Thursday, June 28, 2012

Abortion-a personal perspective about someone else's

Years ago, I worked with a young woman.  She was 24, divorced, three kids (two of them with cognitive development problems and health issues caused typically by poor nutrition during pregnancy), and she made barely $10/ hour managing a store.  She had no health insurance; her ex-husband purposefully avoided having a steady job so that he didn't have to pay child support (I actually heard him say this on several occasions and even contacted the county's family court about it, but they never did anything about it).  He often waited until the busy hours of our week to call and threaten her, refuse to pick up the kids or taunt her with the fact that he wasn't going to pay up that month.  She wanted to go back to school, get her G.E.D. (she'd dropped out of high school at 15 due to pregnancy), and learn to speak Spanish so that she would qualify for better jobs in the service industry.  Her dreams weren't grand, but they were far above than anything she had known in her life.

She got pregnant a fourth time, about a week before she found out her food stamps were being reduced, and she knew there was no way she could afford another mouth to feed.  She begged me and my husband to adopt her baby.  We couldn't then, we weren't ready to be parents, didn't have money for the legal part of an adoption, and as sad as we were for her, we turned her down.  In the end, she scraped together the money for an abortion.  I drove her to the clinic, reassured her that I wouldn't hold it against her, and hours later, I picked her up and drove her home. She cried all the way home.

She lived in a run down, rented trailer in a community known for it's poverty.  It's the sort of place where you keep your purse across your body, double check the area before you get out of the car, and where you fully expect to be robbed if you live there. Inside, garage sale toys sat in front of an old black and white TV.  Her house was neat, but had that deep down dirt that comes with living in space nobody respects.  She was embarrassed to have me see where she lived, but she didn't know anyone else who would do this for her. When I came back from filling her pain prescription, she was still crying, not from physical pain, but from sorrow. She was even more upset when she found out that someone had stolen the cash she had stashed away for medical emergencies and couldn't pay me back for the prescription.

It was heartbreaking to watch, and I can't imagine what it would have been like to live it from her perspective.  My point in sharing this is simple: people, especially mothers, don't choose to live in poverty. They struggle and fight and work so hard just to keep their heads above water; it's unfair to judge their decisions when you have never seen poverty or despair. It's inhumane to deny people food, shelter, medical care and education and then turn around and blame them for their plight.  Sometimes people make bad decisions, but for many cases like this woman's, they were made for all the right reasons, with due consideration, and with full knowledge that nobody was going to help her.  If all of your options are bad, and you choose the one that's the least bad, you shouldn't be punished for society's lack of compassion and understanding about the causes of your situation. A woman should be able to choose to be a mother or to not be.  People should have opportunities to have a better life if they work hard, and judgement should be reserved until all the facts are in.


  1. My apologies to the anonymous reader who left this comment; I should not try to publish comments when I have migraine symptoms, as I can't make my fingers touch what I'm aiming for.

    Here's the comment:
    So much sadness. An illuminating story, thank you for sharing it.

    It illustrates some thoughts I have regarding the attitudes of the privileged in the U.S. and its relation to right-wing politics and Christianity. The well-off see themselves as "special," that they've been designated to be wealthy and successful, and those who aren't well-off aren't special, are to blame for everything, and don't deserve help, sympathy, or respect. This attitude infuriates me.

    People don't choose poverty, why would they? Poverty is something people are born into and struggle to get out of, or something they fall into through unfortunate circumstances. And God doesn't "punish" people with poverty--we punish others and ourselves for not being "special" or "good" enough. These are toxic ideas.

    I wish so much our society could develop compassion and if not that, then at least some damn common sense.

  2. I have been in her shoes and it truly sucks! I had an abortion because I knew there was no way I could have another child. How could I make the ones already here suffer because of an accident and faulty birth control!?!? I guarantee that whoever that soul went to next to be born they have a MUCH better chance at life with her than they would have with me!


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