Who REALLY has Abortions?

I was 29 years old, married and using birth control when I found out I was pregnant for the first time. 

For several reasons, my husband and I quickly decided to have an abortion. Although I did not already have children, I had some idea of what it would take to raise a child, and I knew, given the circumstances of my life, I was not ready to be a parent.

At the time, I thought most people who had abortions were teenagers. I would find out that teenagers are NOT the majority that chooses abortion. Surprised? I know I was. Research by the Guttmacher Institute indicates that in 2008, some 61% of abortions were performed on women who already had at least one child. In 2009, presumably due to the recession it is projected (numbers are not yet final) that the number of abortions performed on women who already had at least one child rose to 72%. (Guttmacher Statistics

And it makes some sense that women with a child already would be the larger percentage of women who choose abortion. Those of us who are older and/or more experienced with the realities of daily life know that life may have romance in it, but it is far from romantic on a daily basis.

What is unromantic about having a baby with the person you love? For me, it revolved around financial practicalities. I had married a man I adored (romantic) who was carrying high levels of credit card debt (unromantic). For the first two and a half years of our marriage, daily life involved constant sacrifices at a time that should have been the happiest years of my life. We couldn’t afford a honeymoon (unromantic), we rarely went on dates (unromantic) and we spent a great deal of time negotiating how to spend our money (super unromantic!). To top it off, there were familial stresses that included caring for a parent with a serious illness. 

Then I found out I was pregnant.

What to do? I was tired, stressed and to top it off, I was vomiting every day. I had been using birth control, so it never crossed my mind that I might be pregnant. After several successive days of tossing my cookies, I found myself in the hospital receiving forced hydration through an IV. That’s when I got the news of my pregnancy. 

I considered my circumstances. After 30 months of marriage, I knew life could be harder than I’d imagined not very long ago. Add a child to the mix and I couldn’t see an up side for anyone. I terminated the pregnancy as I was entering my eighth week.

This past week on the hit CBS show “The Good Wife,” the episode “A Precious Commodity,” included a storyline with a young woman hired as a surrogate for a couple who had found out their fetus has fatal birth defects (The Good Wife on CBS). The couple already had experience with loss: their first child had died at six months old after suffering a congenital heart defect. That experience informed their wish to terminate the surrogate’s pregnancy. The young surrogate, however, finds their choice untenable, despite the certainty of two doctors’ conclusions. In many ways, the conflict between the two women comes down to innocent/romantic versus practicality/familiarity. Very much like my own observations, experience, and the statistics. 

Who is it who really has abortions? It could be any of us . . . . the girl next door or the MOM next door. We may be your grocery store clerk, your tax accountant, your child’s favorite teacher. . We are mothers, daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters ( are sisters and BFF’s. Who are we? You might be surprised.



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