Letter to the Editor

I can’t say something about abortion that hasn’t already been said. So, I thought I’d tell you about my journey from staunch pro-life young man to the pro-choice supporter I am today. I grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist household. The first protest that I ever went to was an anti-abortion protest on the Elk River bridge in Charleston. We felt that life began at conception and should be protected from that point.

I first started questioning my position when I learned about “the quickening.” That’s when a woman can feel her baby’s movement in her womb, and historically thought of as when a baby receives its soul. The quickening was the line when it is legally possible to have an abortion. This is a standard used going all the way back to Aristotle. Typically, the quickening can happen anywhere between 16 and 22 weeks. If this is the standard going back all the way to Aristotle, why should it change now?

When I went to nursing school, we talked about stages of fetal development. From the beginning of the pregnancy a zygote is just a clump of cells (about the size of a poppy seed at week four), at week 8 the fetus is about an inch long, at 12 weeks the fetus is 3 inches long, at 16 weeks its about 5 inches long, to week 24 when a fetus can potentially survive outside the womb. This knowledge had an impact on me. Its hard to call something merely 3 inches long a baby.

Later, I learned about third trimester abortions, which usually happens when wanted pregnancies develop birth defects that make it so a fetus cannot survive outside the womb. Diagnoses like “anencephalic syndrome”, which means that the fetus has not developed a brain. Sometimes its due to complications with the placenta, or neural tube defects, or spina bifida, or any number of defects. I think if more people were educated on the incredibly sad nature of third trimester abortions, they wouldn’t be as anti-abortion.

So, there it is. How I went from pro-life to pro-choice. The people most educated to make decisions regarding a woman’s body is a woman and her doctor. I believe that to be pro-choice is to believe in a woman’s bodily autonomy, and mercy, and recognizing that no individual knows the struggles of all others. 

– Roger Vannoy


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