I can’t say I’ve always been diligent with birth control. Less than diligent may actually be the understatement of the century. But even with my poor judgement I never had an unplanned pregnancy or even a serious pregnancy scare. The first time I ever bought a pregnancy test wasn’t until after my second wedding anniversary. I’d even thought it must be more than luck, that maybe I couldn’t get pregnant. I mean, there were those moments when I thought “Oh my God, what if…?” but in college someone was always worried they were pregnant. I lived in an all girls dorm. If it wasn’t me or my roommates it was the girl across the hall or the one who sat behind me in bio lab.
I ran into one of my freshman roommates a few years later and found out her scare hadn’t been nerves at all, but an actual pregnancy. She chose to leave school and get married, moving back to her hometown to be near her mother and support system. I was completely shocked. She was the good roommate. She was in the youth group. She went home to visit her younger sister almost every weekend. Her boyfriend always signed out of the dorm at 11 pm and almost never snuck back in. I know none of these things prevent someone from getting pregnant, but I’m also sure they were all reasons she didn’t think it would happen to her.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would have done in her position, depending on which guy I was dating at the time. If it had been my Southern Baptist boyfriend I’m sure he would have been thrilled and immediately proposed. If it had been my high school boyfriend I don’t think I would have ever heard from him again. If it was my long-term disfunctional boyfriend I think he would have said he was happy, planned out a wedding and a life and a future, but still would have left me – and our child. I no longer feared being damned straight to hell for having sex, but I don’t know if I was (or am) far enough removed from my Christian upbringing to personally have made the decision to terminate a pregnancy. I am still strongly pro-choice, in fact, being pregnant has made me even more so. But like I said yesterday – until you are personally asked to make a choice, you cannot know what your decision would be.
In the light of John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate and Palin’s revelation that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and planning to marry her boyfriend, the discussions of abstinence only education and a woman’s right to choose have become fast and furious. Much better writers than I have made all the points I can think of already. Read Myrtlebeachbum’s take on it here or the Buttercuppunch post here or, like, ALL the posts on Jezebel since Friday.
I wish no one needed the right to choose. I wish fertility was a switch you can turn off when you hit puberty and turn on again when you’re ready. Maybe someday science can make that happen, but I am doubtful. Even though I know the world isn’t full of pregnant teenagers and infertile 32 year olds, sometimes it sure feels like it. Women who want nothing more than to have a child are unable to conceive while Jamie Lynn Spears or Bristol Palin or my freshman roommate get pregnant at the drop of a hat (or pants). If ever there was a better example of my father’s favorite saying – Life’s not fair, young lady – this must be it.