Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

07 January 2008

Abortion is a choice that women will keep making

Almost all of the GOP candidates are campaigning with the stance that they would overturn Roe or do whatever they can to outlaw abortion in this country. The inclusion of Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Democrats race was supposed to infuse women's issues to the campaign. It really hasn't. Health centers that perform abortions have been torched in New Mexico. An anti-abortion ballot measure is in Missouri.

How many freakin' times do we have to say it? Women will continue to have abortions whether they are legal or not.

The reasons women make that decision ranges from economics to safety issues. It is rarely, rarely entered into without thought and often a heavy heart. (Um, no I'm not taking the "every abortion is a tragedy line, k?)

The Guttmacher Institute
just released a new report about why women choose abortions:

The majority of U.S. women who have abortions (61%) have children. This exploratory study analyzes qualitative information from 38 women obtaining abortions to examine how issues of motherhood influenced their decisions to terminate their pregnancies. Women in the sample had abortions because of the material responsibilities of motherhood, such as the care for their existing children, as well as the more abstract expectations of parenting, such as the desire to provide children with a good home. The women believed that children were entitled to a stable and loving family, financial security, and a high level of care and attention. One fourth of the women had considered adoption but regarded it as being emotionally distressing. The findings demonstrate reasons why women have abortions throughout their reproductive life spans and that their decisions to terminate pregnancies are often influenced by the desire to be a good parent. (emphasis mine)
This study can then be backed up by a story on abortionclinicdays:

Rayanna was quiet and almost bashful when I asked her questions about how she had come to choose to have her abortion with us today. She had given birth six times, indicating that three of the children did not live with her currently. She and her partner were caring for three of the youngest children. She was taking good care of these three, she explained, but any more, that would push them beyond their financial and emotional means. “I'm slowing it all down,” she said, 'seven pregnancies—that's too many.” Her current pregnancy was a result of a failed tubal ligation surgery. Complication with surgical sterilization are rare, but they do happen and sometimes you just don't know the surgery's failed until you find yourself pregnant.

Rayanna had indicated that her family did not support her having the abortion and I asked her about their relationship.
...
As a result of the incest, Rayanna had been sexually active for most of her life—but not on her own terms, not with her consent. When Rayanna became a teenager, she said she longed for affection and attention. But, not yet understanding how to get what she needed, she became sexually active with partners she described as “no good, beating on me, cheating on me and never there when I needed them.” She got pregnant twice as a teen and her mother forbid her to have an abortion. Bewildered, she went along with this and the two infants were adopted by a relative. A third pregnancy two years later came as a result of a rape. Again, her mother forbid her to have an abortion and the child was adopted by a family friend. She had borne three children by the age of 20—again, not on her own terms.
...

Rayanna brought it into the light. Generations of incest, silence and abuse ended that day. Her children would be safe—she would see to that. It meant sacrificing her relationship with her extended family and straining her relationship with her mother, but it was a worthy price to pay. I didn't know what to say, other than to thank Rayanna for what she had done. “I feel like I'm sitting here with a woman of such amazing strength,” I said. “Do you realize what a big deal it was for you to speak up about that? You did it, you're keeping your family safe.” It was a hard road, but she was staking claim to her life, her safety, her sexuality, her fertility--this time on her terms.

“I'm slowing it down,” she said. “I had three babies born and given away before I was even sure what babies were good for. Maybe if my mother had listened to me when I tried to tell her about the abuse the first time and gotten me some help, maybe then I wouldn't have needed to have all those boyfriends who treated me bad. Maybe I wouldn't have got pregnant and maybe no rape. But that was then. I talk about it all now and no one's going to do that to my kids. It took years of counseling to understand what all happened and now, I'm slowing it all down. I've got my three kids and we're working on communicating better and better and I just can't handle any more kids today. That's why I'm here. I'm slowing it all back down.”

And that's that. Women, while not all want to be mothers, most of them know what it means to be a mother. I've often told people that you never have the right time for having a baby, but you sure as hell have a "Hell no!" time. I think we all know when those "Hell no!" times are and we must act on those feelings, that instinct. For some of us, we will carry our pregnancies to term, perhaps try out motherhood, maybe turn to adoption. For some of us we will turn to abortion.

No law will stop abortion. It may make it harder, scarier, less safe, and may even kill us, but far too many of us know that the best thing for us is to not enter this tough thing called motherhood.
Technorati tags: abortion, feminism

2 comments:

I couldn't agree with you more. Let's stop making abortion a moral debate and start talking about the very real consequences of making it illegal. Women will continue to have abortions, and now I fear that we'll be seeing more and more stories of newborns left in dumpsters.

There are more logical, cost effective, safe ways of reducing the number of abortions. It's called sex education and easy access to birth control.

I hope you're wrong about dumpster babies, but I fear you are right.