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Aug 08

Abortion, two stories

I didn’t want to talk about this today. After all, I am supposed to be easing into this routine again. However, I read this piece called I Wish My Mother Had Aborted Me, and felt the need to get two stories out. Neither are terribly long, but hopefully they will give some background for the follow up thoughts on abortion.

When my mother was pregnant with her second child by a second father, she considered abortion. She was scared. She wasn’t married. The first father never even met his child. Mom was terrified and she sought counsel in her sister who had previously aborted a fetus. My aunt advised her against abortion, and months later I was born healthy and happy in the arms of a sick mother.

Maybe she wasn’t sick at first or maybe I was too young to know. Nonetheless her mental illness was brought wholly to the surface after trauma I won’t go into detail about here. Everyone tried to hide it from me with no success. I was seven when I watched her try to burn her face. Begging her to stop.  I remember her sitting with a bottle of aspirin talking one at a time till “god’s hand stopped her.” She had moments where it wasn’t so bad. She had moments where she was too drunk to care. She had moments where she was back to how I remember her in those first several years. She had moments that reminded me she loved us.The good memories kept me going.

Then she gave me up. Stuck to the man who both kept her alive and raped her daughter, she gave me to one of her sisters. I knew why she gave me up. I didn’t blame her for the weakness inside her. No, I loved her, called regularly and visited in the mental ward those times my stepfather wasn’t enough to keep her alive.

Those are some of the effects choosing not to abort had on my mother. There is no way to say whether choosing an abortion would have been better for her or not because truthfully I have also been a source of good for her much of the time.

There is no way to know if her choosing an abortion would have been better for me either. There is no well balanced scale of beauty versus bad in which to weight the moments of my life.

Time for the second story which will be significantly shorter.

I had an abortion. I didn’t want one. I was fighting like hell to have my first child. I miscarried my first pregnancy and my second moment of pleasant surprise was marred by the fact that the fetus was probably in my fallopian tube. Amidst excruciating pain and the new information that I was pregnant, I had to decide to take the shot that would help fully terminate my pregnancy. And truthfully, it wasn’t a super hard decision to make. Yes it sucked I was losing another pregnancy but there was no possible way I could carry one in my tube and to try would likely kill me.

So I did it and I went on with my life calling it a miscarriage because for the most part that is what the experience was. I call it an abortion now because there are some who will claim that I killed my baby by not letting nature take its course. I will take that all too often dirty word “abortion” and accept it without shame.

My mother and I have very different experiences with abortion. Really no experience with abortion is exactly the same. Some are easier. Some are harder. Some are thrust upon us with no good options.

Sometimes abortion is the selfish choice.

Sometimes abortion is the noble choice.

Sometimes abortion isn’t even a choice at all.

None of it makes the choice to end a clump of cells or a fetus with the potential for life good or bad, moral or immoral because none of it excuses for all the variables in the choice to abort. Morality is only so well defined for children.

I could make arguments all day about why abortion should be legal. I could make arguments about how bodily autonomy is as fundamental right, or how access to abortion helps income stratification. These are all argument about the relative morality of abortion as an implementable system of access. Today I have been talking about choices. I am talking about whether it is moral/immoral for a pregnant woman to have an abortion Which is an impossible question to answer. Morality is easier defined on the scales of systems.

On the scale of people though, on the individual choices we make with our own bodies morality is/can only be defined by ourselves. We are the only ones with enough knowledge to examine how good or bad our choice to abort is. It isn’t a simple choice for us to make but it is our choice to make it.

2 comments

  1. 1
    Timid Atheist

    Thank you for sharing those stories, Willo. Many hugs and chocolates if you’d like them. I’ve always believed that abortion is a choice that should be the business of no one but the person making that choice. No one else gets to weigh in unless that person wants them to.

  2. 2
    Xanthë

    I think in the climate where women’s rights to autonomy are being systematically eroded in your country, it helps to be open and candid about the ostensible facts. Let the religious people worry about morality and whether a fertilised egg was ensouled at the moment of conception; the simple fact is that ectopic pregnancies, if allowed to continue, present a medical emergency with a high likelihood of death to the mother. Pregnancy is inherently risky but it should never be treated as a suicide pact with another party (parties) that is incapable of negotiation.

    The religious or anti-choice rhetoric ignores facts like that there is a high rate of natural miscarriage (which is one reason why the pregnancy testing of teenage girls in that Louisiana school is actually an exercise in slut shaming, not health care). It is also a medical fact that pregnancy is damaging for adolescent girls because they have not yet finished growing, so that carrying the fetus to full term involves a higher proportion of risk for numerous unwanted medical complications, and a higher mortality rate for the mother.

    A close friend had an unwanted pregnancy when she was a teenager. The father was already out of the picture and expressed no interest in the potential child whatsoever. My friend chose to abort, because she didn’t want a child (still doesn’t); she would have had the support of her parents if she had decided to keep it, but faced with being a single teenage mother with no support from the father and her life and aspirations derailed, she chose to abort. If that sounds selfish – so fucking what? It was the right decision as far as she was concerned. Everyone else’s opinions on the rightness or wrongness of a personal decision that resulted in no harm to any sentient beings concerned, are frankly irrelevant.

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