Mamas for Choice
posted by Amy

Blogging for Choice might seem like an odd thing for a mama of three kids to do, at least to some. But it's not, really. I had the right to choose not to have a baby at eighteen. That choice allowed me to be the mother I am to my children. For me, delaying motherhood until I was 28, in a committed relationship, and in a relatively secure place financially was the right choice.

Coming from a big family with both biological and adopted kids means that people will sometimes assume I'm against abortion or that my parents were. Yes, my experiences with adoption inform my attitude about abortion. From what I saw, many potential adoptive parents were waiting to become parents to healthy, perfect, white babies, which my pregnancy would likely have resulted in, if carried to term. Firsthand knowledge of how many kids worldwide grow up without families meant I had no illusions that it was my "duty" to have the child I found myself pregnant with right after my high school graduation because so many infertile couples were waiting to become parents.

So I had an abortion and went to college and found a job I love and met my husband and became a mother. These days, I drive a minivan and look a heck of a lot like one of those soccer moms we're always hearing about. I'm telling you this in case you think abortion is something no one you know has experienced. Since at current rates, about one in three American women will have had an abortion by the time she reaches age 45, the truth is you probably do know several women who have had abortions.

But because of the culture of shame, blame, and ignorance surrounding abortion, most of us are afraid to talk about it. I never used to, except in a few situations, as my own personal litmus test: was this person safe to tell? The answer was usually yes, but most of the people I told for years were men who had their own abortion stories, stories they told with sadness and resignation, but not regret that they'd made a mistake. What stopped me from telling most friends, besides my fear of being judged, was that I couldn't shake the sense that I was supposed to fake a feeling that it had been a tragic experience, which it wasn't.

I turn 35 in less than a week. If I don't tell my real story now, when will I? I'm sorry that birth control failed and I was pregnant at 18. I'm not sorry that I had the legal right to choose not to carry that pregnancy to term. It wasn't meaningless and easy, but neither was it traumatizing. It was sad. I chose the least worst option, using the facts I had available at the time. I went to the clinic with my boyfriend, who paid half, and then we broke up and he went to on to finish high school and I started college. (My parents, by the way, went on to adopt four more children from Brazil and Guatemala, something which I suspect wouldn't have happened if they'd found themselves with a grandchild when they were both just forty.)

Seventeen years after that abortion, here's what I think: in a ideal world, there would be no abortions. There would be no adoptions. No unplanned pregnancies. No poverty. No illness, physical or mental. No war. No racism. No sexism. No ridiculous assumptions that men like sex and women don't, and the woman's job is to hold out until marriage. There would be a male birth-control pill.

There would not be pictures of "waiting children," the term the adoption agency my parents worked with used instead of "orphans." I grew up paging through the adoption agency magazines, looking at one brown-eyed older or special-needs child after another (and in the adoption world, older and special-needs mean nearly the same thing: less adoptable).

There would not be, to give just one of millions of examples, favelas in Brazil, nor would there be houses made of cardboard boxes on the side of the freeway like the ones I saw families living in when I went to Brazil with my family to finalize the adoption of three of my siblings.

There would not be stories of women bleeding to death after illegal abortions like these described by doctors and activists who remember life before Roe v. Wade.

But since you and I live in this real world, I'm glad Roe v. Wade exists. When all that other stuff gets taken care of, I'm willing to talk about whether there is a need for abortion rights. I won't be holding my breath.

Abortion-related websites, books, and DVDs:

Speak Out: I Had an Abortion
I'm Not Sorry.Net
Our Truths.org