I Wish My Mother Had Aborted Me

This piece is originally published on Role/Reboot. Republished here with permission.

Lynn Beisner explains the difference between the two phrases “The best choice for both my mother and I would have been abortion” and “I wish I had never been born.”

If there is one thing that anti-choice activists do that makes me see red, it is when they parade out their poster children: men, women, and children who were “targeted for abortion.” They tell us “these people would not be alive today if abortion had been legal or if their mothers had made a different choice.”

In the past couple of months, I have read two of these abortion deliverance stories that have been particularly offensive. The first story is one propagated by Rebecca Kiessling, the poster child for the no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. On her website Kiessling says that every time we say that abortion should be allowed at least in the case of rape or incest we are saying to her: “If I had my way, you’d be dead right now.” She goes onto say, “I absolutely would have been aborted if it had been legal in Michigan when I was an unborn child, and I can tell you that it hurts [when people say that abortion should be legal.]”

The second story was on the Good Men Project this week. In an article entitled, “Delivered from Abortion: Healing a Forgotten Memory,” Gordon Dalbey tells a highly unlikely story about his mother’s decision to abort him and her eventual change of heart. I say that the story is highly unlikely because the type of abortion he says his mother was about to have was not available until 50 years later. However, Dalbey claims to have recovered a memory of being “delivered” from the abortion because as a fetus he cried out to God. He claims that the near-abortion experience had caused him psychological suffering throughout his life. Since recovering the memory, he has experienced survivor’s guilt because he was saved when so many other fetuses have been aborted. In explaining how he overcame this guilt, he quotes a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust who says that the purpose of surviving is to testify to the experience.

What makes these stories so infuriating to me is that they are emotional blackmail. As readers or listeners, we are almost forced by these anti-choice versions of A Wonderful Life to say, “Oh, I am so glad you were born.” And then by extension, we are soon forced into saying, “Yes, of course, every blastula of cells should be allowed to develop into a human being.”

Stories like Mr. Dalbey’s are probably effective because they follow the same model. First there is a woman facing the unplanned pregnancy that poses severe problems. In Dalbey’s case, his family is suffering from extreme poverty, and in the case of Kiessling, her mother is dealing with the aftermath of rape. The story shifts so that the mother has a divine or moral enlightenment and knows that she must carry the baby to term. We are left with an adult praising the bravery of their mothers and testifying that their lives were saved for some higher purpose. But the story goes on to tell us how even the contemplation of abortion was horribly scarring for the person. The moral of these stories is clear: Considering abortion is like considering genocide.

Here is why it is so effective: People freak out when you tell an opposing story. I make even my most ardent pro-choice friends and colleagues very uncomfortable when I explain why my mother should have aborted me. Somehow they confuse the well-considered and rational: “The best choice for both my mother and I would have been abortion” with the infamous expression of depression and angst: “I wish I had never been born.” The two are really very different things, and we must draw that distinction clearly.

The narrative that anti-choice crusaders are telling is powerful, moving, and best of all, it has a happy ending. It makes the woman who carries to term a hero, and for narrative purposes, it hides her maternal failing. We cannot argue against heroic, redemptive happy-ending fairy tales using cold statistics. If we want to keep our reproductive rights, we must be willing to tell our stories, to be willing and able to say, “I love my life, but I wish my mother had aborted me.”

An abortion would have absolutely been better for my mother. An abortion made it more likely that she would finish high school and get a college education. At college in the late 1960s, it seems likely that she would have found feminism or psychology or something that would have helped her overcome her childhood trauma and pick better partners. She would have been better prepared when she had children. If nothing else, getting an abortion would have saved her from plunging into poverty. She likely would have stayed in the same socioeconomic strata as her parents and grandparents who were professors. I wish she had aborted me because I love her and want what is best for her.

Abortion would have been a better option for me. If you believe what reproductive scientists tell us, that I was nothing more than a conglomeration of cells, then there was nothing lost. I could have experienced no consciousness or pain. But even if you discount science and believe that I had consciousness and could experience pain at six gestational weeks, I would chose the brief pain or fear of an abortion over the decades of suffering I endured.

An abortion would have been best for me because there is no way that my love-starved trauma-addled mother could have ever put me up for adoption. It was either abortion or raising me herself, and she was in no position to raise a child. She had suffered a traumatic brain injury, witnessed and experienced severe domestic violence, and while she was in grade school she was raped by a stranger and her mother committed suicide. She was severely depressed and suicidal, had an extremely poor support system, was experiencing an unplanned pregnancy that resulted from coercive sex, and she was so young that her brain was still undeveloped.

With that constellation of factors, there was a very high statistical probability that my mother would be an abusive parent, that we would spend the rest of our lives in crushing poverty, and that we would both be highly vulnerable to predatory organizations and men. And that is exactly what happened. She abused me, beating me viciously and often. We lived in bone-crushing poverty, and our little family became a magnet for predatory men and organizations. My mother found minimal support in a small church, and became involved with the pastor who was undeniably schizophrenic, narcissistic, and sadistic. The abuse I endured was compounded by deprivation. Before the age of 14, I had never been to a sleep-over, been allowed to talk to a friend on the phone, eaten in a restaurant, watched a television show, listened to the radio, read a non-Christian book, or even worn a pair of jeans.

If this were an anti-choice story, this is the part where I would tell you how I overcame great odds and my life now has special meaning. I would ask you to affirm that, of course, you are happy I was born, and that the world would be a darker, poorer place without me.

It is true that in the past 12 years, I have been able to rise above the circumstances of my birth and build a life that I truly love. But no one should have to make such a Herculean struggle for simple normalcy. Even given the happiness and success I now enjoy, if I could go back in time and make the choice for my mother, it would be abortion.

The world would not be a darker or poorer place without me. Actually, in terms of contributions to the world, I am a net loss. Everything that I have done—including parenting, teaching, researching, and being a loving partner—could have been done as well if not better by other people. Any positive contributions that I have made are completely offset by what it has cost society to help me overcome the disadvantages and injuries of my childhood to become a functional and contributing member of society.

It is not easy to say, “I wish my mother would have aborted me.” The Right would have us see abortion as women acting out of cowardice, selfishness, or convenience. But for many women, like my mother, abortion would be an inconvenient act of courage and selflessness. I am sad for both of us that she could not find the courage and selflessness. But my attitude is that as long as I am already here, I might as well do all I can to make the world a better place, to ease the suffering of others, and to experience love and life to its fullest.

 

Lynn Beisner is the pseudonym for a mother, a writer, a feminist, and an academic living somewhere East of the Mississippi. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Photo Credit lunar caustic via the Creative Commons License.

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  • Wonderful!

  • Mekesa Evanna Bramlett=Fary

    I too have wished , many times. that I should have been aborted.  I am the menopausal mistake pregnancy of an alcoholic. bi polar. maniacal. violent. mother.  She also was the most incredible and beautiful and charismatic and unforgettable person I have ever known.  Confusion and contusions.  Guys were told in high school not to ask me out because I had the “crazy Mom!”  My birthday parties were interrupted by mothers calling the other mothers and taking their daughters home early because of my mother and her drinkimg and bizarre behavior.  I have had a long life now as I am 54 years old and a Grandmother now.  One thing I do know is. Ramona my mother made me an incredible mother and grandmother.  I took all of her weaknesses and vowed to make them my strengths.  I am a better person in spite of my horrible childhood.
      I am pro choice but I also am an Ultrasound Technologist.  I had an abortion at 18 years of age which was the best decision for me yet I always have had the sadness linger still with me.  I also have seen a 10 day old fetus using an endovaginal probe and saw the heart beating and to say it is just a few cells clumped together is oversimplifying in my humble opinion.  I have spoken to so many women on my ultrasound table agonizing or justifying  terminating their pregnancy. It is not an easy decision for most of us.   I know that this is such a complex subject and I am glad you inspired or provoked all of us to talk about it in the open forum.  I never ever talk about having an abortion and I am glad you were here and not aborted because I still would be hiding this inside of me and I certainly NEVER would have shared in such a public way.  Your courage gave me courage. Thank you     

  • Lia Drumond

    Thanks for being such a wonderful person, despite anything… Fighting for women freedom, no matter what happened in your own history, it’s absolutely beautiful. 

  • sparrowhawk58

    The subtitle should read, “The best choice for my mother and ME”, not “my mother and I.”

    • Lynnbeisner

      To both Anon and sparowhawk58: My editor and I both
      apologize for not catching those, especially the purely obvious one. We just got so caught up in trying to make sure that the message was crystal clear that we missed a few things in the final edit.

      • guest

        I would have thought “mother and I” was correct no?

        • Kouredios

          No. 

          You wouldn’t say “Best choice for I,” you’d say “Best choice for me.” Adding another person doesn’t change that.

  • Anon

    “It is not easy to say, ‘I wish my mother would have aborted me.'”

    It’s also not grammatical. Aaaargh. Sorry, but it doesn’t help to get your point across.

    • Rob

      I found this article through a Facebook share and the author should know that her poor grammar in the subtitle (and at the end, as you found) made me a less-receptive reader. It certainly undermines the claim of being “a writer … and an academic”. It’s a pity because I would otherwise be inclined to re-share.

      • Lynnbeisner

        Thank
        you for pointing these out; they have been corrected in the original article.
        My editor and I worked and reworked this piece so many times that we both ended
        up missing some rather obvious errors in the final draft. However, I will
        freely admit that I have never been a grammar or spelling expert. In fact, I
        have mild dyslexia. My specialty has always been getting across ideas, and
        fortunately I am able to do that most of the time with the help of good
        editors. I was fortunate enough to have a writing professor who told me that being
        a good writer and being a good grammarian are very different things. By the
        way, how I have been able to “pass” in an academic environment is that I never
        write on a whiteboard and all of my power-points are reviewed by an expert a
        grammar expert in Disability Services. See what I mean? What it costs society
        for me to function may not be worth the contributions that I make.
        Thank
        you for pointing these out; they have been corrected in the original article.
        My editor and I worked and reworked this piece so many times that we both ended
        up missing some rather obvious errors in the final draft. However, I will
        freely admit that I have never been a grammar or spelling expert. In fact, I
        have mild dyslexia. My specialty has always been getting across ideas, and
        fortunately I am able to do that most of the time with the help of good
        editors. I was fortunate enough to have a writing professor who told me that being
        a good writer and being a good grammarian are very different things. By the
        way, how I have been able to “pass” in an academic environment is that I never
        write on a whiteboard and all of my power-points are reviewed by an expert a
        grammar expert in Disability Services. See what I mean? What it costs society
        for me to function may not be worth the contributions that I make.

        • Lynnbeisner

          And for some reason, I ended up with a double entry and weird spacing. Sigh.

  • Chriszhill

    Most religious people and the institutions of worship are not really interested in easing pain and suffering. They will claim to be, because it sounds good and sounds like who they would like to be. Truthfully, they are blindly following rules, dictated to them by an invisible law giver, created by men bent on control. I would agree. My life is inconsequential in the big picture. The things I have done could have been done by others. I am awesome, and have accomplished much, but my upbringing was rough too. But I could have been born later… Both my mother and I are fine. Through our own doing, not the work of some benevolent deity. This is far too big a subject to write about without creating a novel. There are those who will always find a way to place their beliefs on others through specious correlations and their condescending, self righteous indignation knows no bounds when they announce that they will pray for you. I do not believe this world owes me anything, and I was not ‘put’ here or created by anyone other than my mother who had to make hard sacrifices to raise me. She deserved better, but I guess if you’re dilligent, stubborn, and a bit lucky, you can survive, succeed and find hapiness… This requires no help from above, but help from yourself and if your lucky, those who love you.

  • Guest

    My mom has told me many times that she never wanted to have kids. She was not a good parent, because she never wanted to be. She struggled with addiction, depression and we were often ignored and neglected. My dad pressured her away from abortion, and they got married and had two more kids after me. My family life is startlingly dysfunctional. My parents finally divorced recently, but my mom still seems so miserable. I know she never wanted any of this. For a while, I blamed myself for being born. But now a days, I just feel very sorry for her. I know she wanted to abort me (she told me this recently), and I wish she had. I believe my soul would have found another body and I would have been born anyway, if she had aborted me, but I would have been born under better circumstances. 

  • I’ve felt the same way my whole life. My mother was very miserable and never really wanted kids. She did it for my dad, and I think she told us about her misery so we wouldn’t make the same mistakes: http://thedelphiad.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/what-if-my-mother-had-aborted-me/“>

  • Luke

    Thats a really sad story and I think that women should have the choice without the shadow of a doubt, but I think you sound like a good person as well so I’m glad your alive. 

  • Guest

    Thank you, I understand your selfless conclusion that your birth, or lack thereof would have improved both your mother’s and your own lives. I have been blessed with a “happy ending” sort of life, my mother planned each of her pregnancies while in a stable(married) relationship with both well developed financial and emotional support systems. But despite every doctor’s visit, perfect nutrition, and family support, I got sick; really, really sick. I could’ve killed my mother. I could’ve robbed this world of my brother and sister before they were even conceived. But I got lucky, and she got lucky. My birth has always been touted as something of a miracle within my family. But I would gladly give up my existence if it meant that my mother could have a happy healthy life, if she could have the opportunity to follow her dreams, Because I know that I was lucky, and so many more are unlucky

  • guest

    amazing article. if only more people were brave enough to come forward and share their views. I too have often felt the life of my family would have been richer both emotionally and financially had I not come along. I’ve been told I was unwanted, and if I was unwanted, the children after me were unwanted too no doubt. I’m not sure which country you are writing this article from, but in the stupidly over religious country of Ireland, condoms were illegal until 1985, and many many families here suffered the burden of having too many children and no even have the option of abortion (which still stands today) and many children grew up to no doubt feel as you feel. so brave of you to come forward and tell your story. 

  • Amanda

    What a beautiful life experience to share. I sometimes wonder/feel the same way about my own upbringing, especially after contemplating my own unplanned pregnancy. While I am grateful to be alive and truly love my experience at living, I often think it would have been the best choice for my mother, as well. 

  • Guest

    With no disrespect at all intended, I have a different view to this. i think if we want to keep our reproductive rights, we must insist that the choice to give birth rests with the woman who either will or will not do it. There is no independent life for an embryo. Until that baby is born, and even for some time afterward, it’s a dependent life. A woman is as much an adult as a man and her body is not a factory. She has to have the ultimate right to decide whether or not to carry another life inside her body, whether she can handle it physically and mentally and emotionally and financially. What we need to do is give women the ultimate power in this role which is theirs alone. In particular if she is a single mother or a rape victim. An adult life must trump an unborn one. People make bad decisions and EITHER the decision to give birth or to end a pregnancy may turn out to be the wrong one. But we don’t know that ahead. That’s one of the things that gives life meaning. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You must choose as best you can WITHOUT KNOWING. A woman needs to be encouraged to trust her judgment about whether she is able to deal with having and raising a child. So much focus on the baby and what it wants (which we can’t possibly know) is only meant to disempower the woman, to try to control her, to make her a slave to her own biology. To me, your wish that your mother had aborted you comes from feeling disempowered. There is no way to really say that your life is good, but you wish she had ended it before you were born. There are moments when I wish that I had never had to live through my life as well. I know exactly what you mean when you say it. No one should have to work so hard and struggle so much for such tenuous emotional solace. But it does nothing for the cause of choice, in my opinion, to use this as a reason why abortion should exist. For this right to be clear and unassailable, men (and women) must agree that the ultimate decision rests with the pregnant woman. And that will be the ultimate test of gender equality and civil liberties. And maybe even a life worth living for women such as you and me.

  • kouredios

    Thank you. This story is powerful and necessary, and I’m grateful that you’ve shared it.

    It’s impossible to know what would have happened to a woman who did choose abortion instead of choosing to raise her child in the midst of poverty and abuse, but it’s not impossible to know that, having been aborted, that child would not have had to endure poverty and abuse. That is the difference between this perspective and the “what if Steve Jobs/Albert Einstein/I were aborted?” perspective. Only this one can argue from certainty.

  • Alice Keezer

    Luckily, my story isn’t as grim as yours. My mother is pro-choice, and she had an IUD in when she became pregnant with me. She thought the weight gain was because she was eating poorly and not getting enough exercise.

    Now that I’m an adult, I know she’s glad she made the choice to keep me, even if it meant our finances were tighter, that she had to postpone her higher education a little longer, that she was working two jobs to feed all three of her daughters. But I did feel the frustration and tension, growing up, and my first thought upon learning that I might not have been born was that I wished she’d made the choice to abort, instead.

  • Guest

    Thank you.  I was also a child of abuse (pedophile father and violently depressed mother), and when I try and explain why I believe that sometimes abortion is a better option than birth, including in my own case, I end up being derided for that outlook.  To see another expressing a similar experience to my own reminds me that I’m not the only one who’s had to make this same hard journey.

  • Susan

    Wow. There are some wrenching stories here. The strength or will it has taken many of you to pull yourselves through life is quite remarkable. I am gutted by the images of pain I have of some of your lives. I am so sorry.

    I had an abortion when I was 33. I never doubted this decision. It was both selfish and considerate. I am glad I did it. I am sorry for the potential life I will not know. But many lives begin and end in the uterus for many different reasons. Possibilities. Such is life.

    Parenting is hard. I am a parent to 2 daughters now because I found the right enough partner, and was stable enough in my life to support me in being the best possible parent I can be. And it’s still hard. It’s also great. I am glad I can give these children my best. In my life at 33 it would have been a lot harder.

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  • Guest

    I am the child of an unplanned pregnancy, and glad I was not aborted,  but the reason I am pro-life is not because I believe that every life that isn’t aborted is going to be wonderful, but that it should be given the chance to exist at all.  You don’t know how your life is affecting others even now–  there is a purpose to your being here that may have nothing to do with your or your mother’s experiences.  Your mother is a hero for not being selfish, because I’m sure it cost her a great deal to do what she did– she provided you with a life, even a horrible one, and it is just my opinion that a bad life is better than no life at all, because there is the potential of good growth coming from it.  And who knows how the emotional scarring from aborting you may have affected her?  Her story could have been even worse without you.   I find hope even in your ability to express yourself so clearly and write so beautifully– this contribution is a gift to all of us.  

  • Jennifer

    Excellent article. Powerful, moving. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Cashmeregyrl

     In College I read an essay by a young man that I never forgot. It pretty much said the same thing this young lady is saying. He voiced what I felt in my heart for many years. The impact it had on my already firm conviction that every child should be born from a desire of the mother to make motherhood central in her life and not out of sheer desperation or lack of options. I have always been Pro-Choice. I witnessed my mothers’ struggles and in my heart knew, had she had choices, her life would have been better. My mother was an excellent mother. She sacrificed so much for us that the simple act of us “being” denied her the ability of “doing”. She was literally stuck. Honestly, I will always feel guilty for not doing enough for her in return for her dedication to all of us. My father simply refused to allow her access to birth control or abortions. She had seven kids by the age of 23! The flip side is she gave it all when raising us. Although, I had a happy childhood I knew she deserved more than what she got. I love my life but my mothers life would have been 100% percent better if I had not been born. I am staunchly Pro Choice!

  • Kristinmariehiggins

    Every time I think about the decision I made at 17, I regret it. But I regret it as a 30 year old. So I know I made the right decision and that my 2 year old is proof of that. I waited until I was educated, and in the best relationship of my life to plan having a child. The story you tell is what I feared at 17. Thank you for being honest.

  • Guest

    I have often felt this way–and while I have made a life worth living, it has been and continues to be a monumental struggle…

  • Guest

    Thank you for having the courage to say what I’ve wanted to say all my life.  My mother too told me she thought about aborting me as my father raped her – what does that say about me – violent sperm and a terrified egg is what started the cell division of what I am today – struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, etc, etc, etc….

  • The reason I decided to read this is because the title alone hit so close to home for me. My mother was 18 when she got pregnant for me. My parents had known each other less than 24 hours when I was conceived. I was the inconvenient product of what was supposed to be a one night stand. My mother considered abortion but my sperm donor, as I call him because that is essentially all he has ever been to me, threatened to kill her if she went through with it. So she went through with the pregnancy hiding it from her parents that she lived with literally up to the moment that she went to the hospital for “back pain” and was told that she was in labor. And that guy who didn’t want her to abort me? He was only in my life when I was a child long enough to come around and sleep with my mother. He had nothing to do with me. My mother, during her pregnancy, did a variety of drugs, got into a car wreck, had an X-Ray, and had absolutely no prenatal care. During the labor I laid in her birth canal for three days. The fact that I survived is, I suppose, something. But the price for that has sometimes been high. My mother should have never had children. She never wanted me and she made that quite clear every day of my life. She was abusive physically and mentally and she allowed her husband at the time to sexually molest me when I was between the ages of four and six. She knew the entire time. She didn’t care. When I was nine years old she had her third child and her second kid with my biological sperm donor. I have spent the last sixteen years raising that child, even leaving school and homeschooling at age 13 so I could raise her full time. We were raised on welfare and my mother was a hard core drug addict all of my sister’s life who would often sell food stamps for drugs. There were times when I would go around the apartment complex we lived in asking friends for food to feed my brother and sister while I went hungry for weeks on end. In addition to all of this, I have had health problems all of my life. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was four and since then I have been diagnosed with poly-cystic ovarian disorder,  Crohn’s disease, and now epilepsy. I am twenty five and I don’t leave my house. Now…I have not given up on life or anything like that. I go to college online for psychology and I intend to get my Doctorates come hell or high water. I am also a writer and I am in the process of trying to find an agent to pick up one of my two books I have finished. As you said, there is a difference in saying “My mother should have aborted me” and “I wish I had never been born”. My mother absolutely should have aborted me and gone on with her life. However, she did not. And since I am here I intend to make the most of my life. I am completely, one hundred percent pro-choice. It’s something I feel very strongly about. Why? Because I was a child born to a mother and a father that never wanted me and I know what it is like to look into your own mother’s eyes and see that she regrets that she ever had you. Abortion is hard but once it’s done, it’s done. I have never personally had one but I imagine a woman might wonder from time to time if she made the right choice. She might feel guilt. But I would think that it would be easier than carrying a child for nine months in your womb and giving that child away to someone else, knowing always that a part of you is out there somewhere and you may never know that person that came from your body….I strongly believe that those emotions are why there are so many people like me in the world. People who started out unwanted. So yes, I feel like it would have been a good choice for my mother, it certainly would have spared me all the pain that I’ve endured, and while I intend to make the most of my life I certainly would not have held it against her if she had gone through with aborting me. I am also happy to see that I am not alone in this thought that has been with me for years. But I am sorry for the pain that all of you who can relate to this have endured. 

    • alexis wilson

      This might sound stupid and juvenile for me to say, but I admire your strength and intellect so much and I really do wish I could hug you right now.  Im sorry if you found that offensive, but I mean that in the most sincere way possible

  • jeffJ1

    I appreciate the sincerity of this piece and I respect the author for thinking about this issue. But I think pro-choice supporters stray too far by making arguments like this. It is just to viscerally off-putting to hear a fully-developed human being say “on balance, it would have been better if I had been aborted.” It becomes so cold and clinical and, in subtle ways, disrespectful of the choice a woman faces.

    It is very difficult to talk about abortion once you have a viable baby – as soon as the child is born, the whole concept of abortion simply becomes moot, and clearly becomes “murder.” I sympathize sometimes with anti-choice proponents because I understand that, in their minds, that little blastula is SO tantalizingly close to being a crying baby swaddled in a nursery – mere months!

    I still see abortion as a very shaky moral gray area where you must make a very hard decision about the value the life of the mother and the potential hardships that might be faced by the baby. The mother is in no better position the day the baby is born than she was at 9 weeks when she might have chosen an abortion; yet to countenance “aborting” a child who is already born (to say nothing of a 25 year old adult) makes something of a mockery of that hard decision. Talking about a person who “ought” to have been aborted is as fruitless as talking about an aborted fetus who “ought” to have become a person.

    Finally, I think the author is a bit too cavalier in dismissing the parallel but different statement, “I wish I hadn’t been born.” Realistically, what is the difference between that depressive sentiment and cataloging the woes of your life and your mother’s life and concluding, logically, that abortion would have been better? I don’t really see one.

    • guest

      I am still wondering why men should really be allowed to have ANY opinion or say WHATSOEVER concerning a woman’s decision on abortion. It has never been a man faced with this decision, it has never been a man put in a position of choosing because of rape or incest to bear the child of that torture, it has never been a man faced with the ultimate sacrifice. It will never be a man who knows the difference. Please, get your laws, your opinions, and your judgements off of our bodies!!!

      • jay

        I think you’re too quick to dismiss him – he has a few valid points, although this might not be the forum. And there’s no reason to tear someone apart who’s just offering an opinion on the way the piece is written. 

        I think this piece is brave, and while I don’t have a similar bad situation at home, I’d like to think that more potential mothers will see that being undereducated and restricted by communities or baby fathers will lead to suffering for their kids.

        Surely I’m allowed to have an opinion.

      • jeffJ1

        First of all, dismissing a person rather than dismissing the opinion is a lazy way to approach a discussion. But look – in an ideal world, a man is involved in the pregnancy and the decision. It takes two people to have a baby. I know a lot of times the man disappears (or there was no consent or intention to begin with). But if I am partnered with a woman and she gets pregnant, I sure as heck would want my opinion heard.

      • My grandmother has always said this.  Ironically if a man writes an essay that is strongly in support of a woman’s right to choose and gives some strong arguments it would be a different story, then he has an right to have an opinion and share it with his support. So men can’t have feelings or moral convictions themselves?   That’s just a fallacious way to dismiss his arguments, it’s called an ad hominem argument. You’re not addressing anything he said just the fact that he’s a man.

        I do not pick a side when it comes to abortion debates because frankly I think the moral arguments are valid on both sides of the debate, I’ve found myself on all sides of this debate during my lifetime and I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes there just isn’t a right or wrong choice it’s just a choice.  I have my opinions and feelings on the matter of abortion but I wouldn’t judge the choice of another parent because I know how hard a choice that can be. 

      • Erika

        I am a woman. Yet, I have never had an unwanted pregnancy, never been raped.  How is my opinion any different from a man’s at this point.  The fact that the possibility exists that I might one day experience it?  Does that mean men should not have opinions about breast cancer treatments?  Or can women not have an opinion about circumcision?  Just because you haven’t experienced something or will not ever experience something, that does not mean that you can not have thoughtful discussions on the topic.

    • stef

      mansplaining

      • jeffJ1

         Isn’t that so much easier than having to engage with my comment!

        • Hattie

          Well, you haven’t said anything very interesting or original.

      • Hattie

        Exactly. A perfect example.

    • I don’t think it’s the slightest bit disrespectful to the weighty choice to abort or not. In fact, I’ve see women on this thread who’ve said that this piece validates their own choice to abort by destroying the myth that every woman is a good mother (sometimes deep down, where she won’t know it until she has a child).

      It is not at all “straying too far” to relate these stories. When the pro-life side fields their versions, their “I would be dead if abortion was legal/easily accessible/etc.” stories, we do all women a grave disservice to silence the opposite story: That of the child born who shouldn’t have been, who suffered for her birth, or led her mother into suffering.

      My mother did not suffer for my birth. But if she had, I would have gladly embraced my own abortion. To me, it would be a selfish violation of her bodily integrity, worse than rape, to insist on using her body as my own for months. And just because it makes you uncomfortable to hear it is not a good reason for me not to say it. When you silence these stories, you disarm women before we can even begin to fight.

      Oh, and the difference between what she’s saying and “I wish I hadn’t been born”? One is a thoughtful accounting of one’s life and place in the world that admits to joy but does not value it above all else; the other is a whimsical utterance of despair.

      • jeffJ1

        First of all, no one is trying to silence anyone. It drives me crazy when people react to contrary opinions by saying “stop trying to silence me.”

        Second of all, I read your comment here and I just see nihilism. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable, and I don’t want you to NOT have this opinion, but “I would have gladly countenanced my own abortion if it made my mother suffer” is a pretty sorry statement of the meaninglessness of life. It’s also divorced from reality. Your mother did not suffer; yet you imagine, in some moot world where she did, that you would have been okay with your own abortion (even though you wouldn’t have been conscious to have such an opinion at the time). The very fact that you are alive now puts you in a position of privilege in such a discussion, and as such your statement rings a bit hollow. 

        • Janipurr

          So, in your opinion, the very fact that she is alive invalidates her opinion that she would welcome her own abortion should her existence have caused suffering for her mother?  How is that not silencing her feelings on the subject?  Or dismissing her opinion in the exact same way that you were offended for having your opinion dismissed because you are male?

          • Hattie

            Don’t feed the trolls. And don’t let this man dominate the thread with his unoriginal “insights,.”

      • jeffJ1

        Also, “I wish I hadn’t been born” is only whimsical if it is said in a spirit of whimsy. Lots of severely depressed people go through the exact same accounting that this author has and decide that the world would have been better without them.

    • Oh, and on what grounds do you declare that a woman is in no different of a position “the day the baby is born” as opposed to “at 9 weeks”? There’s a huge difference in position: Namely, the baby is now *outside* of her, is not violating her bodily integrity, and can be cared for by other adults. As far as philosophical grounds go, that’s everything.

  • Kelly

    This was so well written, and I thank you for having the courage to come forward with this.  I completely agree with you, and think you are so brave to be honest about this highly controversial issue.  Thank you!!!

  • Guest

    This story has brought me to tears. I’ve always thought my thoughts were abnormal and anytime I’ve ever mentioned them, people are horrified.
    My mother was 19 when she got pregnant with me and she was not ready to be a mother. She was enrolled in the local community college and was a pretty big party-goer. My father and her had broken up before she found out she was pregnant with me and he made it clear that he had no interest in being involved in my life. She didn’t want me but our family is very Catholic and abortion was not seen as acceptable.
    So she had me and more or less dropped me off with my grandparents. Occasionally I would see her, more often I would not. When I was two she got pregnant again and “did the right thing” by marrying the guy. That led to almost 16 years of sexual, physical, mental, verbal, and emotional abuse for me. She was always angry that I looked so much like my father and had his mannerism and he wanted neither a step-child (it doesn’t look good for the religious, it appears) or a girl. We also lived in poverty.
    I overcame it. I have a wonderful family of my own and my children have never known the horrors that I went through. I’m currently working on my third degree and I would like to think I’m a productive member of society.
    If my mother had had an abortion, people say I never would have seen my own children. But if I had never made it beyond the stage of embryo, I never would have known them or what I had been missing. I never would have learned how to apply make up to cover up black eyes, how to best get over a UTI or set a broken finger without any medical attention, or what it was like to have to go to ninth grade and work enough hours under the table so I could afford to buy myself food and clothes.

  • Guest

    This story illuminates the myth that all women are destined to be great mothers. It is an inherent ability of all women and as long as we bring a baby to term we will magically have all the skills and mental capacities to be a great mother. Our love can overcome any obstacles including poverty, lack of a support system, or the fact that a woman may just not want to have a child. Obviously this is not true but it is an assumption used by the pro-fetus movement and others. It is also used by the criminal justice system to criminalize women who do bring their fetus to term and have to raise their children in less than optimal circumstances. It is a dangerous myth that this story does good work to dispel. This is a conversation that more people and women need to have: Being a woman does not necessarily imply the ability to be great mother and women who chose not to have any children are complete women, not some sort of mutant outcasts. Women who chose to abort when they know they cannot or should not be mothers are actually saving lives.

  • Kat

    My mother’s decision to keep me hasn’t had any especially negative impact on either of our lives (as far as I am aware, although I have been learning many interesting truths about her and my family since she has been dying of cancer these past few years), but I have always been comfortable with the idea that I could have been aborted.  Being upset about the possibility of being aborted is just as pointless as being upset about the possibility of the world never existing at all.  Why would it matter if it hadn’t?  It’s a moot point.

    Recently my mother and I were having a pro-choice vs. pro-life discussion.  I am pro-choice and she is pro-life and believes that since she is so much older and wiser than me that I am simply a misguided child (almost 30 years old, mind you) who has yet to learn all the truths of life.  She confessed to me during this discussion that my father had wanted to abort me.  I believe she thought this would make me change my mind.  I just said, “That’s fine.  You could have.”

    Later, when I was alone, I thought a bit more about her logic and why I found it so baseless.  You see, every person alive to argue and consider abortion was obviously not aborted.  Therefore, if we were to follow her logic, every single person alive should be pro-life.  After all, we were brought into the world only as a result of a pro-life action.

    By the same logic, as I see it, every person who was brought into the world as a result of rape should therefore be in favor of rape.

    Fortunately, we are free to say that the circumstances that brought us here were wrong, even if we would not be here to condemn them had things gone differently.  We are even free to have values that differ from the values of the people who gave us values.

  • Just one more liberal

    This article is good, but does it really go far enough? Should the author’s mother have been permitted by a responsible society to even raise a child? (Note I did not say should she have been permitted to give birth–just should she had been allowed to keep the child, as opposed to giving it up for adoption.) We require people to get licensed to drive a car, cut someone’s hair or give a manicure, practice law or medicine or get married. Why is it so unacceptable to say that a responsible and caring society should require a license to raise a child? Raising a child has the potential of causing infinitely more harm than getting a bad manicure. If this author’s mother had to pass a test with the barest of minimum health and safety standards, she would not have had to endure her horrible childhood.

     What the so-called “pro-lifers” fail to consider is just what kind of life they are forcing the child (and mother) to have. And hypocritically, these “pro-lifers” are often the same ones who advocate eliminating food stamps, welfare, after school programs, state subsidized child care or school lunches, and a host of government programs that could make that child’s life that they insisted come into being, be just a little better. If they are truly “pro-life”, then they should be advocating more government programs for the poor and taking in foster kids or adopting themselves. But how many really do that?

    Giving this author’s mother the option to have an abortion is not going to solve the problem. This author’s mother should have never been given the option to have a child to raise to begin with. She proved time and again that she was not able to make the proper choices in her life, to the grave detriment of her daughter. When are we as a society going to stand up for the children, instead of the pre-children (fetuses)? Count me as pro-choice and pro-children.

  • sam

    If you feel there should be no abortion allowed even if someone is raped, I would not have minded you being aborted.

  • I love everything about this post except for the egregious pronoun misusage in the key sentence (“for both my mother and I”). Thank you, truly.

  • Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it with us. I feel like it can’t do anything but good to have someone share their story like this. My mother was pressured into having two abortions by my father (an abusive, violent alcoholic at the time) before I was born, and she’s dealt with guilt and pain ever since. From my perspective, if she had kept her first two children, she may have felt the need to stay with him just to be able to provide a decent enough life for those two potential children. By deciding to keep only me and ultimately divorcing my father and raising me on her own, she was able to break away from his abuse and provide a decent life for both of us. I can never understand my mother’s pain or loss, but I know made the right decision at the time. Your story confirms my feelings.

  • Flying Feathers

    I find this to be quiet stunning. I completely understand your feelings, and see where you are coming from. It is so awful that you and your mother had to endure such hardships. 
    One thing I do not agree with though, is for this to be a complete pro-choice story (article?). There are too many stupid teenagers and adults out there who use abortion as birth-control. Understandably  there are always going to be stupid people making stupid decisions, and how do you weed out the people who should be allowed the choice to abort from those who should suck it up and put the child up for adoption? Its really such a grey area. I think people who were either raped, have medical/health issues, and/or have some other reasonable reason should be the people who should be allowed to get an abortion. But then again, what if the adoptive parents are just as bad, if not worse? And what if they get put into foster-care which a lot of the times turns out to be a very horrible situation for the child? There is really no safe answer, especially since every situation is different. 

    • Yasmin

      There Is no such thing as abortion being used as birth control, abortion in a lot of cases is used when birth control fails. There is no woman out there having having sex, getting pregnant and having an abortion, then doing the same thing over and over every month. Sometimes people don’t use birth control, they get pregnant and have an abortion, it doesn’t mean they enjoy it, or plan on getting another abortion again

      • Flying Feathers

        You seem to be missing my point. There are plenty of women out there (not saying all of them) that don’t bother to use “birth control” because they can simply get an abortion. (making an abortion like yet another form of birth control [not pregnancy control]). And not once did I say that they “enjoy it”. They are not even careful because there is no way that they will have a child. I understand that in most cases “an accident” happens totally unplanned, but in some cases the woman will not even make an effort not to get pregnant simply because “they could always get an abortion…”. I find the idea quite appalling, as I view abortions to be quite a traumatic experience for a woman, but not everyone sees it as such. (once again, plenty stupid teenagers). (obviously not every month, the body can only take so much strain, and the chances of a woman getting pregnant every time she has sex with a man is incredibly slim). (wow, sorry for the over use of brackets).

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  • Yasmin

    Thank you for sharing your story. My grandmother was sold at the age of 14 to a man that was 26, she was forced to marry him and have children. Her life was miserable, even though she loves her children and grandchildren, she is extremely depressed, and has been suicidal her entire life. I know that if she could, she would have had an abortion, and it would be the best thing she could do. She was a girl, she had hopes and dreams, but she was sold by her mother for a life of sexual and reproductive slavery. Its hard for my mother to even talk about it, because even though my mother would never choose abortion for herself, she still wishes my grandmother had a choice. I want my grandmother to be happy, but I know that everyday is a living hell for her, even after all these year, so anytime a anti choicer tells you to “think of the fetus” and its possible hopes and dreams, don’t EVER forget to think of yours. A fetus is a potential person, it has no consciousness, you do, don’t make yourself (and your future children) suffer because someone is calling you selfish for choosing your happiness over that of a fertilized egg. If my mother was aborted, she would have never existed, an I would have never existed, but I wouldn’t care, why? Because I wouldn’t exist, there would be nothing, no thoughts, no feelings, no existence, and that would be fine, because my grandmother who had thoughts & feeling could live a happy life.

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  • Guest

    Wow….that’s all I can say.  I’ve always been pro-choice, and thankfully have never been in a position to have to make that choice.  I have two wonderful children, and I had three miscarriages, one slightly traumatic.  I’m 45 and recently thought it could be possible that I might be pregnant…..menopause is a little freaky, I must say!  But I really DID have to stop and think.  My partner is 58 and money for us is a huge issue – like for so many others. I know the right choice would be to terminate the pregnancy if that choice had had to be made.  I’m thankful that I have the RIGHT to think, and make the decision that is best for me/us.  I hope that choice will always remain.

  • Honour

    I was the fifth of what myy mother and father wanted to be four children. My father was already insane, and my mother knew it. My fifth birthday present was Daddy in my bed. First to last, I agree. I love my son, my grandson, my faith. But I shouldn’t have been brought to term after he forced her to “cheat” on the rhythm method.

  • Susy Smith

    To the author: I am confused by your article. You say that you love your life now and you have a family of your own. Isn’t it unfair to your child(ren) to make your argument?  You are uniquely equipped through your struggles and successes to be his/her mother. If you wish you had been aborted, then are you not also wishing your child/ren had never been born?

    My parents immigrated to this country (against my 6 year old will) so I can relate to your “Herculean struggle for normalcy”. But why should no one have to fight against their
    natural set ups for failure? Why should extreme adversity not exist? I struggle everyday with my background. I was an illegal immigrant, a sex abuse survivor, a child who witnessed domestic violence and poverty. But overcoming the life I was given is part of Life.

    I have wished countless times to have the “normalcy” of others but this is an exercise in futility. My background/childhood/baggage offers a redemptive opportunity for good. I can either succumb to what I should have become or rise above my past and write my
    own future.

    As believer in Jesus Christ, I believe one of life’s greatest purposes is redemption. You have overcome a great deal; doesn’t that mean your mother made the right choice? Not everyone with your background goes on to be educated, well-spoken and successful, but I
    believe everyone ought to have the right to live their lives and bring redemption to themselves and others.

    In the case of the rape you mentioned, by making a very difficult decision, the mother took back the evil that was done to her and demonstrated great courage and self-lessness by not letting a man’s rape of her to determine her destiny. By aborting she would have added more shame to her victimization and heartbreak over the child she could have known.

    Thank God I have not been in that situation. I cannot tell you what I would do. Having suffered sexual abuse myself as a child, I personally find it inconceivable to do what she did, but I admire her nonetheless.

    There is a side you did not mention regarding women’s right to choose. It is unclear to me who you meant when you mentioned ,” The Right”.  Whether televangelists with blingy jewelry or Southern politicians with poofy hair, I can’t be sure.  But as a Christian woman I can say that many women who have had abortions live with terrible guilt,
    regret, shame and grief over a choice they made, typically when they were very young. 

    As a Christian, I believe the wisest thing and most self-respecting and self-loving thing to do is for a woman to abstain from sex until marriage.  One’s own body is a tremendous gift that was never designed to be given away casually.  Of course that goes for both genders.  An unwanted pregnancy overwhelmingly occurs because 2 people made a very bad choice to have sex before the right time and the right commitment.

    So from my perspective, it is a consequence of a bad choice.  Given your mom’s background it is amazing that she chose to have you and truly your life validates her decision.  I doubt your children (or anyone for that matter) could ever look at you and your accomplishment and think, “This should have never happened.”

    It would be wrong for anyone to condemn a woman who has had an abortion (or committed any other sin), because as Jesus said, “whoever is without sin, may cast the first stone…”  However, commending a woman who had her unwanted pregnancy is always acceptable. I say this particularly strongly as the mother of a preschooler.

    I do not like the pro-choice/life debate because it is so polarizing but also because it bothers me that a government should have rights over a woman’s body.  Since both groups are so extreme I have yet to attach myself to one or the other.  I do know however, that if a woman ever came to me for advice on the matter, I would never encourage her to abort. Not only for the baby that God allowed to form inside of her, not only because it would be taking a life but also for love of my friend.  As a mother I know how hard parenting is.  As a child of poor and uneducated immigrants, I know how hard and expensive parenting is.  But I would never encourage another woman to carry the grief, sadness and shame of terminating a pregnancy.  Oftentimes, the hardest things in life become our greatest source of joy.  And that is something no one should ever be deprived of.

    Giving someone the gift of life is not only self-less but also a tremendous privilege.  Taking a life is the complete opposite.  Depriving someone of life because it would
    strain our society’s resources or because they may be poor or uneducated seems
    extremely unfair, unloving and elitist.  My position is that everyone, including unborn, unwanted and innocent children, are owed the right to their own life.

    • Ann

      To view pregnancy as “the baby that God allowed to form inside of her” suggests that God was also allowing the rapes, child abuse, and so forth.

      I had an abortion at 17. It was absolutely the right thing to do. When I have had the occasional thought of “that child would be X years old now”, it’s no more meaningful than when I think about other choices I’ve made – like, what life would be like if I’d stayed in my home town and not moved to the big city.

      I now have two grown sons. If I hadn’t had the abortion at 17, I wouldn’t have them; I would have become a very different person. It was a sad decision, and one I would have preferred not to make, but it was not wrong. I do not carry grief, sadness, or shame; if I’d continued the pregnancy in that small town, I would have been overwhelmed with guilt, shame, and remorse.

      There should be no shame in terminating a pregnancy. None. No guilt. Sadness, yes. Regret that such a decision has to be made. I feel so angry at a society that burdens women with guilt and shame for choosing to end a pregnancy.

    • TKay

      What about the life of the woman who chooses to abort? Does she not have the right to HER own life? My Aunt whom I love and respect very much had an abortion in her 30s. Not young, not unmarried. Her unexpected pregnancy was not the product of “bad choices”. She already had two children. She was told by her doctors when she found out that she was pregnant, that if she carried that fetus to term she would die.

      So instead of leaving her two children without a mother, she made the decision to abort the “baby that god allowed to form inside her”. I just cannot agree with your argument that everyone/thing is owed the right to live. At what cost and who is more entitled to said life?

      In watching her mental and physical anguish after having made such a choice, I know it is not one that any woman makes lightly. There is no shame in choosing abortion whatever the reason.

  • Cragfeatures

    I am a Christian brought up in a loving, hardworking home. A keenly desired only child, loved, cherished and wanted. I know I am blessed but even with the best start, life can still be tough.
    I am a friend. Wendy, my friend, got pregnant at 14 years and asked my opinion on abortion. She had been a ‘mistake’ herself and I advised her to have an abortion because I knew that the baby inside her wouldn’t get the best start that I got and that she would ruin her life. I often wondered if that was the right advice (she did have the abortion) until I had a baby.
    I am also a mother. My husband is supportive, kind and caring. My parents have been my rock. My husband’s parents and family have been wonderful. We are comfortably off, have our own home (after many years) and good food, good schools, good supportive friends and can give my son the most loving and nurturing homelife. YET bringing up my boy is the MOST DIFFICULT THING I HAVE EVER DONE. As a result, I’m quite convinced that I did give her the right advice now. Bringing up a child well is incredibly hard even with the most supportive background.  I have every respect for every single mother but I also have bags of respect for those who have made the hardest of decisions.
     “Every mother a willing mother, every child a wanted child.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful! 
    THANK YOU for your story.

  • Guest

    There was a tshirt a friend of mine wore often in middle school that was something along the line of “Sally killed her baby in the womb and you call her a hero. Alice killed her baby in the crib and you call her a murderer”
    It was a pro-life/anti-choice shirt and meant to mock the word “hero” but I think it’s accurate.Some women certainly flippantly use abortion as a form of birth control and it saddens me, largely due to the unnecessary stress they put on their bodies and finances. But most women (myself included) spend so much time weighing the options, fighting to find what is the right choice for ALL involved parties. I have two beautiful boys and I knew that due to the given circumstances at the time I just could not continue to care for them the way that they deserved if I brought another child into the world. Our situation was already so precarious and desperate. We were heading uphill and all of that would have come to an abrupt halt had I not taken the stand for what I knew was right by terminating my pregnancy. 

    I expected that choice to haunt me, but it does not. My family is happy and healthy and whole. Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for showing this other side. 

  • Mackenzie Gregg

     “I could have been aborted” seems to me to be not any more  compelling of a statement than “My parents could have used a condom and I wouldn’t have been born” or “my grandpa could have died in a fire before impregnating my grandmother and I wouldn’t have been born.”

  • JaimekB

    You are a wonderfully courageous woman. I wish more women, as well as men, had the clarity of mind to be as honest with themselves as you have been with yourself. I hope that your story will continue to inspire people. 

  • Placeholder

    Hearing my parents shout at each other that they “never wanted the goddamned kids” and my father tell me that he is not my father have made it very hard for me to trust or be in relationships. Finding a therapist who can keep from getting blasted by me is extremely hard. Because I don’t know how to be loved, I don’t love in a way that people want. I’ve had a solo, lonely life with thwarted attempts at intimacy. I’ve used abortion to keep from repeating my parent’s crimes; as if abortion by proxy would redeem me. I believe aborted me would have found a more receptive home in another life, as I believe my baby did.

    Even if I hadn’t been “me” it would have been OK. I’m not attached to anything and there’s nothing I do, as has been said, that others couldn’t of done better. Thank you for writing this article. I’ve never read this truth before. You have helped me externalize some pain, and I’ve saved it to read and bookmarked it for the others who will surely need it.

  • Meredith

    Thank you for your thoughtful and sincere post.

    I was just wondering … what if your mother had given birth to you, and THEN realized that
    “an abortion would have absolutely been better for [her]” and “abortion would have been a better option for [you]”? Should it have been her choice to 1) raise you, or 2) put you up for adoption, OR 3) quietly, sorrowfully smother you in your sleep? Would it have been right for her to have all three options? Or would you say that she should not legally have option 3?

  • carol

    Thank you for this, it took courage, and I’m sure it cost you emotionally to put it out there. Thank you is all I can say, and well done.

  • Guest

    Thanks for the honesty. Lots to think about for those of us who had just the usual mixed bag of childhood, and whether it’s for the good of children now that all the laws favor the biological parents, however dysfunctional.

  • Anna

    Thank you very much for sharing your story! 
    I’ve been an abortion counsellour for a few years and it’s one of the aspects that I always discussed with my clients, when they felt pressured by others or society and thought that non-aborting the fetus would always be the right option.
    My Mom thought about abortion when she was pregnant with me and had one a year before. But she had a great support system and made her decision on her own. 
    It’s amazing that we can talk about this openly and one of the reasons why I am a pro-choice activist.