Smile! Your Mom … Had Sex?

“Smile! Your Mom Chose Life!” I found this slogan very compelling when I opposed abortion. I mean, think about it! If your mom had had an abortion, you would not exist! Would you like to not exist? I didn’t think so! So how can you be in favor of keeping abortion legal without being hypocritical? And then one day I realized something. I wouldn’t exist if my parents hadn’t had sex either. Or if they hadn’t met. Or if they hadn’t been born. There are lots of things that might have kept me from existing. But we don’t see cars with bumper stickers like “Smile! Your Mom Had Sex!” or “Smile! Your Parents Met!”

I am reminded of something I read a while back. When an atheist blogger suggested that sperm be seen as potential life, an evangelical blogger responded with this quote:

I’m sure evangelical youngsters everywhere would rejoice if their elders decided that they should have sex with great frequency because “if a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate.”  But alas, there is a key distinction between a sperm and a zygote.  A zygote, left to develop naturally, will tend to develop into a human being.  You can have a tank of millions of sperm, but without an egg not a single one will develop into a human being.

This blogger draws a huge line between sperm and eggs on the one hand, and zygotes on the other, arguing that only one of the two has the potential to naturally become a human being. But if you think about it another way, there are two natural processes going on here. It’s natural for two people to have sex when they are sexually mature and physically attracted to each other, and it’s natural for a woman’s body to grow a zygote into a baby over the course of nine months. But as humans, we have the ability to stop either process if we so choose. Evangelicals like this blogger are all about not doing anything to stop the later process—pregnancy—but have no problem telling everyone in shouting distance to stop the first process—sexual intimacy. And yet, without either, you, and I, would not exist.

What put all this in my mind recently, though, was a thought I had about my young son Bobby. I became pregnant with Bobby on my first try. I know how to chart my fertility and Sean and I were very conscious in our planning. I wasn’t surprised that we got pregnant on our first try, because it was the same way with Sally as well, and also because there are no fertility problems on either of our family trees.

Anyway, I found myself wondering the other day what would have happened if I had tried to become pregnant a month earlier, or a month later. We would still have a baby, but it wouldn’t be Bobby. It would be some other baby that now doesn’t exist, but could have. And Bobby wouldn’t exist. Think about that. If we hadn’t made that conscious choice to attempt to become pregnant a year and a half ago, there would be no Bobby, and if we’d chosen instead to become pregnant a month later, a totally different baby would exist, a baby that does not exist and will never exist because we didn’t wait that extra month to conceive. Is your mind in knots yet?

There will always be potential people who will not exist. In fact, there are scats and scads of potential people who will never exist. Every time you feel sexually attracted to someone and they reciprocate, and yet you don’t act on those urges, you are impeding the potential creation of a human being. The same is true when you take birth control pills, or use a condom. Or when you decide to stay home and not go to the park, where you might have met someone you might have hit it off with and eventually procreated with. We do things all the time that prevent human beings from being created, whether that is contraception, abortion, abstinence, or simply not getting out enough. And if stopping a pregnancy is wrong because it is placing an unnatural block in the creation of a human being and stopping the process, so is choosing to keep it in your pants when you have sexual urges. After all, if my parents hadn’t had sex, I wouldn’t exist—and if your parents hadn’t had sex that night, you wouldn’t exist either.

Oh, I know the standard pro-life response, or at least how I would have responded to all this as a pro-lifer. I would have said that abortion is different because a zygote, embryo, and fetus has unique DNA and a soul. I’m not saying that the decision to not have sex with someone is somehow identical to the decision to have an abortion. All I’m saying is that the exact same logic behind the slogan “Smile! Your Mom Chose Life!” can be extrapolated to additional slogans like “Smile! Your Mom Didn’t Use Birth Control!” or “Smile! Your Mom Had Sex!” And because of this, I no longer feel the tug on my heart strings that I used to feel when faced with a “Smile! Your Mom Chose Life!” bumper sticker. Sure, I wouldn’t exist if my mother had had an abortion. And I also wouldn’t exist if my mother and father hadn’t had sex, or if my mom hadn’t moved across the country and thus met my dad.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Mafrin

    Ya know, those twee little key rings never affected me- perhaps because I had always extrapolated the logic, even at a young age.

    Me, in response ” oh, yeah? Well if my parents hasn’t gone to a party (as teenagers, I might add) and gotten drunk (illegally in my mother’s case) and forgotten the condom, I wouldn’t exist”

    Of course, it’s rather nice for me that things turned out the way they did. Turned out rather nice for my parents, my younger brother, and my daughter too. Funny that this required an illegal action – and premarital sex to boot!

  • KM

    This line of reasoning never did much for me either because I too, from a very young age, knew that there were thousands of things that had happened in both of my parents lives that resulted in my existence including my mom breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, a last-minute camping trip my dad took, etc. It’s just ridiculous to point out that one decision in an entire life’s string of decisions as the one that resulted in me. It makes me want to start selling keychains that say something like “Smile! Your dad didn’t hit the hot tub!”
    Or “Smile! Your parents had adequate nutrition to procreate!”
    Or “Smile! Your older sibling didn’t turn your parents off to the idea of more children!”
    Or “Smile! That primordial soup worked out okay!”

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

      “Smile! Your older sibling didn’t turn your parents off to the idea of more children!”

      Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

  • Nea

    My response to that one – and I’ve had it outright said to me – is “My mother CHOSE. I know I was planned and wanted. Nobody forced her. I love knowing that.”

    They never seem to know what to do with that one.

    • vytas

      your response is very logical. Had they not planned you but left it to God/nature, whatever, chances are they would have had a baby sooner, and it would not be YOU. And, yes, it is pleasant to know you were really wanted, a product of a free choice and desire (not of a command)

    • Arresi

      Ditto! Mom had me after a miscarriage (which led to her breaking up with the father) and an abortion. So I pretty much always knew that I was Mom’s choice all the way around – she chose to have sex with Dad, she wanted a kid, she wanted me, she knew she didn’t have to have me. I have a hard time understanding why the opposite is supposed to be a good thing. I mean “Mom was pressured into not having sex until she got married, pressured into feeling like she had to get married, pressured into wanting kids, and unable to choose whether or not she wanted a child at that particular moment”? That doesn’t seem like it would make a kid feel wanted or loved.

      (But then again, what do I know. I think Tim Minchin’s “Love on a Bell-Curve” is more romantic than the idea of soul-mates. )

    • ButchKitties

      I’d honestly prefer never being born over being born only because my mother was forced to continue a pregnancy she didn’t want.

  • vytas

    I guess the Christian logic would be that you do not necessarily have to use every opportunity to MAKE people, but you are not allowed to KILL any. (with a lot of exceptions of course: war, self-defence, capital punishiment etc etc). And for them, a zygote, an embryo etc IS a human being equal in its worth to a born one.
    But I agree with the general idea: before thanking your mom for not aborting you, you definitely need to thank both your parents for having had sex at that particular moment. If it had happened a little bit earlier or later, you would not be you, you would not exist (someone else perhaps would, but you took his place and now he/she does not exist). So also than CHANCE (or God, if that’s your preference – although you cannot treat is as a GIFT to you, because at the time it was being given you did not exist). The statistical chances of your mother aborting you were like one in three, but the chances of YOU (and not someone else) being conceived were probably one in a million or so and of course the first prerequisite for that was SEX.

    • ScottInOH

      I guess the Christian logic would be that you do not necessarily have to use every opportunity to MAKE people, but you are not allowed to KILL any. … And for them, a zygote, an embryo etc IS a human being equal in its worth to a born one.

      I think you’re right that that’s how they would respond, but it doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. (I know you know this, vytas. I just have to lay it out periodically for my own sanity!)

      First, the “smile” slogan is vulnerable to the critique Libby Anne raises here. Second, conservative Christians in America today are often also against the use of “artificial” birth control, but they are fine with periodic abstinence. There’s no “killing” involved in using a condom or having a vasectomy; they just want to make sure people aren’t having too much fun. Finally, the idea that “a zygote, left to develop naturally, will tend to develop into a human being” is wrong. A zygote, allowed to feed on a healthy woman for nine months, will tend to develop into a human being.

      As I’ve said before, the only constants in Christian teachings on sex and abortion over the centuries has been a fear and loathing of both sex and women. How those get translated into policy prescriptions has changed, but the underlying feelings are still there.

      • Kate Monster

        I know, right? He says that a Tank Full O’ Sperm (now part of your complete breakfast!) will never develop into a human. But neither will a Tank Full O’ Zygotes.

  • kisarita

    if i wouldn’t have been born I wouldn’t have known the difference; no loss.
    the desire to exist only applies to those already in existence. (and not even all of them, but thats a different story.)

    Actually some people are in existence precisely because there mothers did abort- a previous pregnancy, not them. And had there mother been raising that theoretical child, they would have been unlikely to get pregnant with the next one. What are they supposed to say, Yeah abortion? or to feel guilty for existing.

  • Maria Lima

    It is illogical to ask someone if they would like to DON’T exist! What kind of question is that? I am happy that I exist? How can I not be? But it certainlywould not hurt me a little bit if I didn’t exist at all.

  • http://brokendaughters.wordpress.com Lisa

    Should those in the appropriate situation be glad their mother had a miscarriage and conceived them within the period that she would have actually been pregnant with the lost child be glad about that too? Shouldn’t then the mothers be happy they had that miscarriage, because otherwise they wouldn’t have the exact child they have now? Or would they rather have had the miscarried child?
    Sometimes you don’t “chose” life even when you think you do, imo.
    Either way. I vote for, “Smile! That grotesquely funny childhood bike accident your father had seems to have no consequences!”.

    • The_L

      When I was a teen, I discovered that Mom got pregnant with a new sibling for me not long before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

      My parents were stationed in Germany at the time, and while we didn’t suffer any ill-effects, the embryo developed trisomy-13. This is not a survivable mutation even in the womb.

      A year after the miscarriage, my parents decided to try again, and the result was my younger brother.

      Smile, bro! Your mom miscarried!

    • Desiree

      My mother had a couple miscarriages before she had me and my younger brother. If she had not miscarried she would have had two children she wanted and not had my brother and me. Lots of people would not be here if their mothers had not had miscarriages or abortions. Smile!! Your mother lost two much wanted pregnancies to have you and your brother!!

  • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

    This slogan has always bugged me because it only has meaning in a world where abortion is an option. I know that some women say they’re glad they chose life, and that’s fine, but if abortion wasn’t an option then there wouldn’t actually be a choice, just life. It wouldn’t be something to be thankful for.

    (And while I wanted a sibling when I was younger, I am glad to know that I was planned. My parents didn’t get stuck with me, they chose to have me.)

  • http://www.fidesquaerens.org/blog/ Marta L.

    Reading this, a few thoughts occurred to me. Keep in mind this is pre-coffee…

    (1) I’m not sure pro-life Christians would say sex should be stopped. I know about purity culture, but I’m also thinking here about a recent post over at Her.meneutics (CT’s women blog), basically arguing that people should have children without thinking too hard about the finances, and (I’m guessing) rely on God to provide. I suspect in their heart of hearts many pro-life Christians would prefer people to get married, then go forth and multiply. This leaves me wondering whether the virginity focus isn’t itself a kind of compromise, a way to manage the consequences of sex without becoming baby-killers?

    (2) I find that evangelical’s comment very interesting because the whole point of abortion is that a zygote or fetus or whatever can’t survive on its own. If you just left a zygote alone, sans womb, it would die. And a common distinction many pro-choice bioethicists make (and which nearly every pro-lifer I’ve met has disagreed with) is that a woman has a right to deny a fetus use of her body, but she can’t kill the fetus directly. A friend and I were talking about this on my blog not too long ago, and we agreed that if the technology was there and if someone else was willing to pay for it, so you could have an embryo removed but it could go on maturing into a person, a woman ought to do that rather than get an abortion. (We were talking morals, not the law.) Anyway, what fascinated me was that a fetus’s continued life does depend on something besides itself. Which leads me to…

    (3) Pro-lifers desperately need to work out what they mean by potential and natural. They use these words but never seem to explain what it means, and why a fetus has a natural history but an unfertilized ovum doesn’t. The DNA argument never added up to me, because that would mean identical twins and clones had a right to life, and individual body parts that had any mutation wouldn’t have that right. I think what they really mean here is that a soul is attached where it wasn’t before, but that’s just not politic to say out loud. Even there, though, there are some definite philosophical issues to be worked out – what a soul is, when it attaches, whether we have one soul all through our life, etc. (Believe it or not, there is a serious case to be made we have at least three different souls, building on Aristotle.)

    That’s slightly stream of conscious, but hope someone but me finds the thoughts interesting.

  • Angela

    Many babies are the product of rape as well but I can’t imagine saying, “Smile, your mother was raped!” Actually though that might be a lot more fitting for pro-lifers because they don’t really want women to choose life. They want the government to choose it for them. So I guess some other options might be, “Smile, your mother didn’t want to have you but was forced to anyway!” or “Smile, we sacrificed your mother’s life so you could be born!”

  • Uly

    If my grandfather hadn’t been stationed in Belgium in 1944, my grandparents would never have met, and ultimately I wouldn’t be here.

    Smile, Hitler invaded Belgium? I should be glad my existence depends inexorably on the Second World War? (And I’m far from the only one walking around who wouldn’t be.) So, what, I’m supposed to be all yay nazis?

    Of course, without them there would be people walking around who aren’t today, and my grandmother, among others, would have had a chance to finish her schooling and go to university, which had always been the plan for her until it simply wasn’t an option. And when you think about it, lots of lives could’ve been saved if Frau Hitler had had an abortion.

    Oh, now I’m just all confused. I don’t know whether I should be happy I’m here or not! I can at least be certain that if I didn’t exist, I wouldn’t care either.

    And what if I weren’t? How helpful is that silly slogan to somebody who had a really crappy childhood because their parents sucked? To somebody who grew up poor because of one too many siblings, siblings who would never have known they didn’t exist if they, well, didn’t exist? Or who just hates their siblings for being jerks? To somebody suffering from severe depression who currently isn’t happy they exist? How about somebody whose mother did have at least one abortion, just not of them? I’m happy my mother chose to abort her third pregnancy, though due to a convenient miscarriage the choice was a bit moot. We could not have afforded a third child when I was growing up.

    • Niemand

      A distant relative of mine was born because her parents were Jewish students living in Paris when Hitler invaded. Before that they went to different schools, in different subjects, moved in different social circles, and, in fact, had difficulty finding a common language. In short, they never would have met if they hadn’t had to go into hiding, if they hadn’t joined the resistance, etc. But, if the logic of “smile, your mom chose life” is followed to its conclusion then, yes, this person should be grateful for not just Hitler’s invasion of France, but also for his acts of genocide. Because she would never have been born without them. When your argument makes Hitler the good guy, it’s time to reconsider it.

    • Ursula L

      If my grandfather hadn’t been stationed in Belgium in 1944, my grandparents would never have met, and ultimately I wouldn’t be here.

      Smile, Hitler invaded Belgium? I should be glad my existence depends inexorably on the Second World War? (And I’m far from the only one walking around who wouldn’t be.) So, what, I’m supposed to be all yay nazis?

      Raise you one on that – my paternal grandparents were Nazis, and met at a Nuremberg rally. My grandfather was in the SS, and stationed at Dachau at the time my father was born.

      I eventually had to decide that my personal existence or nonexistence was not a something that could be used to determine the morality or justice of any choice any one person made in the past. I’d happily not-exist if it meant that Nazism and WWII didn’t happen.

  • http://afterabrokenwrist.blogspot.com/ Janice

    The ‘Smile your Mom Choose Life’ slogans always bothered me because If I wasn’t in existence then I wouldn’t be around to feel regret that I wasn’t in existence. Linear time is very interesting that way :/

  • Palaverer

    Yeah, the problem with this slogan is that it makes assumptions that everyone’s circumstances are the same. What if my mom didn’t choose life? What if she desperately wanted an abortion, but was forced to give birth, and doing so killed her? Smile! You killed your mom!

    • phantomreader42

      What if my mom didn’t choose life? What if she desperately wanted an abortion, but was forced to give birth, and doing so killed her? Smile! You killed your mom!

      No, you didn’t kill your mom. The fetus-fetishists did. They were the ones who forced her to give birth against her will, resulting in her death. They’re the murderers, not you. You were just the murder weapon.

      And yes, I’m aware that doesn’t really make it any more reassuring, but I think it’s accurate. I’m only half-joking. All I see from fetus-fetishists suggests that they see women, fetuses, and children as nothing more than tools they can exploit for their agenda, weapons to bludgeon others with, or human shields to protect them from the consequences of their own vile actions.

    • Ursula L

      What if my mom didn’t choose life? What if she desperately wanted an abortion, but was forced to give birth, and doing so killed her? Smile! You killed your mom!

      Pretty much the story of one of my aunts, on my mother’s side.

      When my mother was born, the doctors told her mother not to have more children, as it would kill her. She nearly died giving birth to my mother, and had to have a c-section, in India, in the 1940s.

      But it was India, and the 1940s, and sons were considered necessary, and good birth control, aside from a hysterectomy (which they recommended at the time of my mother’s birth, but my grandfather wouldn’t allow) wasn’t available. My grandmother became pregnant again, and died giving birth to my aunt.

      She didn’t choose life. My grandfather chose that potential sons were more important than her life.

  • Patrick

    Or, Smile! Your Mom’s an adulterer!

    That’s where my mind went the first time I heard that argument. It could go… a lot darker, too.

  • Rosie

    Too often when I’ve seen “Smile, your mom chose life”, I’ve thought “I really wish she hadn’t; life sucks”. I’ve come to an acceptance of the fact of my existence now, and may even be able to do some cool things with my life. But it’s not a given that every child wanted to be born, that’s for certain.

  • jose

    On the “zygotes naturally becoming human beings” quote. First of all, thanks for acknowledging a zygote isn’t a human being. lol, little verbal slip there.

    Second, about half zygotes don’t do that.

    Third, a zygote naturally develops into a placenta, too. Is the placenta sacred? By the way, the placenta has unique DNA, too—just in case someone feels compelled to bring up the DNA argument.

    Fourth, zygotes don’t develop on their own. It takes energy from a mother to grow a zygote. I want to make a parallel with an egg: An egg eats up a spermatozoid in order to grow into a zygote, just like a zygote consumes nutrients in order to develop into a fetus. Why is one more important than the other? Why is fecundation not seen as a part of the egg’s development into a human being?

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

      In my anthropology class we studied descriptions of eggs and sperm in scientific texts. Researchers–mostly men–ascribe stereotypical gender traits to eggs and sperm; they rhapsodize about men’s massive daily sperm production, while calling unfertilized eggs “wasted,” and they talk about sperm as “active” and eggs as “passive.” Then, when it was discovered that eggs aren’t actually passive recipients of sperm (as you say, they basically “eat” them), they described eggs as predatory and seductive, comparing them to spiders luring in flies to their webs. Basically, it was either that sperm aggressively penetrate the passive egg, or eggs are temptresses who terrifyingly subsume sperm into themselves. Bizarre, but pretty telling of that particular mindset.

      • Christine

        Thanks for sharing your experience in anthro class. Men. Men and their macho needs or, rather, insecurities.

  • JBH

    This post reminds me of a Richard Dawkin’s quote that is one of my favorites:
    “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.”

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

    I’m perfectly happy to be alive, but I didn’t ask to be born. If I had been aborted, I wouldn’t be aware of my own non-existence. Also, that phrase seems to imply that pregnant women are always just moments away from having an abortion, and it’s a lucky thing they chose you, kiddo! I was the result of a planned, wanted, healthy pregnancy, so the real decision my parents made was to have a second kid. Other than that, my existence as an individual human being is the result of a series of random events. I also wouldn’t exist if my parents hadn’t started a conversation at a bus stop.

    • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

      I wouldn’t exist if my Dad hadn’t refereed a certain cricket match, sometime around 1938, because that’s where he met my Mom (I’m not clear if she was a player or a spectator). And of course a certain Continental unpleasantness that broke out shortly thereafter influenced their whereabouts and actions for the next few years, and the timing of their eventual marriage. What’s more, Mom didn’t want any kids, as her older sister had two intellectually disabled children and she was afraid it was familial. It was over a decade later, and after immigrating to Canada, that her new doctor somehow reassured her on that score, and I arrived about a year later (which was high risk at the time, Mom being a primagravida at 37yo). So, if she hadn’t been scared, presumably they would have had kid[s] about 10 years earlier, and me not at all.

      BTW: On top of all the contingencies in whether your parents met and had sex at the right time, etc. I don’t think anyone has mentioned the biggest dice-roll of all: Which of your Dad’s 100 billion sperm won the race to the ovum that one time? If it had been some other little tadpole, “you” would be someone else (50% chance “you” would be the opposite sex!)

  • BabyRaptor

    My mother was guilted into having me. She didn’t voluntarily “choose life.” My parents did not want me. At all. They eventually lost custody of me at 15 months when my grandmother came over to where they were living to find me laying naked next to a window on the second story of the house, screaming my fool head off, running a 105 degree fever. And all my parents cared about was that I wouldn’t shut up and it was ruining their high.

    And right now, I have a monstrous toothache. I’m so not happy she “chose life” at this moment. (Apologies for the complaining.)

    Either way, the entire thing is BS. So many women don’t choose life at all. They’re forced, or guilted, or shamed, or they simply cannot *not* choose life due to limitations/laws/finances. And that’s what these people WANT. They WANT to strip women of their right to choose.

    Also, that quote still bugs the hell out of me. Zygotes don’t just naturally develop into babies. They need a woman to serve as an incubator and supply everything necessary. If you leave one sitting anywhere else, it won’t just magically grow into a fetus. But is this acknowledged? No.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    “Smile! Your Mom Didn’t Use Birth Control!” Haha.

    And this is also why arguments like “would you advise a woman to get an abortion in this hypothetical situation? Well you would have aborted Beethoven” make no sense either. By that logic, everyone should have sex all the time, because what if they don’t, and we miss out on the next Beethoven being born?

    • Uly

      Unless you didn’t abort Beethoven but instead Jeffrey Daimler, or Hitler, or Pol Pot, or I don’t know, that guy down the block who never picks up after his dog. Yes, I think I would like to abort the next Hitler, thank you for asking!

  • smrnda

    I think I heard this connection from more than one person that if you should be against abortion because you weren’t aborted, that you should be against celibacy as well a while ago, so this really is just pushing that idea to its logical conclusion.

    In fact, I think this could make a great case against any sort of conservative sexual ethics. There are people alive today who would not even exist if their parents had lived according to purity standards, therefore, we must oppose any notion of sexual purity.

  • http://omorka.blogspot.com/ Omorka

    Since other commenters have pointed out that the evangelical blogger seems to have missed that a vat of zygotes won’t turn into a single human being, either, without the active (whether willing or not) participation of a woman – I just wanted to point out that this all reminds me of Paul and Storm’s Mother’s Day Song. (NSFW Warning: a bit of salty language, especially in the intro, and sexual content.)

  • JuneBug

    “Smile –your mom chose life” really only works if you come from a Christian background. But I have a feeling the makers thought it was universal. I was raised with mixed faith teachings, but with how reincarnation was taught; a miscarried (or aborted) baby might still be reborn to the same parent later. Of course, just like with Christianity there are many different opinions on abortion in Hinduism and Buddhism.

  • James

    “Smile! Your mom choose life!” does not refer to how a person’s existence started. It refers to how a person’s existence continued and with so much pressure on those whose pregnancies are accidental, it says a lot about a woman who chooses the life of her own child. You’re conflating two different concepts: abortion and procreation. Abortion is not procreation. It is not sex. Abortion undoes what sex does, on occasion, and what procreation began.

    • Uly

      It says that they made a choice with lasting repercussions for themselves and others, that is their business to make and nobody else’s. People shouldn’t have children who don’t want them. Period.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, its good that I am alive now, but if I didnt exist, I wouldnt know it, so I wouldnt care if my mom had aborted me. What if she had, but then got pregnant with a fetus who would grow up to cure cancer and AIDS 6 months later? What if one of the other sperm got to the egg first when I was concieved? What if my parents had never met and my parents married someone else and had babies with them? What about the eggs that come out as periods every month, or the sperm from every time a man masturbates, or the times when people dont have sex? Should we be mourning all of these possibilities as well?

    Not everyones mom chose life. What if she lived in a country where abortion wasnt a safe and available option? What if she was one of those people who didnt realise they were pregnant til they were about to give birth?

    I think I would rather have been born to someone who was pro choice and wanted and planned to have me, instead of someone who had loads of kids because they didnt believe in birth control and didnt have a choice.

  • http://jivinjehoshaphat.blogspot.com JivinJ

    Libby Anne,

    Evangelicals like this blogger are all about not doing anything to stop the later process—pregnancy—but have no problem telling everyone in shouting distance to stop the first process—sexual intimacy. And yet, without either, you, and I, would not exist.

    I think you’re slightly missing the point of the slogan or maybe the slogan (since it is a slogan) doesn’t really relay a proper argument.

    For example, if your parents didn’t have sex at the time you were conceived or were using birth control, then would have never existed. If your mother had an abortion while you were in the womb then would have existed (for a time in the womb) but you would be dead. There’s a difference between having never existed and being killed, isn’t there?

  • Sam Grover

    I am the youngest of four. Had abortion been legal, my mom would have had one (yes, I’m old). She was depending on my aunt to feed the others at times. They were POOR. I am rather glad it was illegal. But,
    by the same token, maybe they would have been able to pull out of poverty sooner, and given my sisters better lives (and certainly better food…my aunt was a bad cook). I would never, ever have known or suffered. So, those type of emotional blackmail/b.s. were never really effective for me. My mom is also glad *now* that I’m here (really, who wouldn’t be ;) ), but I really was a big burden for a while.

  • Kat

    I exist for a lot of reasons. I exist because my mom “chose life.” I exist because she and my dad had sex at the time they did. That happened some time after they got married. Of course, that marriage resulted in my dad being trapped in a bizarre, codependent relationship with someone who is mentally ill, emotionally abusive, and extraordinarily manipulative, but hey, I exist because of it!
    Weird, I’m not smiling.

  • Annie

    My mom had an abortion before she had me and then my brother. She was already married to my dad at the time, they just weren’t ready for children. When she told me that she’d had an abortion I was sad at first, because I thought it would’ve been so cool to have an older sibling. Then I realized that my younger brother wouldn’t exist, since my parents only wanted two children. “Smile! Your mom had an abortion before you!” for him. Then I realized that everything would’ve been different if my parents had had that first child and maybe I wouldn’t exist either, they would’ve planned differently and some other egg would’ve been fertilized. So I guess I can say “Smile! My mom had an abortion before me!” too. Whoever made up that stupid slogan really didn’t think it through very well, on so many levels.

  • Karen

    I was born in ’59, to a married poor couple who already had two children and couldn’t provide for another. Being Catholic, they sought help from a Catholic adoption agency, and my biological mother carried me to term — probably to never actually see me. I’m grateful for my existence, yet still believe the wear and tear on my birth family would have been much less if Biodad had just used a condom, church be damned. But I won the parent lottery — got a pretty good adoptive mom and an uber-excellent adoptive dad. So while I’m pro-choice, I have mixed feelings about it. I’m not bothered by the “what if I didn’t exist” issue as much as the “what if they decided to keep me / what if I got crappy adoptive parents /what if I missed out on the advantages of being in a middle-class family” set of what-ifs.

    So I guess all I can say is, Mom, Dad, Biomom, Biodad, you all did the best for me. And I’m grateful to all of you.

  • Rootboy

    “Anyway, I found myself wondering the other day what would have happened if I had tried to become pregnant a month earlier, or a month later. We would still have a baby, but it wouldn’t be Bobby. It would be some other baby that now doesn’t exist, but could have. And Bobby wouldn’t exist. Think about that. If we hadn’t made that conscious choice to attempt to become pregnant a year and a half ago, there would be no Bobby, and if we’d chosen instead to become pregnant a month later, a totally different baby would exist, a baby that does not exist and will never exist because we didn’t wait that extra month to conceive. Is your mind in knots yet?”

    I think this kind of thinking can actually lead stuff like the Quiverfull approach or the Catholic “opennness to life” mindset: you refuse to engage in any active family planning specifically because this means your decisions determine which people will come into existence and which will not. That’s too much responsibility for lowly humans! So you just do your marital duty and happily accept whatever births God sends your way – after all, He knows better than you do!

    This is a bunch of crock as far as I’m concerned – that attitude an immoral abdication of responsibility, not a moral refusal to play God.

  • Bobby

    I am curious about what people who comment on this blog think about men’s responsibility to use a condom. Should men, knowing that they realistically have no rights when it comes to reproduction, be the one responsible for providing birth control? Or, should women, who have all the rights when it comes to reproduction, be the ones that the responsibility falls too. Bear in mind that one of the principles that this country was founded upon was that those with rights were the ones with the responsibilities, and vice versa. One can have no obligation to follow the rules of any state that refuses to acknowledge the rights of that person, or even that such rights exist.

    This also applies to the obligations of the sperm donor in the relationship. If they don’t use birth control, and he doesn’t want a baby, should he be allowed to give away his parental rights and obligations, the way a woman can do before the whatever-you-wanna-call-it before it’s even born, or after it’s born by dropping it off at the nearest hospital or fire station, or by giving it up for adoption, most of the time without even being required to notify the father.

    Please, share your thoughts. Thanks.

    P.S. Please do not say that a man should not have sex if he doesn’t want a baby, as this is the same thing as saying that if a woman doesn’t want a baby, she should keep her legs close.

    • BabyRaptor

      So…You’re whining because you think the fact that you cannot strip a woman of her autonomy and force her to bear your child means you shouldn’t at all have to act responsibly and try to prevent knocking her up.

      Jesus Christ, did you think that through? Or does it just not matter to you at all?

      In an ideal world, men would not be the only ones using birth control. All women in the world would have free access to whatever type of birth control best fits their situation. But, guess what? We don’t live in that world. We live in a world where women and their uteri are considered public property. We live in a world where the men in power are doing everything they can to strip women not only of their right to choose (So you can throw your “those with the rights have the responsibility” bullshit out the window) but of birth control at all.

      What you seem to be forgetting is, all you have to do is cum. That’s it. The woman has more rights in the situation because, until birth, the child-to-be is *taking over her body.* It’s running her damn life. The man, after he”s gotten off, can walk away and never look back. So, no. You don’t get to throw a hissy fit and demand rights over another sentient being just because you came in her.

      Also, you’re a real laugh. So because the state doesn’t give you the rights you think you’re owed, you believe you don’t have to follow laws? Tell that to gays. Tell that to women who want abortions but aren’t allowed them. Tell that to people who got thrown in jail for having some pot on them and are now Fucked as to finding a job and possibly voting. Newflash, bro: You don’t get to ignore laws you don’t like. The rules are there for a reason. Whether you like it or not, you *are* obligated. And I’m saying this as someone whose been screwed over by state laws regarding children. The state of Texas refuses to enforce visitation on my son, even though I’m actively paying child support. On the few occasions I’ve seen my son since his father got custody, I had to show up at a police station with the custody order and have a cop escort me to the house. The court refuses to punish the father over it, because he’s the primary parent. Guess what? I still follow the laws. It’s called being an adult and not believing the world revolves around you.

      And why the hell shouldn’t we tell you to keep it in your pants if you don’t want a child? That’s what we get told constantly. Mainly by men, ironically. If people can be assholes to us, why can’t they be assholes to you? Because you have a penis?

      • Malitia

        I wouldn’t waste my breath on him.
        He is a “men’s rights activist” in the worst sense. The kind who promotes strict gender roles (he called it “social contract”), but whines because “men are duped by eeeevil women to pay child support”* or “domestic violence hits men sooooo worse than women”** and then blames all of this on feminism naturally.

        * If men are there to support the families as his very own world view postulates it’s their duty.
        ** If those gender roles wouldn’t say that men must always be the strong ones they wouldn’t be shamed more for becoming victims.

        We could say he doesn’t realize that he can’t get it both way and with this fails both empathy and basic logic.

      • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

        Oh is this the same guy who, on some recent post, posted two walls-o’-text about how women batter men just as much as vice versa, all backed up by extensive references to that objective site, A Voice For Men?

      • selly

        well, could we change the word “world” for “country”? since i live in a country where every woman has access to the contraception she wants and needs and a womans body is her own property and nobody tries to fight that //generally speaking, there might be private persons but no political agenda//

    • UrsulaL

      Condoms provide two functions, birth control and STD protection. Both functions are important.

      So I’d say that a couple should always use condoms, unless:

      1. They have been together and monogamous long enough that any STDs that they have been exposed to have had enough time to show symptoms and/or show up in testing.

      AND

      2. They have both been tested for STDs, and tests show that neither has or is carrying a disease that could harm the other.

      AND

      3. They have mutually decided that they want a child, and chosen, in safe circumstances, to forgo birth control and STD protection for the sake of trying for conception.

      Alternately, this s also appropriate:

      1. They have been together and monogamous long enough for STDs to show up in testing.

      2. They have both tested to not be carrying an STD that could harm the other.

      3. They have made a mutual decision to rely on a birth control method other than condoms, and that they will remain monogamous so as not to potentially introduce a new STD into their relationship, and they trust each other to be honest if either stops being genuinely monogamous, and each has committed to being honest, no matter how awkward the situation, if they break the agreement of monogamy.

      4. Any responsibility for other birth control methods is seen as and treated as a mutual responsibility, rather than it being the man getting to ignore birth control responsibility while the woman will be blamed if birth control fails.

      ***

      I wouldn’t say that a man shouldn’t have sex unless he is prepared to have a child.

      I would say that a man should not have sex without taking responsibility for birth control himself (by using condoms or having a vasectomy) unless he is willing to have a child.

      I would also say that a man should be aware of the failure rates of condoms and vasectomies, and not be having sex unless he is willing to accept the risk that his choice of birth control won’t work, and he may wind up with a a child, and responsible for a child, despite reasonable efforts to avoid that outcome.

  • Bobby

    I am curious about what people who comment on this blog think about men’s responsibility to use a condom. Should men, knowing that they realistically have no rights when it comes to reproduction, be the one responsible for providing birth control? Or, should women, who have all the rights when it comes to reproduction, be the ones that the responsibility falls too. Bear in mind that one of the principles that this country was founded upon was that those with rights were the ones with the responsibilities, and vice versa. One can have no obligation to follow the rules of any state that refuses to acknowledge the rights of that person, or even that such rights exist.

    This also applies to the obligations of the sperm donor in the relationship. If they don’t use birth control, and he doesn’t want a baby, should he be allowed to give away his parental rights and obligations, the way a woman can do before the whatever-you-wanna-call-it before it’s even born, or after it’s born by dropping it off at the nearest hospital or fire station, or by giving it up for adoption, most of the time without even being required to notify the father.

    Please, share your thoughts. Thanks.

    P.S. Please do not say that a man should not have sex if he doesn’t want a baby, as this is the same thing as saying that if a woman doesn’t want a baby, she should keep her legs closed.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      There are no birth control options that prevent STDs except for condoms, so YES men have an absolute responsibility to wear condoms during sex.

      I’m going to assume cis-het sex for a second. Presumably the man has some care for the woman with whom he is sleeping? I don’t mean he loves her or even likes her, I just mean he gives a shit about her as a human being even if he’s only just met her and doesn’t expect to ever see her again. Why would you want to force a painful choice on another human being for a moment of fun? It’s both of your responsibility to try to reduce the chance of unwanted outcomes because you’re both presumably decent human beings.

      Furthermore, some women rely on condoms as their primary or only form of birth control since they don’t require a prescription, are readily available, prevent STDs, and prevent a lot of mess. It’s a woman’s right to demand her sexual partner use contraception to protect her, just as it’s a man’s right to demand his sexual partner use contraception to protect him. Since condoms are the cheapest, easiest form of birth control available, why wouldn’t you have the responsibility to protect both yourself and your sexual partner(s)?

      • phantomreader42

        Presumably the man has some care for the woman with whom he is sleeping? I don’t mean he loves her or even likes her, I just mean he gives a shit about her as a human being even if he’s only just met her and doesn’t expect to ever see her again.

        When dealing with MRAs, patriarchical asshats, and other misogynists, this is assumption sadly does not hold.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

        I like to give people benefit of the doubt, even if they probably don’t deserve it. It’s as much for the lurkers as the original poster, after all!

  • Bobby

    Sorry, for the double post, there was an error with my internet. I do not know if I can take it off , so please just ignore it.

  • Sophie

    That slogan is so offensive on so many levels, as well as inaccurate. My mum had an ectopic pregnancy which ended when her fallopian tube burst and she had to have emergency surgery. That was in February 1983. In July 1983, my parents saw a film with Richard Gere in which made my mother horny and they had sex. The result was that I was conceived, but both my parents were under the impression that was impossible due to my mother only having one fallopian tube which was supposed to be blocked from when my mother’s appendix burst when she was 12. So my mother didn’t chose life, she didn’t realise she was pregnant until her second trimester because she was meant to be infertile. And there have been any times in my life where I wished I was never born and I know my mother felt that way too, she told me often enough.

  • ButchKitties

    My dad’s first fiancee was killed by a guy who decided to drive himself home after downing a bottle of whiskey, so I can honestly say that I owe my existence to drunk driving. When your argument against abortion can be used to say drunk driving is a good thing… that’s maybe a sign you should reevaluate your logic.

    • Uly

      My mother changed fiancés about two months before the wedding. She had been engaged to this one guy, then she met my father, and called her mother and told her to “keep the wedding date, change the groom”. The other guy wasn’t too broken up over it, he married somebody else within the year, and both couples ended up having two kids. Four people who wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for my mother’s whim.

      (Oddly, the other guy died not long after my father, at the same age. So either way, my mother would’ve ended up a widow with teenagers? It’s a strange coincidence.)

  • Nick Gotts

    Anyway, I found myself wondering the other day what would have happened if I had tried to become pregnant a month earlier, or a month later. We would still have a baby, but it wouldn’t be Bobby. – See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/02/smile-your-mom-had-sex.html#sthash.Zq2yDQUc.dpuf

    For that matter, if you’d started the particular sexual interaction that resulted in Bobby a second later, or sneezed part-way through, or shifted an inch either way, or eaten something different earlier in the day… you might still have a baby, but the chances of it being Bobby would be remote, since every sperm carries a different set of genes.


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