When I was twenty-something weeks along with my oldest daughter, the topic of abortion came up at an ultrasound. It was my fourth ultrasound, as my normal OB had sent me to a specialist in order to investigate a spot they saw on my child’s heart.
This specialist looked at the ultrasound for a few seconds, and then recommended that I get bloodwork done to determine if my daughter had Down Syndrome. I had two questions for him. How much was it going to cost? What was the benefit of the bloodwork?
It was supposed to be free. And the benefit? “So that you will know if you should abort.”
My baby girl didn’t have a name, and she didn’t really feel like mine yet, but it hurt my heart to hear that someone would look at me and suggest that I could consider that. That I wouldn’t protect her with every fiber in my being. I blurted out the first thing in my brain, “I teach Special Education. Down Syndrome doesn’t scare me.”
That was a lie. It’s always a little nerve-wracking to hear that your child might face unique difficulties. But I was mad. The doctor just stared at me. He looked tired. Then he walked out of the room and the nurse handed me the paperwork.
Nine hundred dollars later, I found out my daughter did not have Down Syndrome. I had made it clear that a disability was not enough for me to abort my child. But are there any circumstances under which I would consider it?
If I had been raped, would I carry my rapist’s baby?
If I had gotten pregnant at sixteen, would I have had the courage to walk around my high school looking like a hybrid between a wobbly penguin and a bloated whale?
If the child was going to cost me my own life, would I make the sacrifice?
I like to think the answer is no. Absolutely not. Never in a million years. I like to think that I trust God more than that. But I’ve also committed enough sins in my life to know that I’m not above making another costly mistake.
And what if the circumstances in my life were completely different? What if I didn’t have two loving, financially-savvy parents who put me through college? What if I wasn’t capable of finding employment, or if I hadn’t married a man with a strong work ethic and even stronger convictions? What if I wasn’t a Christian?
I like to think the answer is no. Absolutely not. Never in a million years. But I can’t guarantee that reaction, and, therefore, I can’t judge the women who, feeling buried and hopeless in their own circumstances, said yes.
One thing I’ve noticed from studying history is that women, as a complete gender, have often been buried. For centuries, women have been told that they don’t have the right to be educated. To own land. To vote. To choose their spouse. To not choose a spouse. And the women who broke through these barriers were often applauded as exceptions to their gender rather than as examples of a woman’s capabilities.
In the last century, women have worked tirelessly to overcome the limitations placed upon their gender. Women now hold many positions of power and, in the developed countries, not much stands in the way of a woman’s ambitions.
Except her reproductive system.
Working mothers are constantly asked how they juggle motherhood with their career. No one has ever asked my husband that. Women are warned that they can’t have both. You can’t be a single mom and finish school. You can’t rise to the top in your field and be a mom because there will always be someone willing to work harder than you when you take a day to be with your kid. Somehow, being a father doesn’t automatically come with the same difficulties.
And what’s the difference between modern men and women? Biology. Women can get pregnant. So what does the government say to women who have goals outside of motherhood?
You can’t meet your goals if you become a mother at the “wrong” time or in the “wrong” way. So here’s a solution to that problem: birth control that can have a massive impact on your bodies. If that doesn’t work, abort your baby. Don’t worry. It’s legal.
Technically, abortion is a short-term solution. It’s an instant gratification solution. If you don’t think too hard about the consequences of the abortion, then it solves the basic problem: “Don’t want to be pregnant? Congrats, you’re not anymore! Now erase this moment from your memory and go live your best life. Babies are expensive and you shouldn’t let them control you! We don’t have the resources for you to take proper care of yourself or your child, and an unwanted child will certainly grow up to be a leech on society.”
But in reality, abortions are a great way for the government to control who gives birth. No one suggested abortion to me until there was a possible disability. Why would they? I’m a married, educated, middle class white woman. People look at me and they assume I can afford my children.
But I know women who have children out of wedlock do not receive the same respect. While society doesn’t sew scarlet letters onto their clothes anymore, we assume they will be a detriment to our lifestyle. Pro-choice advocates are currently saying that abortions are necessary to keep those children out of the foster system and out of jail. AKA out of our hair.
I spent six years working in the school system. Problem children came from all walks of life. Married parents, single parents. Wealthy families, impoverished families. Immigrant families and twelfth generation American families. I met with moms who couldn’t read a lick of English and could barely speak it, but their kids were in the gifted program. There were kids from beautiful homes who I dreaded meeting with because they were so rude, lazy, and obnoxious.
And I don’t know much about pop culture. But I’ve heard Steve Jobs was adopted as an infant. And Michael Oher, the inspiration for the movie Blindside, had a alcoholic, crack-addict for a birth mom. Seems like, nowadays, both would make excellent candidates for abortion.
Abortion: it’s all under the guise of “Her body, her choice.” I don’t necessarily see it that way. I see a company saying, “We’ve invested our time and money into you as an employee. So now we expect you to dedicate yourself fully to us, and a baby will get in the way of that.” I see insurance companies who recognize that abortions are cheap and OB GYNs are expensive. I see a government who doesn’t want to pay for food stamps while a mother works hard to better her life.
“Her choice” sounds nice. But what if her choice is life? I’ve seen women not take job interviews because they’re visibly pregnant and they know no one will hire them. I know women who were thrown out of school and ostracized from their families because they chose life. Choosing life for a child shouldn’t be a hindrance to a woman’s own life.
The war between pro-lifers and pro-choicers has been going on for years. The pro-choicers have been able to gain ground because they appeal to the emotions of women who don’t want to buried. It’s a great fear tactic.
But if the pro-choice clinics truly cared about women, they would be sinking their research into a preventative (and free) birth control for both men and women that don’t have harmful side effects. I have given birth to two children. One was planned, the other wasn’t effectively prevented. When I went off of birth control to have my first, I realized the toll that it had taken on my body, and I vowed not to utilize hormonal birth control again. It’s a calculated risk, one we would avoid if better options came onto the market.
If pro-choice legislations truly cared about women, they would stop fighting for abortions under any and all circumstances. An abortion would never be the first option. If these legislations want to protect women’s rights, focus on better prenatal and postnatal care. I bled for five weeks after my first. After my second, I bled for four. I needed help just to function in the first two weeks.
If we truly cared about women, we’d be lifting them up regardless of their life circumstances. You don’t think you’re ready? I’m not sure any mother is ever fully prepared. You don’t want to lose your dreams? Babies don’t get rid of the dreams you have, they merely expand your resolve and your purpose. You don’t want to raise the baby? That’s fine. I know this great couple looking to adopt.
When a doctor looked at me and told me I might need to consider abortion, my response was firm. But what if I wasn’t confident in my ability to mother a child? What if I wasn’t ready? What if I didn’t have a wonderful support system? Would I have considered it?
I like to think the answer is no. Absolutely not. Never in a million years. But as long as abortion is presented as a personal solution, rather than a sinister, greedy method for control, there will always be a woman who will say yes.