My family of origin was stuck in a dark circuitous wheel of harmful mistakes, saying the same detrimental words, being hurt in the same ways generation after generation. I didn’t want to keep playing a role in this tragedy of errors. So I changed it, if not for my own well-being, then for my daughters, their children and all the generations to come.
I am sure my family’s dysfunction began hundreds of years ago. I can only recollect as far back as my Grandmother.
She was an orphan in an eastern European country, a place with no protections for girls, where abortion was illegal and mistreatment of women ignored. All her life she hated children and men. I will never know what sufferings she endured to cause such aberrant emotions.
I remember a hard, ugly woman in a black dress, clodhopper shoes, stockings rolled at the knee, pacing around in circles continually wringing her hands. Although my Mother begged her to address my Father by his first name, Grandmother called him, “Mister.”
“I don’t like him,” she said.
She was born in the late 1800’s, during a time human psychological behavior was barely understood. When my Mother asked why she was so miserable, Grandma had the insight to reply in her thick Polish accent, “I had a bad childhood.”
So did my Mother. What chance did my Mother have, raised fatherless with a damaged unhappy single parent?
My Mother wanted to be a good mother but was unable to overcome the legacy she inherited. She also had insight. She apologized to me for her failures saying, “I had poor tools of my trade.”
My heart breaks for both of them.
After my sister and I were born, Mother became pregnant again. Grandmother convinced her to have an illegal abortion. “Children ruin your life,” she said.
It’s the same story we have heard many times. Mother hemorrhaged, went to a hospital and was turned away. “You killed your baby,” they told her. “We don’t care if you live or die.” After a night of fear, wakefulness, regret and shame, a neighbor helped my mother survive.
My brother was born two days later, a guilt offering; not a healthy reason to bring a child into the world. With Mother’s “poor tools,” he had a challenging life. He suffered with addiction issues, bad health and self-hatred because of his sexual orientation. He died at 56, politically conservative and against marriage equality.
Forcing women to bear unwanted children changes family dynamics for generations potentially affecting hundreds of people. There are too many mentally unstable people in the world deprived in early life of nurturance and love.
Not all women are equipped to succeed at the most difficult job in the world. Although there is more tolerance in the culture for men who fail as fathers, women who do not have the requisite skills and proper maternal emotions are harshly judged. Repealing Roe punishes and attempts to control through government intervention women who do not want, or are not able to be mothers.
Taking away choice and letting the government legislate personal behavior is an anomaly in conservative politics. Usually fighting against government intervention in private freedoms is a core tenant of the right. If the preservation of human life was at the heart of the pro-life movement, then why do conservatives block life-saving gun control measures?
Repealing Roe might prevent a percentage of abortions, but will not stop the voluntary termination of pregnancies. It never has. It never will.
Sixty years ago when women in my upper middle-class social circle wanted an abortion, they went to Puerto Rico where the procedure was legal. Some young girls took it in their stride mixing the event with a “beach vacation.” Another woman I knew had dreams for many years of the “baby ” who could have been. Marginalized, impoverished women of all persuasions were forced to have illegal dangerous life-threatening abortions or have a child they cannot adequately provide for in our unjust society where health care, education, safe housing and other services are limited.
I am more closely aligned with the woman who dreamt of what might have been, as well as my mother’s remorse. It’s a sobering choice, to be taken seriously, one I am grateful I never had to confront.
A woman can choose to bear a child. She can choose to terminate her pregnancy regardless of legalities through other alternatives. A girl can have a baby and relinquish her child for adoption. She can keep her baby and try to rise above her circumstances.
It is a woman’s inalienable right to choose. Take away one of these liberties and all are threatened.