My Mom Had an Abortion

About a year before I was born, my mom got accidentally pregnant. She thought about whether she wanted a kid or not, decided she didn’t, and got an abortion. A few months later she changed her mind, got pregnant again with twins, miscarried one, and gave birth to the other one. In her own words, “The abortion’s the most wonderful thing I’ve done. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had you.”

Now, this factoid is something I only learned a little less than five years ago, when I told my mom about some argument I was having with an anti-choicer. My own pro-choice story is a lot less exciting than this of people like Jessica and Jenny, who’ve had to contend with puritan parents or friends who had unwanted pregnancies. In my case, it’s the story of a popular science book and news reports.

When I was seven or eight, my parents got me a book entitled, I think, The Human Body: the Incredible Machine. I’ve never read that book cover-to-cover, but back then I read the first part, dealing with fetal development, over and over. I read about how the sperm cell and egg fuse, how the embryo implants, and how it gradually develops to a fully formed human baby. Accompanying the explanations were photos of fetuses in varying levels of development, enlarged many hundreds or even thousands of times.

One of the things discussed in the book was spontaneous abortion. Only some concepti migrated to the uterus; of these, only some implanted; and of those, many miscarried right at the beginning. I don’t remember all the numbers, but I do remember that it said only 42 out of 100 concepti implanted and survived the first week afterward.

It took me some time to figure out what a non-spontaneous abortion was, but when I did, I had an “Oh, well” reaction to it. Why wouldn’t I? 58% of concepti fail by the end of the first week of pregnancy. The thousand times enlarged pictures of fetuses were cute, but so were pictures of other parts of the human body, including resident bacteria. Moral status isn’t based on cuteness.

It was a while before I learned some people actually had a problem with birth control, and another while before I learned not all of them lived in third-world backwaters. I’d be overdramatizing if I said I was in shock when I discovered that the Catholic Church still opposed all contraception, but there was still some element of incomprehension.

People have sex. Stories about people who have a baby every time they have sex and still only have two children are good for jokes about uptight people, not for reproductive rights policy. The leap from there to understanding that abortion is a perfectly valid medical procedure isn’t especially big.

10 Responses to My Mom Had an Abortion

  1. Bruce says:

    What I have found interesting is how the debate has played out in the Eastern Orthodox churches. While there is considerable debate on the matter, the emerging consensus there is that non-abortifacient means of birth control are permitted in specific circumstances if the marriage as a whole is receptive to children. The dynamics of Orthodoxy on such matters are different from those of the Roman Church, which has a different ecclesiology and heritage to protect, seemingly at very high costs.

    If every Catholic regularly using prohibited birth control withdrew from the Church and stopped tithing/giving offering, almost every diocese in the U.S. Church at least would go bankrupt in maybe 90 days.

  2. SLC says:

    Although I am generally pro-choice, I should point out to Mr. Levy that if his mother had chosen to have an abortion when he was in utero, he wouldn’t be here today.

  3. Alon Levy says:

    That’s not so different from what some Protestant fundamentalists think. James Dobson’s official position is that any form of birth control that does not interfere with a conceptus is acceptable. In practice, Focus on the Family opposes making Plan B available over the counter, but the justification isn’t that it kills babies but that it encourages promiscuity.

  4. Roy says:

    SLC: While I’m not Mister Levy, I feel compelled to respond “So what?”

    That’s the beauty of being pro-choice. It was his mother’s choice whether to give birth or terminate the pregnancy. She clearly chose to give birth to Alon, or, as you point out, he wouldn’t be here today.
    That was her choice.

    Pointing out that any particular person could have been aborted is meaningless- what are we to take away from that, other than “That’s awesome- I was actually wanted!

  5. robin says:

    hey mi nammis robin morris a this well help me out a lot of this papre that im doin hahah lol

  6. Jamie says:

    I stumbled upon this website as I was researching tubal reversal doctors. I would invite all of you who feel that it is a choice wether or not to murder the most innocent of all creation to watch the video The Silent Scream and then tell me how you feel about choice. This video ia a first trimester abortion. Does anyone know that during a third trimester abortion (the baby can survive seperate from their mom at this point) that the baby is delivered feet first and scissors are stuck in the babys skull and the brains are sucked out? My heart aches as I write this. Children are little gifts from heaven. We have four and we want more, many more. Those babies that were aborted are in heaven. I grew up with a mom who taught me at an early age how precious life is and that it is a gift. We live in a selfish world. Has anyone ever heard of adoption? How would you like to have scissors stuck in the back of your skull and your brains sucked out with no pain meds? By the way, 2nd trimester abortions are performed by dismembering the baby’s arms and legs . I would gladly put my health at risk to save my baby. The world doesn’t revolve around us. As to the mother who said she was glad she had an abortion because she wouldn’t have had her son, what about the baby she killed? By the way plan B is abortion and Dr. Dobson knows it is and that is why he doesn’t approve of it. Another note when a woman sees her baby, the baby is wanted. There are so many couples that would love to adopt these “unwanted” babies.

  7. Jamie says:

    I was pregnant out of wedlock and pretty upset about it. We lost the baby to miscarriage and I was devastated. Most woman end up feeling the same way after they lose their baby.

  8. Jamie says:

    Most women who had an abortion suffer from anxiety and depression. There are also long term risks to a womans health. They have found a link to breast cancer as well.

  9. Alphonsus says:

    “It took me some time to figure out what a non-spontaneous abortion was, but when I did, I had an “Oh, well” reaction to it. Why wouldn’t I? 58% of concepti fail by the end of the first week of pregnancy. The thousand times enlarged pictures of fetuses were cute, but so were pictures of other parts of the human body, including resident bacteria. Moral status isn’t based on cuteness.”

    I don’t see the moral relevance of a high rate of miscarriages (the percentage you cite is somewhat higher that the 30% figure that I’ve heard). 100& of human beings die, but that doesn’t make murder any less bad.

  10. Thank you for sharing. Abortion is not murder. The Silent Scream has been debunked several times. Plan B cannot terminate an existing pregnancy. Reproducing should be viewed more as a privilege than an innate right. I find it interesting that the same person pushing adoption is also trying to reverse a sterilization surgery to produce more babies instead of adopting any herself. Instead of having “more, many more,” she could adopt older kids and make a positive difference in their lives instead of just making the world more crowded. I’m not sure what SLC’s point is in pointing out the obvious that if you weren’t born, then you wouldn’t have been born. What difference does that make, in the end? If I had been aborted, I would not be bothered by it. Again, thanks for sharing your story. I enjoyed it.

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