Several states are considering restrictions on abortion at this time, and several others already have them. These typically involve an enforced 72-hour “waiting period,” which strikes me as ironic, considering that the later the procedure the more hysterical the anti-abortionists become. It seems like their strategy is to make her wait, throwing obstacles in her way, hoping to stall her until it’s too late for a simple procedure.
And what is the woman supposed to be doing during those 72 hours? First she must have an ultrasound, during which the technician describes in minute detail every tiny aspect of the creature swimming in her uterus – every aspect, that is, they can find. It may take hours to pick up a heartbeat, but by god, they’ll find one or die doing it!
To fill in the rest of the waiting period she must undergo “counseling.” The “method” of counseling used by anti-abortionists is to bombard the pregnant woman with “information” about her “unborn child.” This strikes me as akin to torture, or, at the very least, brainwashing. I wonder how many women under these circumstances succumb, and alter their lives forever by giving birth?
I had an abortion when I was 27. I’d gotten pregnant by a man who told me he’d had a vasectomy. (I know, I know – how could I have been so naive? But the doctor at Planned Parenthood, that brave much-needed organization that’s now under vicious fire from anti-abortionists, told me they’d heard that story before.) It was a time of fast and furious romantic adventure, at least in my life, and the guy was a friend of my boss, a Colorado cowboy who breezed through New York buying and selling Native American jewelry. He courted me in my boss’s penthouse suite overlooking the Hudson River.
At the time I had two children, aged six and eight, living with their father on Long Island. They were there because after my divorce I’d become overwhelmed by single motherhood, and, just as important, I really wanted those adventures, having had children far too young to get that need out of my system. One secret about divorce is that when Daddy takes the kids for those long weekends, Mommy gets a taste of freedom, perhaps for the first time in her life – and that taste whets her appetite for more. So there I was, living where I’d always wanted to, in New York City; not as the Greenwich Village artist I’d fantasized, maybe, but as a secretary. (Fantasy seldom takes into account economic necessity.) It was good enough. I was having my adventures, and not just the sexual kind.
The trouble was, I missed my kids. Every day I woke up physically aching. I didn’t like how their father was raising them, to put it mildly. They were growing more and more distant from me. Besides a genuine desire to be with them, I was weighed down by enormous guilt. I didn’t know how much of my suffering came from female conditioning and how much was real, and couldn’t begin to separate one from the other. Every day was a struggle to shove my feelings aside and live without depression and guilt riding my back. I started a Mothers-without-Custody support group, which met weekly for two years. Four years after I’d left the kids I took them back.
How, under these circumstances, could I possibly have another child? What would it have done to my abandoned children? To my guilty conscience? This baby didn’t even come with a few pennies from Daddy: how could I support a child when I was barely supporting myself? I absolutely positively did not want another child; and PS, my oldest had been born with a chronic medical condition that took a hundred times more mothering energy than the usual. I knew better than others all the things that can go wrong. Fortunately, abortion was legal and performed without drama.
But what if I’d had to wait 72 hours? If I’d been forced to look at a sonogram and listen to a lecture? If I’d been dragged through the thick sentimental anti-abortion muck? I know myself well, and I can tell you what would have happened: I would have borne that baby. Between my guilt over my kids and the hormones of pregnancy running through my body, I bet I would have caved in. I would have staked my future, and my kids’ future, on a fleeting emotion.
Fortunately, I was not subjected to brainwashing, to an invasion of privacy, to what I want to call torture. To be totally honest, during the abortion I felt the life being sucked out of me, and I cried. There is sadness here, yes – but again, you don’t, or shouldn’t, base major life decisions on fleeting emotions. Even in my sorrow I did not regret my decision. I did promise myself inwardly, This will never happen to me again. It never did.
I am grateful my abortion wasn’t prevented by law or brainwashing. It worries me that girls and women do not have the same freedom today. Even before the anti-abortionists get their nasty claws up close and personal enough to strangle the fight out of them, most women have already been pumped full of dreck from our culture and its post-sixties backlash, where every birth is a triumph and every abortion a tragedy.
The tragedy is unwanted babies, unhappy women, and ruined lives.
*Note: Necklace above by Joan Max Reinmuth
- What does an early abortion look like? (skillzmcfly.tumblr.com)
- Abortion is safer than having a baby, doctors say (cafewitteveen.wordpress.com)