Conflict: Using Birth Control When You Want Kids

Are the new abortion restrictions being passed in some U.S. states relevant for us here at Childless by Marriage? As you probably know, Texas recently passed a law prohibiting abortion, for any reason, after the sixth week of pregnancy, about the time a heartbeat can be detected. At that point, many women don’t even know they are pregnant. Even if they do, by the time they make arrangements, it may be beyond the six weeks. In practical terms, most abortions are therefore illegal. At the moment, the Texas ban has been blocked while it goes through court challenges, but there does seem to be a trend toward more restrictive abortion laws.

I’m not going to argue pro-life vs. pro-choice here. I’m Catholic; you can guess how I feel, but I also realize that many women are going to seek abortions no matter what the law says, so why not make it safe for them to do it?

What does this have to do with being childless by marriage?

While researching my Childless by Marriage book, I discovered that far more women had had abortions than I ever suspected. For some, the abortion ended their only chance at motherhood; later circumstances kept them from having children. Some had abortions because their partners insisted that they did not want them to have a baby, at least not then.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are 189 abortions per 1,000 live births and 11.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years. More than half of those women are in their 20s, and most of those abortions are performed at around the 13th week of pregnancy.

Abortion is sometimes used as a method of birth control for those willing to take a chance that they will not get pregnant and that they can abort if they do. Now the women in Texas and other states where regulations are being tightened to the point of prohibiting most abortions may be feeling there is no way out.

Most of us have used other forms of birth control, including contraceptive pills and patches, IUDs, diaphragms, and condoms. These methods require at least one partner to take responsibility. Ideally, they should both agree that they want to use birth control. Diaphragms and condoms require the cooperation of both parties. The pill and the IUD may have negative effects on the woman’s health. They can also be discontinued without the male partner knowing. How many of us whose partners have been hesitant to make babies have been told by well-meaning friends or relatives to just stop taking the pill and have an “oops” baby? Most of us, I’ll bet.

We’re far from the days when our ancestors could only prevent pregnancy by giving up sex, but it can still be a touchy situation, especially when we want to have children and know that pill we’re taking every morning or that condom we’re using every time we have sex is making it impossible.

So I ask you:

1. How do you feel about conservative politicians eliminating abortion as a birth control method? Does that have anything to do with your situation?

2. If you’re using birth control, how do you feel about it? Do resent that pill, hate that condom? Does your partner insist you use them or just assume that it’s “take care of”? Are you able to discuss it freely with them?

Please share in the comments. You can be completely anonymous. This blog does not work without your input.

Thank you all for being here.

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‘He forced me to have an abortion’

“I was forced into several abortions and wish now that I was still running in fear. At least I wouldn’t be childless.”

A woman calling herself Mary included this sentence in a comment sent in earlier this week. It was a long paragraph full of information about how she had always wanted to be a mother, and she tossed this in like oh yeah, probably should mention this. Dear God, what was she running from?

It’s not the first time I have heard this. Although women cannot be forced by law into aborting a pregnancy, they frequently feel forced into it by disapproving family or partners who threaten everything from abandonment to physical harm if they keep the baby.

I was already shocked by this comment, and then I was shocked again by the statistics on abortions. The numbers vary, with anti-abortion groups reporting far more than government groups that I hope are unbiased. The U.S. Center for Disease Control’s most recent report says there were 623,471 legal abortions in 2016 in the United States, that there are 186 abortions per 1,000 live births every year, and that 91.6 percent take place in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. National Right to Life reports 874,100 abortions in the same period. 

Let’s just say there are a lot and get back to the question of forced abortions.

Abortion, always a touchy subject, is particularly volatile right now, with the new president looking to topple Roe v. Wade and people marching both for and against a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body. I’ll say right now that I am Catholic and I’m not keen on abortion. But I believe governments should keep their hands out of our vaginas.

I was even more shocked when I read this article, “The Reality of Forced Abortion in America” by Kristi Burton Brown. Take a moment to read it, if you want, knowing that toward the end it gets a little anti-abortion preachy.

Okay, now. Why would a woman let anyone tell her what to do with the baby that is in HER BODY? Why wouldn’t she holler, “No!” if she really doesn’t want an abortion, if she always wanted to be a mother, and she wants this baby?

Think about the many situations we see here at Childless by Marriage where a person, usually the woman, does not have children because her partner says no. So many readers are struggling to decide whether to let their partner make that decision for them. This week, I got a comment from a woman whose husband was fine with kids until two weeks after their wedding. Suddenly he didn’t want any. Grrr.

But when there’s already an actual baby being created, maybe only the size of a grape now, but still a baby, isn’t a forced abortion the same thing at a more intense level?

I understand that the woman may be afraid to lose the guy and perhaps end up broke and homeless with a baby. Perhaps she’s afraid of a scandal or of raising a child alone. But does she want to stay with a man who would force her to have an abortion? Isn’t that some kind of abuse?

There are some situations where abortion seems almost necessary: when the mother is too young, when she has been raped, or when the pregnancy threatens her health, but when it’s just a partner who doesn’t want a baby, I cry bullshit. How can he do this to someone he allegedly loves? And where was his condom if he was so set on not having kids?

Perhaps my Catholicness is showing here, but I think the right to choose includes the right to choose to have the baby rather than ending its life and regretting it forever. If you both agree that you need to have an abortion, then that’s between you and God, but don’t let anybody force you into an abortion if you don’t want it.

And please don’t stop reading this blog because you disagree with me or hate Catholics. We’re all just trying to figure this out together.

So let’s have your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘He made me have an abortion’

Relax, that headline does not refer to me. I have never been pregnant, never had an abortion.

It refers to the many women I have interviewed or read about who aborted their only pregnancies because the men in their lives insisted they weren’t ready for children. This makes me so angry. The question isn’t whether or not one believes abortion is wrong. The question is whether somebody else has the right to tell you what to do with the fetus in your own body. What man is worth letting them make such a huge decision for you? It’s the worst form of abuse. In most of these cases, the women were not teenagers. They were grown women who in other circumstances would have welcomed a baby. But because Mr. I Don’t Want to Be a Dad said no–or not yet, which eventually became no–they aborted.

They thought they would keep the man by aborting the baby, but in almost every case, the man dumped them anyway. And the women never got over it, especially when they lost their only chance to be mothers.

Laura always thought she’d have children, but she didn’t marry until she was 29. Her stepchildren were nearly as old as she was. Her husband seemed to want more children, but when she conceived, he changed his mind. “It’s either the baby or me,” he told her. Remembering this ten years later, she begins to cry. Her husband assured her they could try again later, when it was a better time, so she had an abortion. But every time she tried to talk about having a baby, he refused to discuss it. “That attitude went on for seven more years.” She pauses to blow her nose. “I just turned to him one day and said, ‘Bob, are we or are we not going to have kids.?’ And he said no.”

Sarah did it more than once. Shortly after she left her home country to be with Clay, she discovered she was pregnant. Clay said it was too soon. They needed time to get a house, to become more settled in together. She agreed to have an abortion, thinking there would be another chance. But the day she came home from the hospital, he told her, “No, we’re not going to have kids.” 

Sarah was 33 then and still hoping, but he didn’t change his mind. In fact, the same scenario happened again. This time she had deliberately stopped taking her birth control pills. He was furious and insisted she have another abortion. She did. “He talks so reasonably,” she said, her voice trialing off.

Grrr.

I have interviewed other women who were comfortable with their decision to have an abortion. They had not planned to have children and believe they did the right thing. For example, Joyce and her husband Tom got pregnant when her IUD failed. They agreed to abort and believe they made the right choice.

I’m not here to debate whether abortion is right or wrong or whether or not it should be legal. It’s a personal choice. What I’m saying is that if you are the one who is pregnant, you have to be the one to make the decision. Don’t let anybody force you into it, especially if you know you want children. If the man in your life is insisting you have an abortion that you don’t want, dump him, not the baby.

What do you think about all this?