I Want a Baby. I Don’t Want to Force Someone to Have It for Me.

May 28, 2019 · 255 comments
janetintexas (texas)
A government that can force you to be pregnant is a government that can force you NOT to.
kathy (Florida)
Thank you, Ms Keenan for this: “But adoption isn’t a choice about whether to give birth; it’s a choice about whether to parent. “ My mom, infertile, adopted four children. She remained pro-choice until her death, 20 years ago, at age 80. She would have asked...So the pro-life agenda supports anti-abortion legislation, often with NO exceptions, and doesn’t support sex education and a contraceptive mandate.? And fertilized embryos from reproductive technology....where are the laws supporting destruction of this “ human life” ??
ANetliner (Washington,DC Metro Area)
What a brilliant and powerful essay. Thank you, Elizabeth Keenan. To those who second-guess Ms. Keenan’s reproductive choices: have the sensitivity and discretion to desist. To those who protest women’s choices outside clinics; I acknowledge your right to exercise your First Amendment rights and to influence public policy, but please consider that you are intruding on a very difficult and personal moment for each woman whom you confront.
S Anthony (San Francisco)
Elizabeth Keenan, thank God for people like you. And thank you for sharing this.
M. McCarthy (S F Bay Area)
I had friends who chose adoption in the 60s when there was no other choice. Having strangers show up 30 years on who were their natural children was complicated and not always welcome or positive the kids they had wanted and had raised. It creates problems for the adoptive parents too. Easy and cheap availability to universal contraception is the only way to reduce the number of abortions.
MB (W D.C.)
So you’re ok with Kamala Harris position to have “preclearance requirement” from the federal government? Harris shouldn’t even be considered for dog catcher.....never mind Vice President.
kenzo (sf)
I was a clinic defender. 99% of the women and men going to a Planned Parenthood clinic were not there for anything to do with abortion. They were going to their clinic appointment for typical health care. But the screaming religious fanatics could care less about that, they were out there to satiffy their own religious mania, they could care less about health care for the 99%
MBR (New York, New York)
Blessings to you, Elizabeth. As an adoptive mom I definitely have a point of view on this subject. Thank you for expressing your thoughts so beautifully. And for helping women who decide on abortion as the way forward. It is not for anyone to judge a woman's decision in this situation. Good things are in store for you I know!
MNGRRL (Mountain West)
I am always dismayed at the judgments and comments made to people going through pregnancy and parenting challenges. This includes all the people that told me in my 40s that there was still time for me to have a child and become a single mother. I just gave them the fish eye and never told them I had my tubes tied years ago. Turning 50 and going through menopause ended that line but started the you made a terrible choice and now you will have grandchildren. Please, please mind your own business!
Julie (Denver, CO)
I’d gone to an abortion clinic in midtown manhattan in 2014 to abort a desperately wanted embryo who’s poor little heart spontaneously stopped at 7 weeks. The missed miscarriage left my body to carry on with the pregnancy while carrying a dead thing inside of me. The worst part being that in the previous 4 months I’d been told by two specialists I’d never get pregnant and given “the donor egg” speech. I was caught off guard when a protestor greeted me outside the medical facility and was less than thrilled to be told to “not kill my baby”. I can very much relate to feeling supportive toward the women having abortions around me that day. No one should be forced to go through the hell of an unwanted pregnancy, no woman should be forced to carry to term a child she can neither fathom giving away nor able to care for, and no child should be “unwanted”.
gratis (Colorado)
@Julie Protesters outside of clinics are there for their own egos. It has nothing to do with anyone else.
homebody (Coast Range)
As someone who struggled for years with infertility, I often thought how wonderful it would be if all babies were wanted as much as people in situations like my husband's and mine wanted them.
AR (Manhattan)
It’s amazing that it took you this long to come to this conclusion. Why can’t people just mind their business? You can’t have a child, too bad, that’s your problem...someone else can, but needs an abortion, too bad, that’s their problem. You handle your business and she can handle hers...this concept is completely lost on people. Your inadequacy should have no role to play in it either way. It’s amazing that grown people can’t understand this concept.
ANetliner (Washington,DC Metro Area)
Why so angry and judgmental?
@AR - I agree that people should just mind their own business, but please don't talk about "inadequacy" in relation to infertility.
Guillermo (Tirado)
In essence, this is what southerners in 1859 said: "I truly want to free the slaves. I just don't want someone to force me to do it."
Sandie (Florida)
Wow, not even close.
Christine (Long Beach)
"Every one of my choices about my body is wrong to someone." Amen! And it's every choice a woman makes about her body. As a middle-aged woman in the dating pool, I'm astonished at how the choices I make turn out to be wrong for someone: to shave my legs or not shave my legs; wax my genital area or leave it natural; wear makeup or not; wear sexy, wired lingerie or comfortable cotton. These comments have come from men I've barely known (and have not been intimate with).
Sue Salvesen (New Jersey)
Thank you for telling your story and for helping women with their reproductive choices. You are a good person.
Diane (Nyc)
I know that you are going to be a wonderful mother. I hope that time comes soon for you.
Kate S. (Portland OR)
At a groundbreaking for a new Planned Parenthood clinic years ago, a protester came up to me and my 5 year old son and screamed in his face, "Your mommy's a murderer." Over and over and over again. He was terrified and I was furious. To think that these people care at all about the well-being of actual living, breathing children is the biggest trick they play on us all.
Mich (Maine)
How is it that “sidewalk counselors” are allowed to practice without a license?
David (Vermont)
I will donate cash money to the clinics to allow them to get more private property or private entrances! Why should these women have to walk past ANYONE on her way to such a deeply private appointment. These protesters do nothing good and everything bad. I am tempted to refer to their behavior as evil. Certainly it is un-Christian.
Mikele Galbraith (Maryland)
It disappoints me greatly to hear when men (and some women) don’t believe women are thinking constructively or reasonably about their reproductive “choices”. Your experiences shows that it’s anything but trivial.
Bamagirl (NE Alabama)
Those protesters yelling about pro-life—how many of them go home and eat hamburgers? Do they ever give one moment’s thought to the daily suffering of animals to feed them? I do think first trimester embryos would rather live, that they do suffer pain, and that it is “murder” on some level. But...like a fish. Even less than a mammal, that these protesters will go home and eat. I want to live a life where I cause as little harm to others as possible. But anyone who thinks they are living without some cruelty is lying to themselves. Women, defend yourselves. Defend your bodies and your livelihoods. These protesters are not even coherent in their moral justifications.
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
Ask the next man you see how many times he has had sex. Then ask him how many children that accounts for and where they are.
wijmlet (Manhattan)
The Adoptive Parents Committee helped us adopt. I highly recommend them. https://www.adoptiveparents.org/
mlb4ever (New York)
My wife and I struggled with infertility to start a family with the inevitable question at family gatherings, "When are you having kids?" A little more then frustrating when our struggles approached our fifth year. One round of IVF which was more then enough, I would not allow her to suffer through another round of hormone treatments even though she was willing. We speak of a women's biological clock ticking away but for men I believe there is a financial clock as well. Just past my mid 30's and looking at a 2 year window for adoption quickly brought me on board with my wife to adopt, it was now of never. The last thing I wanted was to adopt children in my 40's and have to put them through college when I am looking to retire.Our daughter graduated collage and our son is half way there. There is an invisible thread that ties childless couples with children in need of parents. All forever families feel this and I hope Ms. Keenan will feel this as soon as possible.
cl (ny)
I commend you for writing this outstanding article, Ms. Keenan, and wish you and your husband the best in you dream to become parents. For me it is not a matter of pro-choice vs. pro-life, but pro-choice vs. no-choice.
A F (Connecticut)
There is nothing so wonderful as being pregnant when you want to be, nor as awful as being pregnant when you don't want. And vice versa. All my children were planned. Choice is a wonderful thing. Nothing humanizes or ennobles women like being able to control our reproductive lives and our bodies. There is something sacred about the agency we have to bring life into the world - and that sacredness isn't just in the ability to say yes, but also the ability to say NO. I used to be pro-life when I was in college and propagandized by conservative Christianity. As I went through my 20s I began to understand the complexities and importance of reproductive rights. Nothing solidified my stance as pro-choice more than becoming a mother. The pure joy of having PLANNED children, the joy at seeing my choices realized, was overwhelming. My heart breaks for women who struggle either with infertility or unplanned pregnancy. May they have every possible remedy to their situation available to them without judgement or guilt. May they experience the feminine dignity of CHOICE.
ANetliner (Washington,DC Metro Area)
@A F: Your comment is beautifully written and argued. Thank you.
Danfreejr (Galveston)
Richard Cherwitz of UT Austin recently made a good point. There are few Pro-Life proponents since most lose interest in the new born. In reality, Pro-Life is Pro-Birth. Ask the Handmaid.
Steve (Seattle)
Wow I didn't expect to read what I just read. I had myself braced for a rant about abortions either pro or con and a unquestionable right to I.V.F. This is the best argument I have ever read establishing a woman's right to regulate their own bodies and make the best decisions for themselves. . Ms. Keenan, this should be mandatory reading for every Democratic candidate for any publicly elected office. My hat is off to you, you are awesome.
Jennifer (Arkansas)
My son’s birth mother didn’t choose adoption so I could have a baby. She did it to give her child a life. It was about him, not me.
Lagrange (Ca)
@Jennifer; good. so she had a choice. Excellent! That's all we're asking for.
Jennifer (Arkansas)
No one forced anyone.
AR (Manhattan)
So? Why force other people to do that....you people are unbelievable
Riley2 (Norcal)
Thank you for this piece, and for not passing judgement on the intimate life decisions of others.
Pat B (Blue Bell, PA)
Well written. Thanks for your perspective and your service to women seeking abortions for their many- and valid- reasons.
Meg Hamilton (Cleveland, OH)
I know two women who’ve struggled with infertility and they’re both rabidly anti-abortion. It would be hurtful for me to say to them exactly what you’ve said here, but it is the truth. Thanks for your insight and perspective. I wish you all the best in your quest to be a parent — you’ll be a good one.
MCC (Pdx, OR)
Thank you for writing this. Very insightful. I was lucky with my IVF, but only after some devastating failures. I’m shocked the doctors treated you with so little compassion. The skill of the clinic doing the IVF is at least as important as what the patient brings to the table as far as fertility status. As far as other people admonishing you to simply adopt, that is thoughtless. Wanting to have a baby is normal and healthy. Deciding to adopt is just as personal a decision as trying to conceive - is nobody’s business but your own. Becoming a parent through adoption is not better (or worse) — you end up in the same place. Parents who adopted their children are no more or less virtuous than other parents.
Lindsey (Philadelphia, PA)
Thank you to the author and to every person who escorts at health clinics. You make choice (freedom) possible in a dark world.
Suzy (Ohio)
I guess I was lucky. My appt occurred in the office an ob/gyn who offered the full range of medical services to a pregnant woman, rather than a clinic that attracted crowds of people who want to tell others what to do.
DeAnnG (Boston)
Thank you for your article. I wish you the very best in your choice of when and how to become a parent.
Kerry Leimer (Hawaii)
Adopt. I'm sure your DNA is remarkable in every way, but I also suspect the world can struggle along without more of it.
Steve (Seattle)
@Kerry Leimer I have no doubt that if Ms. Keener bore a child or adopts one that that child will be loved, respected and be an asset to our society.
Annie (Ithaca, NY)
@Kerry Leimer how incredibly insensitive you are. I hate it when people tell me so flippantly: “why don’t you just adopt!” They don’t want to here about the failed trip to NYC to get our child from the birth mother who let us participate in the birth and then decided to keep her. They also don’t want to hear about the 8.5 months we grew to love our foster son who went back to his biological family at age 2. We’re currently trying to raise money from family to adopt. Going to be at least 20K.
Mikele Galbraith (Maryland)
I’m sure she thought of that. Iso much, in fact, if you actually read the article, you can find her myriad choices and opinions on her many options.
MGA (New York)
There is so much more to the whole anti-abortion movement than "saving innocent lives." Women are becoming statistically better educated than men and some earn more (gasp!) so there's no question in my mind that a lot of this is fueled (by white men) as a form of anti-feminism. The birth rate is also the lowest its been for a long time so let's not encourage women to have children by providing support, better maternal health care, child care and maternity/family leave -- no, let's just MAKE them have children. Problem solved.
pjc (Cleveland)
This is an important op-ed. It presents an aspect of these issues that need to be demystified and looked at soberly: "Anti-choice groups like to present adoption as an easy out for pregnant people, as though it guarantees a happy outcome for all involved. But adoption isn’t a choice about whether to give birth; it’s a choice about whether to parent. Neither choice should involve coercion." Indeed. Who would feel no pang of conscience if they knew their adopted child was a result of a forced pregnancy, and not from some far off land, but by dictate of their own government? A perverse future we are looking at...
Tim Mosk (British Columbia)
Too often people with the same facts have different conversations. The right believes that these fetuses are people, and they have rights. Naturally, this line of thinking says the rights of the woman are considered along with the rights of the child, given that they are both people. The left believes the fetuses are not alive/people, and do not have rights, almost like a fingernail - just some cells. Naturally, the woman's choice is what matters then, and saying anything else is an affront to liberty (imagine protests at nail salons). All of the OpEds in the world won't change the first-order interpretation of life vs. not life. If that's a life, then abortion is no different than killing someone interfering with your life plan. If there's no life, then anti-abortion is liberty-destroying and has someone deciding your life plan for you. Any conversation that doesn't address the issue of life vs. not life is certain to change nothing, and boils the question down to "who has a better marketing team?".
Helen Liggett (Dallas, Texas)
I think it is more complicated than you state.I am pro-choice, but I consider a fetus human. I just don’t think any human has the right to live inside of, feed off of and put at risk of death another human without consent. The person being asked to risk her health and life to save another should have the right to decline.We don’t force blood donation, which has way lower risk to donor. Why force uterine space donation?
Lagrange (Ca)
@Tim Mosk; maybe as important is the origins of the belief either way. By far most vocal anti-choice people get their belief from their religion. So in essence they're imposing their religious beliefs on others and the debate should stop right there.
ATP (Chicago, IL)
@Tim Mosk, the problem is that some persons who are anti-abortion do not want to balance the rights of the mother and the child. They have decided that the mother ceases to have rights.
Elizabeth A (NYC)
Anti-abortion people seem to think that if women are forced to give birth to a child they don't want they'll just give it up for adoption. But once a woman brings a child into the world, she usually keeps it, despite the abusive partner or dire economic situation or other circumstances that made her want to terminate. So a child is raised in stressful, maybe dangerous conditions, sometimes merely tolerated, hopefully loved. Once, we all agreed that every child should be a wanted child.
Teacher (Oregon)
As an adoptee, I am frequently regarded mournfully, as if I'd been left on a doorstep. And I can understand that. My own mother did not want me. Imagine living with that. Imagine BEING that person. As a mother, it was astonishing the number of strangers who felt free to comment on my prenatal appearance ("you're getting fat"), my diet ("you can't eat that") or just touch me ("let's feel that baby!"). As a woman, I've had an ectopic pregnancy that would have killed me if not for the abortive procedures that some are trying to outlaw. As a therapist, I have seen first hand what happens when people had babies that they did not want. My state's foster care system is overwhelmed with those children. That's what being a women is in the USA...our body is not ours, it belongs to whomever wants to claim it. Enough.
WRG (Toronto)
@Jackson We are not abortion "survivors." We are simply women who have had an abortion for our own personal reasons and have gone on with our lives. Calling me a survivor is both ridiculous and demeaning.
Jackson (Virginia)
@Teacher. “Our body is not ours”. What dramatic nonsense. So as a therapist, how many abortions survivors have you talked to.?
cl (ny)
@Jackson Such a mean-spirited remark. There are more abortion survivors than you realize, just because many have not spoken about it. As a therapist, I am sure Teacher has more to say about the subject than you. Many of her patients probably did not have anyone else to confide in.
Susan (Eastern WA)
I'm so sorry for your sad journey to make a family. But as to your stand on choice: Exactly!
Ms M. (Nyc)
When women cannot have abortions they say things to their children like my Mother did "You were a mistake, the cream didn't work."
Rick (Louisville)
@Ms M. Or they just show it in every thing they do, which the child figures out rather quickly. Not sure which is worse.
Ms M. (Nyc)
@Ms M. She followed it by describing an abortion she had on the kitchen table a year later. My Mother btw took her own life. The irony is breathtaking.
Pillai (St.Louis, MO)
Brilliantly written, Elizabeth. This is the courage I look for in people. To stand up and speak the truth and continue to do what you know is right, even when they have been beaten down mentally and physically. Just know that there are countless fellow travelers in your same boat, not many as erudite as you are. And of course, wishing you two the very best.
MMM (Roswell, GA)
Ms. Keenan, I know it sounds counter intuitive, but you are being more Christian than those protesters trying to block your path.
Kat (IL)
Does not sound counter intuitive at all. Those “Christian” protestors are not acting Christian. They’re acting like a barely restrained mob.
Kristina (North Carolina)
To those pushing the adoption instead of abortion narrative: Anyone who thinks of adoption as the "solution" to abortion should think about the future adoptee. I know many. Adoption is trauma, for the child and often for the first mother. Adopting a child may be bliss for the adoptive parent, but (speaking as one), our needs and desires necessarily come last behind adopted children and first families. In my experience, adoptees by and large find it insulting, at the least, to be thought of as poster children for the anti-choice narrative.
AlexanderTheGoodEnough (Pennsylvania)
Pregnancy should never be a punishment. Anti-choice is anti-life. Period.
the observer (Illinois)
Is the reverse true? Is anti-life anti-choice? Question mark.
R.G. Frano (NY, NY)
Re: '...When my husband and I first learned we had fertility issues in 2012, I’d been a patient escort at an abortion clinic in New York City for about six months..." I've NOT yet had the honor of being a clinic escort... While I empathize with those who have fertility issues...in this day / age, when 10's 'O, 1,000's of hominids STILL starve to death, EACH, 'N, EVERY day, across the Earth... I CAN'T fathom why it is, that...anyone who wishes to adopt... can't find a child / children to adopt! Granted...there may be a 'shortage', (pardon my sarcasm...), of 'Aryan_lookin' newborns, but, as I DON'T follow the racist / sexist / homophobic polices advocated by Evangelicals / Republicans / my former, (Xian), ancestral faith...that's NO excuse!!
Lagrange (Ca)
I wish you and your husband the best of luck Elizabeth. Thank you sharing your experience and for speaking out. I agree with you 100%. A woman's reproductive rights should be just that: her reproductive rights. No one else should be making decisions for her.
Daisy22 (San Francisco)
Think seriously about adoption. I've known several parents who have. My psychology dissertation advisor and his wife had 2 that way. He said they were his own children and he couldn't have loved them more if he and his wife had had them biologically. My heart goes out to you.
Pecan (Grove)
@Daisy22 He said . . . . . . . What do the children say? What do their real mothers say?
Talk about burying the led.
Comp (MD)
Thank you.
Sara (Beach)
"Every one of my choices about my body is wrong to someone." So powerful. And it will continue...to judgments about adopting as well. And then of course about how you parent, and whether you work or not, or how you provide for your child. UGH Thank you for writing this poignant piece.
@Sara. Stopped me cold. How horrible. I think the headline writer missed the mark no zeroing in on that sentence/sentiment.
Coastsider (Moss Beach CA)
Thank you for using the phrase "pregnant people". Somehow, saying "pregnant women" already shifts the argument, sadly. Yes, we are talking about people, people who deserve autonomy and the freedom to live our lives as we see fit.
Susan Wladaver-Morgan (Portland, OR)
This article perfectly captures my thinking and feelings about abortion, even though my struggles with fertility issues are decades in the past. Thank you.
Aaron (Twin Cities)
My name is Amanda (writing from my husband's account) and I just want to say Thank You to the author for sharing your story. I respect you and appreciate every word. I wish you the very best.
sdl15 (Sudbury, MA)
Well stated, and from a perspective I haven't heard from before. Your courage and convictions are inspirational. Sincere wishes that a child joins your family soon. You will make an excellent parent, in addition to all your other roles.
nlwincaro (North Carolina)
If there was a way to do it without being exploitative or damaging to the kids, wouldn't it nice to construct a booklet of kids waiting for fostering and adoption to hand out the the anti-abortion protesters? including listings of charities that help kids and expectant mothers and foster programs? I would love to hand that to these hypocrites and tell them to go spend their energy in useful love instead of misplaced hate. I have no delusion of it sinking in to them. It would just be satisfying.
Richard (Seattle)
What a beautiful phrase: "useful love instead of misplaced hate". I hope it's okay that I plan to use it!
NoRegrets (Seattle)
This article resinated with me. I had an apportion in 1989 when I got pregnant while using contraseptives. Although I always wanted to be a mother, this was not the time or situation to bring a child into the world. 4 years later, after I married, I found out I was entering early menapause, and was unable to consieve my own child any more. We went through extensive testing and procedures, and I was lucky enough to concieve my son via an egg donor program. Once I became pregnant, a co-worker asked if I was now more pro-life than ever, since I worked so hard to get pregnant. My answer to him (yes, it was a man) was that it made me more pro-choice than ever. Pregancy should be a choice, just like being a parent is a choice. It would make me very sad and angry to see someone forced to have a child just becuase I could not - that is not my call, but the other individuals call.
ChesBay (Maryland)
If only the anti-life folks actually cared about human life and realized that nobody will ever force THEM to have an abortion. They need to get noses out of women's' crotches. It's about sexual control and prurient interest, and that's all it's about. Like peeking in the window to watch people having sex. They claim it's about morality and religion. Yeah, I want to join THAT religion! WWJD? Not this, promise you.
Speedo (Encinitas, CA)
When white men grow vaginas and can conceive children, they then can make laws governing conception and pregnancy. If women lose the right to chose, men should be banned from taking Viagra.
Maggie (U.S.A.)
@Speedo It is hardly just white men, who make up the minority of the human population. Brown men, black men and every hue. It is males of every stripe and religion all over the world and throughout human history that have sexually and reproductively enslaved girls and women
Bystander (Upstate NY)
Been there, done that, got the laparoscopy scars to prove it. Finally had a baby and was shocked at how quickly my body became public property, with complete strangers feeling perfectly fine about laying hands on my belly without asking. I absolutely agree: I did not have the right to expect another woman to have a child for me, and people are too damned judgemental about women's choices to reproduce or not and to parent or not.
SFR (California)
@Bystander I was pregnant in 1960. No one would have even thought to touch my belly. There really was, once, such a thing as privacy. No one interfered at all. Now, with ultrasounds and the internet, what is left to the private business of the individual? If someone had touched me, as I walked on the street, in the store, or pursued my job, I would have considered it an attack, and hit them or called the police.
Regina in Civitatem (Washington)
I maintain that nearly every problem we have on the earth today is caused by TOO MANY PEOPLE. So, if I see that you already have two children and that you are expecting a third (or a fourth, or a fifth, etc.), you’re darn right I’m going to judge you. I truly admire those women who have chosen not to reproduce and feel guilty every day that I was not one of them.
Kat (IL)
Don’t forget that in 1960 you could be asked in a job interview if you were planning on getting pregnant and that information could be used as a justification for not hiring you. And you needed your husband’s signature to get a credit card. And Roe v. Wade was over a decade away. Privacy, indeed.
Robert (Out west)
By the way, the picture that comes with this article? The protesters belong to a group titled “Christian Defense Coalition.” On religious grounds, they go after Planned Parenthood, contraception, taking giant crosses off public property, and taking dead people off life support. I’ve no important problem with their religious faith, as it is none of my business. But their harassments, their refusals to denounce the violence of their fellow-travellers, and above all their constant pretense that their argument is scientific rather than religious annoys the heck out of me.
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
Two memories come to mind when I read stories about women who want children. The first was overhearing my mother say to someone, "I never liked children." Why then did she have five of them? The second was when I was about 16 years old and I told my mother that I had known for years that I had been adopted, because when we were little my older brother had told me it was the reason my mother loved him more than she loved me. My mother said, "Are you crazy? We already had four kids, why would we want another one?" I didn't understand the message from these memories until years later. My mother had no choice. Except for twice, when she miscarried, if she got pregnant she had a baby. My father, an alcoholic, treated her as if she were the source of our poverty, but he continued to impregnate her. How many women of her generation were in the same trap? How many women will be forced into that trap by these bigoted laws that will rob them of their freedom of choice? No matter whether a woman loves the children she bears, forced motherhood is a kind of slavery, the end of her freedom to choose for herself what her life will be.
Regina in Civitatem (Washington)
OMG—we must have had the same mother! Mine said that she had children because that was what was expected of women in those days. But five? Come on! My mother-in-law also confessed to not liking children and had three because that was what women did in the 40’s and 50’s. Just imagine how much better off we’d be if women such as that had chosen to stand their ground!
R.G. Frano (NY, NY)
Pardon my error, below, in reply to 'Park Bench'! I meant to say: "...Per Who.org...there CURRENTLY exist 750 million children, aged 0-14...who NEED adoption!!..."
marybeth (MA)
@dutchiris: I don't know how old you are, but in the days before the pill, there wasn't any kind of choice re having children. You got married and had children, often many children, whether you wanted them or not, whether you wanted to have them that close together or not, whether you could feed and clothe them or not. The alternative was not to have sex with your husband, and that wasn't an option either. I have older female relatives who were in the same boat as your mother--forced to have too many children they couldn't feed or provide for, with no say in the matter. Sadly, this is what the pro-birthers want--I don't think they're truly pro-life because the ones I see are pro death penalty, don't believe in the social safety net, and certainly don't give the needs of the mothers and their children a second thought once they're born. But they no qualms about inserting themselves into the bodies of women they don't even know, and get off on moralizing about it. They're cruel, and they enjoy being cruel.
Shamrock (Westfield)
“I don’t want to force anyone to have a baby for me. I don’t want to force anyone to give me a baby”. I don’t think you have to worry about either one of those things happening.
surboarder (DC)
@Shamrock...generally, the headline is written by others - but, yeah, kinda stupid...
Imogen (Massachusetts)
Maybe not her specifically, but that’s exactly what happens when a pregnant person’s only choice is to carry the pregnancy to term. It’s exactly what happened with many adoptions pre Roe v. Wade.
Kathryn (NY, NY)
Do these protesters EVER think that one of the primary reasons women have abortions is that they do NOT want a child and do not wish to alter their lives forever by becoming mothers at that time? Life happens. Contraception methods fail, women have sex with the wrong man or the wrong man forces sex on them, women are not psychologically or financially ready to become mothers. Having a child ties you to the father for the rest of your life. It ties a woman to a child who is most likely unwanted and unplanned. Oh sure - you can find any number of women who have married the father and/or had the child. Get them alone and ask how that turned out for them. For THEM. Not every woman wants to be or should be a mother. Adopted children often feel a sense of abandonment even though they have great adoptive parents. Can these so-called pro-lifers imagine that this child that they are so insistent must be born might have a painful and difficult life? We have to trust that women who find themselves pregnant have their own wisdom as to what is right for them. Every woman must be allowed to decide for themselves as to whether they desire motherhood. It is our life. It is our body. It must be our decision!
2reiners (Vermont)
So many problems arise in our society due to someone's conviction that she/he knows what's best for the stranger standing next to her/him. The fact that my life and body are no one's business but my own aside... When the orphanages are empty, when foster care is no longer necessary, when child abuse is relegated to the history books, when every single child is housed, fed, safe, and has access to great medical care and education... When every single child in this country is WANTED, maybe then you can talk about doing away with abortion.
Scrooge (Alabama)
@2reiners Sure...and until then, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
I too have struggled with fertility and it has reinforced my pro-choice views. The physical toll on your body of pregnancy is difficult to handle when you desperately want a baby. To force that on someone who doesn't want a baby is inhumane and cruel. A forced pregnancy is a human rights violation.
sjs (Bridgeport, CT)
"Every one of my choices about my body is wrong to someone." And, that ladies and gentlemen, sums it up perfectly. Somehow everybody thinks they have have a right to/possession of a woman's body.
vmur (.)
Ever ask yourself why the vast majority of adoptees don't "pay it forward" by adopting a child themselves? I know why: because people want a genetic link. That's why 23andme and Ancestry.com are so popular. I have several friends who were adopted; none have adopted in turn. In fact, one of them has poor sperm that required his two kids to be conceived from sperm donors, but they kept trying to have one with his own so he could feel a DNA connection to at least one person known to him. So now they just had a "miracle baby" with his own sperm and he is thrilled. Not for us to judge.
WB (Hartford, CT)
Best of luck with your adoption.
Glenn Strachan (Washington DC)
In 1981-1983 I wrote a 402-page Master's Thesis entitled "An Economic and Sociological Examination of Delayed Fertility Patterns in America." Driving to work, a talking head on MSNBC stated that the weakest part of Roe v. Wade is the right to privacy. I devoted a full chapter to this subject - "Griswold v. State of Connecticut." This is a little-discussed case which has served as the underpinning for Roe v. Wade and a right to "Privacy" in marital matters concerning contraception. When I hear someone say that the weakness of Roe is based on the right to privacy between a woman and her doctor I recognize that eventually, within the time of Trump, some state will go after Griswold as well as Roe v. Wade. The framework of my thesis was this statement - that unless women are able to fully control their fertility they will never be seen as an equal in the labor market. By this, I meant an employer knows that a man will never get pregnant will make investments in that man which they will not make in a woman. So this is where the decisions by the southern and midwest states will affect all women except for those women with the economic means to leave the state and obtain an abortion. First, these laws will strip Planned Parenthood of its funding which means 95% of the services they provide to women like pre-term care, contraceptive options, and breast exams will be gone. Next, they will be coming for your contraceptive devices due to the elimination of Griswold.
Jayjay (Southeast)
your thesis sounds excellent! congrats!
Consuelo (Texas)
Thank you for this very thoughtful writing. And thank you for your courage and kindness to act as an escort in the face of disapproval and sometimes abuse. I was raised a Catholic and still have what I would describe as mixed feelings regarding the tragedy of abortion. But I believe it should be legal, safe, and provided without intrusive questions, review boards, evidence of rape or incest or the health status of the mother or interference from anyone else in her life. And I do not think that the evidence that the fetus has a heartbeat should be a reason to prohibit a termination. Very late abortions should be avoided but I think that they are not happening except in cases of anencephaly or other such conditions.I think the whole thing is sad but still allowable. I am unsettled when some people appear to celebrate it. And I do think that most women search their conscience. I hope that you are able to create a bigger family since you and your husband want to be parents.
M (Portland, OR)
What a thoughtful, nuanced piece. A fascinating perspective on what it means to be a woman in America. Thank you.
Independent American (USA)
Thank you Elizabeth Keenan for sharing your story. I wish you and your husband the best. Hopefully you two will have the family you want soon. We as a society, regardless if pro choice or anti choice, need to make adoption a much more affordable process. Perhaps then there would be less children in the system needing loving homes...
Heidi (Upstate, NY)
Admirable attitude to the situation. May you soon find success in the adoption process. The gift of giving your child up for adoption is an amazing one. I have a wonderful brother because of it. However my brother was given up when women didn't have a choice and were forced by families and society to give up their babies. May we not repeat that history.
MM (New York)
Thank you for this. I became an adoptive mother after experiencing infertility. My daughter is the joy of my life. When I very unexpectedly got pregnant when she was 6, I knew I was not able to raise another child as well, and I had an abortion. Yes—it felt strange to have an abortion after trying so hard to become a parent. But it was the right decision for me and my daughter.
Fran Ferder, Ph.D. (Oregon)
It is time to stop using the term 'pro-life' to indentify those who oppose abortion. I know many anti-abortion individuals who vote against funding schools, the environment, maternal child care, health insurance for all (including the recently born), gun control and other issues that support life once born. Being truly 'pro-life' means honoring, supporting, and caring about all of the issues that tend life and make it possible to thrive on this planet. If your pocketbook is closed and your vote is negative when it comes to supporting all life issues, then you are simply against a modern day medical procedure and and not for life at all.
Lagrange (Ca)
@Fran Ferder, Ph.D.; more over many of so called pro-lifers are not against the death penalty!
Ms M. (Nyc)
For the love of God stay out of our vaginas and we wont be policing yours!!!
ecco (connecticut)
"...reproductive rights ae human rights..." unless, of course, the human is unborn... absent force, pregnant women have already made a choice...to add yet another chapter of disingenuous "argument" to the issue of abortion without granting the same "rights" to the voiceless human forming at the center of the debate it like discussing foreign policy without the risk of harm to the men and woen of the arced forces...you can duck the issue but is won't go away and eventually a day comes when it is becomes the only question in a yes-no moment. no law can ever be a one-size fits all, given the conditions of conception and circumstance that may accrue thereafter, but if the government wants to help it should make sure than no one has to pass up birth control assistance for lack of resources while also ensuring that doctor patient decisions have s secure a medical foundation, not one of convenience.
C's Daughter (NYC)
@ecco "absent force, pregnant women have already made a choice" You appear to be confused. Sex is an entirely different activity than gestation, birth, and child-rearing. Different people are involved, too. It's ludicrous to assume that because a woman has a sex life like a normal, healthy person she's chosen to become a mother. You've obliterated the meaning of the word choice.
Robert (Out west)
Actually, what Roe fundamentally says is that each of us has an inherent right to make our own decisions about sex, reporduction, and when human life begins. I don’t get to force my views on you, you don’t get to force your views on me. Easy-peasey.
Alan Mass (Brooklyn)
@ecco The smugness of the anti-abortion movement toward pregnant women who don't want to bring an unwanted child into the world will wear thin when growing over-population leads to forced restriction of births. Is that what you want? If you really are concerned about the unborn, don't support policies that blindly condemn future generations to pain and suffering. We don't live in the time of Jesus or St. Augustine. There are 7 billion humans on this very abused planet and little room for more.
Steve Crisp (Raleigh, NC)
1. New York has no TRAP laws. 2. None of the lower court appointees for the 2nd Circuit have yet to hear a case involving abortion rights. 3. The US Supreme court has also not heard a case involving abortion. 4. New York is not among any state that has enacted more stringent abortion laws. So just how have you been affected by any single item you cited?
Rena (Los Angeles)
@Steve Crisp Goodness. Well, first, she is supporting other women going into clinics (note that these women may or may not be having an abortion - some may be coming in for other types of health care). Second, those of us with empathy will support the rights of other people even though our rights have not (yet) been infringed upon. Anti-choice/pro-forced birthers appear to lack much empathy for other actual human beings (as opposed to for 7 week old embryos).
Imogen (Massachusetts)
@Steve Crisp she volunteers at a clinic that provides abortions and says the protesting and harassment has gotten a lot worse. So there you go, that is a way she has been affected. You’re welcome.
George (NYC)
Though I have great empathy for your struggle and commitment, I do not share your views. I'm reminded of an incident at a class reunion where an Anti Trump liberal made some very gut wrenching comments to my wife about infertility and her right of choice. Were she a guy, I would have beaten him a pulp. I have found many pro choice liberal to be demeaning towards others. If they are truly in belief of pro choice then they should adopt and forgo child birth. The level of liberal hypocrisy never fails to amaze me. With liberals, it's always what others should do but it does not apply to them. Years of a quiet empty home have not changed nor ever will my view on this topic.
Independent American (USA)
I, too, am reminded of an instance when a anti choice, pro birth woman accused me of killing "my baby" while approaching the door of the clinic. Forget the fact that I was bruised up, using a walker and had a full brace covering my left leg indicating I'd had recently suffered a serious accident. My decision was made based on medical necessity but that didn't matter to that pro birth conservative woman from trying to FORCE her opinion on me. I didn't owe her or anyone else an explanation for my decision. I had RIGHT to PRIVACY! If I understand the event correctly the difference between the two scenarios are that insensitive woman at the reunion gave her opinion to your wife in the midst of a shared conversation between the two. Whereas in my situation that woman forced herself and her opinions onto a complete stranger. The real lesson to be learned in these situations are for folks to mind their own business in the private decisions of fellow adults...
Zelda (DelMar, CA)
So, you ran into one jackarse, so all women should be forced to give birth? People who are pro choice should adopt? What's the logic there? People who believe women should be able to make their own medical and reproductive decisions should adopt because...?
Rebecca (NH)
@George I'm sorry to hear about how your wife was treated. Having endured infertility, I can't imagine what someone would say about choice and infertility. Keep in mind that not everyone who supports choice are "liberals." There are Republicans out there who also support choice. These people are pro-women. To "forgo child birth" means to forgo many things, it's not that simple. And regarding hypocrisy, I find there's a lot on both sides. Are you telling me that there aren't Christian-right leaning men out there who accidentally get women pregnant who haven't been glad that women have a choice? (Search Rep. Tim Murphy from PA to kick off the list.) It's complicated and there are opinions on both sides. But unless and until women are provided with family planning resources and support as part of their rights, choice needs to exist.
KMW (New York City)
I think Elizabeth Keenan is referring to the downtown Catholic Manhattan church when she speaks of the people who stand vigil each first Saturday of the month. They are not protesters but quiet people who pray together to end abortion. There have been about 125 people each month and it keeps on growing in size. I am one of those women who attend along with other pro life men and women. What was not mentioned is that there are also pro choice people and they are the protesters. They stand in front of the Church while Mass is going on and shout and make a lot of noise. After Mass, they follow the pro lifers over to the abortion clinic and continue their loud protests. There has been a police presence each time these occur to prevent violence. The pro life group which numbers about three times as many as the pro choice group remain quiet, dignified and orderly. They do not want any confrontation with the pro choice crowd and so far there has been no incidents of violence. Pro life groups are exercising their free speech and do not coerce any of those walking into the clinic. They want these women to know there is an alternative to abortion and that there is support and help to those who are in need. These people are kind and caring and demonstrate a choice other than abortion. They support life.
Livvy17 (Michigan)
@KMW Then why not make a practical effort to support those who have already chosen life? I'm sure babysitting services for new mothers or helping do tasks that a struggling young mother could need could help demonstrate that true support for life doesn't end at birth. It's the anticipated suffering of both the mother and infant afterward that is often the cause for the decision to abort. Preventing that suffering would go a long way to preventing that decision.
C's Daughter (NYC)
@KMW " They are not protesters but quiet people who pray together to end abortion." If it's just prayer and not intended to make a statement then why not do it in your own homes or a church? Is the signal to god only strong enough when you're outside a clinic? "Pro life groups are exercising their free speech and do not coerce any of those walking into the clinic" So you aren't just praying quietly. Which is it. "These people are kind and caring and demonstrate a choice other than abortion." No they aren't. They get off on interfering in one of the most personal decisions a woman can make.
zwes (woodbridge, VA)
@KMW If they support life, they should support family planning - birth control. Pro life help should extend to help for caring for the child after birth, not just through pregnancy.
Jackson Campbell (Cornwall On Hudson.)
Being an adult forces us to make difficult and often selfless decisions. That being said, I am an adopted adult, who’s mother was raped. The agonizing decision she made is something I cannot comprehend. I have no idea if she had any support from friends and family, however to her the decision was most certainly agonizingly difficult...it was my life at stake, and although she couldn’t yet see me as a person, there was no doubt, I would become one....that is Not up for public debate. As is often said, I am not a choice, I am (was) a child. I have lived an amazing life, filled with loss and success, pain and joy, all-of life’s experiences. I have since gone on to adopt a child, his mother was suffering from a debilitating illness yet still managed to pull off a less then perfect pregnancy. And now our child is living a full and beautifully less then perfect life. All from 9 months of sacrifice from two selfless women who put them selves second and took the harder path. And then They continued on their paths...as has my child and I continued on ours. As Dr. Scott M.Peck has said, life is difficult, and if you choose an abortion...that comes with pain, not only at the physical level, but a lifetime of regret that a life, was aborted, not “just” a child. And yes, there is undeniable pain with carrying to fruition, that may last a lifetime as well, however the later does leave the hope door open.
Dorothy (Evanston)
@Jackson Campbell I commend your birth mother and that of your adopted child for carrying their pregnancies to term. However, not all pregnant women are in a position to do so. There are many reasons for terminating a pregnancy, and we have no right to impose our beliefs on those women. For many women, it would have been the end of their lives and dreams. Who’s to say who is more important- the woman or the 6 week old fetus? Certainly, not I. I am happy that you have had a happy and productive life and are able to give your child a chance at the same. However it doesn’t hold true for all circumstances. It is not up to you or me to decide what is right for someone else.
heyomania (pa)
If the point of the essay is to bemoan the failure of fertility treatments, it is not apparent what else could have been done, except to have engaged with more empathic medical professionals, with superior bedside manners. Her choice not to hire a surrogate is/was freely made. Given the adoption alternative, it is difficult to perceive any real detriment, given her fertility issues, the writer has suffered.
Carin (Denver)
I am with you. I have struggled with fertility for over five years, and I am and have always been pro-choice. I am grateful to have the opportunity to try to make a family, even as it has been a very painful cycle of hope and loss, including four miscarriages. We are in the hope part of the cycle again now. That hope is about choice. It is my right to make the choice to try again. And it should be the right of all women to know and trust their hearts and bodies, and to be able to make decisions based on that knowing.
Betsy Blosser (San Mateo, CA)
This is a refreshing perspective on choice - and we need all of the perspectives we can get! How wonderful that the author can still support other women's right to choose, even when she appears to have lost that right, medically. May she and her husband have success with the adoption process!
inner city girl (Pennsylvania)
Thank you for this amazingly thoughtful article. You and your husband will be wonderful parents.
It never ceases to amaze me how many Trump follows will scream at me "This is America we can do whatever we want!" Uh no. No you can't . But daily that is becoming less and less true for those of us who are female. Or Black. Or LGBTQ. Or not Christian. The world is becoming smaller everyday.
Aubrey Mayo (Brooklyn)
Thank you Ms. Keenan
Christy (WA)
Hear, hear! The hypocrisy of supposedly Christian evangelicals who profess to be pro-life, but care not a whit for the lives of women that may be ruined by unwanted prenancies, and GOP lawmakers who profess to want limited government but keep telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies, never ceases to amaze and disgust me. A pox on both their houses.
Mike (NY)
It's so funny watching these coordinated narratives, both in these shallow op-eds and the comments. We've collectively moved from "fetus" to "zygote" in order to further dehumanize life, and now we're on to "forced birth". I will say it again: with rights come responsibilities. And the left wants all of the former and none of the latter.
E (Santa Fe, NM)
@Mike A woman who chooses abortion IS taking responsibility! She is choosing to be responsible for her beliefs; her economic, emotional, and physical health; and her future. She is being responsible about NOT bringing an unwanted child into the world. And she is being responsible for making her decisions before a biological condition becomes a child. When you, sir, are able to become pregnant, having your entire body and future taken over whether you want it or not, your opinion about women's choices and responsibilities might be of value. Otherwise, not.
Rena (Los Angeles)
@Mike And yet you have proved by your comment that the term "forced birther" is applicable to you. Your "with rights come responsibilities" comment is just one way of saying that once a woman has sex (whether voluntarily or otherwise), she must "suffer the consequences." This is not concern about "life" - it is about shaming women.
Maggie (U.S.A.)
@Mike Get a vasectomy. Unwanted pregnancy is not funny.
GS (Sweden)
Bravo! I really appreciate your article.
deb (inoregon)
I look at the photo and see a chilling sight: the self-proclaimed, orange vested morality police, like in Taliban towns. I've often wondered how the Sharia-zealous women policing their sisters can do it, and marveled at the state's control over divining 'immoral attitudes'. Ready and willing to enforce religious beliefs over our secular democracy! They want those orange tank tops in front of 'inappropriate' movie theaters, so they can "help" us accept the state's objections. And sports bars. And airports, schools, doctor's offices, all those places where sinful women might be. Trump keeps them close with his lying promises of an exclusive Christian theocracy. Are 'escort services' (giggle) only available to women? Do these eager church women find it necessary to pull men out of line too, to lecture them about their sperm being sacred? I'm guessing not. It's disgusting and unAmerican.
DML (New York, NY)
@deb I think you misunderstood the photograph. The women in the orange vest is a PRO-CHOICE clinic escort. The opposite of the 'morality police'. She is someone who escorts a woman into the clinic. She is not an ANTI-CHOICE (PRO-LIFE) protestor. She is there to allow women who are seeking to exercise their right to choose a safe way into the clinic.
Mystic Spiral (Somewhere over the rainbow)
@deb errrrr.... you may want to take a closer look at the photo... The orange vested women are the escorts that help women enter the clinic unmolested, not the protesters.
deb (inoregon)
@deb wow, my own error slaps me in the face! They are not wearing pro-life orange shirts, but pro-choice. I laugh at my own outrage, and I apologize.
PJ ABC (New Jersey)
The argument, "just because you can't have a baby, doesn't mean I should take that choice from someone else," doesn't make any sense. No sense at all. What is she talking about. You're saying just because you cannot have a baby, does not mean you should tell people NOT to kill their unborn fetuses. On what planet are those two things related. You are trying to tie two things together that have no relationship. And your belittling of the doctors for treating you like a pair of ovaries is silly. They're trying to help you get pregnant, and you're complaining about them not treating you as a whole person? Do you want the result or not? This wishy washy stuff that makes no sense does not belong in any editorial. I guess I should write an op ed about how I stubbed my toe and it made me feel for people who can't get an abortion.
Ann Lenhardt (Pittsboro, NC)
The logic isn’t that hard to follow. But here’s an alternative solution that is bullet proof: mandatory vasectomies for all boys before the age of puberty that can be reversed with the signed consent of a wife. Women carry the eggs, turn zygotes into embryos, embryos into fetuses and fetuses into babies ( and no, they aren’t all babies!) and are the key to the survival of the species. Don’t want unwanted children and abortions? Make it impossible for single men to father children.
Imogen (Massachusetts)
@PJ ABC I don’t think it’s silly to feel affected by a doctor’s rude behavior. To each her own, I guess.
Socrates (Downtown Verona. NJ)
You are a humanitarian, Elizabeth Keenan.....warm, generous, empathic and magnanimous. You deserve all the motherhood you can find. As for the cruel Christians foaming at the mouth over their 'God's blessing' of rape pregnancies, incest pregnancies and poverty-laden forced pregnancies in a dangerously overpopulated world and a fake Christian country that rejects living wages, universal healthcare and basic human compassion, may the infertility of their medieval minds be overcome by free modern contraception for all, which of course is the #1 way to reduce the abortion rate....and is the logic and solution their calcified minds reject. Three cheers for Elizabeth Keenan and female sovereignty. It's 2019....not 1019. Remember in 2020.
Kathryn (NY, NY)
@Socrates - Recently, I have been looking for your comments to no avail. Glad to see you’re back and in good form!
Susannah Allanic (France)
This is the first article I've read in a long while that appropriately names pregnancy as parenting. For everyone who blissfully remains ignorant, parenting is until the parent(s) dies. Even if a woman spontaniously aborts or miscarries she will not forget it and neither will the woman. I've been pregnant 7 times; 3 of those times occurred between 90 - 101 days after conception. The fourth one died at the 6th month mark and I carried him for another 4 weeks before I gave birth to him and I hemorrhaged in the process. I would not want any woman to be force to go through that, ever. Didn't seem to bother their father though. When a child is adopted they have two set of parents maybe more if a surrogate is involved. This too is for the entire life of the individual born. Wanting a baby is not the same as wanting to be a parent and many people do not understand that. Wanting to parent is to accept the risks that go hand-in-hand with dedicating one's entire life to another individual. Being pregnant is not the same as raising a child. A fetus can not live or endure without the complete support system of the female body until a certain milepost is passed and the closer to that mile post the more possibility that the now neonate will die. Prematurity is a not an assurance even with out advances. Finally, being pregnant will change a woman's body, mind, and her life. It does not change anything for a man. It is and should always be the individual woman's decision.
Maggie (U.S.A.)
@Susannah Allanic And lifelong parenting an adopted child is often fraught with so many additional challenges. Those anti-choice religious zealots always pushing adoption as a solution to an unwanted pregnancy do not seem to grasp that an wanted child will have issues, is not stupid and certainly is not a plaything for the breeding people who carelessly chose to have a few minutes of unprotected sex and then abandon their offspring for someone else to deal with. Not everyone ought breed and not everyone ought parent. Indeed, it's perplexing how a quick scan around every neighborhood in every city in every country has not in this day and age resulted in mass cheap spaying and neutering facilities in at least the same numbers as fast food drive throughs and liquor stores.
Lebanon (Maryland)
@Susannah Allanic Amen.
Liz (fl)
The simple truth is that women are no longer treated as full, independent people once they become pregnant (or undergo medical interventions to attempt it, in this case). So, fundamentally, in order for women to achieve equality to men, they must have the ability to terminate a pregnancy if they want to. So, sorry, you can't be anti-choice and call yourself a feminist (as some do, apparently).
Mary (Pennsylvania)
@Liz I read your post with interest. Twice. It would appear that at least 2 groups, Rehumanize International, New Wave Feminists and Feminists for Life, disagree with your opinion, as I do also, that you can't be anti-choice and also call yourself a feminist. For the record, all 3 groups are also secular. Additionally, I disagree that the ability to, in your words - terminate a pregnancy, and which I call - ending the life of an unborn child, is the dividing bar between women achieving equality to/with men. The idea that women's autonomy rests in the ability to
DS (Montreal)
@Mary Sorry Mary I absolutely agree with Liz -- you can't be a feminist if you are not pro-choice. Being a feminist means first of all respecting other women's right to choose, not imposing on them something they don't want. Those groups you mention may call themselves feminist but are not if they don't respect a woman's right regarding whether to have an abortion or not.
gratis (Colorado)
@Liz I am not sure when in Western culture that women were ever considered equal to men. Certainly at no time in US history, except perhaps in some Native American cultures that Caucasians promptly wiped out.
Barbara (MA)
i have been with you. my one pregnancy after 9 years of trying was ectopic. i will fight for every woman to have control of their bodies. Moving to MA 30 years ago i started with a new gynecologist recommended to me. the focus of his conversation was anti abortion, assuming i would benefit from anti abortion laws. i left in tears. you are brave
Darby Stevens (WV)
I had an abortion in the mid-1970's in a time when no one was standing outside the clinic protesting my decision. I walked in the front door like any other medical appointment. Fast-forward to the late 1980's...I drove a friend to the same clinic but now it was surrounded by protesters yelling at us for killing children, did we know what they were doing in there and being in a pact with the devil...it was crazy and unnerving. I struggle with how easy it seems for the "pro-lifers" to pass judgement on those of us who make the choice to end an unwanted pregnancy. I personally have never forced anyone to have an abortion. I have never coerced anyone with pamphlets with pictures of children who are beaten, starved, and abused by people who should never have been allowed to give birth. These are the kids I see everyday. Maybe the people standing around crying for the unborn could use their time taking care of children who are suffering in real time.
Ellen (Phoenix)
@Darby Stevens I just found out recently that 50% of the abortions in this country are performed on pro-life women. It appears they are pro-life until it happens to them. Once they realize the magnitude of the situation for them, they decide an abortion is the best course.
india (new york)
When, as the author writes, every choice a woman makes about her own body is wrong to someone, she is seeing only half of the issue. The antagonism directed toward women who face infertility - and this antogonism is fierce - is as much about our society's hatred for children as is it misogyny. The pro-life movement, even as it purports to be saving children, is about punishing mothers for bringing children into a society that lacks the desire to support them. Our country doesn't just hate women. It hates children.
Ilene Bilenky (Ridgway, CO)
@india I would add that I think the intensity of the anti-choice people is about 90 percent (conservatively) a hatred of women being sexual without "consequences." Beyond garden-variety misogyny- a burning hatred of women being sexual.
Margaret Gannon (Charleston, SC)
I, too, struggled with infertility and chose to go the foster to adopt route. I, too, am pro choice. All those "concerned" citizens standing outside of abortion clinics offering to adopt or help adopt those babies only want: white, healthy, full-term, known parentage, "perfect" babies. But they also want to force their belief system, or ideals on others. We women need to stand together to support our daughters', sisters', mothers', friends' right to have autonomy over their own bodies!
ArtM (MD)
We are adoptive parents. It never ceased to amaze and anger my wife and I how much input people thought was appropriate during the process. Besides having my wife poked, prodded, filled with drugs that affected her for years afterward, we needed to prove we were fit to be parents. Our goal to adopt a newborn was met with unsolicited opinions outside our support circle of friends/family. Outside that circle we were “encouraged” to adopt an older child because “there were so many”. I would ask why they had not adopted or fostered an older child. The most inane answer was they could have children and we could not. Thanks for that. It was assumed I was against abortion. I would receive comments how it would increase my chances to adopt. I asked how many babies they had adopted given their anti abortion beliefs and all the unwanted children. That was met with uncomfortable silence at best. This was to help me, not them. Again, thanks for that. I have to say, from my adoptive parent perspective, pro-life is such a demeaning term. We wanted life more than anyone, a healthy newborn, a life that was not neglected in pregnancy, a life we did not purchase (you would be amazed), a family on our terms. As we told our son when explaining adoption, there are many ways he could have come to us. We were meant to be and it was just a question how he would arrive. Bringing him home on Christmas Eve was perfect. Don’t listen to naysayers, blamers and shamers. Listen to your heart.
Maggie Lou (Virginia)
@ArtM Your post is very eloquent, and as an adoptive parent myself of two boys from an orphanage in Ukraine, I agree that the choices you make are yours alone, deciding the age, health and background of a child that will fit into your family. I turned down a child that I thought had FAS, only to find out later that one of the boys I adopted did have FAS. I absolutely believe that my sons and I were meant to become a family. I just wish I could have been there sooner to remove the vestiges of institutionalization from their lives.
Ordinary Citizen (Philadelphia)
@ArtM Exactly this. I, too, am an adoptive parent. My joy of becoming a parent is at the loss and grief of my children's birth mothers (fathers not part of the picture). But these women, who did not have access to abortion, knew the likely outcome if they chose to parent (high percentage of infant -5 years mortality rates) put their children at the center of their decision and made the choice to place them for adoption. My children too feel this twin set of emotions. Adoption, like any significant life choice is not without its consequences. It is not for the meek and certainly not for those who tell the infertile "you can just adopt!"
Susan (Eastern WA)
@ArtM--I can't believe the comments made to friends who fostered and then adopted two little girls, sisters, one with significant emotional and learning problems. I don't know whether they set out to adopt, as they already had 3 kids and not a lot of money, and it was none of my business to ask. But the girls are thriving in a real family that cares and works to help them in any way it can. It is a model of compassion and love that their 3 older kids will carry with them always, and I hope that it spreads to others in their circles. I know I was deeply impressed.
July (MA)
Reproductive rights are human rights. Exactly. The face of freedom is a respectful, brave person smiling and opening a door. Those trying coerce women into producing children - whether though intimidation, trickery, or provocative legislation - are wrong and their actions are evil. Simple as that. All of us who know women are people with rights have to keep pushing forward. Good can defeat evil, but only if we fight back!
Anne-Marie Hislop (Chicago)
Excellent points about the judgments and binds women are put in re reproduction. Thanks. Anti-choice demonstrators always anger me. Back about 20 years ago I used to regularly see a pair of women in downtown Chicago in front of a high-rise which apparently had an abortion clinic. They just stood there quietly, but held signs which said, "We can help you and baby." I always want to go to them and demand exactly what "help" they thought they offered. Some second hand maternity clothes? A few cases of baby formula or cartons of diapers? A 2nd hand crib or highchair? Women who chose to terminate a pregnancy often, if they carried the pregnancy to term, need help for the next 18 years and beyond. They might need financial help to raise that child; mental health care; health care access; legal help to get the dad to pay child support if he's around (a rapist won't be doing that) or to deal with a system which might want to give her rapist/abuser visitation rights. She might need child-care help, job training etc., etc. What "help" do you offer ladies?
Zelda (DelMar, CA)
They'll give you a few packs of diapers, maybe some donated baby clothes. Beyond that, it's time for you to show some personal responsibility. You don't have to poke a forced birther very hard before they start squawking about "personal responsibility."
Ms. Pea (Seattle)
I find the anti-abortion protesters who harass patients outside clinics to be despicable. They are contemptible individuals, void of compassion, empathy and human kindness. They remind me of nothing so much as the hateful protesters that spew their viciousness at the funerals of gay men. Both attempt to hide their atrocious behavior behind a cloak of religion, but it is a depraved religion that would support their actions. Good for Ms. Keenan for volunteering to help protect patients at her clinic from these venomous individuals, and good luck to her with her adoption.
Bruce Wolfe (Miami, FL)
Under the law, person A cannot be forced to do something to aid person B if it puts person A’s life at risk. No one may be forced to donate a kidney to another, for example. To the “personhood” advocates who believe life starts at conception: substitute woman for person A and fetus (baby to you) for person B. As pregnancy is inherently riskier than abortion, how can we justify forcing a woman to carry to term consistent with the law?
Donna Tallon (Denver)
Thank you for your courage to speak up for our rights- for all women’s choice. I am sorry you were so judged and shamed. What you endured and endure is both very vulnerable and courageous. You are to be honored.
S (Hmmm)
Yes, also infertile here and went the iui and ivf routes. also still vehemently pro choice!
Kate (Dallas)
None of the hate-filled abortion protestors or legislators passing these draconian laws to limit reproductive freedom have any respect for what women go through. Thank you for sharing your experience and for supporting other women as a clinic escort. We have to help each other as we navigate these terrible times.
BillScott (Atlanta)
Well said. Thank you and good luck with your adoption.
Arvind (Glendale)
"Every one of my choices about my body is wrong to someone." I've got $100 here that says this comment section is about to prove you right.
KK (Boston)
Even after 15 years and 2 healthy children, whenever I hear someone speak about their struggles with infertility, I'm right back there with them. Unless you have experienced infertility you have no idea the roller coaster of emotions at play, the lack of control you feel because your body isn't doing what you want it to do. Being "pro-choice" means having autonomy over your body - whether you welcome a pregnancy or for whatever reason do not.
sanderling1 (Maryland)
I thank the author for her compassion and respect, and for treating women as fully human.
D Gayle (Colorado)
Thank you for sharing your story and insights. I would be more sympathetic to the ‘pro-life’ contingent if they really were—that is if they cared about policies making IVF affordable and required in health plans as well as policies supportive of family well-being, no matter who the parents are. Why is pro-life for all fetuses not pro-family for all who seek children?!?
Dorothy (Evanston)
I am in awe of your bravery, compassion and wisdom. My best wishes for you and your husband.
xxx (NY)
Elizabeth, Although your body is not cooperating , you surely have the heart of a mother- putting aside your own grief and indeed safety, to help others in their moment of need. I hope a child comes into your life somehow, but if not, I have a feeling that you will still find a way to be a "mother" in the truest sense of the word. My warmest regards and thank you....
Debra Merryweather (Syracuse NY)
This is a wonderful article. One size does not fit all situations. The current state of "choice" evolved from women's lack of "choice" or "between a rock and a hard place" choices. There is nothing more personal and permanent that the loss of a child.
Elizabeth (Kentucky)
Reproductive Justice is a broader concept that includes both pro choice and pro life perspectives. Always respects women's bodily autonomy and moral agency; one can choose to have a child or not; and the emphasis is on the bigger picture, too: safe, healthy, supportive communities. We should be very focused on the health and well-being of women, children, and families and place them at the center of our policies. An abortion happens because a woman decides within the context of her life, circumstances, resources, culture, relationship, and community--whether she can have *this* child at *this* time or not. I invite you to read up on Reproductive Justice and get ready to have your mind blown.
CinnamonGirl (New Orleans)
I am deeply sorry to hear anout the cruel comments you have endured, which compound the burden of infertility. Your perspective is valuable and you are absolutely right about how women and our reproduction always being judged, through the lens of the persons doing the judging. Why are these people always supremely confident in their right to weigh in on the intimate struggles of others and certain they are not only right but also a superior moral force? This is particularly troubling inthe case of men, who will know these experiences first hand.
Cameron C (GA)
As a pro-choice Catholic man, it continues to amaze me how many of my fellow Christians are anti-abortion. They claim that the Bible has a strong anti-abortion message and point out various out-of- context Bible Verses to prove their point. Something that I want to make clear, The Bible actually has very little to say on the topic of abortion. In fact, various verses in the Bible include the death of an unborn fetus, and don't consider it a sin. For example: Exodus 21:22-23 states that the penalty for causing the death of an unborn fetus is a fine, but if the woman carrying the fetus is killed then the penalty is, "Life for a life.". Another verse is Numbers 5:21-28, which gives instructions on what a man should do if he suspects that his wife is carrying another man's child. The instructions tell the man to go to a priest, who will give the woman a concoction which will cause the fetus to be miscarried. I feel as though many fellow Christians have not truly read the Bible in whole, as many of the verses they state as anti-abortion are actually symbolic or poetic in nature. Some from Psalms, a book of songs praising God, not a book of God's instructions. I believe that being Pro-Choice is being Pro-Life. That being Pro-Choice is being Christian. I apologize to all who seek abortions for the pain they go through due to fellow Christians protesting one of the toughest decisions a woman will ever make. Women deserve access to safe abortions, it is a human right.
marybeth (MA)
@Cameron C: Thank you for your comments. You are a rare breed of man, especially for a Catholic. I agree with you and think that no one is actually reading the Bible. At one time the Church was fine with abortion provided that it occurred before "quickening". Those who are screaming and protesting using the Bible for justification are cherry-picking which parts of the Bible support their views and ignoring the rest. They are also deliberately ignoring the fact the the US is not supposed to be a theocracy, and that they don't get to force their religious beliefs on everyone else. Thomas Jefferson's wall of separation between church and state is more important than ever. Those of us who prefer a secular state aren't against religion, and want people to be able to practice their faith without government interference. Now I want the same respect back--I want to be able to live without religion being forced down my throat, without politicians codifying theology into law. I don't think that is too much to ask.
Lagrange (Ca)
@marybeth: agreed on all your points including Cameron C being a rare breed. I had the same exact thought.
Cameron C (GA)
As a pro-choice Catholic man, it continues to amaze me how many of my fellow Christians are anti-abortion. They claim that the Bible has a strong anti-abortion message and point out various out-of- context Bible Verses to prove their point. Something that I want to make clear, The Bible actually has very little to say on the topic of abortion. In fact, various verses in the Bible include the death of an unborn fetus, and don't consider it a sin. For example: Exodus 21:22-23 states that the penalty for causing the death of an unborn fetus is a fine, but if the woman carrying the fetus is killed then the penalty is, "Life for a life.". Another verse is Numbers 5:21-28, which gives instructions on what a man should do if he suspects that his wife is carrying another man's child. The instructions tell the man to go to a priest, who will give the woman a concoction which will cause the fetus to be miscarried. I feel as though many fellow Christians have not truly read the Bible in whole, as many of the verses they state as anti-abortion are actually symbolic or poetic in nature. Some from Psalms, a book of songs praising God, not a book of God's instructions. I believe that being Pro-Choice is being Pro-Life. That being Pro-Choice is being Christian. I apologize to all who seek abortions for the pain they go through due to fellow Christians protesting one of the toughest decisions a woman will ever make. Women deserve access to safe abortions, it is a human right.
Joe Public (Merrimack, NH)
@Cameron C The Catholic churches opposition to abortion is not based on the bible (other than the whole "Thou Shall Not Kill" thing). It is based on scientific evidence that a fetus is in fact a human being.
Anony-mom (New York)
@Joe Public No, it is based on the idea that motherhood is the primary reason for women's lives. Growing up Catholic I was taught that my life, should it ever be endangered during pregnancy, was ALWAYS secondary to any fertilized egg or even fetus that I was carrying. The Church might spin it differently now, but that's the garbage they taught at the time.
Mystic Spiral (Somewhere over the rainbow)
@Joe Public Ummmm sorry, no... just no... being "a human being" isn't something that can be measured scientifically - it is a purely philosophical question. You can scientifically determine if something is homo sapiens - but that does not mean that it is "a human being". A tooth found in a grave can be tested and found to carry homo sapiens DNA, but you wouldn't call it a "human being" would you? You can measure cell activity and scientifically determine if something is alive - but this does not make it "a human being" - a carrot is alive... it is not "a human being" What is "a human being" then... Is it a homo sapiens body that has a heart beat? Does it have to have brain activity? Is the ability to feel emotions necessary? Is it speech? Language? Were the Neanderthal human? Was Homo habilus human? Why - what qualities determined that? See.... philosophical, not scientific.
MIMA (Heartsny)
It took a lot of courage to write this. Also, even more so, you illustrate what respect is - that although we differ from someone else’s thoughts, can we just respect them? In addition, men have no business making laws to rule women’s bodies, or protesting outside clinics and health centers. Can we imagine women ruling men’s bodies? It would never happen.
AEF (Northville,)
@MIMA Men are not a monolith in this, or any other matter, just like women aren't. As you say this is an extremely complex issue bringing with it intense emotions of all sorts. I too, found this essay brave and thought-provoking.
Peter Hornbein (Colorado)
Whether or not one is pro-birth (or even pro-life, although I have yet to meet an anti-abortionist who is), no one has the right to force, cajole, attempt, or even suggest another change their spiritual beliefs, especially those surrounding so personal a decision. In the case of abortion, I'm sorry gentlemen, but we do not have a dog in that fight so we should keep our opinions to ourselves.
Round the Bend (Bronx)
@Peter Hornbein You're correct, Mr. Hornbein. But the history of patriarchy does not reflect your enlightened perspective. The whole world over, from murky antiquity to the present, men have been quite proprietary about the "dog," having donated the sperm that brought it into being. Once human beings figured out that men were essential for reproduction, women came to be viewed as factories for the production of male heirs (sons) and of more factories for future male heirs (daughters). This is not to say that the role of fathers is optional or secondary, or that men are incapable of what we call the "maternal instinct." But viewing women and babies as the property of men is a very deeply ingrained and ancient attitude. Women have to fight that battle every day, and not only in the area of reproduction.
@Peter Hornbein By your reasoning then any infertile woman should keep her opinion to herself as well since she doesn't "have a dog in that fight".
Joe Public (Merrimack, NH)
@Peter Hornbein In the case of abortion, I'm sorry gentlemen, but we do not have a dog in that fight so we should keep our opinions to ourselves. 1) You are a man (I assume from your screen name) who just shared his opinion. 2) Lots of men like abortion since it lets them avoid 18 years of child support. 3) Prolifers are not trying to forcibly change others beliefs, merely stopping harmful behavior. 4)Suggesting that others change their belief is why we have freedom of speech.
Bill Levine (Evanston, IL)
This is a very powerful article because it focuses on the one overriding fact: compelling a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term under force of law is all about coercion. It is a huge violation of a woman's personal freedom, literally forced labor, akin to slavery. According to the anti-abortion movement, such a suspension of an individual woman's rights is justified by the (apparently superior) right of the developing fetus. But the assertion that a fetus must be considered to be an individual is derived from canon law, not common law. It is a tenet of Catholic doctrine which manifestly departs from our legal tradition, as the five-man conservative Catholic majority on the Supreme Court must somehow be aware. This is not to say the the developing fetus has no value. Every willingly pregnant woman knows this is not true. Every woman struggling over deciding to remain pregnant knows it too. The point is that the state can not intervene until the rights of two individuals are at stake, which is at the point of fetal viability.
Paul (FL)
@Bill Levine "This is not to say that the developing fetus has no value. Every willingly pregnant woman knows this is not true." Exactly. Our daughter received a diagnosis 17 years ago of "incompatible with life" during the first trimester of her third pregnancy. She chose to carry as long as possible, in spite of the possibility of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, or short life if there was a live birth. Her daughter -- our third grandchild -- was full-term and was born alive. She lived for three hours. The values of love, support, understanding, and kindness shared by family and friends throughout the pregnancy, then after birth and death, continue even today. That one brief and beautiful life touched the hearts of more people than we'll ever know.
meh (Cochecton, NY)
@Bill Levine I think it would be more accurate to say that the assertion that a fetus is an individual is derived from science--or even from common sense. The union of a human male sperm and a human female egg results in a new individual with his/her own DNA. Any biology textbook will make that clear. I think it is not fair to say that all pro-life people think the baby is superior to the mother. The point for many is that the baby is human and needs to be thought of as human. Euphemisms and esoteric discussions of personhood are meant to--and often do--obscure that reality.
Bill Levine (Evanston, IL)
@Paul Please remember two things: - no one interfered with your daughter's decision to carry this child to term, which is as it should be; - you need to count your blessings that your daughter could rely on "values of love, support, understanding, and kindness shared by family and friends throughout the pregnancy, then after birth and death". Not everyone is so fortunate. Nothing you say can justify denying freedom of conscience to women who are not in your daughter's situation.
Barbara (D.C.)
"Anti-choice groups like to present adoption as an easy out for pregnant people, as though it guarantees a happy outcome for all involved." It's not just anti-choice proponents who feel that way. Adoption is generally lionized in our culture, as we fail to grasp what a trauma it is inherently for both mother and child. That's not to say it's a bad thing, but the ignorance about this fundamental fact is a huge blind spot in our society. I had a very good upbringing and a secure family, but the impact of my early experience has negatively affected every relationship I've ever had. And I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that my biological mother died at the age of 49 as a result of the pain she carried. As an adoptee who would not be here if abortion was legal in the early 60s, my experience also informs my fierce belief that women should have 100% dominion over their own bodies. As long as the anti-choicers don't understand or recognize the true biological and psychological impacts of adoption, they need to stop acting as if they are all-seeing gods who know what's right for others.
Joe Public (Merrimack, NH)
@Pecan 1) An adoption mom is a real mother. The woman makes the very hard decision to give her baby up for adoption is a birth mother or biological mother. 2)Its very rare nowadays for adoptive parents to lie to children about this. Virtually all social workers involved with adoption agree on this. I say this as an adoptive father.
Pecan (Grove)
@Joe Public Thanks, Joe, for helping me win the bet I had with myself that the first comment on my comment would insist that "an adoption mom is a real mother." And, of course, that "the woman" is a "birth mother or biological mother." And, of course, that " it's very rare for adoptive parents to lie to children about this." However, I agree with you that "virtually all social workers involved with adoption agree on this." I hope adoptive parents who can handle the truth will not only read books by adopted people and their real mothers but will also read books about social workers and adoption agencies. The enormous role they played in the growth of the adoption industry is often overlooked and underestimated.
Doug McKenna (Boulder Colorado)
With all due respect, saying you are "an adoptee who would not be here if abortion was legal in the early 60s" is completely meaningless. It presumes that no other factors might have been responsible for your non-existence in the world. There is no possible way to prioritize (or even list!) those hypothetical factors. It is just as uselessly "plausible" to say that had the two people whose DNA merged during your conception not stayed to watch the movie credits that night, they would have had sex 10 minutes earlier, in which case a completely different sperm would have fertilized the same egg, at a slightly different temperature (due to random fluctuations) leading to a minuscule change in that sperm's motility. Someone else might (or might not) have been brought into your biological parents' world, but not you. Or thank God that fellow in the '64 Rambler wasn't fiddling with his car radio that time your parents passed him on a two-lane road. They would've died in the collision, and you'd not exist. Etc, etc. You get the picture. Claiming past cause for personal non-existence is a meaningless fool's errand. There are an infinite number of factors (nearly all essentially random) that one could posit backwards in time. Every one of them is equally hypothetical with respect to your potential non-existence. So don't fall for the pro-lifer's sophistry about being glad their mothers didn't have an abortion. It is a statement that makes sense only to the facile thinker.
Ellen (Concord, MA)
Elizabeth, You have voiced what I believe in my heart. I went through the dehumanizing aspects of IVF in the 1980's, before adopting two children. The joy is raising children, being a family--not how those children came into your home. Adoption is bitter sweet--the biological mother decides to put her child into the adoption process and the adoptive parents are joyous--but with recognition that the biological mother had to decide to let someone else raise her child. Pro-choice is pro-family and focuses on the child, allowing all potential the personal decision about when or whether to care a pregnancy to term. I am grateful to my children's biological mothers, but I don't minimize the pain that their decisions may have brought. I just thank them for enabling me to become a parent.
Douglas McNeill (Chesapeake, VA)
It is perfectly appropriate for a church to tell its adherents to not have an abortion just as they might tell them to eat fish on Friday or fast for the majority of one month a year. This is implicit in the First Amendment to the Constitution. But it is absolutely inappropriate for any religion to tell those who do not choose to follow its prescriptions and proscriptions what they should do when the are not breaking the laws on the books. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion but also freedom FROM religion. Just as your right to swing your fist ends at my nose, so your right to tell others what to do ends at the doors of your sanctuaries. It does not reach beyond into any legitimate business or service provider and clearly does not reach into a woman's uterus.
@Douglas McNeill -- Thank you. It's time for those of us who believe that the anti-establishment clause of the 1st amendment is being subverted by repeated attempts of authoritarian conservative religious believers who see no reason with changing all of our country's laws to conform to their particular beliefs. Evangelical fundamentalists may think they are being clever by arguing that the 1st amendment doesn't guarantee "freedom of religion." But I think it's time to argue that the line between the state "establishing" a religion literally and the state establishing a religion by adopting laws that force all citizens to live according to a particular set of religious beliefs is a fine one that these laws clearly cross. If these people had any actual smarts, they would stop talking so much about Jesus in their signing statements, which should make it fairly easy to prove that their intent is to force their religious viewpoints onto those who don't share them.
Joe Public (Merrimack, NH)
@Douglas McNeill But it is absolutely inappropriate for any religion to tell those who do not choose to follow its prescriptions and proscriptions what they should do when the are not breaking the laws on the books. So was the Reverend Martin Luther King wrong to tell the Southern States that their Jim Crow laws were morally unjust and needed to change? Were the Quakers wrong to push for abolishing slavery? They would break the law to harbor fugitive slaves in order to help them escape bondage? If a religious group believed that the Iraq war was wrong, should they hold their tongue? If a religious group believes that its wrong for the Federal government to not provide free or low cost healthcare to everyone, should they hold their tongue? If a religious group believes its wrong to separate children from their parents, just because they are illegal immigrants, should they hold their tongue?
Ambimom (New Jersey)
@Joe Public As someone who was witness to the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s, it was NOT, I REPEAT NOT a religious movement. It was purely a political movement that changed America for good. Martin Luther King, happened to be a clergyman. His religious beliefs were incidental to that political movement. As for Iraq? I see plenty of clergy invoking religion in favor of the killing fields such as Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson who insist that God has hand-picked politicians who will gleefully murder those who hold different religious beliefs. What I don't see is those who espouse anti abortion and will do anything including murder to control women, have any concern for all those "babies" once they are actually born. Those women are on their own.
Rhett Segall (Troy, N Y)
Women who give their child up for adoption are surely filled with gratitude that the mystery they have borne will be nourished and nurtured by loving parents. My wife and I did not "force" Matthew's birth parents to give him up! But we have undying gratitude that their respect for human life led them to such profound generosity!
Deb (St. Louise)
They *hope* their child will be loved and nurtured. That’s not always the case. Of all the adults I know who are adopted (and I know quite a few), I’d consider maybe half of them to be well-adjusted. The others struggle with emotional and mental health issues.
jpbaz (Red Sox Nation)
@Rhett Segall Rhett, as a man you "surely" know how someone else feels? I don't think you do. This is not about you. This is about a woman making a choice for her body and her DNA/Cells. This is also about larger socioeconomic issues related to mothers being willing and able to support a child.
Rolfe (Shaker Heights Ohio)
@Deb You might find it valuable to look for non-anecdotal evidence. Here, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4475346/, for example. Yes, children adopted as infants or when very young are less healthy than children who live with birth parents. At least some of this is a feeling that their birth parents did not want them. But, it is not a terribly big effect. And, the vast majority of adopted children are loved and nourished (including mine.)
Karen (San Francisco)
Abortions should be performed in out-patient surgery centers, not in abortion clinics. That's the way to provide privacy to a woman about to undergo an abortion. No need for an escort under such circumstances. Anti-abortion protestors should not be able to guess why a woman of child-bearing age is entering an outpatient surgery center. Thank you, Ms. Keenan, for the important work you do as a clinic escort, but we have the power as a society to make this job obsolete.
Anne (Anchorage)
They’d show up there, too. Multi-use facilities exist. But abortion providers are often denied practice space because the owners or partners don’t want to deal with the risk and repercussions of abortion protestors. The PP clinic shooting in Colorado occurred on private property, off a private road, in a small medical park behind a grocery store. Protestors gather on the main road and appear to be picketing the supermarket. But they are still there. The shooter was not certainly not deterred. Nearly all abortion care facilities also provide gynecological and contraceptive care; many even treat men. Every patient is harassed on their way in, whether it is for a PAP, to pick up condoms, or to get an abortion.
C's Daughter (NYC)
@Karen "Abortions should be performed in out-patient surgery centers, not in abortion clinics." There is no evidence that there's a medical benefit to requiring abortions to be performed in out-patient surgery centers. On the other hand, this requirement reduces women's access to abortion care. Why don't you think there would be a need for an escort? The anti's will just protest at the surgery centers. Try again.
Joe Public (Merrimack, NH)
@Karen Hospitals used to perform elective abortions, but they stopped for several reasons. 1) They don't like protesters outside. (They had to deal with this as well). 2) Conscientious objectors- the nurse who usually assisted the abortionist would be out, so a different nurse would be told to help out- some would vehemently object to this. Someone with a moral objection to abortion is not going to work at Planned Parenthood or other such clinics. 3) Possible loss of donations. 3
Celia (Florida)
Thank you Ms. Keenan for this insightful write up of your experiences, for being an escort to women in their time of need, for observing and coming to an understanding of women's needs and rights, and for considering adoption of a child that needs a good parent. None of those were easy ! Please keep up the good work! I am a white woman, age 54, childless (happily so ) and stand with Planned Parenthood.
Elizabeth (Kentucky)
@Celia childess sounds like a perjorative word, like barren. If you are happy about it, might I suggest "child-free"? I am 53 and child-free, flying solo, and happy.
Victoria Morgan (Ridgewood, NJ)
I have been where this writer is, struggling with infertility. My husband and I knew, going in, that this would be an issue. Fortunately, it took us only three years, but we had one miscarriage. I was also adopted as a baby and I am strongly pro-choice. No one, NO ONE, should tell anyone what they can and cannot do with their bodies. It should be the ultimate guarantee in our Constitution. To read that document any other way is tantamount to gender discrimination. Women have been second-class citizens for far too long and the fear men harbor of losing their patriarchy is what drives the current wave of new laws. Whether there are families waiting on long adoption lists for children or not is irrelevant. As this writer noted, no one can force another to give up their child just so someone else can be a mother. What galls me most, however, are the friends of this writer, the ones who made those appalling comments when she decided to give up fertility treatments. It is, actually, more of the same - someone else telling you what you can and cannot do with your body. I applaud this writer and hope more women - and men - come forward to support what should be a given.
Rhett Segall (Troy, N Y)
@Victoria Morgan Victoria, the unborn child is not the woman's body, although it is dependent on the mother. Infants are also radically dependent on the parents often hard labor to maintain their well being. But infants, despite their dependency, have an inalienable right to life, as does the unborn child.
C's Daughter (NYC)
@Rhett Segall "Infants are also radically dependent on the parents often hard labor to maintain their well being. " Not really. If your statement was actually true-- that an infant is radically dependent on its parents-- then adoption or the use of nannies or baby sitters would not be possible. Yes, infants need *care* but ANYONE can provide that care. Moreover, the work of caring for an infant is not analogous to the manner in which a woman's body provides physiological life support for a fetus. A newborn is not completely integrated with the mother's organ systems, redirecting her blood so that it nourishes its body instead of hers. "But infants, despite their dependency, have an inalienable right to life, as does the unborn child." An infant's right to life does not include the right to use its mother's blood or organs without my consent, though, does it? Can a man or woman who are holding their newborn baby in the hospital be compelled to donate blood to that baby? No, not at all. Why then do you think that the fetus has the right to use its mother's body? Your proposition gives more rights to the fetus than any other person has.
DRTmunich (Long Island)
@Rhett Segall -- The mother's life is first and foremost, the embryo is a parasite on the mother as it develops. Draining resources causing changes to the woman's brain and body. It is hazardous because if the something goes wrong the mother can die. Shall the government compel you to donate a kidney, part of your liver, your blood? You could save someone's life so it must be so. So what if these activities are risky. These are no different they are demands taking away control of your body.
Caitlin (Minnesota)
My fertility journey and my work as an abortion provider showed me: the agony of wanting a pregnancy while being unable to conceive and the fearfulness of being pregnant against ones will are opposite sides of the same coin. And both deserve compassion, safe/affordable treatment, and above all PRIVACY.
Adrienne (Midwest)
My heart aches for you, understanding exactly what you're going through. After years of trying and multiple rounds of Clomid, my husband and I realized adoption was our best and only option. We adopted a boy and a girl, who are now in their mid-twenties, happy, healthy, and bright. Like you, I also support a woman's right to bodily autonomy, which particularly surprises some of my more conservative friends ("But what if the mothers had aborted your children!") However, it is not for ANYONE else to decide another woman's fate. Her reproductive choices are hers to make, whether she chooses to have the child or seek an abortion. Please believe me when I say you will be a wonderful mother and that building a family through adoption is one of many ways to welcome more love into your life.
Mo (Boulder CO)
@Adrienne I'll stand next to you and Elizabeth at any rally. I was adopted. I have had three children and one abortion. Like you, I also support a woman's right to bodily autonomy.
Mor (California)
This is a touching and intelligent essay. I have never experienced a struggle with infertility- in fact, my problem has always been the opposite. But I can’t imagine myself making the same choices as Ms Keenan. I have friends doing IVF and I know I would have never gone this route: it’s just too hard. Not would I ever consider adoption as I don’t see much point in bringing up somebody else’s genetic offspring. If I did not have two natural children, I would have stayed childless by choice. But this is the key word: choice. What is good for the author is not good for me and vice versa. Women are human beings. We have agency. We have at least as much psychological diversity as men, if not more so. Some of us long for motherhood, some don’t. We are not walking uteri. Any attempt to reduce us to our reproductive organs, whether by forcing us to breed or by insulting us when we require medical assistance in doing so, is an affront to our humanity. I wish the author all the best and hope that her wishes come true, whatever they are.
JulieB (NYC)
@Mor IMO, I can't believe you'd comment to an infertile woman, " I have never experienced a struggle with infertility- in fact, my problem has always been the opposite. " Also, you see no point in bringing up other's peoples' genetic offspring? Thank god not everyone feels the way you do.
Mor (California)
@JulieBDon’t you think that a woman who acts as an abortion escort realizes that many women have a problem with unwanted fertility? And no, I am not a fan of adoption. But as opposed to virtue-signaling crowd on both sides of the abortion debate, I believe in freedom of thought ,speech and choice.
KT B (Austin, TX)
@JulieB having luckily experienced secondary infertility I support totally what you just wrote. I would have gladly adopted someone else's genetic offspring. I would go to Duke and wait endless hours for a doctor who treated me like an ovary, a piece of material. The beautiful and kind women I enountered weekly on our quest to have a baby were wonderful, but often I had to bring my son with me for treatment and I felt eyes on him and me and the feeling that why was I there? I felt humbled because I did have a child.. those women were wonderful as we recounted how many eggs we produced, we cried with those who only had a few eggs. The struggle is so painful and so reaches the 'womaness' of us and our failure to conceive. Kudos to you, and the writer of this honest opinion piece.
Lisa Brinkmann (Bethesda, MD)
I too was an infertile woman. I went through gamete intra-fallopian transfer or GIFT several times. I was pregnant once but miscarried. I too gave up the fight and applied for adoption. My son’s birth mother was 17 years old and had tried to make a life with the birth father. My current husband has two adopted children. He and his ex-wife spread the word they wanted to adopt and his deceased mother was contacted by a former neighbor in Wisconsin that had a Doctor son in Arizona who worked with women to put their babies up for adoption. My cousin had one birth child but adopted her second child from Korea. There are lots of other means to becoming a Mom than the straight line to an Adoption Agency (although my own wait time was 11 months from my agency. We got the word from an associate at work who had adopted children that this agency was short on approved and waiting adoptive parents.) Look around for other options to increase your chances and decrease the waiting time. I too am pro-choice.
History repeats (Kansas City)
You seem to be a deeply humane and courageous human being, and I, like others here, hope you get the chance to be the fine mom you have the potential to be.
Peepsmom (Bethlehem, PA)
As a long-time clinic escort, I share Ms. Keenan's observations of the anti-choice mob. As a parent and grandparent, I admire her perspective. Nature has denied her the choice of carrying a child, but I believe she will be a terrific parent and wish her well.
Cynthia kellner (Jupiter Florida)
Your story could easily be my story. Thank you for expressing it so eloquently. Please know that once you have adopted, and you will, it gets better, but never truly goes away. Adoption is truly a wonderful thing. I have three beautiful children who are loved more than I could ever know. I still remind myself how lucky I am. However, our society needs to examine its attitudes about adoption if we ever hope to make it a seriously viable choice for women. Adoption is often Plan B, but it’s not second best. It’s not a label to follow my children everywhere. It’s the way my family was formed. Language counts. The media must refrain from pouncing on these “and they lived happily ever after “ stories of children finding birth parents. If they must continue these stories please include the parents of these children, not just the birth mother. It’s far more complicated than is portrayed And leaves the impression that adoption is somewhat temporary for the parents who raised the child. Such is never the case. Finally, birth mothers must come out of the shadows and be respected by communities not pitied or worse. Their choice to place a child in an adoption is truly a selfish one and must be respected if attitudes about adoption are ever going to change , and they must.
Debra Merryweather (Syracuse NY)
@Cynthia Kellner "Their choice to place a child in an adoption is truly a selfish one and must be respected if attitudes about adoption are ever going to change , and they must." One size does not fit all. You are wrong.
RMartini (Wyoming)
@Cynthia kellner excellent comment re glossing over adoption as the perfect solution to unwanted pregnancy. babies (especially white babies) find homes quickly, but there are too many unlucky children lingering in foster homes.
Debra Merryweather (Syracuse NY)
@Cynthia Kellner "Placing a child in an adoption" used to be termed "relinquishing" or "surrendering." This loss of one's child was often characterized as punishment for wayward premarital sex OR, if one was raped, being "relieved" of a burden. Either way, a mother loses a child to whom she is genetically and neurochemically connected. The notion of "open adoption" is a way for adoption agencies to procure infants from mothers who are reluctant to "make adoption plans." It often involves "bait and switch." The adoptee rights movement involves providing adoptees with identifying info about natural parents but does not generally give natural mothers info about the children they brought into the world. I take issue with your statement that a "birthmother's" "choice to place a child in an adoption is truly a selfish one." Perhaps, because your family was built through adoption, that is what you need to tell yourself. But, if you listen to the "birthmothers" who are coming out of the shadows to speak, you are going to hear diverse stories and self-interest might not be the most common theme you hear.
KJ (Tennessee)
The child you and you husband eventually raise, however he or she arrives, will be given the gift of a compassionate, insightful, and generous family. I wish you well.
Max (New York)
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I too have been struggling with infertility and the judgement it brings from everyone: friends, family, and strangers alike. Like you it has brought home in a most painful way that society at large still believes it has more and more legitimate agency over my body than I do, which is baffling, upsetting and dehumanizing. Like you, it has also renewed my commitment to the fundamentality of a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. I no more judge or think harshly of women having abortions than I do of men getting vasectomies or couples using birth control. (Though, lest people pylori me, let me state that I do not believe abortion should be used as a birth control method. It’s simply not safe or efficient). The fact that people (read: mostly men) don’t expect me to be able to make that distinction, that they think that those of us who want to become mothers are so blinded by “baby fever” that we can’t be logical and rational in our determinations of what we believe, is just another example of society negating a women’s agency and self-determination. I for one am getting really sick of it.
Rena (Los Angeles)
@Max To be clear, abortion is not used, by any woman "as a birth control method."
Mary (NC)
@Max let me state that I do not believe abortion should be used as a birth control method. It’s simply not safe or efficient). What does this statement mean? Are you saying that if a woman's reason for having an abortion is because she see's it has "birth control", relative to a woman having an abortion because she is in danger of being critically ill or was raped - do you mean the medical procedure's safety is dependent on the circumstances that got her pregnant? So if she was raped - the abortion medical procedure is deemed safe, but if she got pregnant accidentally - the this same medical procedure is not safe? You make no sense here.
High School Teacher (Cincinnati)
As someone who also tried the journey of fertility failure, I totally understand your emotions and wish I had the nerve to express them. People just assume automatically that I would be anti-choice. ( I refuse to use the term Pro-L... because the opposite is Pro-Death and that is just not true.) Thank you for the work you do.
Goghi (NY)
So beautifully expressed! Kudos to you Ms. Keenan.
Helen (Fort Worth, T)
My late mother organized escorts for our local clinic in the early 1990's. I would take my young daughter on Saturday mornings to help out. It was usually a pretty calm experience. But one morning, a priest yelled at me, accusing me of child abuse for bringing my daughter. I got in his face, gave him my name and address, and challenged him to report me to the state's Children's Protective Services. At that moment, I realized that I had sealed my automatic excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church--a concept that had been introduced about that time. I eventually found the Episcopal Church, which welcomed me and my daughter.
Cathy (Hopewell Jct NY)
Beautifully put, Ms. Keenan. People are way too willing to make assumptions and judgement's about other women's bodies and choices. I am, in general, morally opposed to abortion as a form of birth control. I am, very specifically, for the legal rights of women to have an abortion up to viability, and for doctors and patients to determine when ending a pregnancy later is necessary. The difference in the two opinions is that the first is how I see my own actions and responsibilities; the second is how I see women's freedoms and responsibilities represented in our laws. Legally, women should have agency over their organs, their bodies, their future.
amy (mtl)
@Cathy who are all these abortion-instead-of-birth-control havers? Why do people get so uppity about WHY a woman needs an abortion? Shall we quiz everyone on their contraceptive regimen prior to procedure and pass judgment? This is another ongoing myth. With the relative difficulty to obtain an abortion, and the cost involved, how do you see this scenario unfolding on a regular basis?
Mercury S (San Francisco)
@Cathy I appreciate your sincere, thoughtful opinion. Just FYI, saying women shouldn’t use abortion as birth control is like saying you shouldn’t get your stomach stapled every time you want to lose a few pounds. Abortions are painful, expensive, and stressful. Nobody in their right mind would choose to have one every month or two.
Mary (NC)
@Cathy-----" I am, in general, morally opposed to abortion as a form of birth control." What does that mean? How many women do that? What does the scientific research say on this?
Jan (Cape Cod)
Yours is a unique and heartfelt perspective. And I am sure others will join me in noting that your sensitivity and integrity will make you a superb mother. I hope very much that child finds his or her way to you.
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