Daring to Remember: Three Generations of Choice

My sister and I were young girls when my older cousin from Illinois visited us in New York State. She was a lot of fun and kind. Years later, we found out that she had come for an abortion. She and her husband had not wanted children at the time, but abortion was not an option in Illinois. My father had escorted her to a clinic where the abortion was performed.

I am grateful that my cousin had a supportive husband and supportive members of his extended family in a state where abortion was legal—and that she was brave enough to make the long trip alone, to stay with people with whom she was barely acquainted while in such a painful, vulnerable state and that she had enough money to do so. (And to think: this was one of the easier, happier stories out there!)

Years later, I had an abortion of my own.

I was young and single; just getting started in the working world. A child would have been impossible to afford or care for while still earning a living. The relationship was over—though the former boyfriend accompanied me to the clinic. I had no reservations that it was the best choice.

The clinic was in the next town over. By then, abortion was legal in all 50 states. I thought about how easy I had it compared to my cousin all those years ago, and felt such gratitude for all the people who had fought and died in the process of making abortion access law.

Another young woman seeking an abortion the same day as I was hid in her car in the parking lot behind the clinic; she was unaccompanied and afraid to cross the anti-abortion picket line out front alone. My ex and I linked arms with her and weathered the picketers’ presumptuous warnings about the guilt we would feel—the misinformation they spewed about fetal development and the even uglier language and threats they hurled when it was obvious that we had not been deterred. We were able to obtain our abortions that day.

Many years later again, I am mother to two thriving teenage daughters. This family that I chose to have with my husband of over 23 years is stable: both parents are well educated, with strong earning potential as a result.

Most importantly, these children are wanted.

Parenthood, as we have learned first hand, is a very difficult and relentless process. It is so much easier to do with a stable relationship, education and financial buffer in place. We can offer our children so much more in life. They are secure in the knowledge that they are wanted, loved and cherished.

In the future, I hope abortion access remains an option for women. Life is hard enough without having to bear children when one is not ready for that responsibility—and children face a better future with parents who aren’t ambivalent about having them.