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.