Monday, March 14, 2016

Regret after choosing life?

It's common for pro-life advocates to point out that while many women regret abortion, it is unheard of for women to regret choosing life. Parenthood is no walk in the park, but the rewards are great, and surely no one would be cruel enough to publicly wish their child was dead... right?

An SPL supporter recently sent us the latest missive in the campaign against "abortion stigma," an article entitled Why I Sometimes Wish I'd Had an Abortion. The person whose death is wished for is a preschool-aged girl, who I hope never stumbles upon her mother's writings.

In fairness, I don't think the author, Sara Burrows, is a monster. I think she's just overwhelmed. It sounds to me like she's set an unrealistically high bar for parenting, and feels that anything short of that bar is practically child abuse. Burrow opens the piece by claiming she knows people who were abused as children and wish they had been aborted (a claim entirely at odds with my own experience in which people who have faced abuse are some of the strongest advocates for defenseless children in the womb, but anecdotes are anecdotes). From there she discusses how she feels she's deprived her child:
Because parenting in this fucked up modern world is the hardest shit ever. Because I suck at it. Because I don’t like it. Because my kid sits in front of her tablet all day watching terrible crap, so I can work to feed her…
Because I’m not a kid person. I don’t know what to do with kids. I have zero patience for or interest in typical kid activities. Sure, I occasionally play chase with her, smother her with tickles and kisses or dance to loud music with her in wild ecstasy, but for the most part, I’m hoping she keeps herself entertained in her room long enough for me to finish a blog post without interrupting me. Just tonight she asked me to come play toys in her room with her and the very idea of it filled me with dread.
I guess my point is, parenting is not my talent. My talent is researching stuff, trying to figure out what is wrong with the world and how to fix it… and then writing about it. That’s what I want to spend my time doing, not playing Barbies and begging my kid to eat real food.
If I could meet Sara Burrows, I would give her a hug and tell her:

  • It's okay that your kid plays games on a tablet.
  • It's okay that you, an adult woman, have interests that differ from those of your preschooler.
  • It's okay to encourage your child to entertain herself. Great, actually.
  • It's okay if you can't get your kid to eat healthy food. Hell, I still don't eat my greens and I'm 27 years old.  
  • You are being way too hard on yourself. You are good enough.

She concludes that "at the end of the day, I would never, ever give her up," which is a strange way to end such a piece. I don't want to underestimate anyone's intelligence, so I assume she understands that abortion would have been permanent. I hope she's able to work through her ambivalence and find a healthy balance between work and family.

Ironically, the problem I have with Ms. Burrows' perspective is that it's not pro-choice enough. She assumes that her daughter would have been better off aborted. But whose choice should that be? The only legitimate judge of the worthiness of a life is the person living it.

A preschooler playing games on a tablet, playing Barbies, and pestering her mother sounds like a developmentally and emotionally normal person. There's no indication whatsoever that the child thinks her life is not worth living, or even that she's at all unhappy. Similarly, Ms. Burrows' friends, who said they wished they'd been aborted because they suffered abuse, apparently haven't committed suicide; they've chosen life for themselves. Good! Their parent's opinions don't dictate their worth. Nor does Ms. Burrows' ambivalence about parenthood say anything about her daughter's value as a human being.

I am so very glad Sara Burrows didn't have an abortion. I hope she comes to feel the same way, unequivocally.

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