A Mother’s Decision
We know better than anyone what our families need—sometimes it's abortion
This past week, my daughter had a terrible cold. Layla just got over Covid a few weeks ago, so it was particularly bad. She missed the entire week of school—too exhausted to get out of bed for more than a few minutes—and she kept waking up in the middle of the night coughing. I knew she felt truly ill because even though she’s getting to the age where she sees me as irredeemably uncool, she asked for cuddles every evening to help her feel better enough to fall asleep.
On one of those nights, I remarked to my husband what a privilege it was to be the person who gets to make her feel so comforted. I remember that feeling of all-encompassing safety and warmth from my own childhood with my mother, and there really is nothing like it. Realizing that I was that source of absolute comfort for Layla was overwhelming in the best way.
Taking care of children, raising a person, is more than a ‘job’ or a role—it’s a sacred responsibility, a pact you enter into with the understanding that you brought a new human into the world, and you have to help them navigate their way through it.
No one knows this better than mothers. That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that the majority of women seeking abortions already have children.
Despite conservatives’ best efforts to divide us into ‘bad’ women who have abortions and ‘good’ women who have children, 60 percent of those who end pregnancies already have a keen understanding of what it means to be a parent. And when they make the decision to have an abortion, it’s often a choice made as a mother—something she’s doing for the benefit of her existing children.
Mothers have told this to researchers over and over again; one of the top reasons women seek abortion in this country is so they can take the best care of the children they already have.
I’m one of those moms.
When I had an abortion when Layla was 3 years-old, it wasn’t because I didn’t want another child. I desperately wanted another. I had recurring dreams about babies, and couldn’t look at my husband for more than a few minutes without thinking about the amazing father he’d be to a son, or to two little girls. I daydreamed about the loving big sister Layla would be—conjuring up images of my giggling blonde 3 year-old holding a baby and giving them kisses.
And so there was a part of me that wanted to stay pregnant despite warnings from doctors that it could kill me, to take the risk so I didn’t have to dream anymore. But all it took was seeing my then-toddler’s face to know what the right decision was.
Layla loved and needed me. I brought her into an already-uncertain world and I wasn’t about to leave her alone in it without me. Without that feeling of safety and comfort when she needed it. To do so would be breaking the sacred pact we made the minute she left my body.
I made a mother’s decision.
We often hear about how mothers have a mysterious innate knowledge about their children. That we can sense things about them that no one else can; that we have an unparalleled closeness and awareness of who our children are and what they need. Our culture reinforces over and over again that mother knows best, that there’s no love like a mother’s love.
If that’s true—if something special happens when you have a child, and you gain wisdom that wasn’t there before—then shouldn’t we trust mothers? Shouldn’t we listen to them when they say they know how to best protect and care for their families?
I could write more about why the people trying to ban abortion don’t really care about babies and families, about the ways in which they claim to revere mothers while discounting our knowledge and needs. But I won’t get into that today. Today, more than any other day, I just want to write one thing: I trust women, and I trust mothers.
Happy Mother’s Day.
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