Friday, August 17, 2012

"I wish my mother had aborted me"

Adoptees are quite familiar to being told, if they offer any critique of adoption, "be grateful that you weren't aborted," or words to that effect.  So I thought folks might find interesting this non-sensationalized (despite the title) argument from a non-adoptee that it would have been better for all concerned if her mother had secured an abortion:
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."

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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 me 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.

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An abortion would have absolutely been better for my mother. An abortion would have 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.

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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 had 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.
Reactions?

11 comments:

Sunday Taylor said...

I agree 100%!

Kris said...

Let me preface this by saying I am pro-choice. And I know there are circumstances where abortion is the best option. However, to say "I wish I had been aborted because my mother would have finished college and avoided poverty" is an assumption. Who knows???? Maybe your mother would have been extremely depressed after having the abortion and dropped out of college anyway. The fact is, the "what if" will never be known.

I am pro-choice but I also think that the reality is that abortion comes with its own set of problems. They are often not taken into account.

Greg and Julie said...

There is definitely a lot of speculation in that statement. I wonder what her mother would think of this? My mom had an abortion at 15, a miscarriage at 16, and me at 19. An abortion didn't help her finish high school (she never did), make better choices in men (all 3 pregnancies were from my dad), or propel her out of povery.

Greg and Julie said...

Ugh, can't type *poverty*

Greg and Julie said...

Sorry for so many comments. I meant to also say that she has an incredible amount of guilt and self-loathing for having that abortion.

Leah said...

My mother had an abortion at 17. If she hadn't, she never would have finished school, come to America, gone to college, had me and my sister, and improved so many lives as a phenomenal teacher. She has no regrets and no guilt. When the anti-choice fanatics scream "What if YOUR mother had an abortion?" I want to shout back, "She DID -- and if she hadn't, I wouldn't be here and neither would she."

Sunday Taylor said...

@ Kris The same kind of assumptions are made when people try to convince young single women into relinquishing a child for adoption. . Nobody ever knows the what-if’s, what we do know if that children who are born to women who don’t want or are unable to parent inevitably suffer in some way for it. Obviously it if better for everyone involved if women who are not ready to parent don’t get pregnant in the first place.

Catherine Johnston said...

How incredibly validating to read this! I have always said I wished my b-mother could have had an abortion...and folks look at me like I have 3 heads or worse.

It was the early 1960's and she was raised Catholic...she really had not choice since my b-father was not going to marry her, adoption was the option.

I think that maybe, just maybe, if the pregnancy could have gone away, b-mom would have finished college and moved on with her life. But, truth is, her pregnancy (with me) was really just another act of self-destruction for her. She grew up in a dysfunctional family and has continued to be dysfunctional. Because I love her, I wish that her pregnancy - me - had never happened so there would be at least one less hurt, one less reminder of a particularly bad time in her life.

I disagree, however, that I would have been sacrificed. I do not believe that life, or a soul, begins at conception. I do not believe that I, me, who I am, would have ceased to exist if she had had an abortion. I would have found my way to this life...not born of that mother, perhaps, but I would have been born. I am an entity in and of myself. I would still exist...and maybe that is part of what being an adoptee has taught me. This solitary independence...that I came into this world alone. That I am me. :)

Cynthia said...

29I'm not sure what my reaction to this is. (Rationally, then, this would be a time for me to stop typing, but for some reason, I"m compelled to type on.)

I was born when my mother was 39 and 11/12s. An abortion was feasible for her, even though it was not legal at that time. She could very well--and very quietly--have chosen that option.

When I was a kid, she seemed like a really old mother, compared to my friends' mothers. Her life would, without question, have been different without me. She could have done all the things she had planned to do once she finished raising her children, instead of raising another one.

She could have returned to college to get her masters degree; instead, she postponed that until it was too late--she began losing her sight within about a month of when she finally picked up the application to finally go back to school. If I hadn't been born, she could have done that about 16 years sooner (of course she could have done it while I was a young child, but she was a victim of her time and thought she should stay home and raise her youngest just like she had her older children).

She could have traveled, as she had always dreamed. She would have had both the money and the time, both of which she spent on me instead.

She could have done a lot and lived a different life.

I guess I'm sort of glad she didn't, though. I'm not sure that she would agree that her life would have been better without me--I hope she wouldn't. Different? Yes. Better? Who knows. Despite my lingering feelings of being a burden on her, I am glad I have been able to have a live and, especially, have been able to give my two kids both life and reasonably comfortable lives.

I am definitely glad that women like my mother and the author's mother have the choice to get an abortion. And, the world would not be remarkably different if they had. Like the author, I'm sure that my contributions to the universe could have been made equally well, if not better, by someone else. But, it's hard to say--52 years into a life--that I would second guess her choice and "wish" she had made a different choice.

-J.Darling said...

While rationally, I understand this person's point. There were times in my life where I was so depressed, I thought I "should" have been aborted. Now, in my 30's I'm glad I wasn't. I believe firmly that every person has a unique contribution to this world so the fact that this person believes the "cost" of their existence outweighs their contributions is something I find very sad.

Having a child at a young age does not doom anyone to poverty, whether adopted or raised. My mother is proof. She gave a child up for adoption in her teens, AND managed to have more initials after her last name than anyone I know, and raise 2 (adopted) kids into well adjusted adults. Yet my bio mom made different choices - she gave me up when she was in her teens and hasn't moved much in her life since (didn't finish high school and hasn't moved on in any measurable fashion). It's all very unique and very much about the choices.

I guess my gut reaction is one of compassion - I see the author as not so much addressing the abortion vs adoption vs keeping a child argument, and more addressing a general feeling of worthlessness.

Theo Callion Bey said...

I do agree; but do know that as a 70 year old adoptee, the damage done by being robbed of my identity and birthright will never be repaired. Yes I still feel that it would have been much better for me and my birthmom if she would have been allowed to terminate her unwanted and illtimed pregnancy. I am sorry that I was forced upon her life at a time that I was unwanted. Hope she has gone on to have a good life and has been allowed to make up for the situation forced upon her.If I had had a choice I would have never been born to an unwilling, unable woman. This was cruel for her and me! I do realize that she had little choice in the matter in 1945. These we're the Scoop Baby Era where unwed mothers were shamed and forced into these situations. Hope that no such times ever return. So many lives have been ruined by bithmoms assuming that there children would be better off with strangers. There are too many sickos in this world to risk surrendering your helpless child to a life of uncertainty. Maybe you are best or abortion. At least the child doesn't have to suffer because of YOUR mistake! Think about it. There are no guarantees in this world.