I previously blogged about my thoughts on birth control and why it was medically necessary for me. Now that I've had a hysterectomy, I no longer have to worry about those issues--for myself, anyway. Unfortunately, I find myself confronted by an even larger worry looming on the horizon--how birth control options and access, and abortion restrictions will affect my daughter. Yes, I know, she's only 3 (almost 4). I can hear your incredulity. However, I want to talk about this because I want to provide another perspective to the social discussion on sex, birth control, and abortion--one that highlights why this issue is much more complex than many of the people making the decisions about it are considering.
So, why am I talking about birth control and abortion with respect to my preschooler? First, because I started menstruating at 9, so we are easily a mere five years away from her being able to get pregnant. Do I anticipate her having sex at that age? Heck no! But, I am a realist and know it happens--my mother taught a 7th grader with three children! I will do what I can to educate her and impress upon her that the repercussions of this decision is even more weighty for her than her peers. Nevertheless, I cannot control the world, so I have to consider that she could be sexually assaulted, like I was at age six.
I imagine you are thinking, "But that's true for everyone. What's the big deal?" The big deal is, for most people, pregnancy is not a death sentence. Given her unique anatomy and PAH, a pregnancy will likely kill my daughter. Her body won't be able to handle the increased blood flow and lung function necessary for a baby to grow, let alone tolerate labor and birth. And, even if she somehow survived pregnancy, the medications she takes for her heart condition are contraindicated for pregnancy; indeed, one of them is a black box drug that causes severe birth defects. Unfortunately, it also cannot be used in conjunction with hormonal birth control.
Given that most states are passing abortion restrictions that don't include rape or health of the mother exceptions, I cannot simply hope that it won't happen to her. Under these conditions, I feel I must take a proactive approach to keep her safe. So, how do I protect my daughter? Since hormonal birth control is out, and most of the other forms require reliance on the other party or aren't effective enough, in my opinion, when death is the alternative, I will likely get her an IUD. The only other more effective alternative would be to sterilize her and that's not going to happen--medicine advances all the time, and it's possible something could change in the future that would make her able to safely carry a pregnancy. Given my own struggle with infertility, I am not going to do that to her.
I get how crazy it is to be talking about getting an IUD for my child. Still, I can't think of any other acceptable options. Not when the alternative--whether by mistake or violation--is a death sentence. I'm not telling you all of this to get you to change your beliefs or your position on these issues. Instead, I'm simply offering you the background to understand why my position is pro-access, pro-choice.