My friends at NARAL asked me to tell you what it was like before Roe vs Wade. They asked me to tell you what it was like to be twenty and pregnant in 1950 and when you tell your boyfriend you’re pregnant, he tells you about a friend of his in the army whose girl told him she was pregnant, so he got all his buddies to come and say, “We all fucked her, so who knows who the father is?” And he laughs at the good joke….

What was it like, if you were planning to go to graduate school and get a degree and earn a living so you could support yourself and do the work you loved—what it was like to be a senior at Radcliffe and pregnant and if you bore this child, this child which the law demanded you bear and would then call “unlawful,” “illegitimate,” this child whose father denied it … What was it like?

And meanwhile what was it like for that guy, the boyfriend? Nothing. It was like nothing. Nothing happened to him, it all happened to her. He could go on his way rejoicing; she could not.

It’s like this: if I had dropped out of college, thrown away my education, depended on my parents … if I had done all that, which is what the anti-abortion people want me to have done, I would have borne a child for them, … the authorities, the theorists, the fundamentalists; I would have born a child for them, their child.

But I would not have born my own first child, or second child, or third child. My children. The life of that fetus would have prevented, would have aborted, three other fetuses … the three wanted children, the three I had with my husband—whom, if I had not aborted the unwanted one, I would never have met … I would have been an “unwed mother” of a three-year-old in California, without work, with half an education, living off her parents

That’s an aspect of abortion rights you’d think even feral conservatives could grasp. Isn’t it better for children to be wanted as opposed to forced? Taking the long view, isn’t that a profoundly better way to be born? Isn’t it better even for relations between women and men, and among couples, for women not to be basically prisoners and slaves? Wouldn’t you think?

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