A woman called upon to mother can choose to refrain

I was angry last week. Enraged to the point of shaking kind of angry. It was about abortion. Not my abortion, scheduled to begin on Thursday the 24th but other women’s abortions.I was angry about the women who had died and left living children motherless because they wanted an abortion and couldn’t have one safely. I was angry about the callous assholes who didn’t give a shit about dead women or orphans, just about a fetus. I was angry about the babies in the world who need parents and the parents who have babies who can’t feed them…and that no one gives a shit about them,either. Just the fetuses. I was angry about the stigmas and the hate women who have abortions face. I was angry that so many women have to go through something so huge all alone.

I’m still angry and it won’t ever go away.

Last week I had an abortion. Like more than half the women in America who have an abortion, I am already a mother. Like those other women, choosing to terminate a pregnancy was part of motherhood. Those who demonize women who choose this want you to believe that no woman who has ever had a baby she loved and cared for would ever choose abortion. If she does, she must be a bad mother. On the contrary,like any decision a good mother makes, she was doing what was best for the stability and well being of the family she has already. It’s a monumental act of matriarchal goodness.

I wanted to talk about this openly, like I would with other women about other “womens issues”. I wanted to break down the stigmas. I found fabulous women who felt the same as I do who have been in the same situation but more often, I was disappointed to find that talking about my abortion made even women who refer to themselves as “100% pro choice!”  uncomfortable. To their credit, they were all polite and the only slightly odd comment that was made was , “Really, what was one more kid?”

What was one more kid, since I already have 6? The question posed made it sound like babies are china dolls that sit on a display shelf . You take them down periodically to admire their delicate features and smile lovingly at them and put them back where they’re safe from breaking. They don’t need fed and the clothes they require came with them in the box. They take up a little space but not much and they offer no inconveniences except for the occasional dusting. The other dolls on the shelf aren’t ever told, “I’ll take you to get new glasses next month…after I pay for your sister’s dental bill and buy your brothers new boots.” or that they can’t have second helpings until everyone else has eaten. Yes. What’s one more?

To their credit, they ask me if I’m ok, how I’m feeling….if I’m depressed ,sad or feeling regrets. I feel none of that. Post-abortion, I’m mad at my own body for being ridiculously fertile and defying the odds of biology & birth control. I’m sad that I can’t give this thing of abundant fertility to women who would see it a blessing instead of a curse. Mostly, I’m grateful. Overwhelmingly grateful. I’m grateful for Sarah Weddington and Roe vs Wade. I’m grateful for Planned Parenthood and their amazing staff. I’m grateful for a supportive partner who took care of me both physically and emotionally. I’m grateful the abortion was less traumatizing physically than the miscarriage I had years ago. I’m grateful I’m not dead and I can continue to be a mother to the amazing lives I already am responsible for.

But I’m still angry,too. If there’s a woman out there who can’t talk about her abortion because she’s afraid of being judged and condemned, don’t worry. I’m here to be angry for you.


[blog title from "Amendment" by Ani DiFranco]

And if men can kill and be decorated
Instead of blamed
Then a woman called upon to mother
Can choose to refrain

26 thoughts on “A woman called upon to mother can choose to refrain

  1. YES. Be angry, be happy, be sad, be frustrated, be grateful…..BE! The more we tell our stories the more we will destroy the myth that women’s decisions (hell, our LIVES) are black and white.

  2. I’m one of them. I’m one of the “uncomfortable” ones. But that’s my issue or yours. I know that you made the best decision for your family and nobody gives a shit if I’m comfortable with it or not. And no one should! I’m angry too…. A terrified that the way things are going, my girls bodies will be legislated into submission. Because that’s what it’s about: women’s submission, not “saving the babies”.

  3. I admire your strength in so many ways, my friend. You made the decision that was right for you and your family, and anyone who knows you understands that this was a well thought out, but still difficult choice for you. You are the voice for so many millions of women, one that isn’t heard nearly often enough. Much love.

  4. I don’t get that blind spot, where all people can see is the fetus, practically disembodied. They can’t see live children suffering. They can’t see women, even the ones they know best, suffering. All they see is probably a tiny, glowing Jebus.

  5. I’m angry, and I’m terrified at what kind of world we are leaving for our daughters. I will admit, if you remember from bloop, just how badly I wanted another baby, and how long we tried… And then Ceilidh came along after I lost my job, and all the other things that go along with it, and I will admit, as the + sign formed, seriously having doubts that we could do this, and considering contacting planned parenthood.

    I am angry with you, that people are so pig ignorant that they can’t see that there is a PERSON behind that decision.

  6. Recently a very dear friend who happens to be adopted and just had her first baby at the age of 39 recently posted a facebook status that made me feel uncomfortable:

    “On this day in 1973 the Supreme Court ruled that a woman could choose to willfully kill her unborn child. I believe that life begins at conception and that women have a choice NOT to murder their unborn child. I will pray to end abortion. Each day there are 3,000 innocent lives taken. I thank God that I was not one of the innocent lost when the woman who gave birth to me chose adoption.”

    She is not aware (nor are many others) of the choice I made 15 years ago, so I feel I can not be upset with anyone for the uncomfortable twinge of guilt I felt reading her post. I felt attacked (by my FRIEND). There were many supportive pro-life comments under the status, BUT I went ahead and added to those comments:

    “Today and every day I will be thankful for the CHOICE. That is all.”

    I appreciate your point of view, it is so very important to see. I believe we can only choose for ourselves how our family is built (or not built). I believe your choice was the right one… a choice a great mother would make. And anybody who disagrees should be the one who feels uncomfortable!

    Thank you so very much for your wonderful post. :-)

  7. I am right there with you. I had to make the same decision two years ago. Heartbreaking, disappointing and maddening! Planned Parenthood does rock, especially after taking RU486 and having to still go through a medical abortion, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else. I too got the “what is one more kid?” speech. Unfortunately, my husband is one of those who is uncomfortable with talking about it. He says he feels guilty that I even had to go through such a procedure. I don’t feel guilt, although disappointment that I couldn’t give that child a life.

    Thank you for your post, I feel this is a subject too often swept under the rug.

  8. Thank you for saying the things I’ve been too ashamed of saying. I hope one day the shame leaves me so that I can speak out loud about it too. and forgive myself for making that decision. twice.

  9. I’m angry too. I’ve been pregnant once, and given birth once- too young, but I couldn’t have an abortion, in myself. I still couldn’t. It’s a personal choice, though, and one I do have to make, in this country, Australia.
    I was shocked when I found out how controversial it is over there, how difficult abortions can be to source.
    A potential mother must make the correct choice for herself, her partner and her family- though I’m a little old fashioned, I guess, I still feel its the woman’s choice the most.
    I shake my head in wonder at the people over there, that are all pro life, but anti welfare- umm, where do these people with more kids than they can afford, get money to feed this child? Or if they can’t work? How did this fetus be more important than the child that was born as a result of the pregnancy continuing?
    Why doesn’t this child, teen, adult matter anymore, once he/she comes into the world?
    I’m proudly pro choice, even if I don’t feel, emotionally I could abort. However, if I had six kids and fell pregnant again- despite precautions- I may well find myself in a place where all the sentiment in the world isn’t going to feed my child.
    Or what if I lived such a life that would be bad for a child to grow up in? Or had a profoundly disabled baby coming?
    So, I don’t judge, I want women to be able to talk to me, and they can, and do, about their abortions. Because they know I think it’s their right to choose. It’s my right to choose.
    I’m astounded and angry, that it’s such a problem in a modern, first world country.
    Thanks for coming out here, and talking about it.
    Thanks for being brave and doing so.
    Women of all ages- you have the right to choose whether having a child, or not, is for you- at any point in your life.
    I hope this can become a reality in the US sooner than later.

  10. Oh, and if my mother was pro choice, I might not have been here either, lol. She was recommended to have an abortion based on her age and health- so, some might say I have a vested interest in being pro-life- but I don’t see it that way.
    I would’ve come into the world with a different baby, tis all. Souls that are meant to be born come any way- that’s my take on it.
    I wouldn’t have known any better!

  11. I love you wrote what you feel. I love that you have the choice. And a voice. (and no…I didn’t mean to rhyme).

    This is your life, your experience. When people force their opinions on others….they are showing how scary the world can be. I don’t know your situation, your circumstances. And vice versa.

    Life is tough enough without arguing – we need to support each other.

    What an amazing post.

  12. I need to throw my two cents in here, because I am also a woman who has had an abortion. I got pregnant despite the use of birth control. I got pregnant with a partner that I hadn’t known for very long and wasn’t ready to have a child with. It was an easy decision for a minute, before I started to really think about it, then I had doubts. Regardless of those doubts, I chose to have the abortion anyway. It wasn’t until I had taken that pill and was sitting in the waiting room at Planned Parenthood, that I knew for certain that I had made a mistake, but it was too late at that point.

    Having an abortion was the biggest mistake of my life, especially now that I have a son from that same man and I know what that child would have looked like had they been given the chance to be born. I’ve even had dreams about her, way before I had my son. I also believe it would have been a girl. She would have been beautiful. Now that I have a son and two stepsons, I long for another baby. I long for that girl I never had; but it’s now also too late for that.

    Despite all of the sadness and regret and anger I feel about the abortion I had, I am still grateful to have had the choice. Choice is vital. Without choice, we are not free. I am grateful for Planned Parenthood for helping make that day easier for me, even if it was one of the worst days of my life. They knew that, and they comforted me after the procedure. They helped get me more effective birth control.

    I am so glad that the choice you made was the right choice for you, and I say fuck those assholes who have the nerve to judge you or anyone else who makes the same choice. Thank you for being brave and for sharing your story. Love and light to you, friend.

    • I’m heartbroken by your regret and I want to thank you for sharing because just as important as it is for women who have no regrets to be vocal, it’s equally so for women who regret their decision. Women need to hear both sides without slanted rhetoric. The truth is that no one knows for sure if they’re going to regret it or not until after it’s done and that of course is why making the decision is so hard. It really breaks my heart to think of you knowing the instant you took the pill that it wasn’t what you wanted. The day between the first pill and the second part of the medication must have been hell for you . I’m so sorry.

      • Thanks. I keep hoping it will get easier to accept the mistake and move on, but as my son gets older and milestones happen, I am reminded of all of those same milestones that I never got to see her reach, and how my boy would have a big sister to look after him. I try not to think about it too often, but it inevitably pops into my brain sometimes.
        For me there wasn’t a day between, unless I’m forgetting something. I went to the clinic, they took me back and a counselor asked me some questions to be sure I knew what I was doing, and then they gave me a pill of some sort and made me wait a while. Then I was eventually called back and the doctor did the procedure. I’m pretty sure the pill was to soften and partially dilate my cervix to give them access to my uterus. I was exactly 2 months along when they did it. Maybe I’m forgetting something. Do they give you some meds to take at home before you go in for the procedure?

        • Ahh, I was assuming when you said pill that you had a medication abortion instead of surgical. With the medication, they give you the first pill in the office. It blocks the hormones and ends the pregnancy.Then 24-48 hrs later, you take a second set of pills at home and essentially miscarry. I’m not sure what the ill would have been for in a surgical procedure. Probably you’re right about the cervical dilation.

  13. …sigh… You are brave and your truth is a gift.

    I know many lives that have been able to continue and flourish because of the ability to choose. No one ever said that what the choice embodies is fantastic, the best ever, never better… But the fact that it exists reveals the greatest irony of all regarding all the haters: free will. If your God gave me free will, my government ensures that I get to enact it. It’s moments like this when i say, “Thank Eve.”

    Your heart is absolutely in the right place, and that brings me tremendous comfort.

  14. This is a very amazing and emotiove post and I thank you for making it. Thankfully I haven’t had to make that choice myself but if there comes a time I hope I will still have that choice-which currently seems under attack from people who are at best hypocritical and interfering and at worst all that you have written above.

    I myself never have a problem listening about abortion or with my sister and friend during unplanned and soemtimes unwanted pregnancies, I wanted to be there to support them during their choices in all aspects but I did find speaking more difficult when they asked my opinion. It wasn’t because i had any intention to judge or felt that way, but more because at the times they wanted to talk they were unsure of what choice to make and I wanted to ensure my views didn’t impact on them one way or the other. The choices they made were the choices i thought would have been best for them but I’m glad they came to that conclusion on their own- none of them have ever regretted them.

    the one thng I’ve found a lot of people seem disturbingly demanding about is ‘reasons’. When went with a friend for an abortion, she asked me after to let our other two close friends know and ones reaction was this common disturbing demand: why did she have an abortion? What was her reason? In other words was it ‘good enough’ in said friend’s eyes. And said friend is pro-choice but dislikes abortion deeply.

    I’ve found that ‘what reason’ thing does seem to crop up enough as if ‘because it’s my choice’ isn’t good enough. It’s sad,

  15. Pingback: What’s one more kid? | Sex & Pancakes

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  17. Thank you for being so open et sharing your truths. The sad thing is most women just don’t understand how difficult these decisions in life are. I’m posting your comments to my doula page as I believe every women deserves care for pregnancy et post pregnancy including post abortion care. I would be honored to care for any woman that needed my support!!

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