Monday, September 01, 2008


One of my choices in life is not to have a child. Another of my choices is never to have an abortion. I am lucky enough to have been able to hold true to both those choices thus far. Sometimes, like when I was holding the less than 24 hours old son of dear friends last week, I wonder if I made the right choice. Other times I know I have.

Most of my female friends have experienced at least one of those conditions. Several have experienced both. A few others have experienced miscarriages. Some were in their teens when they had their first (and even second) child, some in their forties, most somewhere in between.

Some didn't use birth control at all. Some used birth control and it failed. Some tried for years with all the reproductive fertility technology available to them. Some were just getting laid. A few were raped.

I know several women who decided they wanted a child without the benefit of marriage. A few did so to win freedom from their families and married the guy later or not at all. Several were engaged to be married and became pregnant deliberately before the wedding. Several were engaged and became pregnant accidentally before the wedding. All of my lesbian friends have borne their children as "single mothers" despite the presence of their loving partners.

I have family members who were born out of wedlock and those born within it. I have a number where baby number 1 was before the "I do" and the rest afterwards. A woman I know was conceived after her mother divorced and tossed out a pain-in-the-ass husband. She belonged to her mother alone.

My friends and co-workers and acquaintances and women I know tangentially are an interesting mix. They run the gamut from far left to far right and determinedly a-political. They grew up in households both strict and permissive. They, like me, make choices about their reproductive lives and they, like me, live with the consequences, especially when the choices don't work out.

Unless they tell you, though, you aren't going to know what those choices are. Do any of you know why I won't have a child? No, and you won't. How many of you have become pregnant by accident? On purpose? With or without marriage? Is it anyone's business? If your relative or parent is a public figure, does that change anything about your choices?

To try in any way to make a public example or a political point by singling out any individual for scrutiny and shaming is an inhumane thing to do.


Update: I have many, many comments on this post, some of which moved me to tears. Most commenters have asked not to be published. After looking through the collection again, I've decided not to publish any comments for this post. Thank you, all of you, for sharing your thoughts.

No comments: