I Wish My Mother Had Aborted Me

Lynn Beisner explains the difference between the two phrases “The best choice for both my mother and me would have been abortion” and “I wish I had never been born.”

Originally appeared at Role/Reboot. Reprinted with permission.

If there is one thing that anti-choice activists do that makes me see red, it is when they parade out their poster children: men, women, and children who were “targeted for abortion.” They tell us “these people would not be alive today if abortion had been legal or if their mothers had made a different choice.

In the past couple of months, I have read two of these abortion deliverance stories that have been particularly offensive. The first story is one propagated by Rebecca Kiessling, the poster child for the no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. On her website Kiessling says that every time we say that abortion should be allowed at least in the case of rape or incest we are saying to her: “If I had my way, you’d be dead right now.” She goes onto say, “I absolutely would have been aborted if it had been legal in Michigan when I was an unborn child, and I can tell you that it hurts [when people say that abortion should be legal.]”

The moral of these stories is clear: Considering abortion is like considering genocide.

The second story was on the Good Men Project this week. In an article entitled, “Delivered from Abortion: Healing a Forgotten Memory,” Gordon Dalbey tells a highly unlikely story about his mother’s decision to abort him and her eventual change of heart. I say that the story is highly unlikely because the type of abortion he says his mother was about to have was not available until 50 years later. However, Dalbey claims to have recovered a memory of being “delivered” from the abortion because as a fetus he cried out to God. He claims that the near-abortion experience had caused him psychological suffering throughout his life. Since recovering the memory, he has experienced survivor’s guilt because he was saved when so many other fetuses have been aborted. In explaining how he overcame this guilt, he quotes a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust who says that the purpose of surviving is to testify to the experience.

What makes these stories so infuriating to me is that they are emotional blackmail. As readers or listeners, we are almost forced by these anti-choice versions of A Wonderful Life to say, “Oh, I am so glad you were born.” And then by extension, we are soon forced into saying, “Yes, of course, every blastula of cells should be allowed to develop into a human being.”

Stories like Mr. Dalbey’s are probably effective because they follow the same model. First there is a woman facing the unplanned pregnancy that poses severe problems. In Dalbey’s case, his family is suffering from extreme poverty, and in the case of Kiessling, her mother is dealing with the aftermath of rape. The story shifts so that the mother has a divine or moral enlightenment and knows that she must carry the baby to term. We are left with an adult praising the bravery of their mothers and testifying that their lives were saved for some higher purpose. But the story goes on to tell us how even the contemplation of abortion was horribly scarring for the person. The moral of these stories is clear: Considering abortion is like considering genocide.

Here is why it is so effective: People freak out when you tell an opposing story. I make even my most ardent pro-choice friends and colleagues very uncomfortable when I explain why my mother should have aborted me. Somehow they confuse the well-considered and rational: “The best choice for both my mother and me would have been abortion” with the infamous expression of depression and angst: “I wish I had never been born.” The two are really very different things, and we must draw that distinction clearly.

The narrative that anti-choice crusaders are telling is powerful, moving, and best of all, it has a happy ending. It makes the woman who carries to term a hero, and for narrative purposes, it hides her maternal failing. We cannot argue against heroic, redemptive happy-ending fairy tales using cold statistics. If we want to keep our reproductive rights, we must be willing to tell our stories, to be willing and able to say, “I love my life, but I wish my mother had aborted me.”

An abortion would have absolutely been better for my mother. An abortion would have made it more likely that she would finish high school and get a college education. At college in the late 1960s, it seems likely that she would have found feminism or psychology or something that would have helped her overcome her childhood trauma and pick better partners. She would have been better prepared when she had children. If nothing else, getting an abortion would have saved her from plunging into poverty. She likely would have stayed in the same socioeconomic strata as her parents and grandparents who were professors. I wish she had aborted me because I love her and want what is best for her.

Abortion would have been a better option for me. If you believe what reproductive scientists tell us, that I was nothing more than a conglomeration of cells, then there was nothing lost. I could have experienced no consciousness or pain. But even if you discount science and believe that I had consciousness and could experience pain at six gestational weeks, I would choose the brief pain or fear of an abortion over the decades of suffering I endured.

An abortion would have been best for me because there is no way that my love-starved trauma-addled mother could have ever put me up for adoption. It was either abortion or raising me herself, and she was in no position to raise a child. She had suffered a traumatic brain injury, witnessed and experienced severe domestic violence, and while she was in grade school she was raped by a stranger and her mother committed suicide. She was severely depressed and suicidal, had an extremely poor support system, was experiencing an unplanned pregnancy that resulted from coercive sex, and she was so young that her brain was still undeveloped.

With that constellation of factors, there was a very high statistical probability that my mother would be an abusive parent, that we would spend the rest of our lives in crushing poverty, and that we would both be highly vulnerable to predatory organizations and men. And that is exactly what happened. She abused me, beating me viciously and often. We lived in bone-crushing poverty, and our little family became a magnet for predatory men and organizations. My mother found minimal support in a small church, and became involved with the pastor who was undeniably schizophrenic, narcissistic, and sadistic. The abuse I endured was compounded by deprivation. Before the age of 14, I had never been to a sleep-over, been allowed to talk to a friend on the phone, eaten in a restaurant, watched a television show, listened to the radio, read a non-Christian book, or even worn a pair of jeans.

If this were an anti-choice story, this is the part where I would tell you how I overcame great odds and my life now has special meaning. I would ask you to affirm that, of course, you are happy I was born, and that the world would be a darker, poorer place without me.

It is true that in the past 12 years, I have been able to rise above the circumstances of my birth and build a life that I truly love. But no one should have to make such a Herculean struggle for simple normalcy. Even given the happiness and success I now enjoy, if I could go back in time and make the choice for my mother, it would be abortion.

The world would not be a darker or poorer place without me. Actually, in terms of contributions to the world, I am a net loss. Everything that I have done—including parenting, teaching, researching, and being a loving partner—could have been done as well if not better by other people. Any positive contributions that I have made are completely offset by what it has cost society to help me overcome the disadvantages and injuries of my childhood to become a functional and contributing member of society.

It is not easy to say, “I wish my mother had aborted me.” The Right would have us see abortion as women acting out of cowardice, selfishness, or convenience. But for many women, like my mother, abortion would be an inconvenient act of courage and selflessness. I am sad for both of us that she could not find the courage and selflessness. But my attitude is that as long as I am already here, I might as well do all I can to make the world a better place, to ease the suffering of others, and to experience love and life to its fullest.

Lynn Beisner is the pseudonym for a mother, a writer, a feminist, and an academic living somewhere East of the Mississippi. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Image of embry0 courtesy of Shutterstock

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Comments

  1. Honestly, this article (which I’ve seen, now, at 5 other sites) sounds like something a teenager would write. The arguments, not the prose.

    It is a philosophical non-starter to say “I wish that my mother had aborted me.” That is merely a dramatic way to say what the author really means, which is: “If she had to do it over again, my mother would have been smart to abort me.” But we can’t turn back time to try it another way so to say it is purely for shock value.

    So this argument in the piece isn’t a rational response to the pro-life argument of “well aren’t you glad that your mom didn’t abort you?” This is a fantasy argument and an overly emotional one.

  2. While I feel for the writer’s obviously horrible upbringing, this is one of the dumbest pieces I’ve ever read. Underlying it is the assumption that humans have no intrinsic value, that this only comes after you “achieve” something, and that death is better than temporary pain. This insults millions of children living in dire conditions around the world today. Is it better for them to have been killed than to live with limited food supply? Look into their parents’ eyes and tell them that. Better yet, look into the eyes of sweet children and then try to say it.

    This line of reasoning also insults those who have struggled to survive and to create better lives for themselves. Most aren’t happy to have suffered, but many would say that suffering has sweetened their later lives. What is the threshold for suffering that makes life not worth having lived, and who is the judge of that?

    To say that abortion would’ve saved you to from a childhood of suffering is one thing, but that argument made from this side of the grave totally defeats itself.

    • Why do all humans have intrinsic value? I don’t see it. They have value they, or the people in their luvs, or society, place on them.

  3. Cynthia Afzal says:

    Wow. Amazing story. And thought-provoking. I guess what I don’t like, as in the two comments above, is the wishing to change something in the past. We cannot change the past. We can only change how we deal with our life circumstances and how we experience that history energetically in our bodies to create a better life. So, that’s what we have all got to do — build a better, more supportive world for all. I have an estranged adopted daughter and I wonder if maybe A. actually has this feeling about abortion and cannot work her way through it because she comes back to trying to change the past, to her being conceived and born and “given away.” She must feel she was thrown away. But I never, not even once, saw her as rubbish, not even now that she has been so emotionally and actionally abusive. She was and is a gift. That’s what I would change — I would change the now. I pray that she can feel to her very DNA that she is a gift and not trash and look outside of herself to see that we are all gifts. I believe women should have the choice to decide. It is never a simple choice, but so much depends on the outcome — the woman’s livelihood, her future children’s lives, and her community’s well-being. When each and every child is desired, loved, and supported, the world will be a better place. It is almost impossible to imagine how the world would be different. I am not convinced by Beisner’s takeaway in this article because I don’t think we should put any energy into ideating restart buttons for people, but I feel certain she’ll grasp her truth more clearly as she continues to build wisdom through communication. I feel the comments above are too judgmental and self-superior — the typical, masculinist “your argument is emotional and illogical” and her argument is not insulting because she is only talking about herself and the world we are creating for our children, not our children themselves.

  4. Unbelievable. I really can’t believe I read this piece. This woe-is-me story is a pathetic argument for pro choice. I’m sorry the author felt like she grew up under some horrid conditions, but seriously, get out of your bubble, travel to some of the most impoverished places in this world and tell me this same story. Never been to a sleep over, eaten in a restaurant… Really? How about spending your life dodging bullets from rebels and revolutionaries. How about going to bed hungry every night because there is simply not enough food. How about not even having a bed.

    The argument then is that anyone who is or has grown up in negative conditions should have just been aborted? That holds absolutely no water. The article is a strawman, and a particularly egregious one at that. Life is not at the convenience of others, life is a struggle, and if abortion is the answer to having a difficult life, well then I truly weep for the future of humanity.

  5. JoeJoseph says:

    I think this is one of the whiniest things I’ve ever read in my life.

  6. I’d like to invite people to google for studies done by Yale & the Rockefeller Commission on the impacts of legalized abortion on America’s crime rates. You’d see the beginning of a dramatic drop in overall crime and abuse in America in the 1990s in states that had higher abortion rates in the 70s & 80s. Had there been some reference to studies along with the author’s story of pain, this piece might have come across as more “valuable.”

    To the author: I have empathy for your situation in ways I do not wish to write about in public. I can only say that spending time thinking that your reality should be another way is a fantastic path toward emotional pain. For better or worse, you are here.

  7. The author is not saying that all children in abusive, deprived environments are better off being aborted. She’s saying that some women are, in fact, better off having an abortion. She has a personal exsmple in that her own birth apparently had an extremely negative impact on her mother. And she’s saying that if she had been aborted, she’d never know the difference, but aborting her would have had an enormous positive impact on her mother’s life. This is why she doesn’t agree with the idea that it’s always “better” to be born than not to be born.

    You could make the same argument against contraception — trot out people who wouldn’t have been born if their dad used a condom, as a reason that condoms should be banned. Most people would think that’s a ridiculous reason to ban contraception ( The Pope excluded)

    • Sarah,

      The author goes obviously farther than you are claiming: she outright denies the experience of others, claiming it is inappropriate for them to feel pain upon learning that many Americans feel they should have been aborted.

      The author refers to the shared experience of another human being as “emotional blackmail.” This is insensitive, to say the least, and it is certainly wrong. It is not up to this author to police the emotions of others. I cannot understand what it would be like to hear that the population at large would have been supportive of my mother terminating my pregnancy, and I will not deny anyone who learns this their negative feelings. This author should not deny them either.

      • Well, those are pretty trite and stupid stories. “OH NOZ! If my mom had an abortion, I wouldn’t be here!”

        But she didn’t and here you are.

        If my parents hadn’t conceived me in the fall, I wouldn’t have been born the following summer. The egg and sperm cells that started me wouldn’t have been put to any use and that would’ve been it for me.

        So, I’m horribly offended by bikinis and skimpy bathing suits and certainly skinny dipping. They all inspire summer lust and sex. Anything except fall sex freaks me out and fills me with existential dread.

        If my father had enlisted, rather than enrolling in college, he’d have been off in some other area. Also, preventing me. So… the military is horrible!

        And likewise, if my mom hadn’t enrolled in that very same school… So, women must enroll in their home state universities.

        Or, maybe none of have any right to be here. We’re all lottery winners, against the longest of odds and should just be happy for it. Or, not happy about it.

        • Referring to someone else’s emotions as “trite and stupid” is unhelpful in the extreme.

          This is also completely different from “when you were conceived” as the emotions are not from the decision your parents made, but rather about the attitude of society at large.

          The idea that abortion is “more acceptable” in instances of rape or incest suggests that pregnancies from those events are somehow “tainted” or “less worthy” than other pregnancies. This creates negative feelings in people who were born of such events, and this is hardly surprising.

          Please try and put yourself in someone else’s position before calling their feelings “trite and stupid.”

  8. John Anderson says:

    The argument does not follow. If you’re pro-choice, you believe that the woman has the right to carry the child to term and how would that have changed anything? If her mom wasn’t smart enough to give her up for adoption, a possible solution she acknowledges, why would she have been smart enough to abort?

    “An abortion would have been best for me because there is no way that my love-starved trauma-addled mother could have ever put me up for adoption.”

    This article isn’t an argument for reproductive choice. It clearly illustrates that some women can’t be trusted to make the right choices even when provided multiple opportunities, abortion and adoption. You could include contraception and abstinence depending on whether the child was born of rape (don’t remember seeing that in the article), she used birth control or insisted that her partner use a condom or no sex as additional failed choices

    • QuantumInc says:

      Obviously, ANY pro-choice argument breaks down if the woman in question isn’t qualified to make choices of her own. So for the sake of actually making a pro-choice argument she has to gloss over that possibility.

    • I think she said her mother got pregnant as the result of “coercive sex.” she was also saying her mother was too messed up to make the smart choices to either use contraception, get an abortion or put her baby up for adoption. But that’s not a reason that we shouldn’t given women those choices. Some people drive drunk and have car accidents but we haven’t outlawed cars.

      • John Anderson says:

        The abortion debate to me comes down to certainty vs severity. We all know that the consequences for the fetus are more severe than the consequences for the mother in most cases. When we say that a woman can’t have an abortion, we deny her bodily autonomy with absolute certainty. There is no question she loses bodily autonomy. At what point in gestation (if any) can we say with absolute certainty that the fetus is human? I’m not comfortable with the state denying a person rights because someone else MIGHT be affected more.

        This article though does not make an argument for reproductive choice as with many arguments, which exclusively look at the mother/child. When people say that abortion rights ensure that every child is wanted, they actually mean wanted by the mother. They don’t consider the mothers who put their children up for adoption unless they already have an adoptive couple waiting, which grossly infringes with father’s rights and is ignored by the abortion rights lobby. They don’t consider the women who deliver and kill their children to hide a pregnancy. They imply that aborted children are unwanted, but not necessarily by anyone other than the mother.

        After birth, I feel that father’s should have the right to unilateral adoption, which is a de facto right afforded to mothers, something not written into the law, but with enough loopholes to make it a reality. We also don’t ban cars for one sex only.

        • I guess I don’t agree that the consequences for the fetus are always more severe. If the fetus never develops from a bundle of cells into a fully gestated baby, it really loses nothing. It never exists but it’s not like it will ever know that it doesn’t exist. It’s no different in my mind than using birth control. Every one of my eggs is a potential human, and every month one of those potential humans is snuffed out of existence. Yet no one’s protesting the massacre of unfertilized eggs.

          Meanwhile, the woman is a grown-up fetus, as it were, and she DOES have a life and an existence that is valuable, far more valuable than a bundle of cells that isn’t anything yet.

          • “Every one of my eggs is a potential human. . .”

            There is no such organism called “potential human.” An organism is either a human or not. In biology, a “”potential human” organism does not exist.

  9. This story isn’t true. People who truly wish they didn’t exist end their lives. People who truly wish to be dead find a way to make that a reality because they don’t love life as the writer admits to.

    A more believable argument would be that she wished she had been adopted. That way, that unlikely-to-be-true-story would not have been possible.

  10. QuantumInc says:

    The thing is, that when a person contemplates the hypothetical scenario of “What if I had been aborted?” they usually forget that within that hypothetical universe where they don’t exist, is that they don’t exist within that hypothetical universe. You can’t say “It would be horrible if I had never existed!” and you can’t say “I would have been so much better off not never having existed!” because there is no point of comparison. You’re comparing your real world self to what exactly? The only way that makes sense if you imagine your soul languishing in the part of heaven reserved for the unborn, or if you imagine a yourself as a sentient fetus in your mother’s womb, both of which seem like ridiculous scenarios to me. You could just as easily say that souls deffered by abortion go to other pregnant women that actually want them.

    The original writer is guilty of this, but so are the people she’s arguing against. I realize people are typically terrified of the thought of “What if I had been aborted or never existed?” If a person never exists, than nothing good or bad can happen to them. The idea of never existing is terrifying for most people, but it shouldn’t be because there is nothing bad or good about non-existence, you can’t compare anything to non-existence precisely BECAUSE it is non-existence you are talking about.

    What they’re really imagining is the idea that somehow the timeline would reach out and murder them, and then erase everyone’s memory, or they’re imagining themselves as a sentient fetus that is being killed. It’s an absurd thing to be afraid of because there is no legitimate reason to be scared. I am scared of people in huge-headed Mickey Mouse costumes at Disney Land, but I am not going to suggest we ban costumes in theme parks because of it. Meanwhile there are a ton of people who want to ban abortion precisely because the idea of being aborted scares them.

    • John Anderson says:

      “You’re comparing your real world self to what exactly?”

      Theoretically, you could compare it to nothing. If I didn’t exist and I didn’t have a soul, that would be it. The question becomes in balance were the times that I enjoyed life worth the struggles I experienced?

  11. Barring the merits of whether the author should or should not have been aborted, I find it HILARIOUS that the privileged, presumably pro-life commenters in this article are actually basing their argument on, “you didn’t have it that bad. Just go to [blank country] and see how [blank people] live.”

    1. Just because something wasn’t AS BAD as something else does not mean it wasn’t bad. Just because someone didn’t live in a war-torn country doesn’t mean being a latch-key kid is somehow an idyllic existence. If the standard for “bad” is only the extreme then I daresay that the word has lost its meaning. People can have a bad life without having lived the worst life.

    2. Just based on their access to a computer (and time to comment) the commenters are already more privileged than half/more than half of the planet. Yet they seem perfectly comfortable speaking on behalf of the subaltern who exist in circumstances frankly beyond the comprehension of these pro-lifers.

    But let’s posit a hypothetical: does anyone honestly think the child dying from war, AIDS, and starvation really is more happy to be alive than to have never existed in the first place? Would that really be their choice? What about the mothers who were raped or the fathers living in crushing poverty and unable to provide for their families? Would they really want to try raising a child who will know only suffering?

    Seriously, it is pretty mind-blowing how easily some people will subvert these namesless, faceless peoples lives in order to score their own political points. Why? My guess is that if they had to give the personal reasons why they’d be against abortion in their lives those reasons would be far less noble. But that’s just a guess. Even noble reasons for pro-life does not change the fact that the rights of a clutch of cells that is not a person is not more important than the rights of mothers AND fathers, especially in cases of rape or incest.

    But I digress. This article is interesting for trying to posit the existential question surrounding whether existing or not existing is more preferable. I think it’s important to contemplate how that answer changes when an individual’s life is not a net positive or the lives connected to that individual would’ve been more positive if that individual had never existed. Perhaps more development would’ve been nice, but eh. Still a nice effort.

    • Carl Badgley says:

      The only sensible thing said so far in response.

    • John Anderson says:

      “Just based on their access to a computer (and time to comment) the commenters are already more privileged than half/more than half of the planet.”

      Zak, you do realize that unless someone else posted the original article, it means that the author is more privileged than half/more than half of the planet.

      “Just because something wasn’t AS BAD as something else does not mean it wasn’t bad.”

      But it’s better than at least half the planet. Is she just whining or should we not worry about reducing infant mortality in third world countries because their lives aren’t worth living anyway? Why feed the hungry, if they’ll just be hungry again tomorrow? Wouldn’t it be better if they just died and the quicker the better?

      I always thought it was immoral and unjust when countries practiced forced sterilization. Remember pro-choice means giving them the option to carry the child to term. Your arguments like her’s suggest that it shouldn’t be an option, but rather someone should take a test to determine whether that child can be expected to have a fulfilling life before being allowed to give birth (ie forced abortion).

      There are two options when being pro-choice.

      • John,

        It’s hard to take you seriously when you spell my name wrong. I mean, it’s only three letters long. But for the sake of discussion, I’ll try. Real hard.

        [Zek], you do realize that unless someone else posted the original article, it means that the author is more privileged than half/more than half of the planet.

        This is true. But I don’t see your point. Do you mean that because she’s privileged she can’t speak for herself? Or do you have a different, perhaps more understandable point?

        But it’s better than at least half the planet. Is she just whining or should we not worry about reducing infant mortality in third world countries because their lives aren’t worth living anyway? Why feed the hungry, if they’ll just be hungry again tomorrow? Wouldn’t it be better if they just died and the quicker the better?

        Well, I guess if I made the same assumption you just did your argument would be pretty valid. However, you’ve made a false dichotomy: a fetus is not equivalent to a person. 3.5 billion fetuses are certainly not comparable to 3.5 billion people. I’m fine helping the people who are currently alive. (Though, ironically, the so-called “pro-life” are strangely opposed to helping the meek, the needy, the hungry, and the poor, especially when they’re immigrants, LGBTQ, religious minorities, or people of color).

        But how would protecting the existence of fetuses solve the mortality of third-world countries? How would it end war, genocide, poverty, starvation, and AIDS? I’m asking in earnest because honestly your reasoning escapes me. I suspect there is no good answer, but if you have one please share it.

        That said, I disagree with your characterization of my argument. I never said anyone should “take a test to determine whether that child can be expected to have a fulfilling life before being allowed to give birth”. In fact, please point to me where I said anything even remotely close to that, haha. No, seriously, please do so, because I’d like to know whether you’re misrepresenting me based on faulty reading comprehension or willful intent.

        Rather, I think people should be allowed to determine whether or not they want to be parents. In fact, I think if anyone (man or woman) does not want to be a parent, then they have every right to abort. (In the case of fathers, I would suggest a financial/legal abortion, for obvious reasons.) But instead the pro-life movement currently pushes an agenda — at least in this country — which makes abortions increasingly impossible, particularly for people with less privilege. Indeed, they are hell-bent on making them illegal! While I can respect their right to believe whatever they so choose, I cannot condone or support their intent to deny others the right to exercise their own beliefs or life-choices.

        Being pro-choice isn’t about being pro-abortion. It’s about being pro-people making their own damn choice about their body, their potential offspring, and their lives. This goes for both genders.

        Oh, and just because I think this might make your head-explode…

        I’m personally pro-life!

        Cheers! =)

        • To Zek and everyone else who bases their view of this issue on “person” hood, your argument has no solid basis. Because “person” is no more than a philosophical term that can mean anything.

          As evidence, the common definition of what makes up a person has changed over time, purely based on philosophical opinion, not well established science. African slaves were once not considered persons, for example. Hence, anyone who uses that as a basis for their argument is offering anything more substantial than their personal opinion.

          A more persuasive argument would be one based on established science. That’s hard to argue against.

          • John Anderson says:

            That pretty much summarizes my certainty argument. Banning abortions is certain to infringe on a woman’s right to bodily autonomy as opposed to a possible someone getting killed. One definition of a person relied on the ability to use tools. Then scientists found that monkey’s used sticks to catch ants and that restarted the debate on what constituted a person

            I wrote my thoughts on abortion from the POV of a person who spent the last 25 years working in information technology. I may submit it to GMP. I concede that abortion is an extremely emotional issue and may not be able to be completely addressed by pure logic and science.

          • Eric,

            Well, considering you’ve already decided that this story is false I’m not sure any conversation is possible… bBut let’s have a look at what you said, huh?

            Your mistake, and it’s an understandable one among arm-chair commentators, is to conflate the scientific definition of a person and the cultural definitions of a person. Obviously the cultural one is, as you kind of alluded to, subjective and not based on any strict or rational criteria. (I.e. racist definitions of personhood.) But science is pretty clear that a cluster of cells do not constitute a human being; they represent a POTENTIAL human being, of course, but the potential is quite different from the actual. Indeed, biologically speaking, any embyro or fetus unable to survive outside the womb is not considered a person by most scientists.

            So, if you truly believe that an argument based on established science would be hard to argue against, I’m confused as to why you’re trying so hard to argue against one based solely on such a foundation, haha! I mean, it’s rather like saying, “I only believe things which have a certificate,” and then refusing to look at any certificates.

            Hope that helps clear up some of your confusion =)

            • Zek,

              No mistake or confusion. Nor any ambiguity or personal opinion.

              I respect your right to hold and express your personal opinion. However, that’s all you continue to offer here, proving my statement. If “person” was a scientfic term, there could be no more debate about it; biologists would have documented the science detailing what a “person” is. The story would’ve been long been over. They haven’t. You could cite loads of university or government sponsored articles with the science behind “personhood.” By no surprise, all you’ve offered is your personal philosophical opinion. But, don’t feel bad. That’s all anyone offers who uses “personhood” as a linchpin of their argument, no matter which side of the debate they are on.

              By stark contrast, Homo Sapiens has a clear scientific, not-debated definition. An organism either is or is not a Homo Sapiens. Period. If or when a Homo Sapiens becomes a “person” is the subject of the above mentiuboned never-ending and useless debates, because it is no more than a matter l is no more? or less valid than the next person’s, no matter how hard you believe it.

              Feel free to prove your point by citing any university or government scientific study that studied and defined in clear scientific terms (not philosophical terms) when or if a Homo Sapiens becomes a “person.”

              Feel free to show your “certificates.”

            • Sorry for typos. I chose to use my Google Nexus phone instead of my iPhone. I’ll stick with iOS moving forward.

            • You guys are working from two different definitions of personhood.

              One is defining personhood by genetic makeup – the DNA is homo sapien, so the embryo is human.

              The other defines personhood by self awareness, physiological structure, possession of basic life functions, etc.

              Let me just ask this. Is it morally reprehensible to pull the plug on someone who’s brain dead? You are ending the vital functions of a homo sapien, after all. The only difference as far as the argument you’re presenting that I can see is a machine is providing basic life support rather than a human body. Because, let’s face it, if you’re asserting that one has a potential for all of the other characteristics that define personhood while the other does not, then it seems logical to me that you’re accepting his definition of personhood, or, at least, his definition of the “value” of life.

            • “Personhood” is philosophical concept, not a scientific/biological one. As a philosophical concept, there is no fixed definition. Hence, anyone can argue what a person is or is not.

              That’s why it’s a 100% waste of time to base the abortion debate on person-hood. The question is a biological one.

            • A clear, precise definition, eh? What is it then? And which individual was the first human, i.e. first member of the species H. sapiens sapiens, who had two non-human (H. sapiens) parents?

        • John Anderson says:

          “This is true. But I don’t see your point. Do you mean that because she’s privileged she can’t speak for herself? Or do you have a different, perhaps more understandable point?”

          Well, let’s look at what you said.

          “I find it HILARIOUS that the privileged, presumably pro-life commenters in this article are actually basing their argument on, “you didn’t have it that bad. Just go to [blank country] and see how [blank people] live.”

          Basically I’m interpreting this to mean that you’re saying that the commentators are privileged (and supposedly have it better (unless privileged suddenly means something else)and because they’re privileged shouldn’t comment on the trials of someone who isn’t, except that she is so your criticism is misguided. I’m assuming you agree she has it better because she is privileged. Feel free to clarify if I’ve misinterpreted.

          “However, you’ve made a false dichotomy: a fetus is not equivalent to a person. 3.5 billion fetuses are certainly not comparable to 3.5 billion people.”

          Again, let’s see what you said.

          “But let’s posit a hypothetical: does anyone honestly think the child dying from war, AIDS, and starvation really is more happy to be alive than to have never existed in the first place? Would that really be their choice?”

          Do dead people exist in a way that someone never born does not. I mean in a way that remains meaningful to them? I’m not talking about people memories or a legacy. If a person’s life wasn’t worth living, why is it worth continuing to live? Why should we assist in the suffering by extending the person’s life with assistance? Wouldn’t that be kind of sadistic? What is the point of continuing a life not worth living?

          “But how would protecting the existence of fetuses solve the mortality of third-world countries?”

          It won’t, but that’s not my point.

          “hat said, I disagree with your characterization of my argument. I never said anyone should “take a test to determine whether that child can be expected to have a fulfilling life before being allowed to give birth. In fact, please point to me where I said anything even remotely close to that, haha. No, seriously, please do so”

          First, I never said you were arguing for it. Let’s see what I said.

          “our arguments like her’s SUGGEST (emphasis added) that it shouldn’t be an option, but rather someone should take a test to determine whether that child can be expected to have a fulfilling life before being allowed to give birth (ie forced abortion).”

          When you suggest that some people would be better off never born based on the circumstances of their parents, that suggests that people should be required to show an ability to care for a child prior to being allowed to have one.

          “or the fathers living in crushing poverty and unable to provide for their families? Would they really want to try raising a child who will know only suffering?”

          You’re welcome.

          I may be wrong maybe you’re suggesting that if a parent wanted to bring up a child in crushing poverty where they’ll only know suffering that would be acceptable. Again, clarify if I have misinterpreted, but as I’ve said pro-choice means giving someone the option of giving birth.

          “I can respect their right to believe whatever they so choose, I cannot condone or support their intent to deny others the right to exercise their own beliefs or life-choices.”

          I might address this further in a different comment because this is getting long, but the short argument is that if you believe that the fetus is human, you believe that the state should protect it from murder as it would a person already born.

          I’m not saying the pro-life argument is correct. Arguing that the fetus is not a person, Is a strong pro-choice argument. Expanding it to some people would be better off not having been born weakens the argument as it exposes it to logically inconsistencies.

          “Oh, and just because I think this might make your head-explode…
          I’m personally pro-life!“

          Ironically, I’m personally pro-choice (barely)

          P.S. I think the we weakens our argument when we talk about financial abortion rather than unilateral adoption. I’m not disagreeing with the position, but rather the logical approach to getting there.

          • John,

            Ahh, okay, I see where you went wrong. Let’s untangle this, shall we?

            Privileged people should not, as a rule, presume to speak on behalf of the unprivileged people they neither know or understand, especially to promote their own agenda. The author is speaking in behalf of herself, so even being privileged (which would be a difficult argument to make, considering the life she’s lived, apparently) she isn’t speaking on behalf of anyone else who can and should speak for themselves.

            Do you understand yet? It’s part and parcel to bigotry for people to use other groups for their own ends. I’m surprised you didn’t comprehend this relatively simple point, but perhaps I’ll be more clear-er in the future.

            Do dead people exist in a way that someone never born does not. I mean in a way that remains meaningful to them? I’m not talking about people memories or a legacy. If a person’s life wasn’t worth living, why is it worth continuing to live? Why should we assist in the suffering by extending the person’s life with assistance? Wouldn’t that be kind of sadistic? What is the point of continuing a life not worth living?

            There’s a difference between wanting to preserve and protect life and wanting to preserve and protect nonexistent beings. I think you tried a little bit of code-switching there which would be really clever in a verbal discussion but not in a text-based one.

            You seem to imply that because I would rather people abort than create more suffering by bringing more children into this world they can’t take care of in places torn apart by the horrors we see on the news that I would logically not care about helping those in need right now? I guess that’s your pseudo-logical extrapolation of my comments, which is funny since I’ve consistently said nothing like it. But hey, let me reiterate.

            By all means we should help those in need now. (As I’ve said, repeatedly.) But I don’t see that those people who literally do not exist (because they’re either fetuses, embyros, or not even that) should be granted equal or greater concern than the people now living who need help. Moreover, I think that giving people the choice to abort helps ease their suffering by giving them options which reduce their burdens. And yes, I do believe that for many people they’d rather have never been born (not dead, just never existed) than to be alive in their current state OR than to have had the circumstances which surrounded their birth come about. My proof is in the author’s own post.

            Anyhoo, looking through the rest of your comment I notice you say that my argument “suggests” your characterizations. Well, sadly when you starting using words like “suggest” you’re reaching for something which, frankly, ain’t there, haha. Stick to what I’ve said, if you please. But I digress, I understand your need to have this all be very logical and rational and structured but the problem with that is that your self-contained logic simply cannot handle the weight of the complexities of reality, or of other opinions. Perhaps something more dynamic is necessary for your peace of mind? I dunno, but it’s a thought. Regardless, thanks for the exchange.

  12. “But for many women, like my mother, abortion would be an inconvenient act of courage and selflessness. I am sad for both of us that she could not find the courage and selflessness.”

    This author is not pro-choice, she is pro-abortion.

    • Exactly right. She is pro abortion in the same way that “pro life” legislators are “pro low standards of living for the disadvantaged.”

      Pro choice and pro life are just political catchphrases to make it “nicer” to talk about ugly subjects. It’s funny how many “Support our Troops” bumper stickers you see on the back of pro-lifer minivans, isn’t it? Or what about choosing how much they want to subsidize the standard of living of others among pro-choice proponents? Don’t see a lot of pro-choicers advocating for removal of the welfare system.

      The terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life” have very specific contexts in the contemporary political scene. The author’s simply making the argument that abortion may have increased the standard of living for the people she has come to care about as an adult – it’s not advocacy for libertarianism.

  13. Wow, I have to say most of the commenters on this article are pretty darn offensive. Just goes to show how charged this issue is – so many people are seemingly incapable of intelligent discussion without personal attacks.

    I appreciate this article. I read one of the articles this responded to a while back and I was a little confused about how someone could have memories of being a fetus when memory function doesn’t develop until about the age of two. That article seemed like it was written with an ulterior motive in mind and I wasn’t particularly impressed.

    I’ve seen a few circumstances like what the author describes here. I’ve had good friends in similar situations – unfortunately most of those friends are now in a federal penitentiary. So it goes. I just wish that there was some way to stop that happening… the best answer I can come up with is the old saying among social workers, “Hurt people hurt people.” There are some few people who can claw their way back from such rough beginnings, but the majority that can’t go on to do a whole LOT of damage to others. The best I can guess is that if some people had never been born, especially if they weren’t wanted, the world might be a happier place.

    I just hope it’s a decision I never have to participate in.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  14. wellokaythen says:

    The right to choose always comes with the possibility of making a mistake. If one is not free to make the wrong choice, then one is not truly free to choose. That’s the nature of freedom and the nature of human decisions.

    Combined with freedom of opinion, freedom of choice means that anyone at any time can question whether or not you made the right decision. They have the right to a critical opinion, just as the choose has a right to choose. (And the critic has the right to be just as wrong.)

  15. Valter Viglietti says:

    Thank you for this article, and for your honesty and wisdom.
    This is so much more toughtful and deeper than the bla-bla-blabbering of people talking theoretically.

    Someone above commented “This story isn’t true”.
    Ha! Like he knows more about the author’s life than the author itself. How moronic (and arrogant). :roll:

    “Yes, of course, every blastula of cells should be allowed to develop into a human being.”
    Yes, this is plain ridiculous. If we think any potential human being must be allowed to be born, then – by extension – we should allow any egg cell to be fertilized and become a human being: after all, it IS a potential human being!
    But that would mean every woman should become a baby-making factory for 20 or 30 years (or, more likely, until her premature death).

    • Again, there is no such thing as a “potential human being.” If there were, the term could be found and defined in scientific terms at such sites as biology-online.org or in biology textbooks.

  16. This is a brave thing to write for 2 reasons: First of all, telling a story like this one, sharing it and being honest enough to say these things is brave in itself. But it is brave in another way: For all these inevitable comments on how “whiny”, “pathetic” and so on it is to make a rational account of your own life like this. So it is whiny, stupid and invalid to have this opinion about ones own life, but it is not using the emotional blackmail of mostly made up stories that many anti-choice people use?
    I don’t know if the story above is true or not. But I know that it makes an important point about the issue. Not everyone has to be happy with his/her life and the impact he or she had on other people simply because they are alive.
    And when someone says it would have been better not to have lived his/her life, it does not mean he or she has to kill themselves just to make her opinion “valid”.
    Thank you for sharing this!

  17. Those people saying this is “whiny” or “trite” are probably either bitter about their own lives and want to inflict pain on others: “I suffered worse, so you should, as well.” These are the typical poor, suck-up Repugnicans; or they have never experienced suffering in their lives (privileged, wealthy Repugnicans).

    Either type has the compassion of an earthworm and they are one of the many reasons this world is as horrible as it is today. A COMPLETE LACK OF HUMAN COMPASSION and utter, pathetic ignorance of biology (they prefer religion over science). Religion is for not-too-bright people who can’t wrap their minds around the truth of their own pointless existence, and has led to some really beautiful things on this earth: war, genocide, terrorism, murder, torture, just to name a few… Same people who want to save a blastocyst. Most interestingly, many think it’s just fine to do in-vitro pregnancy and leave those “people” frozen in stasis indefinitely–oh no!!!

  18. I think you’re brave to write this piece, and I appreciate what you’re adding to a largely one-sided conversation. People who are anti-choice because their mothers almost aborted them have no right to take that choice away from others.

  19. I’ve never been enticed to post on this website until now. Honestly, I’ve always been of the same opinion as this woman, and I’ve never before seen someone else express it. My mother was severely mentally ill, in and out of institutions her entire life, and my father was HIV positive. They chose to have children anyway, and I spent my youth being physically and emotionally abused by my mother, and by other caretakers. I was molested repetitively, and raised in a fantasy world concocted by my mother’s illness, and my own dissociative self-defense. I grew up to have severe emotional issues, and struggled immensely to achieve some vague semblance of “normalcy”. Even in adulthood, I was driven toward dangerous situations and people, to reflect the sort of things that I had grown numb and accustomed to growing up. By the time I was a teenager I was a complete ward of the state, and at eighteen I was a homeless orphan, driven down a path of drugs and alcohol, and feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. The first time that I had contemplated suicide I was ten years old, and at twelve I tried to asphyxiate myself for the first time. I never completed college, and my entire upbringing was funded by taxpayer dollars, since my mother was legally disabled and couldn’t work, and afterward I was a ward of the state. I was nothing more than a burden, and while I valued living and eventually grew to desire to make something of my life, I always realized that I never should have been born in the first place.

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