Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nurturing Choice

I've heard the argument for parental notification/consent laws that reasons, "Why shouldn't the parent be involved in the daughter's life and decisions and choices?" It sounds so innocuous and Norman Rockwellian when it's stated like that, but we Abortioneers all know that sometimes it's more like, "This girl is going to be beaten into next week and into the foster care system and into teenage parenthood if lawmakers require consent/notification."

But laws and barriers to reproductive justice aside, I wanted to give a shout out to the parents of all abortion patients (not just minors) who are so involved and so loving. I've always known that if I had an abortion, my mom would be my first choice as a driver/support person. Even when I was in a long-term relationship, I would have chosen her. Above anyone else, I would want her comfort and humor and company. And I have absolutely no doubt that even if it meant taking a day off from work and driving a few hours to my city, she would be there for me.

My friend had an abortion a few years ago, and she came to my clinic with her mom in tow. She, too, had a partner, and she was well above 18, but her mom was her first choice. I could tell her mom was glad to be at her side, but it wasn't easy for her. I knew from past conversations that my friend's mom was pro-choice, and she had even had an abortion and a D&C (for miscarriage management) herself, but that day was hard for her. Although I was friends with the mom, too, I didn't delve into it, but I can only assume that her tears were from memories of her experiences or from the fierce desire to protect her daughter. But whatever baggage she carried, she was at her daughter's side, trying not to cry and trying to make the day about her adult child.

I also remember fathers of clients who were or were not required to accompany their daughters to the clinic, but who were obviously distraught. They weren't distraught because their daughters were killing their grandchildren (anti-choice rhetoric, right there), but because their daughters were faced with their first major adult decisions or because it was the first time their adult daughters had come to them for help or support. They didn't have to say what was running through their minds, but it was evident from the way they softly asked me, "How is she doing?" or implored, "Take good care of her." More than one burly man had tears in his eyes.

I've also seen a mother who accompanied her very young daughter to the clinic and whose boyfriend was responsible for the pregnancy, unbeknownst (until now) to the mother. In another case, the mother's son had brokered the rape of her daughter, also unbeknownst to the mom. Both mothers were clearly heartbroken over the complexities of the situations, as well as the implications of blame that they shouldered. In each of those cases, I made it a point to take the mothers aside and hug them and whisper simply, "You're a good mom."

Thank you, endlessly, to all of the good parents who support their daughters who chose abortion or who chose parenthood or who chose adoption. And thank you to all the parents who chose abortion, parenting, or adoption in order to give better lives to their daughters and sons.

Some details of each of these stories have been changed in order to protect client privacy.


  1. I too have shared moments with strong parents who are fiercely protective of their daughters. I laud their strength, especially in the face of horrible protesters.

  2. I love this post. Thank you thank you. Sometimes you can tell that a parent has suddenly found him/herself face-to-face with all sorts of "my baby is all grown up" issues all at once and having lots of emotions about that (they didn't even know their daughter had an active sex life [or was enduring abuse at the hands of a trusted adult, maybe], or they never realized she was capable of mature decision-making about serious matters and here she is doing the best she can to take responsible action.)

    Other times they're startled, grateful or a little bit sad when their daughter is experiencing so much anxiety (about the decision, the procedure itself, or maybe grief over a wanted pregnancy) that they come to their parents for help -- when maybe they haven't done that in years.

    I am grateful for them, too. As long as the parent knows the difference between being supportive and being overbearing!


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