Draw the Line

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Topics: Abortion, Reproductive Health
Area of Life Affected: Other Children, Physical Health



Part of the reason why people find it easy to make a broad judgment call on abortion is because they don’t know, or can’t fathom knowing, anyone who has actually undergone one. That’s why I felt compelled to share the saga my wife Amanda and I went through—to dispel the notion that onerous pregnancies and the impossible decisions surrounding them are exclusive to teenagers, the destitute, the “promiscuous,” or victims as they are so often generalized. We were two educated, successful, self-reliant adults; just like the peers, coworkers, and family members you might see everyday.

“This wasn't a choice about what was convenient for us.”

Amanda was diagnosed with idiopathic papillaedema with progressively worsening symptoms over the course of the preceding months. She was told that the loss of her vision was probable and that she should avoid getting pregnant because the additional stress on her body would surely cost her the sense of sight. A less-than-stellar reproductive health history only compounded the situation: fibroids, cysts, excessive bleeding… the list goes on.

So it was devastating to us both when birth control failed and Amanda took a positive pregnancy test; a development that came coupled with the news that Amanda’s medical research job supported by funding was in the line of imminent termination. We felt blindsided by one ordeal after another.

I’ve always believed that women’s issues should be exclusive to women and I applied that belief here, but after iterating my outlook to Amanda, she concluded that my input was important to her and so together we weighed the pros and cons in a mature and reasonable fashion. Admittedly, we hadn’t known each other long. We’d only been dating for barely five months but that didn’t factor into our thought process.

This wasn’t a choice about what was convenient for us. Our concerns were never about having to make it work or having our lives turned upside down. We weren’t scared of any of that, but I was scared about the woman I had fallen in love with being put at a major health risk. Our concerns and fears were about providing the best environment possible for a child in this world, and as much as we both would have loved to have proceeded with the pregnancy, we decided that it was unfair to all parties involved. Amanda potentially being robbed of the most essential of the senses, impacting her career, reducing her quality of life, maybe putting her at risk for an even worse prognosis as the cause of her diagnosis remained a mystery. For myself, potentially single-handedly supporting a new life and an existing one that would be acclimating to two major life changes; one a change in the way their entire world would be perceived. Additionally, carrying the burden of having burdened Amanda and dealing with that everyday.

And for a child? Well, we mutually held a belief that we wanted to give any children we may have a better childhood than we’d had, and we mutually felt that the uncertainty of health and stability was not a suitable base to do that. We wanted a happy situation for a potential child, not a time of strife. Life is rarely ideal but when it comes to supporting and cultivating another life I think it only natural to want to try and forge the most ideal scenario possible. It was a mentally taxing, emotionally draining, and physically demanding decision, but Amanda sided with having an abortion. I was still reluctant about giving any input, so I decided to make my input agreeing with and supporting Amanda as she moved forward.

It was the most difficult situation I had ever been in; an impossible decision, but a decision nonetheless and that’s also why I felt so compelled to share this. To share some kind of insight to those on the outside looking in what it feels like. I didn’t write this to support the choice we made as the right choice. I wrote this to support the fact that we had a choice. That relentless worries and steep challenges that might strike all parties involved could be avoided.

As you would expect ones in our position to say, we do indeed live with the decision we made everyday. It was not easy then and it’s not easy now, but solace comes from the promise that if there comes a day where we can have a child of our own, through treatments or surrogacy or adoption, that we will give it the fullest of our potential in every facet imaginable. The few friends we told supported us no matter what their beliefs were. Perhaps they too had their eyes opened to the fact that these issues aren’t as far removed nor as simple as they seem. If they were to ask me about it now I would thank them for their support to Amanda and myself, but we’re not and have never been looking for support for our choice, again, only for support that we had a choice.

What I have shared is not a hypothetical situation. This is real life and this is why we shared our story. To let those who may pass judgment on reproductive services from afar; be they abortion, birth control, adoption, or health screenings; know what it’s actually like to face reality and the fear of the unknown. This is why we support the right to choose. This is why we support the utmost access to women’s healthcare resources.

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