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Taylor - 27
My Story Makes me Pro-Choice
On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, many in the media have waxed poetic, conducted polls, or analyzed the current political situation trying to divine if being "pro-choice” is obsolete, or if young people are entirely to blame for the gains of anti-choice legislation. However, young people like me don’t look at the issue of abortion in the same as way those who came before us, and therein lies the movements’ hope for the future. Almost every young person has a story about how sex has impacted their lives, and some of those stories involve birth control, emergency contraception, and/or abortion. Sex and sexuality is an integral part of our lives, and when we talk to each other about sex and our experience with it, it’s the reason most of us identify as "pro-choice” even if abortion isn’t the number one issue on our minds right now.
I had always been someone who thought anyone should be able to get an abortion if they found themselves in "that situation”, but I assumed I would never end up in a position where I was facing the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy. After all, I knew how to properly put on a condom, I knew that it was important to use proper lube so the condom wouldn’t break, and I knew that birth control was available if I wanted it. I also had the privilege of living in a school district that provided comprehensive sexuality education, so I knew the basics of how sex worked, and all the risks that come with it.
One night, ten years after high school sex education, and after several years of being sexually active, I was doing my thing, and the condom broke at the most inconvenient moment. I proceeded to run through numerous versions of my future in my head. Besides the utter awkwardness of the situation, I knew my best option was to go get Plan B the next day, so I could guarantee that I wouldn’t end up pregnant with a virtually minimum wage job and no health insurance. However, the $40 it was going to cost to get Plan B meant I wouldn’t have gas money, or much money for food until pay day. For a day, I wavered on what to do, consulting the other person involved in "the situation” (who assured me that I would be fine if I didn’t do anything) and then decided I was better safe than sorry, so went to my local Planned Parenthood, took the pills, ate some Chipotle, and went to work like it was any other day.
While my particular sexual experience doesn’t involve having to obtain an abortion, the possibility of needing an abortion, or having a child, were things I considered while determining to spend almost all the money I had left in my bank account on emergency contraception. I knew that if I chose to do nothing, and ended up getting pregnant, I would be able to easily get to an abortion clinic (because I live in Denver where I have to travel about 10 minutes), but also knew that the cost would be at least ten times as much as Plan B. In the end, I knew I could take the bus to work and eat very cheaply for a week to ensure I didn’t have to come up with even more money in a month or two, or have to come up with a way to raise a child in nine months. I am thankful that I had options available to me either way.
Stories like this are familiar among my friends and I because we know that having sex is something that is fun, adventurous, and makes us happy. We also understand that sometimes things don’t go as planned for thousands of different reasons. Because of this, it’s still as crucial as it was in 1973 that abortion is legal. However, my friends and I also understand that depending on your income, where you live, and other factors, there are lots of people like us who don’t currently have access to abortion, affordable contraception, or even the ability to obtain emergency contraception (including myself at the time). The fact is that many of the women and men who came before us believed that making sure abortion was a right meant that it would be available to my generation - no matter what, but abortion has effectively been banned for hundreds of thousands of people because they don’t have access to it, even if the right is still guaranteed under Roe v. Wade. Stories like mine are the reason so many young people consider themselves pro-choice, but we also know that the pro-choice movement needs to move beyond thinking of rights as something only conferred by the Supreme Court or elected officials, and move to viewing rights as something that are not guaranteed until we have ensured that every person is able to exercise that right without barriers.