I had an abortion nearly two years ago. It wasn't a difficult decision. At no point did I feel like I became a mother when I got pregnant — not when I saw two lines on the pregnancy test, not when I walked into the clinic for the procedure and not when I walked out.
That feeling (or lack thereof, I guess) has never changed. In fact, it only got stronger last year, when a complete stranger tweeted a link to a blog post she had written about me, called "Mother's Day and aborted babies."
In her piece, the author (to whom I will not link) wondered how someone as "callous" and "cold" as I must be would be spending Mother's Day, after having "paid someone cold cash to murder [my] child growing in [my] womb":
I can't help but wonder if [Jenny Kutner] feels differently today. Has what she's done had any effect on her at all? Regret? Remorse? Guilt? Depression? Sadly, I think not going by her subsequent writings on birth control and sex.
Still, I wonder how she feels today as Mother's Day approaches. This first Mother's Day since her abortion... a day she might have celebrated with a child in her arms. How will she feel every Mother's Day for the rest of her life knowing she paid someone to murder her child because the timing was wrong?
The truth is, it never occurred to me to think of my abortion on Mother's Day until I read the post. This does not make me callous; it just means I've never felt an early, unintended, unwanted pregnancy made me a mother. Many people who have had abortions feel the same way I do, while others feel the opposite. Pregnancy and abortion aren't monolithic experiences, and people experience each and every one differently.
Recently, I spoke with a handful of other women who had abortions about their feelings on pregnancy, parenthood, the children they do have and the ones they don't. Here's what they'll be thinking about this Mother's Day.
"I had a late-term abortion for medical reasons during my first pregnancy, and so Mother's Day was really stressful for me the first Mother's Day after that. That was in 2010. Within a year, I had a daughter, who's 4 now, and then I have twins who are almost 2 now — they're all girls. Mother's Day now has a different meaning. I have kids that are going to make me little presents and stuff. But that first year was really hard because I did feel like a mother — I felt like, for me, I actually made a really hard choice for my daughter, to not give birth to her and not have her suffer. Now, I still think of her sometimes.
It is complicated. I was pregnant and showing. Everybody at my office knew I was pregnant. So I really felt like I had become a mother, but I just didn't come home with a live baby. For other people who had a pregnancy that they carried longer, or people that did give birth to a live baby, I wasn't a mother.
On Mother's Day, I definitely think about my three girls who are here with me. Every once in a while I think about the other one. I think about what I'm going to tell my other daughters about her. This really isn't a political issue to me. This should be a private thing that I could figure out on my own that's part of my medical history, almost like if I had survived cancer."
"I have never doubted that abortion was the right decision for me at the time and have never regretted it since. It's hard to be someone who knows you do not want to have children ... in a world where that decision is seen as selfish or outrageous. People don't understand it because as humans we're biologically expected to propagate the species, and women in particular are supposed to be maternal and want children. I love children. ... I'm always happy to step up and assist [friends and family who are parents] when things are tough, not just have fun with their kids when they're cute and happy.
I don't think about my abortion on Mother's Day. I don't think about how I am not a mother to a human child. I think about my mom, my grandmother, my sister and sister-in-law and my friends. I think about loving, honoring, respecting and supporting them, for the difficult and often thankless job that being a parent often is."
"My first pregnancy, at 16, I felt like I wasn't ready and I didn't want to be a mother at that time. ... I really didn't have an attachment to the pregnancy at all. I went in and [had an abortion]. The second time, I was trying to get pregnant and ... by the time I had a miscarriage, I felt like I was attached to that child already, which is why I went for counseling. I was scared. Then, five years later, I became pregnant, and ... as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I was attached.
With the two procedures I had, even though I miscarried one, I still don't look at it as me having a child before having my son. I don't believe I'm a parent to any other child but the one I have now. I'm focused on being a mother to [him]. I think about it sometimes — "Oh man, I would've had a 14-year-old about now" — but when it comes to making me sad or having any emotions, it's not there anymore.
"I don't think about my kids on Mother's Day; I just think about me."
"I was a mom when I had my abortion. [The fetus] had a bunch of abnormalities that thankfully were detected through ultrasound. I was fairly far along, which is what freaks me out more than anything. In today's day and age, I would not be allowed to have an abortion [where I live].
It was not a wanted pregnancy, so it was really mixed emotions. I was kind of freaked out that I had been so irresponsible. Just when you're coming to terms with it, you find out [the] fetus has a bunch of abnormalities. My daughter was born with heart defects, and she still needed surgeries. This fetus had really significant heart issues, and had it been born alive, it would've needed a heart transplant — two kids needing surgery, I wasn't equipped to do that. I never thought twice.
I did think about getting an abortion when I first got pregnant. It was not how we planned it, but we did plan to have kids, so it felt like it was a lot quicker than expected. But I remember being freaked out I was pregnant again. I was on a career track and this did not bode well for that. We would've aborted even without our daughter. Reflecting back on it, there's no way.
I don't think about my kids on Mother's Day; I just think about me. What we're really fighting for is the autonomy to make these decisions. It's not about the fetus or potential life, but about our ability to control our destinies."