Frequent crying, waking up at 4 a.m., thousands of diaper changes, and various bodily fluids ending up on you. These are some of the staples of motherhood. While motherhood can be one of the most fulfilling experiences for certain women, it isn’t for everyone. It certainly isn’t something that all women are ready for when a pregnancy occurs.
Being ready to become a mother is something you cannot force on anyone or shame them into. This is one issue I see all too frequently; people trying to shame women into being ready for a baby.
The rhetoric of abortion has become centered around shame. What is most interesting is where this shame comes from: mothers.
I see so many mothers all over social media shaming women for having abortions. I see friends I knew who got pregnant in high school and family members post about how terrible a person must be if they get an abortion; these women must be heartless and cruel to not be willing to carry a fetus for nine months and to go through the painful experience of labor.
These women who are mothers in their own right, feel like they are the most valued voice in the rhetoric surrounding abortion simply because they had children. These women feel they have some moral superiority over other women because they chose to carry their pregnancies to term and raise the children that came of those pregnancies. In reality, all they had was luck.
I see these mothers share videos of what a second or third trimester abortion looks like, “How could they be so cruel as to rip their babies from the womb?” They ask these types of questions as if a woman would go through four months of pregnancy and just wake up one day deciding they don’t want to do it anymore, or as if a woman would finally decide near the end of a pregnancy that she doesn’t want this pregnancy.
Newsflash: That doesn’t happen. If a woman is getting an abortion in her second or third trimester, something is wrong. The baby could be dying, she could be dying, or the baby could already be dead. This takes me back to my point of calling these mothers lucky.
These mothers all over social media talking about how cruel it is to abort didn’t keep their pregnancies because they were morally good and kind people. They had kept their pregnancies because they were fortunate to have a successful pregnancy.
These abortion-shaming women never had to know what it was like to find out their baby had a genetic disorder and was slowly dying inside of them. They never had to know the heartbreak of not seeing a heartbeat on the ultrasound. They never had to experience having to choose between their life and their child’s.
They didn’t know what it was like to stare at a pregnancy test knowing they had no money or support in raising a child. They didn’t have to think about the possibility of their child going hungry or unloved.
These women had support. They had families and partners who stood by them. They had enough financial support from a job and the assistance of family to raise a child. They had husbands and stable homes. They had everything they needed to take care of their child. Every ultrasound provided joy and excitement to these expectant mothers.
They gave birth to perfectly healthy, thriving babies. Their children would never have to go hungry. They would never be forced to put their child into the foster care system where too many children are left unwanted and unloved.
What makes these fortunate mothers feel like they have to authority to speak on what a woman must have been thinking, feeling, and experiencing when she made the choice to have an abortion? It isn’t a choice made lightly. It isn’t something they choose on a whim. For some, it is the hardest decision they have ever had to make.
I have never had to make that decision. I hope I will never have to make that decision, but I know if I did, if my child were in pain or dying and I had to make that choice, it would break my heart. This is why I know it is not my place to dictate what is the right choice for any woman.
It is not my place to make these decisions for them or shame them for those decisions, and it surely isn’t the place of our male-dominated government to make that choice. Women should always the right to choose for themselves what is right for them when they become pregnant just as we should always have the right to choose what happens to our bodies.
Women should be able to make the right choice for them without being called cruel. What is cruel isn’t the act of having an abortion. The cruelty is found in how we treat the women who are forced to make that decision.