It may seem paradoxical, but I had two abortions because of how deeply I care about children. I had my first abortion years ago with my first boyfriend, before I had my daughter, and the second, many years later, with my daughter’s father.
I listened to a heated exchange between two women on the radio, the talk of how “each child is a flower.” This represents a fundamental misunderstanding, of life. First, life does not begin with a mere beating heart, with DNA exchanged between two cells, the inception of procreation. Life is not merely physical. Life is only life when the spiritual component enters into the biology. This is something I learned only as an adult. Yet, this recognition is essential in order to address the issue of abortion. A fetus is a vessel for the soul to enter. It is the human soul that enlivens the body. And there is a world of souls, preparing to enter our physical world. We ourselves in our bodies are the souls here on our Earth, here to learn from and to teach one another, in our various journeys. When does the soul enter the body? Well it depends, but when there is going to be an abortion, I believe a soul does not enter. The world up there is a world of knowing, and they are always trying to help us learn and grow. We ourselves are flowers, down here. We are here not only to bring children into the world, but to grow our own capacity for service to God.
In my case, those two pregnancies pointed me to greater understanding of what constituted a relationship between a man and a woman. My own history – my childhood and my experience with my own parents – had left me somewhat confused. While I was looking for love and dreaming of becoming a mother, I did not really know what to do or how to make these wishes come true. I made mistakes, and the man with whom I eventually had my daughter did not turn out to be the kind of father with whom I could form a family. So I was and am a single mother, of a now 25 year old daughter who has just started med school. And I am very proud I had her and raised her.
My first abortion at age 23 woke me up to my own great desire to have a baby, and that the man I was with at the time was wholly wrong for me. What made it worse was that the mother figure from whom I was renting a room believed abortion was evil and treated me like a pariah. She told me what I had done was between me and God.
I had been removed from my mother when I was 8 when she was placed in a mental institution. After spending a year with my aunt and uncle, I lived with a stepmother who did not want me or my sister. Our father wanted us, though. He favored psychiatry; psychoanalysis had helped him a lot. So I signed up for some sessions at the university health center. The psychiatrist there told me I was sexually repressed. It was about 1976. So I had sex with the first man who asked me out. I’d been so shy in high school I’d only looked at the boys I liked. I was almost 21, but I ended up sleeping with this guy at my father’s house and getting kicked out of the family. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I felt married to him after we had sex, on that first date. The diaphragm I was using turned out to be too small…which I only learned later was the cause of my repeated bladder infections. This was how I got pregnant. I remember the devastation, my hand over my eyes, as I realized how much I dreamed of having a baby, but that it would never work out with this guy.
My second abortion at age 38 was also a revelation, to both him and me, that we were not going to become a married couple, although we both loved our young daughter. My daughter’s father did not live with us – he was 7 years younger than me. I’d started a relationship with him after participating in a therapy group in which it was revealed that I’d been celibate for 8 years. He and I had an instant bond, but our personalities were not really compatible. He was the youngest of 5 sons of an overprotective mother who felt she needed him. She and his father had divorced long ago. When I got pregnant with our daughter, I felt angry and ashamed, because both of us had fantasized about having a child together…but it just happened so suddenly…I wanted to have an abortion to punish him…but I saw his joy and changed my mind. Still, the pregnancy was very challenging, mostly because of his mother’s opposition, and because he stayed with her and avoided me until the last 3 months. Also, my own family was far away (thankfully). I was in my early 30’s, and a couple of my sisters on the East Coast had already begun having kids. I eventually found out that getting women pregnant out of wedlock was his family tradition, and that getting married on the 2nd pregnancy was also their precedent.
He’d come over, and we’d had sex, which was our way of bonding. But then he brought us to his company event at Sea World, but since he was ashamed of our relationship, he didn’t want us to be seen. He got angry at something – I never really knew what, which was the usual pattern. We’d taken separate cars. After awhile, he just left – cut out – leaving our daughter and me in the lurch. He liked to hold the cards and create upset. It was his way. But I played along, unfortunately. I hadn’t remembered where I’d parked in their huge lot, and needed security to come help me find my car. Our daughter peed in her stroller. This was how I decided to abandon that pregnancy, begun that same day. He told me he drove around while I got the abortion.
I did get pregnant with him again the next year, but thank God I had a miscarriage. I was secretly delighted when our relationship ended, and he ended up marrying someone else, and incidentally, they got pregnant in the same time frame that we had, in terms of when their relationship started.
I’m so glad it was not me, and that I could say goodbye to that whole experience and his family, too. His wife and mother ended up in a never-ending war, while I am free.
Between these two men, and since ending it with my daughter’s father in 1998, I have had zero romantic/sexual relationships. Some of those needs, for companionship I suppose and intense sexual/emotional encounter, remain unaddressed. Yet, I am fulfilled, in my work with children, and in my creative contribution to what I hope will be society at large.
I am so happy that you are providing this forum for me to share, and I hope that my story can benefit someone. Thank you.
Incidentally, I am 2nd generation observant American Jew. I hope my daughter will create a more traditional family, and that it will be there that I may play a role of treasured grandmother. That is my new dream.