For weeks, I’ve read and listened to take after take on the fanatical Supreme Court majority’s Dobbs ruling. I need to add my voice to the clamor now, strange as my perspective may be.

I don’t have an abortion story. I have birth stories. I also have the relatively unique experience of having given birth after signing a contract with another family. Most average Americans have probably never read a surrogacy contract, also known as a gestational carrier agreement. For privacy I won’t address mine here, but let me generalize.

Spelled out in such a contract is exactly what you are agreeing to, as a person willing to carry another person’s child earthside, with their help and support, in the most specific terms possible. Have you ever considered what would happen to your pregnancy should you end up on life support? Have you had your internal organs insured against loss? Chosen beneficiaries in case you die? Put a price on the removal of your uterus? Half your uterus? Set down on paper who has the right to decide what’s to be done should your life become endangered during the process, and agreed who gets to decide what to do should a severe problem arise with the fetus?

It’s not a road lots of people can choose, understandably so. I chose it knowing pregnancy was a strength for my body. I chose it having read every word of that book of a contract, and then being advised by a lawyer: Look, you can sign this in good faith, but know that ultimately the right to do what you will with your body rests with you. That is your constitutional right, and you can’t sign that away.

Until now.

Never having wanted an abortion, never having needed one, I still can’t adequately express my relief in having that safe haven explained to me as we embarked on our journey: “I belong to me and that’s as it should be.” After having seen in black and white all the things that can and do go, sometimes catastrophically, wrong.


Again – now that’s gone.

I don’t share this because the contract I signed was bad or draconian, or because I want kudos. Every child-bearing person has assumed these risks and more; I just had to read about it first. I had input, and the freedom to choose. Clarity and honesty and forethought are scary, but they are necessary to make informed decisions. In our case, we all supported each other, we were as safe, deliberate, and well looked-after as we could be, and the outcome was triumphant.

I share this because most people don’t start a pregnancy with the “worst case” realities spelled out for them, but they’re no less real. So many go without the excellent support and care I had. Birth is a matter of life and death, thus it must be chosen. So many people, whether they acknowledge it or not, still stigmatize abortion as selfish, shameful or unnatural. The bald truth is, we, the birth-givers, were here first. We have been for millennia, and we deserve to stay, on our terms.

To state the obvious which seems to have escaped us as a nation, pregnancy happens inside an existing person. It’s not theoretical. Giving birth is giving, through a process that’s unavoidably messy, painful and life-changing. If one has not chosen it, and is not accorded recourse, safety, or respect from beginning to child, it ceases to be a gift and becomes exploitation. No one should ever, ever have the value of a pregnancy placed above their own. 

Every pregnancy is different, even within the same body. Our lives, families, and unique medical stories form a mosaic of experience unfathomable by someone else. No one can rightfully choose, or judge, birth-giving (or not) for another.

My heart bleeds for those, their rights stymied, in impossible situations who will have to make desperate and fearful choices now, paying a cost pressed upon them by those who could not and will never comprehend it.

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