We don’t want abortion. We want autonomy.

Today’s post was originally going to be a reading list, but when I saw this from my friend April, I decided to do something different.

Two years ago, when I was 18-weeks pregnant, my child was given a preliminary diagnosis of lethal skeletal dysplasia. I was told that if I carried him to term he would suffocate within a few minutes of birth. It was a form of dwarfism in which his chest cavity would never grow large enough to accommodate his lungs, and because of the nature of it, it could only be detected late in a pregnancy. (The doctors kept saying that they caught mine early.) I was asked to come back in two weeks, when I would be 20-weeks along and the doctors could measure my baby’s growth, to confirm the diagnosis. I also opted to have amniocentesis so that Johns Hopkins could test the baby’s DNA for what I hoped was a more definitive diagnosis. It would take a minimum of three weeks to get those results back. In spite of my hope that it was “just” dwarfism, the diagnosis was confirmed as a lethal skeletal dysplasia. I was horrified at the thought of watching my baby suffocate and suffer in my arms, so I chose to end the pregnancy at 21-weeks. My story is far from unique.

The Senate will vote on a 20-week abortion ban tomorrow. Many lawmakers are calling this the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act, even though a fetus at 20 weeks is not physiologically capable of feeling pain. It is rhetoric to cover for the fact that this legislation will cause many families like mine even more heartache and will cause babies to be born who will suffer.

Please keep stories like mine in mind when reading about this type of legislation and please hold your senator accountable for how they vote.

I’ve always been 100% pro-choice without a doubt or waver.

Why? Because I believe that any law that denies a woman the ability to make choices for her own body is too dangerous to exist. Laws that ban abortion put power into the hands of people who won’t be there to deal with the consequences of the choice.

They focus on stereotypes and the lowest common denominator. They look to protect us from ourselves, and paint an ugly picture of people who have endless abortions instead of practicing safe sex. They accuse people of having abortions of being irresponsible and taking advantage of the medical system in order to manipulate people out of rational thought.

Of course, the same agenda seeks to shut places like Planned Parenthood, too. Where is the logic in that? #IStandWithPP

April and many like her show why a rational human being would make the choice to have an abortion.

Years ago, while we were still traveling full time, we stopped in Buffalo, NY for a couple months. Every Saturday morning, early, I went to yoga at the Trimain Center on Main Street, right across the street from a women’s health center that provided abortion. Every Saturday morning, too early, I passed protesters. They stood there shouting with their signs, because the center only performed abortions Saturday mornings.

One morning, I brought my camera and asked to take photos. Their leader, the handsome man in the white shirt, the one on his knees in the center of these photos, gave permission. I spoke with some of the men and women there about why they would drag themselves and their children out in the freezing Buffalo cold.

Why? Because they believe in life, God and the beauty of existence. Because they believe abortion is wrong, without a doubt.

Every time a car pulled into the Women’s Center drive way, everyone would break into loud, shrieks. Killer! “Murderer,” they screamed. It didn’t matter if we were in the middle of a sentence chatting. When it’s time to scream, it is time.

These are the photos I took that morning. At the time, I did my best not to judge. I figured, I’m here as a guest, a traveler, an observer. I’ll take photos and let them speak for themselves.

Now, seven years later, almost to the month, I dragged them out to see what I captured.

Abortion Protest in Buffalo October 2008 Vote in the Senate Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

It was so early and so cold.

Abortion Protest in Buffalo October 2008 Vote in the Senate Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

I briefly chatted with this woman. She seemed so grandmotherly and kind. It was hard to reconcile with the sign she carried. It was even more jarring when she stopped our conversation to scream “murderer” at any car entering the women’s center.

That sign? Sheer manipulation.

Abortion Protest in Buffalo October 2008 Vote in the Senate Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

I spoke with their leader for quite a while. He’s the man in front wearing only thin layers. When I asked to take photos, he never once thought that perhaps I wouldn’t agree with his religious opinion on abortion. I’m sure he meant well, but he struck me as a man who couldn’t conceive of someone believing differently than him.

I didn’t notice the detour sign until I saw the photos later that day, but it’s fitting.

Abortion Protest in Buffalo October 2008 Vote in the Senate Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

There were five or six kids there that day, including a baby. It was absolutely freezing, like that cold that frosts your nose hair to a stand still. Maybe they’re used to it, being from Buffalo and all, but these kids stood in that cold with their parents for hours.

How old are these boys now? I wonder if they still go to abortion protests.

Abortion Protest in Buffalo October 2008 Vote in the Senate Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
But at least they had toys.

Abortion Protest in Buffalo October 2008 Vote in the Senate Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

Just a few blocks down Main Street from the Trimain Center and the Women’s Center, I found this sign. 40 Days for Life.  Not a surprise they’d put it on this relatively out of the way section of Buffalo, you know, near the Women’s Center.

Abortion Protest in Buffalo October 2008 Vote in the Senate Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

As someone who grew up Orthodox Jewish, in which praying on your knees is linked to idolatry, I was shocked when an entire group of the protestors dropped to their knees to pray. Guess who fell to the ground first.

I wanted to be as respectful to the protestors as possible, even though I completely disagree with them. Now, years later, when I see bills named things like Pain Capable Child Protection Act, as if to tell us that we will be literally torturing live children through abortion, I find myself with far less patience.

Abortion is not pretty. It is not something women seek out above all other options. It is not something women hope to one day experience.

Want to read about the many reasons women choose to have abortions?

Check out the #ShoutYourAbortion hashtag on Twitter. Women who want education, need to work, don’t want to be parents, cannot carry a baby to term or like April, find themselves in a situation where as much as she wants a baby, realizes that carrying it to term would be far more cruel than an abortion.

Bottom line. Laws that seek control over abortion are no more than an attempt to control women. I mean, if people truly believed in God’s laws on reproduction, protestors and politicians would apply their opinions to men as well.

Do you see legislation introduced to stop masturbation?  When will people start protesting doctors who perform vasectomies? The answers respectively. “Of course not. And “never.” If you’re laughing or think there’s no comparison, strictly speaking, they both fly directly contrary to literally the first law in the Bible. “Be fruitful and multiply.”

When the law strips women of the ability to choose, we revert as a culture to something barbaric, cruel and violent.

Note the violence and threat in the people who use the #ShoutYourAbortion hashtag to protest it. It smacks of the violence and threat I heard in the shrieks of those men and women on Main Street that painfully cold morning in Buffalo.