“Black children are an endangered species” the billboards proclaim — and they are having success. At the bottom of each huge sign is the sponsoring site: toomanyaborted.com, whose stated vision is “to eliminate abortion in America.” Eighty such billboards ran, as a campaign to attract more Black members to Georgia Right to Life; if the newly-concluded effort is deemed a success it is expected to be replicated in other states.
A thoughtful story ran in Sunday’s Women’s eNews, and was forwarded to this space by thoughtful reader Melissa. Set aside the valid physical, emotional, economic and other reasons for terminating a pregnancy, author/scholar Margaret Morganroth Gullette‘s personal story illustrates how a combination of factors can also lead to a considered choice.
Gullette tells of learning from her mother, who was then in her eighties, that she had had an illegal abortion when Gullette and her brother were very young. Unlike this writer, and thousands of others who risked (and often lost) their lives in barbaric procedures because a doctor willing to perform a sterile abortion could not be found, Gullette’s mother was able to have a safe abortion in Manhattan. Her parents were poor and her father’s employment uncertain in those 1940s days, Gullette writes, and felt it would be unfair to add a third child to the already struggling family.
I want to add something–temporality–often forgotten or undervalued in the abortion rights debate, even by pro-choice people.
It is hard to define “life” but one thing we know is that it involves time passing. Life time. If a woman who mothers lives after delivery, she is dedicating some hefty chunk of her life time to being responsible for her child. Usually, two decades. The right to decide whether to proceed with a pregnancy takes into account, and must take into account, that irrevocable pledge of responsibility.
It trivializes this life-course decision-making to suggest my mother’s choice was made on the basis of “convenience.” She decided to make my father’s life easier, to devote her maternal attention to her existing children and to study to further her own and our family’s joint life chances.
Everything proved her decision a correct one. She earned a teaching degree, then went to Bank Street College of Education and earned a master’s degree, got tenure, became a wonderful and happy first-grade teacher and earned a good and secure salary that rose every year.
She and my father together moved us up some inches into the lower middle class so that I could get a good education.
In her 80s, when my mother told me about this episode in her life, it was clear that she had never had any regrets.
The Right-to-Lifers would have us believe that no woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy, at any moment after conception occurs. That unwanted, possibly unloved and uncared for children must be brought into the world no matter what.
Suppose — just suppose — they were to quit shrieking about eliminating a woman’s right to control her own body, and focus instead on that irrevocable pledge of responsibility. What a gift to the children of the world — black, white, brown, whatever color — that would be.