Tonight, I want to tell a story that, every once in a while, returns to the foreground of my consciousness and kind of blows my mind. It’s a story I first heard years ago, long before my own pregnancy and loss-of-pregnancy experience, but I felt the same way about it, even as a teenager.
The heroine of this story is a woman I know well; I’m going to call her Eve. When Eve was in her early 20s, she had been dating this guy (whom we’ll call Steve) for a few years when, one day, she found out she was pregnant. Naturally, she told Steve the news.
“I thought he would ask me to marry him,” she told me. “We’d been together for a while, we were going to have a baby, it seemed like the next logical step. Instead he asked, ‘Why don’t you get an abortion?'”
Eve took some time to look at her situation – her family was poor; she was still in school – and ultimately decided to do what Steve had suggested. She didn’t feel that she was financially or emotionally capable of raising a baby on her own.
“But,” she said, “that’s when I figured out that it wasn’t going to work out between me and Steve long-term.” They broke up shortly thereafter.
This all happened decades ago; Eve is now in her 60s, and her children are all grown. She had told her abortion story to no one but her sisters and her husband, until the day she told me. She didn’t seem too affected by her loss when I talked to her about it; what her memories really seemed to stir up was anger toward Steve for being such a jerk.
At the time, I wondered how Eve could have made such a hard decision; I wondered whether she ever thinks about her would-be eldest child, how old he/she would be now, how he/she would have changed the dynamic of the family she created with her husband. It made sense to me to find out Eve is now pro-life, but this was the only clue alluding to the possibility that her abortion affected her at all.
Now I see that my story is not all that different from Eve’s. By getting Mirena after I miscarried, I too made the choice not to have a child when I was young and unprepared; I just had the luxury of making that choice in the general sense, whereas Eve made her choice regarding a specific child. But now of course, it makes even less sense to me that Eve seems so unaffected by her story. Does time really heal all wounds? Or can timing and situation really affect the way we feel about the decisions we have to make?
Eve is, like I said, pro-life. I remain pro-choice. As a kid, I was always one of those wishy-washy pro-choicers who said, “I would never have an abortion, but I can’t tell anyone else what to do with their bodies…” But maybe this too points to the key difference between Eve’s story and my own: I had a spontaneous abortion (yes, that’s a technical term for miscarriage); Eve had an elective abortion. Perhaps she then concluded that no one should ever have to go through what she went through, and that she was qualified to make that decision for them. While I, having made my similar-but-different difficult choice, now occasionally look at other women’s situations, which are less ideal than mine was, and wonder, why don’t we have someone tell them what to do with their bodies? Why don’t we have someone mandate abortions for these young, dumb girls? Or, you know, at least adoptions.
(I wonder too, why the young Eve didn’t carry her baby to term and then give it to someone who was prepared to love and care for it. I like to think it’s because her heart is too big: had she met her baby, she would have wanted to love and care for it herself. So, instead of giving her heart nine months to overrule her head, she nipped it in the bud, so to speak.)
Eve never answered my questions about how her decision affected her, or maybe I never asked them. I knew that I was already getting highly privileged information on a highly sensitive topic. But now, more than ever, I would like to know more of the emotional backlash of Eve’s story; I’d especially like to know what got her through it and past it, with no visible scars except a conservative take on a hot political issue, in the hopes that I can use her tactics to get through and past my lost pregnancy, too.