'I Told Her She Had to Have an Abortion'

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

An anonymous reader sends a confessional through the mail. Here’s the digitized version:

When I was 21, I was dating a great gal and single mother, who was 18. I was blown away by how much my mom took to her two-year-old son (yes, that made her 16 when she had him). My mom loved to watch him when we went on dates and I admired what a good mom she was. My parents were older, my mom in her mid-60s and my dad in his late 70s.

I started pressuring her to have a child with me. I even asked her to marry me. I kept coming up with excuses on when would finally be a good time to get married, but I did break her down on getting pregnant. I could give my parents a “real” grandchild.

When it finally happened, when it was real and we had a pregnancy test to confirm everything, I freaked out.

It was all bad, I was terrible. Then I told her she had to have an abortion. At that point she was just confused and sick of my 180 change in personality. I paid for the abortion. I drove. After that we never spoke again.

It’s been 25 years. I know she kept in touch with my mom and would often lunch with her and visit. She really was a great person. We still know some of the same people and I do occasionally stalk her on social media, just to see if she is ok ... just to feel better myself ... I don’t know.  

She went on to do some pretty amazing things, but she never had another child. I wonder if I was the reason for that.

I don’t know any of her thoughts on any of it, because I never really paid attention to what she said, only how I panicked. Was she ok with it? They counsel you when you go in. She signed everything and said no one was pressuring her. Maybe she just wanted anything related to me out of her like some kind of satan spawn. I don’t know.

They were so nice to her. They gave her the comfort that I didn’t. I look back now and am so grateful for that.  I never even checked on her again after.

In a more mature, fully developed mind, I realize the horrible stigma put on women who do this. She had no right to have to bear that. I realize the horrible part I played in all of it and never should have done it. I live with that. Not easily.