No Little Girl Grows Up Saying I Want To Have An Abortion
Recently Anamarie, blogging friend, sent me an interesting Huffington Post article on abortion. And it has been bouncing around in my brain for the last few weeks, because this author and I share a lot in common.
If you don’t want to read the entire article, don’t worry, I’ll quote what Anamarie highlighted for me, and what I saw as the most important two paragraphs:
There’s a danger in talking about “good” abortions — these stories, like mine, of women choosing to end wanted pregnancies because of medical complications. They’re important because they bring to light the need for abortion due to medical reasons, but they also present the danger of making it seem like other reasons for abortion are less valid. That’s not my goal.
I don’t want anyone to think that I had abortion for a “good” reason and that abortions for other reasons are bad. What I do want is for people to hear my story and realize that abortion is often a much less black-and-white issue than politicians want us to think.
I realize I often talk about my abortion as being different – it was medically necessary. I do frequently make this distinction. I cannot help it, in large part I am at peace with our decision to abort because I knew we were in a high risk situation where my life could be compromised at any time. In all honesty, I know that this distinction, that our abortion was medically necessary, is in part how I accept the decision we made and therefore take responsibility for our decision.
When we were at the abortion clinic we were told they only see 1 or 2 people a year like us terminating a desperately wanted baby – we were rare. First we are the 1% who gets to experience recurrent pregnancy loss. Then we were the even smaller fraction of people who terminate for medical reasons. We wanted our baby. We wanted our baby more than anything else in the world. But, it was not meant to be and I do not regret our decision. I regret the circumstance that lead us to the abortion clinic, but I also realize that we had absolutely no control of the circumstances so I cannot dwell in it. We simply made the best decision we could at the time and I’d do the same thing again if I had to.
Yet, I also want to acknowledge that I tend to use the term abortion, rather than termination for medical reasons (or the common acronym of TFMR). In my mind, the reality is, like it or not, I had the procedure at an abortion clinic. And, further, no matter how you look at it, I chose, without any coercion, to have a procedure that ended the life of my child. I had an abortion. And the fact is, medically necessary or not, it is the same procedure at the same clinic, with the same team of doctors and nurses and even ultrasound techs.
I have stated in the past that I am pro-choice. All my life, well at least since I understood what pro-choice meant, I have been pro-choice. I believe every women/couple has the right to make the choice that is best for them. Prior to finding myself in need of an abortion, I always said I support a women’s right to choose, I just don’t think I could ever do it myself.
Well, it turns out I could, I did and I don’t regret it.
And while I hate that I was in that position and that my baby is not in my arms today, I am thankful that I had the right to choose. I am thankful that I was able to have the procedure safely, in a sterile medical environment with a skilled team of professionals. I am thankful I live in a democracy that typically places value on individual choice and freedoms. I am thankful I had the right to have an abortion.
What I can tell you, and will tell anyone willing to listen to me, is that I saw a different side of life that day in that waiting room. Whenever I think about it, my heart breaks for anyone who has ever been in that waiting room. And today, after being in an abortion clinic and actually experiencing an abortion, I am even more engrained in my belief in a women’s right to choose.
While my specific circumstance is exceptionally rare and may even be viewed as a “good” abortion on some sort of abortion scale, what I hope people hear from me more than that.
What I want people to hear is that no-women’s abortion experience is typical. No woman expects to be there. No women wants to be there. Every single one of us has a deeply personal story and every single one of us will always battle lingering doubts and regrets. Regardless of their reasoning for being there, I am willing to state with absolute certainty that not a single women in that waiting room ever envisioned an abortion as being part of her life plan.
No little girl grows up saying I want to have an abortion.
Little girls grow up wanting to be a mommy, a doctor, a rock star, a lawyer, or a teacher, but never someone who has an abortion. No-one stares into their mirror and dreams of the day that they end the life of a baby. To be in that waiting room means something has gone drastically wrong – maybe it’s medically necessary like mine, maybe the baby is the result of rape or incest, or maybe it’s the wrong time in the mother’s life for any number of reasons. But, I do not believe the why matters, but what matters to me is that virtually no-one’s first choice is to have an abortion.
No matter why we are there, I believe those of us in that room are bound together, even if we never actually share any words together. The fact is, all of us in that room share in our brokenness and share in our fear of extreme social rejection and negative judgement.
Some people might view some circumstances, like mine, as more socially acceptable then others, but I do not believe that’s a judgement we should be making. I believe in compassion and empathy and feel that if anything we need to start understanding that life simply isn’t black and white and all situations are diverse and unique. And really, we should simply be saying to these women/couples,
I’m sorry you were in a position where an abortion was your best choice. If you need/want to talk about it, I’ll be your shoulder to cry on. I’ll listen and support you however I can and without judgement.
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*Cheers.* I know this is a hard thing to talk about, and I love that both you and the author of the HuffPost article are careful about not distancing yourself from abortion and not distinguishing between “good” and “bad” reasons for an abortion. This is such a difficult topic to discuss, and stories like yours are so important. I wish we could all agree that abortions should be safe, legal, and as rare as we can possibly, possibly make them. Every woman going through an abortion is going through deep pain of one sort or another, and I wish we could remove all the sources of pain that make access to abortion unfortunately necessary.
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Yes, you get exactly what I mean when you say ” I wish we could all agree that abortions should be safe, legal, and as rare as we can possibly, possibly make them.” I am not advocating that having an abortion is necessarily a good thing and that we should be lining up to have them, but I do believe that access needs to be sage and legal. Options need to be given and support without judgement needs to be offered.
Thank you so much for understanding and for being so compassionate.
I always distinguish that pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. No one is pro-abortion! I wish we lived in a world where education and accessibility was so amazing that everyone could protect themselves from unplanned pregnancy. Of course I wish we lived in a world where RPL and the kinds of experiences you have had in life didn’t exist. But we don’t, and reality isn’t even almost always ideal. Whenever someone questions why I am pro-life, I always tell them that as a woman, there is absolutely no choice in life more enormous than deciding when (and if) to become a mother. That is monumental. That is forever. Nothing — not your career, not your spouse, nothing nothing — is bigger than that decision. And I believe to the core of my being that no one should be forced to become a mother before they are ready, regardless of the specifics of their case. Every woman has the right to decide when and how they become a mother.
Now if only we could find a way to solve all the complications some women experience once they make that huge decision to become a mother, the world would be way more amazing.
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Yes, you are right, no-one is pro-abortion. No one sits around thinking “I’d love to get pregnant so that I can go have an abortion” – at least I really hope no-one does!
You are also right when you talk about the importance of the decision to become a mother/father, and only doing so when you are ready. It really is the biggest decision we will ever make in our lives, and also the most important decision. And if only we could solve the problems of those wanting to have children who find themselves unable to – that would be awesome too!
Great post. Thank you for sharing your reflexion and making a powerful case for the need for safe and accessible abortion. I read words by a Quebec midwife that I think go in the same direction. She says no matter what leads a woman to get an abortion, it is the gesture of a mother who does what she judges best for her future child (and herself of course).
That said, I am really sorry you had to face that decision and undergo this procedure.
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Thank you so much for sharing your compassion and love with me. And thank you for sharing the words of this Quebec midwife – they ring very true in my mind.
All of it is a nightmare. So sorry you have been through what you have but grateful for your strength and courage to talk about it.
You are right, it is the things nightmares are made of! Thank you so much for your love and encouragement. I know I need to write about this to help my own healing, but I do hope I will also help someone else in a similar situation know that they are not alone.
To each his own I would say. No one here is anti-life, everyone is pro-life. In cases of termination for medical reasons, the life is that of the mother. No one should judge the family for such a personal decision.
I doubt there is any woman who has had an abortion for whatever reason and has not thought of “how I wish it was different and the baby could live” in her mind.
When i read your post, I can feel how hard this decision must have been for you, you are still struggling with the what if’s in your mind. thanks sweetie for being so brave and sharing your emotions, its never easy and I just wish you have some peace and closure.
Yes, no-one is anti-life! Such a great way of expressing it.
You are right, I do struggle with our decision to terminate, while I know we had to, and I know I would do it again if we were in the same situation again, I do know that it breaks my heart. And I do know that I will carry around these complicated feelings for the rest of my life. I am making an effort to write through these emotions right now because i know I need to as part of my healing. And I do hope that as I share my words may help someone else in a similar situation know that they are not alone.
This can be such a tricky topic and I too agree it’s good to not really make assumptions that some abortions are good and some are bad. Your courage to talk about it is wonderful. I often struggle with my tubal pregnancy – I was never in an abortion clinic, but I did terminate a much wanted pregnancy – but for my life, I made the choice to end that. Even that is a tricky topic – ectopic’s are necessarily viable anyway… It’s all tricky. I’m so sorry you’ve been faced with that decision, but you’ve handled it well and you’re now becoming a very strong advocate and voice on this topic! XOXO HUGS
It is absolutely a medical necessity to end a tubal pregnancy, and yet I had not once thought about how a tubal pregnancy is so similar, but you are right, in so many ways it is the same and in so many ways, actually in all ways, the mothers is left knowing that a surgery ended a much wanted baby.
And yes, it is a tricky topic and it’s such a hard topic to respectfully discuss. For now, I will keep writing about it and talking about it, because I need to for my own well being and healing. And if I happen to help someone else along the way struggling with their own medically necessary abortion (or non-medically necessary abortion), then I will be honoured.
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Heartbreaking. I am sorry you and I have both gone through something like this. I believe you’ve said it best when you call us to compassion instead of judgement. We all have our own opinions, but rarely does our opinion matter in another’s affairs. Only our love does. Xo
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Exactly, only our love matters. Once the decision is made, and the act completed, only compassion will help people cope well.
Hmm, I’m steadfastly pro-choice for all women and support the laws as they are, but I also believe the ‘why’ matters…a lot.There’s a really big difference between “a heartbreaking choice” like TMFR and failing to use a condom. Sorry, but I think anything that inches in the direction of discussing the two as if they’re even in the same universe is dismissive of what agony a couple goes through when to deciding whether or not to end a loved and wanted pregnancy. A woman who terminates an unplanned pregnancy may suffer angst as well, but it is the result of her own poor judgement.
In many ways I agree with you – I do believe the only reason I am able to accept what we did is that it was done out of medical reasons and we desperately wanted our child. I really do know what you mean, and respect what you are saying. There is a difference between medical necessity and not.
I think for me, the reason I am trying to not always focus on the difference in the why is because I don’t think it’s fair to downplay the hurt these other women are going through. While they likely aren’t hurting in the same way we are, I do believe the majority of them are still hurting and they deserve compassion as well. Maybe it’s a different type of compassion, maybe it’s not. I don’t really know.
Being adopted I am conflicted on abortion. It’s hard to be “pro” something that would have ended your own life. I appreciate that it’s a hard choice for the majority of people and I don’t think it shouldn’t be available… but I think that it’s strange that we don’t acknowledge that there is something slightly perverse about ending the life of a baby in utero and distinguishing that ideologically from the act of infanticide. I absolutely get that there are situations where it is preferable – for instance I always think the mother’s health and life should take precedence over that of her unborn child. I just think that much of the time we compartmentalize abortion as something mundane, a solution, when as you have said it causes a lot of mental anguish.
I was staunchly pro choice as an adolescent and I would still defend the right to do it, but having seen the mental damage it causes I’m not sure it should be thought of so readily as a solution in many cases. I don’t think many people do it lightly, but I do think that as a society we have sort of normalised it. I do think there is a difference between medical abortion and abortion for convenience. I don’t think women should be forced to give birth if they don’t want to. But… I find it abhorrent that the scale and frequency of termination is so great. That women feel there’s no other choice than to terminate their baby’s life before its born. It saddens me that they find themselves in that situation with not enough support as I’m sure that it must be one of the most traumatic things anyone can go through. I hope I am not judging people who have abortions – I don’t mean to – I just find it very sad.
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I think your words here are filled with brilliance. First, I realize the irony of the fact that we are adopting after having had an abortion. The only way we will have a family is by someone choosing life and not choosing an abortion. The reality is, abortions in my part of the world are relatively easy to get. And both abortion and adoption have long term mental health consequences for a mother, the only way we will build our family is by someone NOT choosing abortion. Honestly, I think of this frequently. And I think I may just have to dedicate some time to writing about it because I do think this is full of interesting thoughts.
I also think about the mental health damage that you speak about. I can tell you, even though ours was the result of medical necessity, it is a decision that I think about daily. It is a decision that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life. And honestly, I know if ours wasn’t based in medical necessity I wouldn’t not functioning well today (but then again, I also know we wouldn’t have had an abortion if it weren’t a medical necessity). I worry for the women who have had elective abortions and their long term mental health – I’m sure a few are okay with it, and just keep living their lives. But, I do suspect a lot of these women struggle throughout their lives.
And by the way, I too find the entire concept of abortion sad. I find it deplorable that we as a society have not found a better way to help these women through this time and to provide them with real options free of judgement.
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Such a hard topic but you write about it with such delicacy and very eloquently.
Thank you my friend. Thank you.
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No, no little girl grows up saying she wants an abortion … and I’d bet no woman, no matter her age says she wants one either.
Guttmacher Institute on abortion stats JULY 2014: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html
Here are some stories about women who never, ever wanted an abortion but did so for medical reasons — termination for medical reasons — TFMR: https://1in10blog.wordpress.com/page/2/
Thanks for sharing those stats – I just skimmed it, but I do find it fascinating.
And the link to the 1 in 10 blog is great – I shared our story on that blog a few months ago. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and if sharing my story helps just one person then at least something good will come out of it.
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I have also always been pro-choice. It’s really not anyone else’s right to decide that sort of thing for someone else. I hope that I never have to be put into that situation in my life. But if I am, I’m really glad that I’ll have that right to choose.
That pretty much sums up my feelings – I’m glad that I was able to make the choice I did, safely and in the hands of qualified doctors.
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I am 100% pro choice, but I do see what you did (and my cousin did) as entirely different from choosing to abort because the timing isn’t right. In both situations, though, it is none of my business and is entirely the business of the couple involved.
I support a woman’s right to choose, but I would not be supportive of my daughter, or my sons girlfriend, having an abortion to remedy an unplanned pregnancy. At least, I don’t think I would be. There are two other options in that situation that allow babies to live, and that is what I see as the difference in the two situations.
Because abortion is so highly personal, and I really don’t believe someone else’s choice is my business (and I don’t judge them. Just because I wouldn’t have one doesn’t mean I think those who have one are wrong, our misguided, etc), I will always support it. It is a slippery slope once we start putting conditions on it, and I’d never want to see this right taken from us.
You are right, no one grows up wanting to have an abortion, but there are women who use it as birth control (I know one such gal – 4 abortions so far), and I do not want you thinking of yourself as similar to them. You’re entirely different.
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Thank you for sharing. I think you make some amazing points here – I do personally see a distinction and I know that distinction, in that we had an abortion out of medical necessity is the reason I am able to live with our decision. But, I also try not to see a distinction in terms of providing someone with compassion and love in the aftermath of having an abortion. Does that make sense?
And don’t get me started on the idea of someone using an abortion as birth control – I’ve hear it happens, and those circumstances devastate me beyond words.
I agree and disagree. Obviously not with how you feel, you feel however you do and view what happened to you in whatever way you chose. You had a heartbreaking choice to make and a worse trauma happened during it thanks to the incompetence of idiots.
I 100% agree on the ‘no little girl’ line but I do think it’s necessary to differentiate between medical abortions and those done for non medical reasons. Not for judgement but for two very specific reasons. With all abortion there is the choice to terminate or not but for those undergoing medical abortions I do not see it as a true choice, if you understand my reasoning, more trying to do what’s best in an awful situation.
If a pregnancy continued without abortion then there could be a healthy baby at the end or there could be problems later (whereby the heartbreaking choice would be made), but could have a healthy baby outcome. With women who have medical abortions, if the pregnancy were to continue the babies either they would be severely disabled to the point of no quality of life, or they’d live a short time in pain. So with pregnancies needing medical abortion, I don’t think the mothers has as much choice at all, whereas with other abortion when there could be a successful pregnancy at the end if abortion wasn’t chosen there is no real chance of that and so no choice at all – either the baby suffers or the mother (because her health, mental or physical could be at risk instead) if it continues, or you have to make the choice to stop that suffering or save yourself.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that in my opinion with medical abortion, a lot of your choice has been removed and the baby is much loved and wanted. Given the choice, if the baby was healthy or the mother would be safe and healthy, the mother wouldn’t be terminating. Whereas with abortion aside from medical reasons, it’s a more chosen choice. The pregnancy has potential, not certainty but potential and whether it’s loved or not, the mother has weighed up everything in her mind and has chosen what’s best for her/them- the baby itself may or may not have been part of this thought process or even thought of as a baby. I’m rambling but the upshot is, I think abortion is a horrible choice to make regardless of the reasons but it’s less of a choice when then the outcome wouldn’t be good if the pregnancy were to continue.
I also think it’s important to differentiate at times because whenever I see or hear abortion debates, anti-choicers always always bring up late term abortions for which the majority if not all are done for medical reasons: either a problem with the baby or illness (physical or mental) with the mother. Late term abortion is always used to derail any debate or questioning as though women would chose to deliberately abort for convenience so late rather then it being a much more complex decision mostly prompted by something wrong with baby or mother. So I believe that when talking about abortion in regards to anti-choice and pro-choice, all medical abortions need to be removed from statistics and discussion.
Interestingly, I find most people are actually prochoice because even if they hate or disapprove of abortion they wouldn’t foist it on others- they just incorrectly label themselves prolife not understanding as someone commented above that being prochoice doesn’t mean proabortion, just pro everyone (including themselves) having that choice.
I’m very prochoice, I have supported people through abortions in the past including being there for someone at the hospital because her boyfriend as a feckless idiot and while, quite honestly I would have trouble doing it at the moment because of my own grief, I believe all women should have a choice and the fact that some don’t is disgraceful. In this day and age, all women should have access to safe abortion facilities.
I have to be honest and say right that now I don’t know that I could support someone going through a termination in every situation, which shames me. One friend has had a medical termination and I would be there 100% if she called me up today needing support but if a friend called me up needing support for a termination because it was the wrong time, I’m not sure I could support her properly. I wouldn’t judge her because it’s her body and choice but it would make me hurt and remind me of my lack of choice, if that makes sense? Sorry I’ve rambled on.
You know what’s funny, I agree and I disagree too. I think what I was saying more then anything in my post was that I want to support anyone who has gone through an abortion and remember that regardless of the reason women who “chose” an abortion are hurting too.
Yet, I absolutely do believe that we made a choice that was simply heartbreaking and in so many ways not a choice – we had to have an abortion, with a baby that we desperately wanted yet would not survive, to potentially save my life – not much of a choice in that. At least not that I see. And like you say, if a friend came to me tomorrow and asked me to support them going through an abortion, I doubt I could. I would want to, I really would. I would want to help their emotional recover afterwards, but I truly don’t think I could sit with them and hold their hand in the waiting room – in fact, I know I couldn’t. I know that being in that room nearly broke me last time, and I know I couldn’t go back there. I couldn’t sit by someone who was “willingly” making that decision. Honestly, this is just all so complicated and the emotions are so intense.
It’s very complicated, it’s never black and white but always shades of grey.
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