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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Comments

jen

I flipped that coin once. yep i sure did.
I even flipped the coin with the son i have now, and i'm so glad it ended up how it did. OMG.............i can't imagine my life without my son!!!!!

saltyC

Also, you may think you're smart for never needing to get an abortion, but I have another word for you: Lucky.

saltyC

Did you call your own son dumb for getting his girlfriend pregnant? Just wonering, cause I had an abortion and I'm glad no one in my circle called me dumb.

Right to Choose Catholic

My husband and I were talking about all of this today because our church has a Right to Life mass once in a while. I don't know what that is, because it would be a violation of all I believe in to pretend to jump on the Right to Life bandwagon. I'm conflicted on when life begins, but I know that a clump of cells, while capable at a future time, is not able to sustain life. I also know that most responsible women before, during, or after an abortion regrets that she was dumb enough to get pregnant when there are a thousand ways to prevent it, and we all know what causes it, but that is far from regretting not having a child when it is not wanted. I'm very vocal about my pro choice opinions, and have supported many of my friends and sisters when they chose to terminate pregnancies. I really had to put my money where my mouth is when my son told me that his girlfriend was pregnant, and could I help them pay for it. I didn't hesitate for one second, and even though it was a false alarm, I would make the same decision again. When we all talked about it, they were consumed with guilt, and I told them I really thought they'd been influenced by all of the pro life rhetoric, and that they were incredibly lucky to live in an era where they had an option to safely terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Did it cross my mind that this is my grandchild we're talking about? Of course it did, and I then stopped thinking of myself and remembered that we are talking about peoples lives and got that thought out of my mind, and reassured my child that he was doing the absolutely right thing.

Mom of Three

Abortion is so complex because people are so complex. I've never heard of any woman leaping out of the abortionist's shouting "Wahoo! What a GREAT choice!" It's sad, no matter what the outcome. I am an adopted child who contacted her birth mother and spoke, instead to her now-husband. Seems that talking to me would destablize her so emotionally that she can't even attempt it. I respect that, asked the husband some health questions and went on my way. But I think it's clear she also lives with regret.

I was adopted out to abusive parents. My whole life came about because my birth father was put into state care after his sister was beaten to death at age two by an uncle, and he was placed in another home, then met my mother. His birth mother, who, a physical abuser of the baby herself, "gave the baby to them because I didn't have room for it" had no choice and this is how she treated her babies.

Those who would pretend that everyone can fit into the same mold and regret will be banished know nothing of human nature.

Thank you for your insight.

DP

JA: Good points. I've also noticed that when people talk about how some women regret abortion they make it sound like no one has ever regretted any other decision in their lives--or felt regret at a decision even when they know it is the right decision. I felt some regret at not marrying and having children with my college boyfriend. It would have been--and I knew already then that it would have been--an absolute disaster for all concerned if I'd done it, but I still felt some regret at missing an opportunity that would never come again. I imagine that if I'd become pregnant and had an abortion I would have regretted it in much the same way I regret the loss of the "unconceived children" that I will never have with that particular man. But it would have been the right decision, just as using birth control--including abstinence--was the right decision. But few major life decisions can be made with no regret whatsoever.

Anne

I have to say, I wish more women were encouraged to be sure. I certainly never was. There were so many things, that as a 17 year old, I was unaware of. I really didn't understand the fetal development, that people could help me make another choice if my parents wouldn't, and that there were emotional as well as physical after effects to my decision.

Those things that I didn't know have left me with a lifetime of wondering and regret. But ultimately, I think the reason that we're on the verge of losing legal abortion is because all of the good that we thought abortion would do, hasn't come to pass. We still have child abuse, unwanted children, and a whole host of other social ills. The only long term affect we've seen from abortion has been to tear at people on both sides of the issue, leave millions of women heartbroken, and millions of babies dead.

I'm all for preventing pregnancy, keeping living babies living, and finding another way to fix our many problems.

Judith Arcana

One of the things we always need to consider is that regret about abortion depends on its context (like everything else). Regret is not the same, always and everywhere. This makes it no less real, I know, but thinking about history and geography (truly) can help us work out what we actually believe and feel about ourselves. In this case, any woman's regret about abortion in the USA at the end of the 20th or beginning of the 21st century is going to be experienced within and powerfully fueled by a national atmosphere that's been successfully created by the anti-abortion movement over more than thirty years. Women who feel regret in 2006 are viewing themselves and their decisions inside of a society that has adopted the phrase "pro-life" to describe anti-abortion beliefs and actions, a society that (often casually) calls abortion "murder," a society in which the motherhood imperative has become so strong that some women willingly undertake the painful, arguably dangerous, medical procedures of IVF in order to do what women are supposed to do, what women ought to do, what women are expected to do ... this is a burden for even the staunchest decision-maker.
+
Another thought I've had for years about post-abortion "regret" is that we rarely define it - even in context. A woman may "regret" an abortion years later when she finds she was injured by the procedure and cannot conceive when she decides she wants to - you can bet that's regrettable. A woman who wants to be a mother may decide to have an abortion because the relationship that produces a particular pregnancy is not good for the purpose of making and raising a person. So she experiences "regret" even though her decision in that case is a wise one. The complexity is great, and our respect for that complexity needs to be part of our understanding of "regret" in all the many circumstances that make up our various lives.

Diana S

I have to say I am in awe. Here I am posting on a blog with such strong voices, and the incomparable Katha Pollitt.

Choice is the least honestly talked about, profoundest issue IMHO.

How sad it is that women don't support each other.
It is true as Katha Pollit put it, many women do think theirs was the only justifiable abortion. When that happens you know they are deeply conflicted about their own choice.

This is proof that we live in a woman-hating society. We shouldn't even be defending a woman's right to ultimately make her own decision. It is obscene to question a woman's sincere judgement, most of the anti-choice rhetoric is abusive. It's not just about making it legal. It's about valuing women and their life paths. We should congratulate women for their choices. Once I made a pie as a gift for a friend who had an abortion and I called it the "you made the right choice" pie.

Ms Pollitt also makes an excellent point in showing that the choice is not simply whether or not to end a pregnancy. It is whether or not to become a mother. To take motherhood lightly is child abuse. I have seen women who carry out a pregnancy mainly because they don't want an abortion, and the child pays for it.
When I was struggling with my decision, a helpful friend's advise was: There is only one reason to have a child, and that is that you really want to have a child.

Those of us who know all these things will teach our children the truth about sex and life, so that they won't be in a bind where they are against choice yet have to have an abortion.

The need to take away the stigma, to stop punishing women for sex, compels us to talk talk talk about all the situations and ramifications, unblushingly and unapologetically. That is what Katha Pollit does and what this blog does.

PS I am glad that Ms Pollitt is browsing the feminist blogosphere. I hope you find many insights in this space. You won't see this stuff in print at barnes & noble.

Diana S

I have to say I am in awe. Here I am posting on a blog with such strong voices, and the incomparable Katha Pollitt.

Choice is the least honestly talked about, profoundest issue IMHO.

How sad it is that women don't support each other.
It is true as Katha Pollit put it, many women do think theirs was the only justifiable abortion. When that happens you know they are deeply conflicted about their own choice.

This is proof that we live in a woman-hating society. We shouldn't even be defending a woman's right to ultimately make her own decision. It is obscene to question a woman's sincere judgement, most of the anti-choice rhetoric is abuse.

Ms Pollitt also makes an excellent point in showing that the choice is not simply whether or not to end a pregnancy. It is whether or not to become a mother. To take motherhood lightly is child abuse. I have seen women who carry out a pregnancy because they don't want an abortion, and the child pays for it.
When I was struggling with my decision, a helpful friend's advise was: There is only one reason to have a child, and that is that you really want to have a child.

Those of us who know all these things will teach our children the truth about sex and life, so that they won't be in a bind where they are against choice yet have to have an abortion.

The need to take away the stigma, to stop punishing women for sex, compels us to talk talk talk about all the situations and ramifications, unblushingly and unapologetically. That is what Katha Pollit does and what this blog does.

PS I am glad that Ms Pollitt is browsing the feminist blogosphere. I hope you find many insights in this space. You won't see this stuff in print at barnes & noble.

Katha Pollitt

I can see that you want to be sure the woman is not conflicted. and I understand how careful you want to be, and how important that is. I just wonder if you are encouraging conflicted feelings where they didn't exist. It doesn't make sense to think that some women won't regret their abortions -- there are no actions some people later don't wish they hadn't taken. Thing is,no one comes around and asks women if they regret deciding to have an unplanned child once that child is actually here. I wonder how many women who drop out of grad school and get married in haste because they have an accidental pregnancy, as Angela may do, are pleased with their life ten years later.
What I heard in your original account was a woman who possibly wanted to act before her family, boyfriend and roommate had a chance to work her over. That may not be the best way to approach having an abortion, but it's not much of a way to enter motherhood either. To me, she didn't seem to be getting the support she deserved from her family/bf for continuing her education and preparing herself for her career. But all this is just speculation on my part on the sketchy info you gave.
I completely agree that it is a huge problem for pro-choicers that so many women who've had abortions don't step up to the plate to support abortion rights. Imagine if every woman who terminated a pregnancy, around 30-40 percent of US women, gave even ten dollars a year to the National Network of Abortion Funds to help another woman! And got active in their community, and voted with repro rights in mind, and so on. Is there any evidence, though, that their failure to form a cohesive pro-choice force is because they regret having chosen abortion--ie wish they had had carried that particular pregnancy to term and were now the mother of that child? I think it is more likely that they are ashamed of looking like sluts, of letting their community know, of being targeted by pro-lifers. You'd have to be pretty courageous to come out with pro-choice views in many parts of the US, and in many families. I wonder too if some of these women don't feel they had the only justifiable abortion in America, and refuse to identify with other accidentally pregnant women.


Diana S

Thank you so much for this blog. WHere else can we get such true insights into your and your patient's choices?
You are so brave to admit that women do regret. We pro-choicers should not shy from the truth. In my case, I do regret it and it did traumatize me to an extent. Even so I know it was the right choice because of all the thought I put into it and all the consulting with my family. Of course women regret, half of American women think it's wrong. It would be absurd to think that women who get abortions are from the other half. No, many women who are "pro-life" actually had abortions. Yet in their minds they'll blame the provider, or anyone else to avoid changing their beliefs. You are helping women to take credit for their decisions.

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