How Has Pregnancy Changed Your Views on Abortion?

I recently received an email from a journalist who is seeking parents who were pro-life until they had children, and then adopted a more pro-choice stance after experiencing firsthand the costs of pregnancy, birth, and childcare. I myself identified as pro-choice before I became pregnant or had children (though pregnancy did make me more pro-choice) so I don’t fit the qualifications for this story, but I thought some of you might. If you’re interested in offering your thoughts, email Just so we have full disclosure, I don’t know anything about this journalist or about the angle the article will take. I do, however, think it sounds like an interesting topic.

While we’re on the subject, I thought I’d open the floor for discussion. If you have children, how has pregnancy, birth, and child rearing affected your position on abortion, if at all? I may put together my thoughts on this later, but don’t have time to right at the moment. Sorry! Anyway, carry on! Discuss away!

Anonymous Tip: Meet the Lawyer
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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.

  • badgerchild

    I was pro-life when I became pregnant out of wedlock in college with my fiance. He and I agreed that we preferred to give the baby away rather than start our married life with the cloud of an abortion over us or the probability that we wouldn’t be able to care for our child properly. We worked with an adoption agency that allowed us to select the parents from three presented to us (and we could have rejected them all and asked to see others). The agency allowed me to remain independent and work while pregnant, but helped me pay for my lodging and food and helped me get to medical appointments. The agency worker was there when I gave birth and made sure I was OK, and then took charge of our daughter (which I chose rather than undergo an awkward and emotional scene with the adoptive parents). My fiance and I married and had several good years before changes in our lives led to an amicable divorce.

    Doesn’t that sound like a best-case scenario? It honestly was. I am proud I did what I did. It was the right thing for us. However, I began later to think how fortunate I was to be white, college-educated, middle-class, and healthy, supported by a good young man and a compassionate agency, and the mother of a healthy, beautiful baby girl. What if any of that had gone differently? I could so easily see things going differently.

    That’s when I knew that I couldn’t take away the right of women in other circumstances to make a different choice than I made. Facts are facts and I can’t tell other people what is right for them.

  • timidatheist

    I became pregnant shortly after moving to a new state, with no family nearby. Though I had been a devout born-again Christian when I was in high school, college pulled me away from my faith because I had actual, real world experiences.

    Despite that, I was still pro-life when I became pregnant. But the hardship of going through a pregnancy in a state where I knew only my abusive ex and his abusive family, made me realize that if I’d considered abortion an option, I might not have remained in an abusive situation. I eventually got out anyway, thankfully.

    Though I will note that I was steamrolled by a Crisis Pregnancy Center into not even thinking about abortion or even adoption. The woman happily told me and my ex we’d be wonderful parents, despite not knowing us for more than five minutes.

    My stance is absolutely pro-choice now. Women need to be able to control their lives and have a say over what happens with their bodies. And women need to have all options available to them.

  • Anat

    Was pro-choice since I was 12. However I lived in Israel, where abortion is legal for unmarried women and women over 40, but not for married women ages 17-40 unless there are extenuating reasons (potential birth defects, serious maternal physical and mental health risks). After I got married I had nightmares about getting pregnant unexpectedly. Made me frustrated with the legal state of affairs.

    • Marie

      Marriage had a similar impact on me. I grew up in Evangelical Christianity and was raised sort of pro-life. My family was always a bit more liberal than our social groups; my mother is morally pro-life but politically pro-choice. The “well I think it’s wrong but I would never dream of forcing you not to” position was good enough for me until I got married.

      Like you, I was terrified of getting pregnant and decided that what I’d grown up with in Christianity (the shaming especially) was a load of bullshit and I have every moral right to get an abortion if I want it. I live in North Carolina (not from here, thankfully) so I’m lucky that I’m privileged enough to be able to travel if I need to and I’m so mad on behalf of all the North Carolinans (and Texans, etc) who don’t have that option.

      Changing my convictions about abortion, and getting an IUD, has radically improved my sex life because I just get to enjoy it instead of being stressed out as soon as it’s over and worrying about pills and whatnot.

      • CarysBirch

        Ditto on the IUD! I just got mine in June and it’s like discovering sex all over again. It is thus far one of the most — dare I say it? — joyful experiences of my life.

        Also, it’s invisible, so should I ever end up living with my rabid evangelical relatives again, I won’t have to jump through hoops/hide/make excuses.

      • AnotherOne

        Yep, IUDs are awesome. But your partner getting a vasectomy is even more awesome :).

      • CarysBirch

        My partner is not the vasectomy type. :P He wants kids five years ago. The IUD was a carefully negotiated truce between his desire for kids and my “I will have kids when, if, and only when I decide, and I will not be pressured by you, my family or anyone else, period” stance. It’s something that is long term, for as long as I need it, and totally within my control. But it’s easily reversible and you can get pregnant right away when/if the time should ever come.

        That said, if all goes well, I’d like to try it in another two or three years, but not. Not. NOT. under any kind of coercion or pressure.

      • AnotherOne

        Looking at the downvote and feeling self conscious about my flippant post. Just to be clear, I’m not actually saying that a vasectomy is superior to an IUD. It was just a joke referencing the fact that I loved my IUD, but I loved my partner getting a vasectomy even more. Only a statement about my own experience, not about anyone else’s. One of these days I’ll learn to keep my mouth shut during conversations about abortion.

      • Marie

        I got mine in June, too! The first few weeks were a bit miserable but soooooo worth it. Even at the time, I was thinking, “I don’t care how many little invisible knives stab me in the uterus because I won’t get pregnant!”

        My partner has noticed the difference too. I used to jump up immediately and run to the shower and try to rinse out as much as possible (not that I really thought it would make my chances of getting pregnant any less, it was more a mental thing). He mentioned that now I am much more calm after sex and up for cuddling and lounging around. It is so incredibly freeing.

        Ditto on the discreteness. None of my relatives or close friends are anti-contraception (and I’ve been on the pill since I was 15 for other gyno issues and would throw it in the face of people who were anti) but I always felt a bit awkward taking my pill in front of other people (I took it in the evening) because of the “oh you must be sexually active and therefore a harlot” shaming, and sometimes I just didn’t feel like having to explain All The Medical Issues to a random parent of a peer. And that sense of shame just kinda carried over even once I was married and so presumably less shame-worthy.

  • kisarita

    how has pregnancy and childcare changed my views on abortion? Not at all. I was pro-choice before and pro-choice after. On an emotional level, having my baby has relieved some of my angst and sorrow over my previous abortions but has not eliminated it entirely.
    i was pro choice before my abortions too, and pro choice afterwards, despite my personal grief.

  • Sarah

    I have been pro-choice for a very long time. However, that view was more cemented once I had a child. When I’m pregnant I have a complication called hyperemesis gravidum. It impacts 1-2% of pregnant woman. It involves severe morning sickness, severe dehydration, malnutrition (I’m 12 weeks and currently losing hair, muscle tone, and fat at a dramatic rate), and weight loss. I’ve lost an average of four pounds a week, and that’s WITH good health care and medication. I’ve had multiple ER visits and weekly appointments, and many more to go, since this will last another 10 weeks or so. If I didn’t have a job that allowed time off, if I didn’t have help to care for my toddler (I can’t leave the bathroom most days or even lift my head from the toilet), if I didn’t have a husband who can pay the bills on his own, if I didn’t have health insurance to cover the cost of many, many appts and many ER visits… I would be in big trouble.

    I adore my son. I love this baby I’m carrying so much, and pray that my extreme illness doesn’t make me lose this baby. But I am also fully aware of how lucky I am that I’m able to have the support, money, and health insurance to be able to be on bed rest when I’m unable to work from week 4 to probably 24 (when I got better last time), and that someone without that support may have to make another choice. And I can also recognize that someone who had an unplanned pregnancy or someone who is not 100% about keeping the baby may make a different choice when going through this sort of hell. I want this baby and feel depressed and lost and hopeless.

    Seeing first hand the complications pregnancy can bring, and learning more about how few jobs offer health insurance or protection, and seeing the high cost of birth with even ‘decent’ insurance really convinced me that pro-choice is the right one for me.

    • HelenaTheGrey

      I also had HG and it was what really changed my mind as well. Aside from all the stuff you mentioned, what happens if the lady, regardless of her circumstances, had HG and didn’t want the baby to begin with. It was only my desire for my baby that kept me sane through all of that stuff. I didn’t “bond” with my baby until much later in pregnancy when my puking was reduced to once or twice a day with full time nausea and I knew the sex and name of my baby that I was really able to be excited about things. If I hadn’t wanted that baby, then what kind of relationship would forcing me to have a baby under life threatening circumstances and pure torture produce. All I can imagine is that that mom would have a hard time giving the proper love to the child she had. Maybe not. But it just would foster some resentment I think.

      Of course, that’s the big thing I’ve realised about the Pro-life movement since losing it. Though there are exceptions, the pro-life movement is really the pro-pregnancy-through-giving-birth movement. Once that baby is born, if it impoverishes you, they will resent you for being in poverty. If you aren’t cut out to be a mom/parent, they will resent you for that. No compassion. No exceptions.

      • stacey

        “…the pro-life movement is really the pro-pregnancy-through-giving-birth movement. Once that baby is born, if it impoverishes you, they will resent you for being in poverty. If you aren’t cut out to be a mom/parent, they will resent you for that. No compassion. ”

        *slow clap*

      • Rosie

        And if you push them, they’ll tell you (usually in a round-about kind of way) that poor people and those who aren’t fit to be parents should not have sex.

    • MyOwnPerson

      I had HG too. It is a mind-altering experience. The first pregnancy we were in a relatively stable position, and without any other children to take care of I only had to think of my own health. The second time around was a disaster. Unplanned pregnancy, financially very unstable, and I had a toddler to take care of.

    • Noelle

      I had HG too. Once you’re vomiting 24/7, there’s no need to call it “morning” sickness.

    • Rosa

      I’m so sorry about the HG!

      When I was just postpartum, I heard a radio story about a woman with a preemie due to pre-eclampsia (which was my situation) who was discharged from the hospital with her medically-fragile infant into a homeless shelter; she’d been on bed rest for the pre-e, so she’d lost her job, and thus her apartment (and its contents), while she was in the hospital. It just made me sob for hours.

      We have such an inhumane system of medical care and such a pitiful social safety net in this country, every pregnancy is a huge financial risk totally aside from the regular physical and mental risks women in other developed countries face.

      • stacey

        That is so very horrible. It is all to possible in the USA. People do not realize that most everyone is only 1-2 accidents/tragedies from homelessness.

        Our family lost almost everything because of my PPD, when I was the sole breadwinner. Had I had real mat leave, I could have addressed it and kept my job. But I did not, so off to work I went, unable to function at all. Got fired, and of course lost the insurance with it, so what could have been fixed in a few months time turned into a year + long nightmare. During this time, we had to move, lost everything except the car, and ended up living in one small room, with our baby, in our friends place, for well over a year. It was all we could get, with what we had to work with.

        And I got UI, and I HAVE a husband to help! It could have been so much worse without friends and UI. And I only got so much UI because of Obama extending it, so thanks Obama. That kept us from total homelessness. DH was a SAHD when I got fired, and had a hard time getting any work, let alone work that paid enough to live.

        If every single forced birthed would put that energy towards helping families, we could probably fix this issue.

      • Rosa

        I’m so sorry, and so ANGRY about your situation.

        Also at the media, who largely don’t tell these stories. (The one I heard was on NPR)

      • victoria

        I am so sorry for what you went through.

        I was very aware at the time and have always been mindful going forward that your story (or even worse) could’ve been mine if not for what was mostly a lot of luck.

        I had severe HG (I lost 20% of my weight, broke a rib, vomited blood, repeated hospitalizations, a couple months of unpaid leave because I couldn’t stand without fainting) but got through my pregnancy alright. I had a healthy, lovely kiddo — and within days I was absolutely out of my mind suicidal. It was terrifying, and I’ve never been through anything like it before or since. Luckily for me I talked to a friend whom I knew to be a wonderful mom, and she recognized immediately what was going on (because she’d been there herself) and made me call my OB. They took things seriously; I was sent to a psychologist that day, and I responded well and quickly to medication.

        There were so many possible points of failure for me. I’d followed my boss to a new job a couple months before I got pregnant, so I was technically on probation and could have been fired during the HG because of my absenteeism. My husband had lost his job a few months before that; he had found a new one extremely quickly (he started the new job before his severance ran out), but if he hadn’t gotten that one there wasn’t really anything else on the horizon for him. I had health insurance through work. We could live on my husband’s salary and had a lot of money in the bank so the months of unpaid leave and the mental health expenses we had to pay out of pocket didn’t sink us. (The physical complications I had over the next few years did nearly drain our savings, however.) Because I had family in town who were willing to let me stay there during the day for a month or so I didn’t have to be hospitalized for suicide watch and/or my husband didn’t have to take a leave of absence, which he probably couldn’t have gotten anyhow. And I did have real maternity leave.

        And on and on. I am very aware of how differently things could’ve gone for me, and I don’t consider that a matter of me being somehow more deserving than anyone else; it’s almost all a combination of luck and privilege. I have tried to pay it forward the best I can, but how much can I really do? The solutions that would really help are almost all structural solutions that aren’t looking likely in the US anytime soon.

      • gimpi1

        If there are any pro-lifers on this blog, this would be the point where you step up and explain how you would fix this. Also, anyone against health-care reform, or aid to those in the situation described. Batter-up!

      • pro-life

        I don’t think you can group all pro-choice women in one camp anymore than you can group all pro-lifers in one camp. There are flaws I think in both movements that do disservice to women. I myself am a pro-life woman, but I am also not yet a mother. I absolutely agree though that health care and aid (from immediate and basic needs to support with parenting/nutrition/education/vocational training/financial literacy classes etc.) should be widely available for all new families are necessary if you take a pro-life stance.
        I think many fellow pro-lifers I know either have a different idea of how to provide that care (via the community and individuals over government services) or are more focused on other aspects of the movement. I have worked in residences for pregnant women that provide them with a home while they are pregnant and as long as they need after birth, as well as provide help with job, education, and parenting skills.
        I also know, while I am not alone in my views, that my support for both government and private initiatives to help women that choose to give birth, raise their baby or give the baby up for adoption and my holistic stance on pro-life issues (I’m ardently against the death penalty) are not universal in the movement.
        I 100% agree that it is easier to be pro-life if you and most the people you know have a support system to depend on when they are pregnant (whether that is a steady job, family and friends, a church or other community, etc.)
        I think what makes me pro-life is that I can’t get passed the fact that it is a human life that has been created and has unique DNA. And that, from a very early stage, begins to develop a heart and nervous system, etc. I won’t get into all of it here, but it’s difficult to see even a first trimester sonogram and still think that abortion is the right course of action.
        I absolutely realize that that does not make circumstances better for women that are faced with that decision. But then the real question for me becomes not whether or not to be pro-life or pro-choice, but why aren’t there enough resources to support women in difficult situations who give birth or choose adoption? It’s seems to me it’s not much of a “choice” either if a woman feels she has no other option than abortion.

      • Anonymouse

        The pro-choice position is that the government should stay out of a woman’s uterus, and let her make her own decisions along with her doctor. Why in the world do you think that position has its flaws?!?

      • Dawn

        One of the reasons the social safety net is so pitiful is that it was ORIGINALLY the function and duty of the church…but since they only want to cater to their own congregations–and minimally, at that!–it has fallen to the state and thus WE THE PEOPLE who pay taxes!! SO, instead of doing what they’re completely tax-exempt to do, they’d rather proselytize, look down their noses and judge people! Yeah! makes ME believe their doing God’s will. NOT!!

    • Monala

      I’m another one who had HG, with a wanted child. That experience was enough to convince me that I never wanted to get pregnant again, and to recognize for the first time in my life that I might consider abortion if I were to get pregnant again.

      • lost in austin

        I looked up the stats to see if I could bear it (HG), and it says the odds of having it again is like 50%! I went on to have 2 kids without HG, after having HG, but I still needed lots of meds. It was totally manageable, unlike the HG where I lost 1/4th of my weight in less than one trimester.

      • Caitlin

        I had HG with my first two pregnancies (also bleeding and preterm labor with my first). With my first pregnancy, I remember holding the Yellow Pages open to the abortion page and sobbing–I wanted to have a baby, but I just didn’t see how I could live through the nonstop vomiting. I had a second only because people convinced me it would be different (it was worse, but at least it wasn’t a surprise). Then I had an unexpected third pregnancy. I was able to go through with it because I knew it was completely my choice. I didn’t have HG, but I had severe anemia and depression. Nothing made me more in favor of abortion rights than my pregnancies. It was 100% my decision to have each one of my children, and that’s what made the pregnancies bearable.

    • lost in austin

      I had HG, but did not know what it was until after, because I hadn’t seen an OB (uninsured). I thought I was going to die. I lost 40+# in 12 weeks.

      I had an abortion because I truly thought the baby was going to kill me. The pregnancy was so horrific, that when I woke up after the abortion I was SUPER relieved. Never felt so good in all my life.

      • Niemand

        So potentially the evil Obamacare with its coverage of birth control and women’s health issues could have allowed you to continue the pregnancy*. Very pro-life, the people who oppose it.

        *If you wanted to.

    • Gillianren

      I had “normal” morning sickness (which is a lie in most women; very few have it exclusively in the morning), but a friend had HG. She’d had bad morning sickness with her first, but in most cases, it’s better with your second child, so she wasn’t worried. Until she was throwing up five and six times a day, had to be given IV fluids, and was on various prescription meds, none of which seemed to help. She and her husband had to hire help to take care of their toddler while my friend lay in bed trying to keep fluids down. I can’t imagine how I would have dealt with that while I was pregnant with my daughter sixteen years ago, when I was working a fast food job just to keep a roof over my head.

    • Holly leonhard

      And way too many ladies who have been pregnant dismiss HG complaints as exaggeration. they just don’t understand that not all pregnancies are created equal.

  • AnotherOne

    I don’t think having kids has change my mind that much. I have always been very pro birth control and pro access to birth control to whoever wanted it, even when I believed sex outside of marriage was wrong. It wasn’t rocket science to figure out my parents and many other people i knew had way more kids than they could take care of, and even as an early teen i was intensely disdainful of the Christians i knew who were against using birth control. But I was also against abortion, and my pro-life views persisted longer than I retained most of the beliefs I was raised in. Over the course of my early 20s, however, I became
    pro-choice. I am still pro-choice and don’t ever see that changing, but I have a middle of the road viewpoint that both staunch pro-lifers and staunch pro-choicers would take issue with. Basically, I have enough ethical reservations about late term abortions that I’m not opposed to some level of regulation of them–like banning them in cases in which the life or health of the mother or fetus is not at issue (which I understand is a very small percentage of abortions). Of course, banning such abortions would open up a tremendous and troubling can of worms in terms of where one draws boundaries with something as tricky and challenging and variable and vague as biology and personhood, and it means you end up balancing the possible “rights” of a fetus against the rights of women to control their bodies. And the complexity of the issue means that I err on the side of being absolutely pro-choice. But the ethical ramifications of late term abortion do trouble me.

    Being pregnant and having kids only reinforced what I already felt, which was that early term abortions don’t seem problematic at all to me, and that late term abortions are troubling enough that I hope they only happen in cases where the life or health of the mother or baby is at stake. Sometimes I wonder if both the extreme pro-life and the extreme pro-choice positions aren’t just a way for people to turn one of the greyest and stickiest moral issues into something black and white.

    But when it comes down to it, I vote pro-choice.

    • lucifermourning

      i think there are very few pro-choice people who are totally comfortable with late-term abortions.

      they’re very rare (1.5% after 21 weeks, which is partially through the 2nd trimester and i imagine that a substantial portion of that 1.5% is still 2nd trimester).

      for me, given the numbers, i’d rather trust women to make their own judgement, even though i’m pretty sure i wouldn’t be comfortable with a late-term abortion for myself. there’s just a difference between finding something potentially problematic and thinking it should be illegal.

      • AnotherOne

        Even 1 or 2 per cent means that there’s around 10,000 abortions after 21 weeks per year in the U.S. I’m assuming that a great number of those are for health reasons, but even with that being the case, I think I would still support a law restricting late term abortions to instances in which the life or health of mother or child were at stake. Although I don’t think I would support such a law until women across our society have broad and easy access to birth control, reproductive healthcare, prenatal care, and childcare services and resources–something I spend no small amount of time and money working toward.

        On a side note, I am slightly uneasy at how we conceptualize women’s judgment when it comes to late term abortion. After all, I strongly resist the conceptions of parental rights common in the homeschooling fundamentalist circles I come from. Some people just don’t have good judgement, and I think the law needs to take that into account.

      • David Kopp

        There’s a doctor involved, too. We shouldn’t legislate health decisions, but put our trust in the medical community. Humans are better than you give them credit for, and restricting freedom to protect the very few ends up punishing everyone.

      • AnotherOne

        I’m not sure that leaving things up to the medical community has always been great for women either, and I feel uneasy with your argument because it sounds exactly like the parents’ rights argument my conservative friends make (“these are my kids and my decisions to make, and the law shouldn’t come into it just because a tiny fraction of people are abusive”). Also, I think “health decisions” does sometimes end up being a euphemism when it comes down to ethical issues involved in, say, the (admittedly rare occurrence) of the elective abortion of a 30 week fetus.

        But I don’t pretend my viewpoint is without problems, and I do understand where you’re coming from. It’s a moot point for me anyway since like I said, I wouldn’t support such a law unless there was universal access to all of the things that would radically reduce the number of late term abortions anyway. Which sadly isn’t close to happening.

      • lucifermourning

        i think there’s a big difference between rights for born children who live independent of their parents and fetuses who are dependent on a woman’s body. in the extreme scenario – a parent who does not want to fullfill his or her duties toward a child can have that child taken away. the child’s rights can be maintained completely separate from the parent.

        that is not the case for an fetus which is still inside the womb. giving a fetus rights always infringes on someone else’s rights.

        now, i don’t campaign very hard for changes to UK law (in practice, abortion is pretty easy to obtain up to 24 weeks and much more difficult after, the major exception being medical reasons). that is a compromise that i think is fair, and i’m far more concerned about seeing the law be extended to Northern Ireland than to the miniscule number of people who want a late-term abortion for other reasons.

        however, in principle, i would still rather leave it to the woman whose body is affected.

      • AnotherOne

        I think there’s a big difference early in the pregnancy, but I think the difference fades the closer you get to term, when you’re talking about a viable fetus. Basically, I think you have two conflicting sets of ethical concerns when it comes to late-term abortions where health is not at issue: ethical concerns related to the right to life of a fetus whose biological difference from a full term baby is negligible, and ethical concerns related to the rights of the woman to control her own body. I don’t claim to have a perfect answer for how to resolve this, but I think many people on both sides of the abortion issue prefer to gloss over one set of those concerns.

      • Anonymouse

        Late term abortions are only done to save the life and/or health of the mother, or if the fetus is so profoundly damaged that it can’t survive. In a fetus, the lungs aren’t capable of breathing until after 24 weeks’ development. The brain and nervous system aren’t connected until after that.

      • AnotherOne

        For some reason I was thinking that it varied from state to state, with some states imposing severe limitations (or outright bans) on late term abortions, and others imposing few to none. But I freely admit not being up on all the state laws, and that I’m mostly responding to my own circumstances of having a more middle of the road/conflicted view than most people I know, who tend to either oppose abortion in virtually every circumstance, or who oppose just about any restriction on it at all. And like I said, usually I leave aside the issue of late term abortions due to their comparative rareness, and focus my efforts on ensuring that women have access to the resources they need to make the choices best for them.

      • lucifermourning

        there’s a big difference between opposing legal restrictions and thinking something is 100% okay with no moral issues.

        i see late-term abortion as morally problematic, in the unlikely event it’s not for medical reasons. but that’s not sufficient reason to ban it.

      • AlisonCummins

        Opposing legal restrictions *is* being pro-choice.
        If you wouldn’t have a late-term abortion under any circumstances but don’t feel entitled to make that decison for someone else (or feel that the power to make that decision for other people could be too easily abused, or fear it might be a slippery slope leading to regulation of contraception) then you are pro-choice. You don’t have to be happy about late-term abortions to be pro-choice.

      • AnotherOne

        What you’re saying is really helpful, especially when you pointed out in another comment that if you don’t think women or doctors should be jailed, fined, or whatever for having/performing abortions, then you’re pro-choice. So yes, if we’re talking about a legal stance, I guess I am pro choice.

        But I think the separate question of ethics is worth having, even though I don’t think we’ll ever come up with hard and fast answers. It’s interesting to me that there’s an instinct in people on both sides of the abortion issue look at abortion in the broader context of children’s rights. Each side reads hypocrisy in the other’s view. Pro-choicers accuse conservative anti-abortionists of only being concerned for the fetus, and not caring about the quality of the child’s life after s/he is born, while people against abortion often talk about how liberal pro-choicers don’t value the life of the fetus until it’s born, but then want to hyper-regulate how parents raise their children. But both of those lines of argument are assuming on some level that a strict difference between the status/rights of the fetus and the status/rights of the child doesn’t make moral sense. Laws are about drawing lines, and I’m prepared to accept that birth may be the most pragmatic, least problematic place to draw the line when it comes to giving a human being human rights in a legal sense. But morally that troubles me. I don’t really have an argument here, and I’m probably not making a lot of sense. Just trying to think through a difficult ethical matter.

      • Rosa

        I think it’s just about impossible to have the kind of nuanced discussion you’re wanting have about late term abortion in public – for one thing, it’s got to be something that’s case by case and we very rarely know the kind of details we’d have to know to even start (the one person I know personally who had a late term abortion, was so traumatized and afraid of people judging her, we didn’t even find out it happened until later and even now I don’t really know the details – a vague timeline of when she found out something was really wrong with the pregnancy and the logistics of finding a provider, and how she felt, nothing else). For another, we don’t have much of a framework for judging other people’s medical choices outside of the attempts to limit women’s reproductive choices. There are occasional public discussions about things like “when is plastic surgery just preying on people’s insecurities?” or “who should get priority for organ transplants” or “should Angelina Jolie have gotten that radical mastectomy?” but nothing like the abortion debate. For me at least, that makes trying to have a discussion about any abstract abortion situation inseparable from the legal/political questions.

      • AnotherOne

        I agree that it’s pretty impossible right now. The discourse is too polarized, and there are so many real-world, intensely personal issues at stake that it’s hard for people to have an impersonal discussion.

        And I definitely don’t think a framework for judging other people’s medical choices is what we need.

        What we need to do is cultivate in ourselves and our society the ability to recognize all of the ethical issues at stake in a given situation, so that we have frameworks for making informed moral choices as individuals and communities. Philosophers who deal with ethics and people who specialize in medical ethics have these discussions all the time, and they do make headway. Of course, they can’t provide hard and fast black and white answers for the limitless number of difficult situations that come up in human life, but they very often come up with guidelines for making informed ethical choices. Unfortunately those philosophical discussions don’t filter down into the mainstream. But I think they can, if enough people are willing to participate in the discussion.

      • Rosa

        I hope you’re right, but there is still a difference between the lay public and the folks already having the discussion. Having specific cases to think about, instead of trying to be abstract, makes the discussion much more fruitful – and it’s something that’s just not going to be available to anyone outside of pretty small circles.

        If you had a case study from a medical ethics book to talk about, we could have a pretty nuanced discussion – about that one situation. But something as broad as “after 24 weeks” or “late term abortion” is not going to be useful to discuss, I think.

      • BookishBeemer

        It doesn’t have anything to do with laws, though. Late term abortions are only done for medical reasons. That’s their only purpose. The laws restricting them are just making them harder to get, risking women’s lives/health.

      • Leigha7

        There are places that have made it legal for doctors to decide not to tell expectant mothers that the fetus shows signs of birth defects if they believe she might consider having an abortion. I can’t say much more because the idea kind of fills me with rage (especially because I consider it cruel to the child to have a baby you know will suffer for a few years and then die, which is the case for some disorders, such as Tay-Sachs, and extremely cruel to the parents to force them to go through that), but it seems relevant to your point that leaving things to the doctors isn’t always the best idea.

      • kisarita

        as a nurse i can assure you that drs do not always know best….

      • Fred

        The same can be said of everyone. Even, or especially, nurses.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Well, lack of access is another factor that can potentially delay abortions…

      • stacey

        So, people with really bad judgement get a BABY INSTEAD?
        Seriously? How is this better?

        Besides, who is to judge what makes a bad decision, and why is birth the solution to it?
        (and I do not want to hear about adoption, as most people are not up for it, for good reason.)

      • AnotherOne

        Look, I said a bazillion times that I realize my concerns are problematic, and that there’s no good answer. And, due to the valid concerns that people convincingly raised, I backpedalled even from my very tentative statement that maybe, if all women had access to the reproductive healthcare and childrearing assistance, i might be in favor of legislation restricting late-term abortions in which health is not at issue.

        So no, I’m not claiming that women being forced to have a baby is better than aborting a healthy late term fetus. I’m just saying that both options are pretty awful.

      • Anonymouse

        AnotherOne, you see to be under the impression that hundreds of thousands of women wake up the day before their due date, stretch and yawn and say, “Gee, what shall I do today? Go out for a latte? Get a mani-pedi? No, wait, I think I’ll have a late-term abortion, just for funsies!”

      • AnotherOne

        I have repeatedly said that I understand that late term abortions are in the tiny minority to begin with, and that the vast majority of that tiny minority of abortions is done for reasons of health. But I understand that my focus on late term abortions in my comments could be construed as me thinking women have them more often, or more casually than they do. I apologize. My comments on this post have mainly been an attempt to raise ethical issues involving the life of the fetus–a set of issues that I think sometimes gets glossed over in pro choice conversations and circles. I’m coming from a place of being very active in pro choice circles and spending a great deal of time and effort helping disadvantaged women access reproductive healthcare, while simultaneously feeling some uneasiness over what I perceive as an unwillingness among some of my fellow activists to face and grapple with the full range of ethical issues involved in abortion.

        But at this point I think it’s best to remind myself again that the practical work I do is far more pressing and necessary and moral than grappling with hypotheticals and trying to get other people to do the same. Thank you all for the discussion; as I always, I come away having been prompted to think about things from more angles.

      • tsara

        This is an excellent response. Major kudos to you.

      • victoria

        AnotherOne, I don’t know if you’ve ever read Frances Kissling’s article Is There Life After Roe?, but it strikes me as one you would really, really like.

      • AnotherOne

        Thank you, Victoria, I skimmed the first bit of it and it looks really good.

      • AnotherOne

        I read it all the way through, and was moved to come back and thank you again. This is a (much more articulate) mirror image of my thoughts and concerns. I wish I had seen this before; I could have just linked it and saved myself and everyone else the time and trouble of my fumbling comments.

      • victoria

        You are so very welcome! I hadn’t thought about that article in ages, but reading your comments reminded me of it — it seemed like you were exploring a lot of the same tensions Kissling was trying to tease out.

      • Niemand

        Even 1 or 2 per cent means that there’s around 10,000 abortions after 21 weeks per year in the U.S.

        7206 in 2009 per the CDC, if that helps.

      • Newbie

        I find late term abortions troubling too, and also suspect that the ones that do happen are for health or life-saving reasons. My concern about banning them is that it would encourage pro-life legislators to push for cumbersome restrict on even early abortions so as to delay them until it becomes too late.

      • AnotherOne

        Yes, I worry about that too.

      • CarysBirch

        I think a fair percent of them that do occur happen because restrictions (financial, legal, travel) prevent them from occurring sooner too. I personally know one person who had an abortion at the end of the second trimester because it took her that long to save the money, but it was the plan all along from about ten weeks when she found out she was pregnant. It’s anecdotal, but it’s hard for me to believe she’s the only one in that situation.

      • AnotherOne

        Yes, I know of a case like that too. (Although the person in question was quite young, and so there were other issues involved that delayed things).

      • CarysBirch

        I should add I don’t know what’s considered “late term” legally. Nor do I remember the exact details of this person’s situation. I just remember her having a time crunch to save the money and feeling deeply sympathetic, even though I was still pro-life at the time and trying my damnedest to be horrified instead.

      • wombat

        There’s something to be said for free healthcare in situations like that. Or a fund set up to help. Or . . . something better than what happened to that woman.

      • Rosa

        there are abortion access funds, but they are always overwhelmed and under-funded. Our local one typically runs out of funds about halfway through the year. You can find your local one, or donate to any of them, here:

      • stacey

        I am.

        Please read:
        Stories of moms that had late term abortions.

        The way I see it, if mom wants an abortion that late for non medical reasons, she probably shouldn’t have a baby anyway. By that point, the baby is usually a wanted one. My guess is the non medical reasons would be pretty severe to want do this, or it is a case of waiting for family or financial reasons. But no matter- mom has a right to her body. Period.

        I would like if moms could induce at any time post viability, and give baby up for adoption, but right now you do not get that choice.

        Would I do it for non medical reasons? NOPE. Do I think it should be legal? YEP.

      • kisarita

        adoption isn’t a solution for unwanted pregnancy, since very few women wish to give their child to adoption.
        once its born- its her child, not a fetus. there’s a world of difference.

      • Anonymouse

        I read that site, and the women featured aborted because their babies would not survive after birth. It’s just cruel to force a woman to suffer all the risks of a pregnancy then go through hours of labor to give birth to a baby that will either be born dead or die in her arms.

    • guest

      Yeah, but–how do you define “health of the mother,” though? I mean, it’s easy if a doctor says, “if she tries to carry to term she’ll be infertile, no ifs, ands, or buts.” That’s definite and permanent. But what if there’s only a thirty percent chance of that? Or what if, heaven help us, the problem is psychological–say she’s schizophrenic, and losing her ability to function, and the only meds that will help her would damage the fetus irreparably? Believe you me, anyone with mental illnesses gets enough “suck it up and stop being ‘crazy,’” without the government getting in on the act . . .

      The decision I finally reached is that it must be case-by-case. Laws are, by necessity, generalities. And medical issues are all a little bit unique, just because nobody has exactly the same medical history. You gotta trust the people who are already there.

      • AnotherOne

        I’m definitely in favor of defining health of the mother very broadly.
        And you’re right, case by case, with decisions made by the mother in concert with medical professionals, may be a much better way of leaving it than trying to legislate things.

        I think my comments are coming partly out of interactions with several of my very staunch pro-choice friends, who firmly believe that there should be no restrictions on abortion whatsoever, and that the mother should have the right to abort up until birth, for any reason whatsoever. I’m not comfortable with that, and it feels like the flip side of the extreme anti-abortion views I grew up around. But maybe that’s not as common a view among pro-choicers as I thought, and in any case, perhaps late-term abortions for non health reasons are so rare that it makes my concerns not worth worrying about.

      • Rosa

        in a late-term abortion, there is a whole medical team involved, most of whom are aware they’re risking their own safety to provide the service. That’s an awful lot of people already there deciding if the woman’s reason is good enough to provide the service, without the law getting involved at all.

        In other medical fields we generally rely on professional ethics and licensing, rather than having a political debate about when it’s appropriate to do each procedure. There are probably a lot of women willing to be Octomom, but it hardly ever happens because doctors aren’t willing to implant so many embryos, and licensing boards have rules about what treatments are appropriate.

      • tsara

        People get abortions as soon as they can, if they’re elective. Thinking about health restrictions and mental health is what made me truly (rather than vaguely or by default) pro-choice; it’s impossible to know just what effect forcing someone who does not want to be pregnant to remain pregnant will have on that person. I’m strongly against time restrictions for a bunch of reasons:

        1. they are often abused by less-than-scrupulous pro-life (and/or plain abusive) organizations and people delaying those seeking abortions or outright lying to them about how far along pregnancies are, which has the result of penalizing the young, economically disadvantaged, mentally ill, abused, mentally impaired, or otherwise disadvantaged.
        2. they create situations in which doctors fear performing therapeutic abortions because it’s often not clear just how deadly a situation has to be for a pregnant person in order for the physician to be allowed to perform an abortion and not be charged with murder. In these situations, people die.
        3. exceptions for ‘health of the mother’ also usually fail to include provisions for mental health.
        4. Another factor is the effect of the time limit itself on the pregnant person. I know that if I ever became pregnant with a wanted embryo/fetus, I would need, for the sake of my mental health, to be in a place where I can reassure myself every single day that I am doing this because I want to be doing it, and that I can stop at any time if I need to. A time limit would probably mean that I’d have a few false starts — panicking and getting abortions just before the time limit — and has the risk that I’d panic after the time limit and do something stupid (like stab myself in the abdomen or go binge drinking with a nice drug cocktail or starve myself).

        EDIT: not that you necessarily don’t already know these things. Also, I copypasta’d most of this from myself elsewhere.

      • Christine

        The problem with a broad definition of “health of the mother” is that the law becomes meaningless. “This will cause undue stress” can become cause for an abortion, and you’re just going to encourage contempt for the law. If doctors are performing unnecessary late-term abortions, then that’s something to complain to the governing body about, because that’s generally a violation of medical ethics (undue risk to the mother). Putting it in the law is a waste of resources.

      • Rosa

        when we had a system where only medical boards made the decision (women had to petition & be allowed or disallowed, before Roe v. Wade) it was very clear that money and status had more to do with access than actual need or health.

      • lucifermourning

        interesting study about reasons women get later abortions:

        it’s actually looking at the 19-24 week period and is UK based (so cost is not a factor) but i found it very useful in giving insight into how abortion can end up happening at a late stage.

    • Niemand

      Essentially all 3rd trimester abortions are performed because of threat to the mother’s life or fatal defects in the fetus. It’s possible that some woman, somewhere has wanted an abortion “just because” at 29 weeks, but it’s certainly extremely rare to non-existent.

      Because of this, I’m extremely at ease with late term abortions. They’re most often the “hard cases” that even reasonable anti-choicers agree are cases where there’s just no real good alternative.

      But if there were a case of a woman who simply refused to continue the pregnancy after technical viability but before the fetus had a real chance of survival (say, 22-23 weeks), I’d still be ok with the abortion (or, more likely, induced labor) in the same way I’m ok with Shimp refusing to give McFall his bone marrow: yeah, it’s a jerky decision, arguably immoral, but it’s their bodies that are at stake and no one should have veto power over them.

  • sylvia_rachel

    It didn’t, much: I was pro-choice before and remain pro-choice. My experiences with infertility, IVF, pregnancy, and childbirth lead me to believe that I, personally, am unlikely ever to want to terminate a pregnancy unless my own life was at stake. But nothing I’ve experienced has changed my original conviction that I could not, would not, and should not ever make that choice for anyone but myself — that, IOW, it is not a choice that can be made by anyone but the person or persons directly involved.

  • luckyducky

    I was pro-life mostly by default… I wasn’t political about it and was really turned off by the “pro-life” movement tactics but was still accepted that “abortion is an unmitigated tragedy” line of the RCC.

    Then I had my 1st child (planned) and suffered with PPD, I then got pregnant, unplanned, right as I started treatment for it. I had a lot of anxiety with the PPD and was essentially unable to make any big decisions, or many small ones for that matter, so I don’t think even if my politics had shifted I would have done anything differently but it took me most of the pregnancy to come to terms with having another child. I carried a lot of guilt about not be thrilled about having a baby. I am middle class and had a stable income, stable marriage, healthy toddler, apparently healthy baby. It really couldn’t have been a more optimal situation on paper apart from the PPD and the fact that baby #2 was coming sooner than we would have planned before the PPD — with the PPD, baby #2 had been put off indefinitely. And, having left my university job after baby #1, I was immersed in the world of independent insurance, maternity riders, and mental health exclusions… independent health insurance market is (was?) the 8th circle of Inferno.

    I continued to struggle with depression and anxiety through the pregnancy and postpartum period with my 2nd though it was far better. I had a 2nd unplanned pregnancy right at the same point as I had after baby #1 (apparently, I am slow learner). I cried for 24hrs when I found out… and then I miscarried. It was a light bulb moment for me. Again, aside from the timing and the mental illness*, I could not have been more ideally situated yet I was incredibly grateful that the pregnancy ended as I honestly did not know if I could cope with a 3rd child, even one as healthy and well-adjusted (despite my issues) as my children were/are. At that point I really examined what my experience of sex, pregnancy, and childbirth was and found that it did not fit with what the RCC teaches.

    I love my children and I am grateful for them and at that point I realized that my responsibility for them and my commitment to my husband meant I needed to be more than a walking incubator for non-sentient *potential* children and that means taking greater control of my fertility.

    I also realized how terribly lacking in empathy it was to call abortion a tragedy. Even though I could afford to have another child with a wonderfully supportive partner and that (healthy) child wouldn’t dramatically change our lifestyle (not that another child doesn’t change a family, but another child wouldn’t have required a move, change in job/career, etc.), I was so grateful when that pregnancy ended. So how could I call it a tragedy when a woman ended an equally unwanted pregnancy when she was financially stressed, didn’t have a reliable partner, was in danger of losing a job or derailing her career?

    The early miscarriage (probably a nonviable embryo) also brought home the potential that despite 2 healthy children that I could have carried a nonviable fetus for much longer or faced having a child with significant health issues and, given my state of mind and the state of our family, that could have been devastating. In essence, I really came to terms with the complexity of fertility and childbearing and while it can be a joyful, wonderful experience, it isn’t always and women need to a wider variety of choices and support available to them than I allowed for pre-children

    *This is NOT to minimize mental illness, it is a more than adequate reason to delay/avoid pregnancy. I got “snap out of it, you have so much to be grateful for” kind of messages both from others and myself, very much reinforcing the idea that I didn’t have the “right” to be ill as I had/have it so good, which was not a helpful message to get. I also didn’t have the “right” to not want to be pregnant as I have such a easy time getting pregnant (freakishly easy), have physically easy pregnancies (mild morning illness in the first trimester, that’s it), have such beautiful, wonderful babies/children, and have a husband who is such a wonderful father.

    • Jayn

      *hugs* on the mental illness front. It’s easy to miss that ‘snap out of it’ isn’t only unhelpful, it’s actually harmful because you can’t snap yourself out of it (making you feel even worse), and we can be our own worst enemies on that front sometimes because of the focus on self-reliance in our culture. I’m sorry that you had to go through that :(

      • Gillianren

        And of course, because you can’t just “snap out of it,” that means that everything is all your fault. It’s a horrible, toxic idea that is probably a contributing factor in suicides, if the truth were known.

  • Machintelligence

    No changes whatsoever. My wife and I were both nearly 40 years old when we had our first child and over 40 when we has our second (and last.) In both cases we had amniocentesis to check for chromosomal abnormalities with the understanding that, if any were found, the fetus would be aborted. Fortunately, everything was normal.
    That was over 20 years ago and both children have “left the nest”. Our son is a video game programmer and our daughter is in medical school. */parental bragging*

    • Gail

      My high school biology teacher showed us her amniocentesis from when she had her son (she had him when she was in her mid-40s and this was about 20 years later). I remember her telling us that if he’d had any abnormalities, she would have had an abortion. She was definitely Christian, but not Catholic. I am kind of surprised that she got away with this at a public school in Georgia (although this was the suburban least crazy part of Georgia), but I don’t think she ever got into any trouble. It seemed like such a normal thing to say for her that it took away a bit of the “tragic choice” stigma of abortion in my mind.

    • Gillianren

      Yes, I’ve been very open about that fact myself. I love my son very much, and we went in for genetic testing when I was pregnant. If there had been something wrong, I would have aborted. For one thing, it wouldn’t have been fair to him to have me as a parent if he had serious problems. I would not be a good mother to that kind of child, and I couldn’t give it up for adoption. That would be doing it because the child wasn’t good enough, which strikes me as considerably more cruel than an abortion.

  • Lynn Grey

    My first pregnancy scare moved me from “on the fence” to “fully pro-choice.” It was the realization that my body is mine and that being pregnant does not change who I am. I am still the independent person who has a lot of life goals (that do not include motherhood). I realized that “the magic of new life growing inside you” was a rosy concept attached to pregnancy by people who wanted it, and that an unwanted pregnancy felt like nothing more than a biological situation. An unwanted pregnancy felt like an alien takeover, a gigantic imposition, my life path going off the rails to somewhere I never wanted it to go. And the idea that the government could force me down that path by banning abortion as an option for MY body and changing my life forever…it was suddenly crystal clear to me how wrong that was.

  • Jayn

    To date (I’m just shy of 28 weeks) it hasn’t changed anything. I was and remain very pro-choice in all aspects of reproductive health. What it has done is given me some personal experience of how the subjective experience can differ from woman to woman. I’ve heard of some women who become attached to their child as soon as they find out they’re pregnant–that hasn’t been my experience at all (and mind you, this was PLANNED). It took a while for the idea of there being another person growing inside of me to really sink in–initially all I felt was morning sickness. To be honest, I think my husband is more attached to this pregnancy than I am. At this point, a child is still not very present in my feelings about things (though I’m sure that will change after birth, with the way my mind works) and even while I’m busy preparing, the whole idea of being a mother doesn’t feel very real to me.

    • kisarita

      i felt exactly the same! and it actually took me weeks to bond with my darling little boy. Now we’re ok though!

      • AnotherOne

        Yeah, bonding is such a weird thing. For whatever reason, I had a very detached feeling from my babies when I was pregnant. Even at the end I didn’t feel a strong connection with them. With my first kid, I bonded the second she was in my arms–a fierce, crazy bond. I didn’t take my eyes off her for weeks, and the strong feeling of love was absolutely unbelievable. Then with my second kid, nothing. I cried for weeks because I felt so guilty for not loving her. Then somehow, it snuck up on me over time, and my bond for her got just as strong as with my first. You can’t really control how/when it happens though, and I get so annoyed at people who act like it’s the norm to feel 100% connected to your baby as soon as the test shows up positive.

  • MyOwnPerson

    I still consider myself pro-life insofar that I’m uncomfortable with abortion, but having kids made me very much pro-contraceptive. Good sex-ed and good access to birth control will greatly mitigate the need for abortion. And I’m very much pro-emergency contraceptive. I think that is a very good option in cases of rape, although I do understand it’s only ~60% effective. I do believe abortion should be an option in the case of the life of the mother. Unless it’s very late in the term the baby wouldn’t survive if the mother died anyway, so that one’s a no brainer. And even if it were late in the term I do not agree that the baby’s life is more valuable than the mother’s. Even though I consider myself pro-life, I do not think we are nearly ready to restrict abortion access until we make huge improvements on the contraception front. So I do not vote for radical pro-lifers. What I would like to see is a day where abortion is largely unnecessary. I believe this is the goal of most if not all pro-choicers as well, so I identify with them much more closely than I do the pro-life side.

    • AnotherOne

      Yes. I do think that the one kind of societal consensus we can try to build with some hope of success, is that it’s worth doing what we can to make abortions rare.

      • AlisonCummins

        “Safe, legal and rare.” I think that was a 1990’s slogan.

    • AlisonCummins

      You sound pro-choice to me.
      You are personally uncomfortable with abortion, but recognise that with the world as it is sometimes abortion is going to be a least-worst outcome and therefore you do not want the law to prevent women from making their own decisions.
      That’s pro-choice.

      • MyOwnPerson

        I’d say more on the fence. Cause on the one hand I’m not sure that abortion is a morally acceptable choice where the life of the mother isn’t at stake, but at the same time I can understand the circumstances under which it seems necessary. So in the meantime, it seems like reducing the need for abortion is something more pro-lifers and pro-choicers can agree on, and it doesn’t even need a label.

      • AlisonCummins

        On the fence about what?
        Pro-choice is about whether or not you want your legislators to pass laws that make it illegal to get or provide abortions.
        If you don’t think such laws are appropriate now, then you are pro-choice. That’s it. It’s about law.
        You don’t have to think that there are no ethical or philosophical ramifications to abortion to be pro-choice. You just have to think that it doesn’t make sense to imprison (or execute, or fine, or deprive of their livelihood) women who have abortions or doctors who provide them.

      • Christine

        “Pro-choice is about whether or not you want your legislators to pass laws that make it illegal to get or provide abortions.”

        Until someone high-profile makes a public statement that we need to come up with ways to prevent abortions from happening, and is very clear that they don’t mean to make them illegal. Then they are quite clearly told that the only thing relevant for an abortion is if the mother chooses to have one. Even if there is a consensus agreement that “pro-choice” means that you aren’t in favour of abortion being illegal, the amount of shaming that happens to people who are in favour of counselling against abortion, or see “reducing abortion” as an end goal, means that a lot of us reject the title.

  • Rosa

    I was one of those pro-choice people who said “even though I wouldn’t have an abortion” and pregnancy taught me to shut my mouth. I’m not pro-choice anymore, I’m pro-abortion the way I’m pro-antibiotics and pro-blood transfusions: anyone who thinks they’re wrong shouldn’t have one and the rest of us should use them totally as-needed.

    • AlisonCummins

      What’s anti-choice about that?

      • Rosa

        I never was anti-choice, but I’m no longer of the “safe, legal, and rare” or “it’s a tragic personal situation” people – that’s anti-abortion talk that’s just crept into the mainstream over the years. Abortion’s a medical procedure, like a tooth extraction or setting a broken bone. People can have all sorts of feelings about it (just like Jehovah’s Witnesses can believe it’s a sin to have a blood transfusion), but I am not going to pretend like their feelings are somehow universal or more moral anymore.

      • sunnyside

        Yes! I was just talking to my brother about that the other day. Our minds were boggling about all the crazy we are expected to respect, all the what ifs we’re expected to suspend reality for, all because of other people’s religious beliefs that have zero scientific standing. Want to believe a Plan B pill is abortion? Or that an inseminated egg/embryo = fetus? Ok, do so, but YOU’RE WRONG and I’m not going to politely play pretend otherwise.

      • gimpi1

        Alert! Off-top segue:
        I’m like this about “belief” in Genesis as science. I don’t believe in evolution, I understand the facts concerning evolution. If someone refuses to deal in facts, I refuse to waste my time on their arguments anymore. I won’t to dignify the nonsense of creation-science with attention. I think this is an excellent way to deal with non-fact based beliefs about reproductive biology, too. Good idea, sunnyside.
        End Segue alert.

      • AnotherOne

        Sure, handwringing about Plan B and birth control and according an embryo the human rights of an adult is crazy.

        But Rosa’s unqualified contention that abortion is equivalent to a tooth extraction is the kind of thing I hear from my friends, and my disagreement with that contention is what’s behind most of my comments on this post. I’m a humanist, and I value human life. I can’t be honest with myself and say that a tooth and a 35 week fetus are the same thing. That doesn’t make me anti-abortion, and it doesn’t mean I’m letting anti-abortion rhetoric infiltrate my thought. It means I’m grappling with a difficult ethical issue.

      • Hilary

        Right there with you!

      • Rosa

        at 35 weeks, nobody’s having an abortion of a viable fetus. I mean, I had a very life-threatening pregnancy and at 34 weeks I was induced, to have a BABY. If doctors are doing 35 week abortions, there is something very, very wrong with the fetus that prevents it from living.

        If a woman is seeking an abortion at a late stage of pregnancy, and can find a licensed doctor who will do it? I trust their judgement about the situation.

      • AnotherOne

        “If doctors are doing 35 week abortions, there is something very, very wrong with the fetus that prevents it from living.”

        I know that. My point was that a post viability fetus (say 24 weeks +) is not the same thing as a tooth, biologically speaking, and there are ethics involved that are different and more weighty than taking antibiotics or setting a broken bone. Recognizing that doesn’t mean one is anti-abortion, or that one favors laws restricting abortion.

        In other words, your original statement with the blanket comparison of abortion with tooth extraction needs qualifying if you don’t think it’s applicable when it comes to post-viability fetuses.

      • Anonymouse

        I was in the same position as you, at 34.5 weeks, and had a live baby. Had it happened at 22 weeks, I would have had no baby and no regrets, because the fetus inside of me would have killed me had it not been removed. There’s never any hand-wringing and moralizing about appendectomies; no second-guessing of the person’s motives for having something removed from their body that would kill them if left inside.

      • Rosa

        I’m sorry to dredge up an old argument (and i hope we can avoid what’s going on in the latest post right now – I am SO TIRED of this argument) but I’ve been thinking about our back and forth and how this went down all week.

        I think my issue is with having to have an opinion about someone else’s abortion at all. My comparison to tooth extraction – which I felt really defensive about and wanted to elaborate to demonstrate it’s rightness and didn’t do because I don’t want to offend anyone who has had to make the decision and found it very weighty – is in terms of MY need to judge someone ELSE’s abortion.

        Not that abortion can’t be a very weighty issue for the people involved, or for people who spend a lot of time on these kinds of medical ethics issues. The difference is that all the rest of us, who aren’t those people, are expected – demanded, really, by political operatives – to have an opinion.

        There are a lot of morally weighty issues people make decisions about all the time, and the public is very rarely involved – the decision of how to structure end of life care, the decision of how to provide for disabled adults, the decision of how to distribute donated organs, the decision of who to provide medical or dental care to at all, the decision of whether to require and how to fund lead remediation, of whether or how to feed or house the very poor including young children, the ethics of adoption laws – these get made every day, we have laws & policies and funding around them. But they get talked about in pretty limited circles, really, or at limited times.

        I’m not saying your motives for discussing this are political, because
        you obviously have a deep interest and moral concern about the issue. But as a culture, it’s really only abortion that we have such fine-grained public discussions of, at such length, on any medical topic, and that seems to me to be for deeply political, rather than a deeply moral, reason – one stemming from the subordinate position of women in our society.

      • kisarita

        the vast majority of people experience grief after an abortion. that is not a more morally correct response, but it is a normal, usual response. To minimize this experience and compare it to a tooth extraction is grossly insensitive. We have to find the balance between acknowledging the emotionally wrenching aspect of abortion, without implicitly requiring everyone to feel that way.

      • AnotherOne

        Beautifully put, kisarita, and I’m sorry for your grief.

      • Rosa

        the vast majority of women experience mixed emotions about having or not having an abortion, but more women who were denied abortions reported regret than those who had them.

        This study isn’t big enough (but abortion is very difficult to study, since it’s so stigmatized and politicized) but it’s definitely worth reading some of the results: There’s another part of the five-year study that looked at the results of women who were denied abortions.

      • Rosa

        Lots of women experience relief after an abortion, which is also totally normal. To pretend that there is any morally correct feeling about your own abortion is stupid, and we’ve let it become the dominant narrative.

      • AnotherOne

        Relief and grief aren’t mutually exclusive.

      • Rosa

        Totally. And grief and regret don’t mean those women would choose not to abort in the same circumstances, either. Nobody’s emotions should be political footballs.

      • AnotherOne

        Very true.

      • kisarita

        great point.

  • MJA

    My first pregnancy came when I was newly married, using the Dalkon Shield IUD. I had very little hesitation having the abortion which took place at about 12 weeks, I think. This was in the early 70′s right around the time of Roe v Wade and I lived in Alabama. It was not difficult to obtain at all, but then I am white and had enough money to pay for the procedure. At that time, the Protestant denominations were not overly concerned with abortion politics, though the Catholic church was.
    Shortly after, the Dalkon Shield was implicated in septic pregnancies, which killed some women and caused sterility in others. I’m glad that my early decision made it unnecessary to make the decision later on or worse, be one of the ones with an infection.
    My second pregnancy came 5 years later and having my son didn’t change my pro-life position at all. No huge regrets, no PTSD. Sometimes I wonder briefly whether it was a boy or girl, but in the same way I wonder how my life would have been different if I had gone to college A instead of college B.

    That said, I have only shared this one other time, as part of a 12 step program; this is the first time in an open forum. I don’t think my conservative family would understand, though there was at least one abortion in my mom & dad’s generation. An aunt had an abortion in the 1940′s after having German measles in the first couple of months of her pregnancy. It was not discussed much, but was considered by all to be something sad/tragic, but not sinful. There might have been one earlier that was botched and ended in an 18 year old dying (1884). Supposedly, she took a bath while having her period and died from that.

    • Gillianren

      Yeah, science says no on that last one. To the extent that my first thought was, “Wait, how does that even work?”

  • Angela

    I was never pro-life to the extent that I wanted abortion banned. I believed that in cases of rape or a threat to the mother’s life women should have the right to choose and knowing how difficult rape is to prove I couldn’t support banning it. I was extremely judgey about it however and knew that I would never choose abortion no matter what the circumstances.

    Then during my second pregnancy some of my lab work came back abnormal and I had to undergo several more tests to rule out cancer. Thankfully everything was fine but it took a few weeks for the results to come in and during that time I considered what I would do if I had to choose between continuing the pregnancy and seeking treatment. It wasn’t a difficult decision at all. It was a very planned and wanted pregnancy but my firstborn needed his mom. I knew would do whatever it took to be there for him.

    I’d never really considered before that abortion can be a choice that’s not purely selfish, that many women abort to do right by the children they already have. I’d never realized what a painful and frightening process it could be and how incredibly personal a decision. It makes me shudder to imagine anyone else having the power to make that choice for me. I am now a firm believer that the only person who should get the right to make that choice is the one who has to live with it and I refuse to pass judgement on anyone else’s choice.

  • Christine

    I was fortunate that I didn’t have to wait until late in life to have children (only compared to my friends), so I didn’t have any sort of problems with pregnancy that could have made me become more ok with abortions. However, I had a planned pregnancy. There is no way to intentionally get pregnant and be hard-line anti-abortion. It will be interesting to see if my views change and get more narrow after we’ve finished having children. (i.e. how much of my increased flexibility is because it benefits me).

    • CarysBirch

      “There is no way to intentionally get pregnant and be hard-line anti-abortion.”

      Can you elaborate? I’ve never been pregnant intentionally or unintentionally and I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. It seems logically consistent to me. In fact my mother got pregnant once unintentionally (me, the honeymoon baby) and twice intentionally (the last time with some difficulty, it took about five years) afterward, and she’s hardest-of-the-hard-line anti-abortion.

      Are you referring to IVF/fertility treatments that produce extra embryos etc? That would seem logically inconsistent with hardline anti-abortion views.

      • Christine

        Despite the stated odds of pregnancy, if you’re actually trying to get pregnant, you’re probably going to conceive most cycles, if not all. (I was on the pill until right before we started trying, so the first six months possibly not, but that still leaves several likely chemical pregnancies.) If you honestly have a strong belief that the embryo is a child from conception onwards, you’re going to be wracked with guilt over all of the spontaneous abortions. (Technically I believe it’s not labelled as such until you’re further along, but you know what I mean.) This required a lot of soul searching for me before we started trying. (I wasn’t really hardline about it before, because I did see the need, but I hadn’t actually worked through a lot of the issues.)

      • CarysBirch

        Ah. I see what you mean. I do think there are plenty of people who don’t/can’t/won’t think in that vein or who draw a hard line between natural and induced abortion morally. In fact, most of the hard-line anti-abortion people I know draw a bright line there, to the point where they are so anti-abortion they almost become pro-miscarriage.

      • Christine

        Well part of why I was ok with it was the fact that spontaneous abortions, especially the really early ones, generally happen due to severe genetic problems. They (probably) weren’t due to negligence on my part, and no matter what sort of magical pre-natal care we invent in the future, it’s unlikely that the chemical pregnancies ever could have resulted in a baby.

      • Things1to3

        I never understood the distinction between natural and induced abortion. If an induced abortion is wrong because the person is “playing god” then why are other medical interventions acceptable? As medical science gets more advanced we can intervene earlier and earlier. We can do emergency c-sections where once the child would have been stillborn, for example.

  • Lucreza Borgia

    TTC right now and absolutely terrified of not having control over my entire pregnancy. I take a medication that can cause neural tube defects in rats but hasn’t been conclusively linked to anything in humans. I cannot go of this medication and take supplements to reduce any risks. That being said, I am surrounded by Catholic hospitals. What would happen to me if I was forced to go to one?

    • Baby_Raptor

      I share that fear. I live in an area where the nearest non-Catholic hospital is over half an hour away. I’m terrified of medical emergencies.

    • Jayn

      I told my husband a few months ago that if anything happens to me while I’m still pregnant, take me to the non-Catholic hospital in town. Fortunately we have a choice (I grew up in an area where the nearest hospital was close to an hour away). I hope things go well for you *hugs*

    • Olive Markus

      I think I’m three and a half hours away from the nearest non-Catholic hospital. I’m really scared, too, though I’m actively avoiding conception. Things happen. I’m thinking of relocating to WA, and I know the hospitals there are being snapped up by Catholic, Inc. I’m really horrified by the idea of religiously owned hospitals in general. It is an absurd notion and something that needs to change.

      • Mogg

        I cannot imagine how scary that would be if you were in the position of needing an abortion. We’re lucky here, in that although there are Catholic hospitals they are funded in the same way as all other hospitals, so there is no incentive for them to take over every hospital in sight. Terminations are also at least partially funded publicly, so afforability is not so much of an issue and even if the Catholics took over every private hospital in the state there would still be publicly funded clinics and hospitals. My partner and I will probably start trying for a pregnancy soon, and my choices are very wide.

      • Olive Markus

        Are you in Canada? I dream of moving there :)

        We do have a Planned Parenthood here, thank goodness! However, I’ve seen traumatic complications with pregnancies too often to feel comfortable about my chances should something go wrong. Decisions to abort often need to be made quickly. My mother nearly died from an ectopic pregnancy, and that has really, really scarred me, I think.

        Good luck with conceiving! :D

      • Mogg

        I’m in Australia. Which isn’t entirely enlightened – we have different restrictions in different states, and my situation is very, very different to that of someone in, say, rural Queensland, a state which is geographically huge, has tighter legal restrictions, and only has clinics which can perform abortions in the state capital. Still, at least someone in need will not be sent bankrupt from medical costs.

        Thankyou :-)

      • Olive Markus

        Interesting! Australia fascinates me, but I have to admit that I don’t know much about it. I used to assume it was very consistently liberal, but I’m very, very slowly starting to see the more complex picture (of course, I should always assume the complex :)). As an aside, I always order my best supplements from Australia… From what I’ve heard, federal food standards are more stringent there than in the US? Is that true or have I been misled there?

        I truly do hope everything goes well for you :D.

      • Mogg

        I’m more familiar with medical standards than food (they are regulated separately here), but we do have very strict quarantine standards for food, plant and animal-derived products in order to try to keep our agriculture isolated from some of the nasties that haven’t arrived here yet. I’d be completely not surprised if our food safety laws were more stringent than in the US, as we tend to be pretty fanatical on safety standards in other areas – some would say to a fault.

        Yes, we’re a bit of a weird mob :-) There’s still some remarkably conservative attitudes which I personally think are a holdover from wanting to be seen as more British than the British earlier in our history, and some remarkably backward-thinking – the current debate about whether or not we should invest in the infrastructure which would enable us to have decent telecommunications data capacity being a case in point. Tying ourselves up in knots over social issues sometimes seems to be the national sport for those who don’t like cricket :-)

      • Olive Markus

        Haha! Well, if tying yourself in knots over social issues is your national pass time, that is where you are certainly akin to the US :). Your country wants to be old British, and our country wants to be the Christian Victorian version of the Leave It to Beaver Family? I’m not entirely sure, but the idea is the same.

        I actually didn’t know anything about that part of your history. I think it’s time to read up a little bit. My education lacked any kind of international history, as everything was U.S.-centered. I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you? :)

  • Baby_Raptor

    I was of mixed feelings when I became pregnant.

    My doctor visits started at 4 months, and were every other week from the word go because, for some reason, my doctor considered me “high risk” due to my age. So I saw everything in decent detail.

    After learning much more about the development process, and how utterly dependent the fetus was on me-how my body handled *everything,* I realized that there’s no way a first trimester fetus is an actual life. It’s no more a life than cancer cells are a life. I now fall into the “life starts around viability” category.

  • Jen

    I’m a medical geneticist and solidly pro-choice for as long as I can remember. Having my very much wanted and planned children has only served to cement the idea that we must have the choice not to go through with pregnancy if we feel it isn’t right.

  • Basketcase

    I had always been pro-choice, and a life-sucking pregnancy made me even more so. I could never force another woman to go through that if they didn’t want to!
    I’m scared of the idea of being pregnant ever again. I just cant do it.

  • Val

    I have always been pro-life. It used to be more for religious reasons; I leave my faith out of the debate entirely now because there are other, more compelling things to bring to the table.

    Anyway, my position on the topic has changed in a subtle way since having kids. In many ways, I am more strongly in favour of letting the unborn live whenever possible; having been pregnant three times, and having felt these babies move (each had different habits, interestingly enough) and seen them on the ultrasound, has only further convinced me that the unborn are very much alive. I have spent a lot of time reading over the past nine years since starting my family, too, and everything I’ve learned about prenatal development (NOT from biased pro-life sources, either – I stick to reputable sources put out there by actual biologists/scientists) has shown that an embryo/fetus isn’t just “tissue” or mere “potential life”. It’s not some ephemeral concept with the potential to become a human – it IS a human, right from the start, and it doesn’t take long before it is demonstrably alive. So in that regard, my position is stronger.

    However, the subtle change is as follows. Now that I’ve been pregnant and know how hard it is, and know what can go wrong, and now that I know what parenthood entails, I have a lot more compassion for other women than I used to. I also came to realize that my very black-and-white position – that all abortion was wrong, period – wasn’t a very well-thought-out position. There are situations in which an abortion is a dire need: if the mother is sick and continuing the pregnancy will endanger her life, what’s she supposed to do? Die? What if she has other children who need her – and even if she doesn’t, isn’t her life worth saving? Saving one life instead of losing two sounds like a good choice to me… it’s a tragic situation to be in, but I can’t blame anyone for choosing to have an abortion to save their own life. Sometimes it is necessary. And there are grey areas too – say a woman in Africa is pregnant with her third or fourth child, and the other kids she already has are starving, and she has an abortion. Is aborting it worse than bringing it into the world to die a horrific death? Neither option is good…both of them suck and the child will die either way. It’s a hard, hard question and one I was never willing to ask before…one I grapple with now. It isn’t an easy issue or a clear-cut one where all abortions are either right or wrong. It is morally complicated, and the overarching fact of the humanity of the unborn is one that makes the matter even more complicated.

    • Baby_Raptor

      I agree with you that, to an extent, fetuses are alive. That was never the debate. Life itself began before conception; the egg and the sperm were alive.

      What we’re talking about here is when *personhood* starts. How can you honestly look at a conception and see a person? That’s insulting to actual people, with real bodies, lives, feelings and needs.

  • stacey

    I was always pro choice, because of bodily autonomy, but being adopted I never thought I would have one. I was very wrong.

    After I had my 2 babies, I became even more pro choice because only then did I realize how much danger and burden a pregnancy is. It can KILL YOU. I didn’t realize how serious it was, and how much it can change or destroy your body and your life.

    I also felt 100x worse for my birth mom after experiencing a pregnancy and birth. I know her now, and she doesn’t talk much about it, but it was hell on her. I cannot fathom it.

    Pregnancy should never be forced on someone, it is too dangerous. I do think a fetus is a baby and a child, but I also do not see why its rights would ever outweigh the rights of the mom. Thats not OK. Until we force men to donate organs and marrow, I don’t want to hear from forced birthers.

    • Monala

      Good point about the organ donations. I am a registered organ donor and a regular blood donor, but those are two pretty easy things to be. It’s not terribly difficult or inconvenient to donate blood, and organ donation wouldn’t happen unless I died.

      I have periodically seen appeals to register as a bone marrow donor. I’ve always declined those appeals because (as I understand it), once you’re on the registry, if you become a match for someone needing a donation, you’re obligated to respond. Even if they live on the other side of the country, and it would be a hardship to you financially or physically to travel to where that person is hospitalized and donate. (As a donor, you wouldn’t have to pay for the medical costs, but you would have to cover your own travel, lodging and food).

      Well, I have a job, a kid, and a lot of other responsibilities, and not a lot of financial resources. I can’t make that commitment that I’d respond to someone in need of a bone marrow transplant, I just can’t. And if someone were to say, “Well, you have no choice,” I’d be pretty furious.

      • rovinrockhound

        Actually, if you register as a marrow donor you are not obligated to respond. They would very much like you to because the chances of finding a match are low (especially if the patient is not white), but no one can make you do it and you can back out at any point in the process. You also don’t have to travel to the patient (at least in the US) – it’s done at the nearest hospital affiliated with the registry and then the cells are shipped. Donors and recipients don’t know details about each other and you may or may not be allowed to contact each other one year after donating, depending on the transplant center. You might even be donating to someone abroad and not know it.

        So go register (you can do it with a cheek swab by mail). If you do get called – and the odds are very small – and you choose to donate, things can be temporarily rearranged so life is not disrupted too much. Just think that you might be some cute, bald, big-eyed little kid’s only match (because equally sick grumpy old men don’t make good billboards).

        Be The Match FAQs

      • Monala

        Thank you – that’s good to know.

  • Hilary

    I was always pro-choice, my mom made it very clear she was pro-choice, my brother and I were totally wanted. I also grew up with the Jewish view that existing life takes precedence over potential life, ie the life of the mother and already born children take precedence. (I think what Anat describes in Israel is the other more conservative/traditional variation on that view, that abortion is either required or forbidden. Required if the life of the mother is at stake, or if a pregnancy or another child places severe hardship for her or already existing children, but forbidden if she is physically and emotionally capable of pregnancy and childbirth.)

    I’ve become more internally polarized about abortion. One the one hand, I understand better why exceptions for rape won’t work, why access to safe abortions and birth control are so important, and all that. But on the other hand . . . .

    I tried to conceive a couple years ago. I tried 9 times and each time got a very heavy period about a day and a half late. I don’t even know if I conceived or not, if I miscarried or not. All I know is that if things had gone differently, I would have a 2-4 year old child by now, and I don’t. I remember the feeling of thinking I had some thing inside me that wasn’t me and could eventually become an entirely new person, and how much I wanted that to happen.

    Also, my friend had a baby boy this January, and asked Penny and I to be his aunts/godparents. I see him several times a month, and every time he sees me he gets this big ole’ baby grin on his face. I remember the first time I held him at 2 weeks and thinking, ‘here is an entirely new person, and yet my friend could have made a decision that would have meant he never existed. Even three weeks ago she could have made that choice to end whatever potential his life holds forever.’

    So I am more politically pro-choice then I was growing up, but more emotionally aware of how abortion ends the potential for a human life to exist, exception being gross development abnormalities. I don’t think the solution is just adoption, even though I still hope to adopt with Penny (And yay, we can now get legally married and adopt as a married couple instead of two single people! Fuckin’ A, thank you everybody and allies!). I’ve read too many adoption blogs, stories, and articles to think it is the blanket solution.

    I’m pro-choice, and pro lets make a social environment where women can choose life without having to choose between pregnancy and a job, medical care, pro prenatal and post natal health care for everybody involved, pro counseling and pro-SNAP and WIC and EBT. I’m pro everything else that means a woman doesn’t have to choose an abortion because of economics, or a dangerous relationship to the man involved in getting her pregnant, or being shamed by her parents, family and community. I’m still pro safe, legal and rare, even that is so 90′s.

    I hope this all makes some sense.

    • Hilary

      I forgot to add: I’m pro women and men both being able to make decisions about their fertility and sexuality from scientifically accurate sources without any shame or judgement.

      Regarding the two Jewish views I mentioned about abortion – they are both established traditions, but as for how they play out in real life, your mileage may vary.

    • J-Rex

      I see what you mean, but the emotions of a wanted pregnancy vs an unwanted pregnancy are worlds apart.
      It also doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring up the fact that your friend could have had an abortion and then the boy wouldn’t exist. That’s a purely emotional argument. If your friend had chosen not to have sex, the boy wouldn’t exist either, but that doesn’t mean she should make sure she’s always trying to conceive so that every potential child can exist.

      • Hilary

        My friend was pregnant, unexpectedly but after being engaged to her fiance for a year. What I said may be ‘purely emotional’ but it still a fact that she legally could have ended her pregnancy after it started, and what had already started to develope into my godson would not become a fully born baby. It made me a lot more sensitive to the potential that a pregnancy is, to bring forth a new human being.
        That said, I am still 100% pro-choice.

    • Gillianren

      Clearly, I really need to finish my piece on adoption and find somewhere to publish. I, too, am tired of the “adoption for everybody!” rhetoric, and I’m a birth mother.

      • kisarita

        would love to see it. you can send it to me on hotmail if you would like to share. up to you.

      • Gillianren

        I did finish it, and I’m going to shop it around to some parenting magazines. If it gets published, I may make an announcement.

    • kisarita

      with regard to abortion in israel, while its true that the decision for elective abortion rests in the hands of an “ethics committee”, it’s not the catholic church. the health of the mother is always understood to take precedence. i don’t even think an ethics committee is necessary in case of a danger. my friend who is a married conservative muslim actually had her fetus aborted while she was unconscious in the hospital, with the total approval of her family. Thankfully they managed to save her. its not the same culture as in america. so on the one hand the law itself is more restrictive, but on the other hand, you don’t find the situations that libby anne has posted about where women die or nearly die. But perhaps Anat has more information.
      i do know someone whose abortion was not approved by the committee, despite her miserable life situation, as she was over 30 weeks at the time. she also had health issues, but they were not potentially life threatening.

      • kisarita

        there is also an organization that coaches married women with no health issues, into what to say to the committees so as to get approval… it sucks that women have to go through that. I suppose they have to present themselves as mentally unstable and one more baby will knock them over the edge or something, i don’t know. there aren’t any protests like in the US because abortion isn’t considered a hot political issue.

      • Hilary

        Thanks for letting me know, that’s interesting. I hope your family is doing ok, you, you baby and your man. Shannah Tovah – here’s to hoping for a good year, and that Syria doesn’t get worse although it probably will.

  • ashley

    Oooh! Libby Anne, will you post the article when published? I’ve been through the prolife–>prochoice conversion but am single and childless, so I don’t really have anything to contribute, but I would very much like to read the article when it is finished!!!

  • newbloomer

    The book Freakonomics discusses how an unintended consequence of Roe v. Wade was a drop in violent crime of 60%. 5% would be huge but 60%? A very high percentage of unwanted babies grow up into dangerous miserable adults. I have been in favor of abortion since childhood. My mother was very angry and put out by her 4 children. Only 1 of us was planned and I was unplanned.

    • Helix Luco

      i’m assuming that this is a big neon rainbow-colored and winking correlation, but not quite an established causal link. i agree in thinking it’s probably a major factor contributing to the drop, though. i’d like to see how unplanned pregnancies correlate with rates of violent crime twenty years or so later.

      • Leigha7

        I don’t think it has as much to do with unplanned pregnancies in and of itself as the fact that poor woman who have unplanned pregnancies are then forced (if they can’t get an abortion) to raise that child in poverty, which is a HUGE risk factor for future criminal activity. Obviously, not everyone who has an abortion (or commits crimes) is poor, nor does everyone raised in poverty become a criminal, but Roe v Wade definitely gave poor women a way out of becoming impoverished mothers, which I can’t imagine not playing a role in the crime rate.

        I don’t believe that’s the whole story, by any means. Part of it probably had to do with the societal upheaval that was going on at the time, which Roe v Wade was part of, and would have happened regardless. I’m not sure if it’s possible to know how much was a direct result of the ruling. But it certainly makes sense that it played some role.

  • TLC

    Pregnancy didn’t change my views; I have always been pro-choice. However, living two blocks away from an abortion clinic for 14 years has definitely strengthened my beliefs.

    When the abortion provider in Kansas was shot, the clinic here supposedly took over some of the third-trimester abortions. That kind of creeps me out. But I am not the one who has to make that decision, so I leave it up to them.

    The protesters here have done some horrible things over the years. They harassed a clinic nurse 24/7 so completely that she ended up having panic attacks and taking anti-anxiety medication. Pro-life, anyone?

    Also, their signs are so disgusting and disturbing that even the most anti-abortion people I know STILL hate what they do, because they can’t drive by the clinic with their kids. They post aborted fetuses on panel trucks and park them at the Catholic school across the street the first day of school. Welcome, kindergarteners!

    The worst one was a sign I saw two days before Christmas. It had a green sleigh with red spattered all over it, and it said: “(doctor’s name) SLAY RIDE.” Ugh. And Merry Christmas to you, too!

    All of this makes me determined to make sure women get the health services they need. And that they won’t be harassed away by these buzzards.

  • wombat

    I was raised evangelical, and believed that abortion was terrible, but I had supported a couple of my friends through them, because that’s what friends do. I always swore I’d never get one myself.

    I fell pregnant at age 16, and true to oath, I kept the baby. I had low-grade hyperemesis, and suffered post-partum depression. But I had a lovely baby girl, and with me working nights and weekends and my flatmate working days, we were keeping food on the table. I married my boyfriend so he would be able to live with us, and the money got tighter (he was at Uni) but the workload got easier.

    I fell pregnant again when my daughter was six months old. I was still in the grip of PPD, and trying to support a family on a shoestring budget. I couldn’t face another pregnancy, with the time off work for hyperemesis, and the extra it would cost to support two under-twos. I was only seventeen, depressed, and that was just too much. I had an abortion.

    My abortion was the right thing to do, for me and for my family, and I suddenly understood why it needed to be available. It was step two on my journey to atheism (step one was dealing with the backlash of being evangelical and pregnant).

  • angharad

    I am curious to see the results of any research on this subject, as I have this theory that pregnancy makes women more pro-choice and men more pro-life, but it’s only based on a few anecdotes.
    I myself was raised Catholic and therefore pro-life, but I began to turn away from both in my early 20′s. Getting pregnant was the final nail in the coffin of any pro-life beliefs I had. There were two parts to this. One of the biggest things that converted me to being pro-choice was realising how much the pro-life stuff I had been fed as a child and teenager ignored women’s moral agency. It was all about how stupid and frivolous we were, having abortions so we could go on holiday and fit into dresses and so on. When I became pregnant I thought ‘wow, there is no way any woman can be in this state and not understand the seriousness of it’.
    And when I’d done the whole nine months, and 22 hours of labour I realised that what had gotten me through all of that – I had a pretty normal, healthy, safe and unremarkable pregnancy and delivery but it was nonetheless far from comfortable or easy – was wanting my baby so so so much. I can’t imagine having to go through that if you don’t want the baby, or you know your baby will not survive. People do, I know, but I think you should get to decide if you’re able to do that.

    • Gillianren

      I was raised Catholic and pro-choice.

      • angharad

        Really? That’s interesting. I don’t think anyone Catholic I knew growing up expressed any pro-choice sentiments. I knew a bunch who were okay with contraception, but I always assumed that abortion was a step too far.

      • Gillianren

        My mother’s Catholic and has been all her life (she’s sixty-nine now) and is pro-choice. Don’t know how she’d react if she found out that one of us had an abortion, but my mother has generally been much more liberal in her attitudes toward what’s okay for other people’s children. Though she’d still definitely rather we use contraception than have unwanted pregnancies, and that’s as true for my married sister as it is for me. In fact, in recent years, I’ve begun wondering if she and Dad weren’t using contraception–there’s a two-year gap between me and my older sister and a four-year gap between me and my younger sister.

        I won’t say I knew a lot of pro-choice Catholics growing up; mostly, we didn’t discuss the issue. But I did know several.

      • angharad

        Hmmm, maybe I did know some and they just didn’t talk about it.
        My mother was a fairly devout Catholic (at least in regards to sex – she was a bit more liberal on some other things), and I’m pretty sure my parents weren’t using contraception for the early part of their marriage as I and two of my siblings were all born inside of three years. She must have gotten to that point and thought ‘I can’t do this anymore’ because the two youngest of my siblings came with three year gaps after that.
        My mother eventually left the church. I never thought I’d see that, but they managed to drive even her away.

      • victoria

        My very Catholic mom is pro-choice, albeit quietly. I think her opinion would’ve been the same as Gillian’s with respect to her own kids (she did, with pastoral dispensation, have a tubal after a life-threatening complication with the last of us), and I’m sure she never would’ve had an abortion except to save her own life, but she felt abortion should be legal.

  • Niemand

    I was already pro-choice prior to pregnancy, but pregnancy definitely affected my position in the following ways:
    1. Pregnancy is hard physically and emotionally. It was a very wanted pregnancy, but even so about 15 weeks in I started crying and saying, “I can’t go through with this.” Three and a half months of chronic fatigue and nausea can do that to you.
    2. I was over 35 and needed an amnio. If the option of abortion if something was badly wrong hadn’t been available, I simply wouldn’t have gotten pregnant. So legal abortion is what allowed my child to be born.

    3. I had a pretty boring pregnancy from the provider point of view (no diabetes, no hyperemesis gravidum, no hypertension, etc). Some fatigue and nausea, as I mentioned, but I was still able to work until the 9th month, swim most days until delivery, and basically appear quite healthy. Then came delivery and I nearly died from a combination of infection and obstructed pregnancy. If my (abortion providing) OB hadn’t been there and been good, we’d both have died.
    4. I have a daughter. I can’t imagine how anyone with a daughter could be in favor of anti-choice laws.

    • Monala

      I want to echo that last point. I have a daughter also, and I think about what could happen to her.

      • Niemand

        My mother tells me that when I was in labor she thought, “I could lose my daughter today.” I don’t ever want to think that, but I especially don’t ever want to think that because my daughter was forced to carry a pregnancy she did not want to term. The complications I had are not thought to be hereditary. Yet my mother-in-law had a similar complication that resulted in the death of her first child (my MIL, thankfully, lived through it). I never want my daughter to be facing the same risk without knowing what the danger is and agreeing to it.

  • Gillianren

    I had my first child while I was living in rural Washington. I gave her up for adoption. I don’t talk about it much, but while abortion was legal in Washington, where I lived, it was very much theoretical. I probably would have had to go to Seattle, which was an all-day trip. I had a great experience with my daughter’s adoption, but it brought home that adoption isn’t the answer for everyone. It’s a good choice for a lot of people, and I nearly crossed the country to kill a friend’s stepmother who said, when the option came up for her seventeen-year-old daughter, that no daughter of hers would “abandon her baby.” But it isn’t for everyone, and we need to stop pretending it is. I can’t help wondering how many girls in rural Washington have babies because they can’t make the trip to Seattle, and it makes me angry even though I love my daughter and am happy she was born.

    • Baby_Raptor

      When I got pregnant, my (very, very fundie) grandmother told me that adoption (which was what we were leaning towards at the time) was “Satanic” and that she would rather I have aborted and never told her. And that it shamed her greatly that her own blood would consider such a thing.

      Yup, she and my grandfather claim to be firmly pro-life.

      • Gillianren

        Wow. That’s evil.

  • Things1to3

    I was extremely pro-life up until I got pregnant out of wedlock in college. My fiancé and I had been intimate for a couple of years, but I’d fled to college in another state to try to minimize the temptation, so we only saw each other a
    handful of times in those years. We’d both been raised abstinence only and had a no clue about contraception. That said, we did use a 6oz glass tumbler as a barrier and then moved on to the rhythm method (which failed.) After I found out I was pregnant, I learned that my university had a policy that anyone pregnant out of wedlock would be expelled. I went from an active participant at school to hiding for the last semester of college. I tried to get an abortion at three weeks pregnant, but the nearest clinic was hours away and across state lines. They said I couldn’t do a chemical abortion because I lived in another state and I couldn’t get back for another procedure. So I started researching chemicals that were abortifacients that I could steal from the chem/bio lab I worked in.

    At that point a dear friend intervened. She’d had a child when she was 16 and had gone through the adoption process. She knew that I was so torn up by guilt over my “sin” that I would probably really screw myself up if I went through with the abortion. I ended up getting married over Christmas break and then returning to college to finish my last semester. Once I was married, I lost my health insurance and my husbands wouldn’t cover my pregnancy so I paid Cobra out of pocket. I kept the baby, and had two more after that. All are loved dearly, but I remember well the terror of having to hide, the judgment of all the loving “christians” I thought I knew, the insanity of the health insurance system, and the struggle to balance the kid I love dearly with the ongoing punishment for my sin that he represents. I don’t think people who say that a woman has to face up to her sin and have the kid really understand just how hard it can be to balance that ongoing punishment with the requirement to love and cherish that child.

    I am now firmly pro-choice. It should be a womans choice and the availability of contraceptives, education, morning after pill, and early abortion, would allow women who really don’t want to be pregnant to take care of it quickly. It is not, nor should it be, and easy choice, but restricting access and making things illegal doesn’t solve the problem. I feel strongly that I was set up to fail by a religious system that values rules over lives, and I want no part of that kind of system.

  • Rena

    Wow, so many comments already, and all of them so constructive and interesting.
    I have always been pro-choice even though my family is pro-life (I always seem to be going against the grain when it comes to my family).
    Thinking about abortion before I had my child did not make me sad, it was obvious to me a woman had the right to choose, and if I ever needed one, I was relieved it was available.
    Now after having a baby, I’m still pro-choice, but I do get sad when I think of abortion. Not for any other reason than thinking about my little one makes me sniffle. These are my own feelings and I don’t let them effect my decision to remain pro-choice.
    Now with my second pregnancy, my husband and I lived in a haze for weeks, waiting for test results to come in regarding our baby. Our Dr’s told us we needed to make a “plan” if the results showed the horrific abnormality that was suspected. My husband and I know immediatly we would want an abortion, but I couldn’t bring myself to refer to it as that, I had to call it a “termination” to stay sane, don’t ask me why. Maybe some deep down part still remembers the bad association my family made with those “abortion girls”? Who knows. I knew if I chose termination for the baby who would have a short and painful life, my family would forever consider me “the abortion girl”, and I would forever consider myself a DAMN GOOD PARENT. It’s highly fucked up (truely only the f word can describe this), when killing your child is the most loving decision you can make for them. Yeah, I’m more pro-choice than ever.
    Luckily, that test came back negative, and the baby lives on :) So this story has a happy end, but it 100% forced me to confront abortion and pick a side.

  • tsara

    Huh. I’m just realizing right now that my mother has only ever given birth in secular hospitals, despite the fact that we’ve always lived closer to Catholic hospitals.

  • redlemon

    I was raised pro-life. The fear of pregnancy was slammed into me by my parents. My mother, half-heartedly, once told me that if I were to ever get pregnant, they wouldn’t put me out and to not have an abortion. But that was about it.
    I got pregnant with a wanted pregnancy and now I have a very loved, very wanted daughter with my awesome husband. And as wonderful as she is, I’m more pro-choice then before. Because my pregnancy was awful. No real morning sickness, but I was borderline gestational diabetic at 15 weeks (diabetes really runs in my family, which is why I was tested so early). I was also allergic to eggs at the time. So no eggs, few carbs. My daughter pushed up on my ribs and I spent several days unable to breath properly on our couch. Then, I developed gallstones. I ended up in L&D triage, thinking I was in labor 12 weeks early, when I was just plugged with gallstones. (Another hereditary joy) So then I had to cut nearly ALL fats out of my diet. My diet was limited and tiring. Labor at least went well and no complications.
    The worst though was afterbirth. Somehow, everyone missed the major fact that I had postpartum psychosis. For 8 months, I was a mess. I was suicidal. I was absolutely convinced that my daughter was going to die of SIDS, I was going to be blamed, and was going to jail for the rest of my life. I was just sitting around, waiting for this to happen, anxiety blasting through my system. I was planning on running away so I could avoid this pain that I just knew was going to happen. I had a supposedly great “women’s psychologist” up and tell me that I just needed some parenting classes and to ship my child off to daycare since I obviously couldn’t care for her and didn’t know how to be a parent. I spent a week in a psych ward as a result (Thanks to my wonderful, regular psychologist who suddenly caught on. To his credit, I was his first pregnant client, so I was running way outside of his specialty). I’m okay now and at least relieved that my daughter was too young to ever remember anything other then the week she mostly spent with her grandparents.
    But after that? Never again. Never. I could go on and on and on with more as well. But I never became more pro-choice until after my pregnancy. Before, it was more of an abstract. Now, it’s a very real thing.

  • 17 weeks today

    I was always pro-choice intellectually, but being pregnant has made me pro-choice at a deep, emotional level. This pregnancy was unplanned but not unwanted – my husband has a well-paid job, I have a job that will be perfect to return to after maternity leave, and though we don’t own a house and are still paying off student loans, we can definitely afford to keep this baby. We tell ourselves it’s just a couple of years ahead of schedule. Some have said that experiencing joy at an unplanned pregnancy has made them less sympathetic to women who opt for abortion. But for me, the physical changes of being pregnant, the way in which I have found pregnancy debilitating (constant fatigue), learning more about risks associated with pregnancy and the brutality of childbirth – they all make the pro-life stance seem increasingly cruel and heartless. To go through this and not be excited at the thought of the baby at the end would be a deeply traumatic experience, and one no woman should have to face.