A feminist writer and academic is setting off a new—and brave—conversation over abortion with her essay: I Wish My Mother Had Aborted Me.
Although she was able to “rise above the circumstances” of her birth that included abuse and “bone-crushing poverty” at the hands of a mother who was herself abused, depressed, and suicidal, the author argues an abortion would have better served her mother—and herself as an individual.
Rather than hating her mother, she recognizes the situation for what it was and generously, and incredibly, puts aside her ego to make this observation:
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. … The world would not be a darker or poorer place without me. 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.
The author envisions a past where her mother might have gone on to complete high school and even college. If an abortion had been an option, “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.”
Writing under the pseudonym Lynn Beisner, she says she wrote the column to fight against the “emotional blackmail” levied by anti-abortion activists who praise women in difficult situations (poverty, rape) for bringing a pregnancy to term, including the adults who recount stories of their own lives being “saved” from abortion by wise, virtuous mothers-to-be.
It’s not an easy thing to argue. The pro-life movement often claims the moral high-ground in the abortion debate, while abortion-rights advocates turn the discussion toward freedom, liberty, and women’s health. Beisner reveals that she makes even her pro-choice friends uncomfortable when she says the best choice, the more moral option, for both her mother and her would have been abortion.
But Beisner does not want pity for her poor upbringing. Indeed, she says she now loves her life and is happy. Instead, she wants to spark a real conversation where women are allowed to examine all angles of their own situation and determine whether or not they can successfully bring a child into the world—not just because of biology.