How Does Abortion Ruling Affect Childless-by-Marriage Couples?

If abortion had been illegal 10, 20, or 30 years ago, would you be a mother or father now? 

Abortion rights are tumbling across the United States in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. Roe was the 1973 decision that gave women a constitutional right to have an abortion. It’s going to be a lot more difficult to get a legal abortion now. Some states have already outlawed it completely and made it a crime to have an abortion or to help someone else to have the procedure. Those who are able may travel to other, more liberal states, such as Oregon where I live, but many women will find themselves in the same situation that trapped women into unwanted pregnancies before Roe v. Wade. 

Abortion was illegal when I was a kid. I didn’t know anything about it because people didn’t talk about such things. For an embarrassingly long time, I thought God gave you a baby when you got married; it came out of your belly button. I’m so grateful for the book my childless step-grandmother gave me that cleared things up. 

While no one talked about abortion, I did hear plenty about girls “getting in trouble.” Two of my high school classmates “had to” drop out because they were pregnant. For girls who got pregnant “out of wedlock,” their lives were considered ruined. 

Later, my ideas about abortion came from movies where young women went to houses in bad neighborhoods to have the fetus removed by quacks under terrible conditions. Some nearly died and/or lost their ability to bear children. Their lives were pretty much ruined, too.

Many years later, I do know people who have had abortions, including some friends and family members. People say it out loud now. Got pregnant at 15, had an abortion. Something was wrong with the baby, had an abortion. My boyfriend wasn’t ready to be a father, so I had an abortion. It was legal and could be done safely in a clinic or hospital. 

For most readers here, abortion has always been an option. Not any more.

What does this have to do with being childless by marriage? Over the years, quite a few childless women have told me they had abortions because their partners did not want them to have the baby. To save the relationship, they agreed to terminate the pregnancy. Maybe, in some cases, the increased difficulty of getting an abortion will mean that they keep the baby. The guy will stick around or not, but they won’t be childless. In other cases, the woman may put herself in danger to have an abortion at any cost.

Maybe, just maybe, fewer women will be childless by marriage because the abortion option is off the table. Or maybe it’s irrelevant because they won’t get pregnant in the first place.

Abortion is a difficult subject. I try to avoid it here, but we do need to look at this decision and what it means for us. What do you think about the loss of Roe v. Wade? Has abortion, legal or illegal, affected your childless-by-marriage situation? 

I welcome your comments. 

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Thoughts on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. Before 1973, women seeking abortions were forced to find illegal practitioners who were not necessarily trained or licensed to perform the procedure. In many cases, they suffered from illnesses or injuries as a result. Whether or not one favors abortion, at least now one can hope for a procedure that is done properly in sterile conditions with minimal danger to their health.

How many people have abortions? More than you would think. In interviewing childless women for my book, I was surprised at the number of women who told me they had had abortions, legal or not. Some had more than one. And that turned out to be their only chance to have children. Some admitted they didn’t really want an abortion but did it because their husband or boyfriend insisted. If anyone is in that situation now, I hope they can find the courage to say no and have the baby despite their partner’s objections. A man who insists you abort a baby you want is not worth keeping.

I’m having trouble finding consistent figures on just how many American women have abortions. A fact sheet from the National Abortion Federation offers some interesting facts about who has abortions and why. They maintain that “at the current rate, 35 percent of all women of reproductive age in America today will have had an abortion by the time they reach the age of 45.” That’s a lot. As has always been the case, most are young and most are unmarried. A substantial number are older and belong to religions that say abortion is a sin. What drives women to abort? It’s the feeling that “I just can’t have a baby right now in this situation.” God bless them, they see no other way out.

As a Catholic, I truly believe that abortion is murder, that it’s ending a life. I would not have an abortion or encourage anyone else to do it. But do I have a right to impose my religious beliefs on other people who believe differently? To force pregnant women who see no other choice but to seek dangerous and illegal means to end their pregnancies? I don’t think so. I know others will disagree.

I considered including a chapter on abortion in my book, but took it out because I have no personal experience in this area. But it is a factor in becoming childless by marriage.

Tell me what you think about it.