'I View Abortion as Quitting on Your Kid'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

That’s the view of the third reader below. The first one:

Here’s the thing: I’m happy to tell my abortion story, but it’s not the kind that will sway anyone who thinks women shouldn’t have control over their own bodies toward thinking maybe they should. There’s no hardship, no sad backstory. I didn’t do this to be a better mom to my other kids or because I couldn’t afford to have a child or because I was single and didn’t know how I would raise a kid alone. (The only thing resembling hardship was the unbelievable pain I was in for several weeks, like the kind of pain where you have to excuse yourself from conversation to go curl up into a ball and writhe, which I did more times than I can count.)

I just didn’t want kids. Still. Ever. Never had. And to paraphrase Katha Pollitt, puberty to menopause is a long damn time to make sure no stray sperm ever gets in your uterus.

The decision was probably the easiest I ever made, and that’s not an exaggeration. I called Planned Parenthood, made an appointment, walked in four days later, and walked out no longer pregnant. Once upon a time, I thought we would get to a point where I wouldn’t have to consider myself lucky or privileged to live in a state where I could do that. I went to Planned Parenthood because I was new to the city and I didn’t have an OB/GYN, and I knew they would take excellent care of me. Which they did.

That night was the first night in weeks I slept straight through without waking up every hour or two in excruciating pain. The next morning, I wanted to dance a jig I was so happy.

This pro-life reader, on the other hand, couldn’t have a more different view:

Intentionally or not, your request seems to be limited to the perspective of only half of the people affected by abortion. On the chance that you are interested in all of our personal stories, here’s mine:

I was born and adopted in February 1968. My birth mother was an unmarried 16-year-old Catholic girl in Syracuse, NY. I was adopted by a married couple who had been told they couldn’t have children of their own for medical reasons.

I have had a great life, and I am grateful to my adopted parents and my birth mother for it. I am fairly confident that if abortion were legal and accepted at the time of my birth, I would have been killed before birth.

I am never going to identify with either the mother or the father of an unwanted child; I will always identify with that child. Legalized abortion is normalizing the murder of an innocent human life.

Another pro-life reader:

I had two children out of wedlock. I’ve never really considered abortion a choice. No, I’m not a religious fanatic.

Background is important. In brief, I am the product of Navy date rape, born in 1966. My mother was an OB and labor and delivery nurse. She was once fired for refusing to do second-term abortions, leaving her a single mom unemployed. We are Irish Protestant, but marched in the 1970s with Catholics against abortion.

I had a hellish childhood and stereotypically made bad men choices. After a divorce and while in the service, I fell in love with a bad boy and got pregnant at 24. Birth control of all sorts never worked. I had an old white man randomly tell me I should get an abortion because the child would be biracial and have a hard life. This was 1991.

I went through college and bought a home but struggled in raising my son. I got pregnant by a horrible person. This time I wished to some degree I believed in abortion because I was just getting my footing with my six year old and finances.  I had my tubes tied after my daughter was born.

My kids are now 17 and 24. It has been hard. I worked hard. Things haven’t turned out as I hoped.  But my kids wanted for nothing (material). I am a GS-13 and make attorney wages.

Life and morals aside, I view abortion as quitting on your kid. I hold my head up as a fighter. I don’t respect the view of someone who is an attorney because she had an abortion; she took the lazy way. With age and disappointment, I understand the why of people having abortions. It is hard to be strong. No one respects those who keep their kids and do their best. And for those like me with no responsible fathers and family, it is exhausting.