A young woman I know gave birth recently. Her baby was taken from the hospital in the careful arms of a case worker from an adoption service and into the loving arms of a waiting family. Then the young woman went home to try to get on with her life. One million girls and women in the United States tear a hole in their own hearts every year. 85% of them receive an abortion. 15% give up their child to adoption. 100% of them are changed forever. 100% of their decisions are thrown into the grist mill of our seemingly endless moral debate about the correct fate for the lives involved. Beyond these life-altering events 400,000 teenagers give birth - 10% of all births in the United States. These girls, too are changed forever.
The politics of the womb are brutal and in stark contrast to the weakness and vulnerability of a post partum woman. Our capacity as individuals to love and nurture is not matched by a collective capacity to understand and tolerate. As the national debate rages on, the girls and women behind the statistics struggle to move on, some with empty arms, and many with empty wallets trying to make ends meet. Do not fool yourself that these stories all have a happy ending. Would it be different if men got pregnant? I don't mean every time. I mean - what if the sex act were a crap shoot and either partner might conceive. Would we view romance differently? Would we be more accommodating of others? Would we reconsider what we consider "privacy"?
The life-changing responsibility for the successful mating of the sperm and egg has always been born by women. The lucky ones, and by a small margin, the majority, are women in stable circumstances with the means to raise their child. But many are not so lucky. That makes us a two class society: those for whom the monthly cycle of fertility creates a regular exposure to risk; and those who may walk away.