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My abortions brought me my daughter. That's what pro-lifers in Georgia and Mississippi don't understand

Raised a Catholic, I believe in the spiritual phenomenon of grace — and I believe I became a mother exactly when I was ready

Carol Weis
Tuesday 02 April 2019 19:05 BST
Pro-choice activists protest against the Trump administration's Planned Parenthood rule change policy in New York City
Pro-choice activists protest against the Trump administration's Planned Parenthood rule change policy in New York City (Getty )

With the recent passage of foetal heartbeat bills in both Georgia and Mississippi inflicting fear for the safety of women’s lives and their constitutional right to have an abortion, I’ve been thinking about my own. And I realised that without having had those procedures, I probably wouldn’t have my daughter. The daughter who I believe helped to save my life.

I’m a product of a Catholic upbringing. Just like sex, abortion was never discussed in our family, so in my mind, it wasn’t considered an option. Thirteen years of parochial schooling also contributed to this belief.

It may be one of the reasons I embraced alcohol the way I did.

I’ve had two abortions. It was something I did when I was still drinking and not something I’m proud of. Who is? But I think women have the right to choose what’s best for themselves and their own bodies, without interference from legislators.

My abortions led the way to my having the daughter, who I believe came into the world to help get me sober. My thoughtful, strong, beautiful child that I may not have given birth to had I not terminated my first two pregnancies.

I had my first abortion after getting pregnant with the manager of a restaurant I cooked for in Philly. He identified as gay and had a boyfriend he loved. Our Catholic backgrounds and shared sense of humor made us fast friends. He also liked to drink, sharing my fondness for Chardonnay, and after our catering gigs, we’d head out and drink a bottle or three. A couple nights he brought me home, where we fell into his bed, minus my diaphragm, and had sloppy, unsatisfying sex. On one of those nights, we were so wasted that he tumbled onto the floor, the two of us howling about it for weeks.

But it wasn’t funny when I found out I was pregnant. Being the loving person he was, he accompanied me to the procedure, both of us in tears as we walked away from the clinic — though we knew it was the right thing to do.

During that short-lived pregnancy, I was reacquainted and fell in love with the man I ended up marrying, and who fathered my daughter a few years down the road. I left my friends in Philly and hastily moved miles away with him, when he was still hitched to someone else. I drank too much to realise how shortsighted this move was, and two years after that first abortion, I had another, in a haze of confusion and grief.

Court in Alabama allows father of unborn fetus to sue abortion clinic

I knew I wanted to have a child, but not with someone who wasn’t free. He finally got divorced, we married, and I happily became pregnant, ready to be a mother.

I got sober when my daughter was five, and four months later, her dad left and I became a single mom. I hadn’t thought much about those abortions, but when I got sober, I realised I was in no condition back then, physically or emotionally, to bring a child into the world.

I wasn't aware of what an impact those abortions had on my life until presented with the fact that the law making safe and easy access to abortion possible is being chipped away at in states like Georgia and Mississippi.

I believe in grace: that spiritual phenomenon that’s hard to explain, but we know when it’s present. It’s what happened when my daughter came into my life. I was still drinking then, but her presence made me acutely aware of the damage that habit caused, until eventually I made the life-altering decision to quit entirely. Because I was a parent who had consciously chosen to have a child and to raise her in the best way I could, I was able to make that decision. My daughter now works with traumatised kids herself, helping them to heal and thrive.

Being able to choose to not have a child enabled me to choose to have one. And this world is a far better place because of it.

Let’s not go backwards on this essential healthcare service for women. Who knows how many lives have been saved, in more ways than one, by allowing all women the ability to choose?

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