On Becoming Unmother
I am in the process of planning my abortion. It seems strange to say it like that but it’s true. I’m currently pregnant and planning my abortion which should happen roughly one week from now. I’ve never been pregnant before, so I’ve never needed to make these kinds of arrangements. That doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it. In fact, I’ve thought a great deal about abortion, and pregnancy, and the legal and moral implications surrounding such a situation. You see, I’m of the opinion that people should be able to manage personal decisions about their health and their future without the imposition of government regulations. The moral and philosophical opinions of some don’t always work for the rest. I think it’s deeply strange to police the most intimate spaces of our lives. When you breed and whom you take to bed is personal. If we are forced to distort our internal lives, we sacrifice the totality of our selves.
The imposition of a single moral criterion upon our collective bodies is noxious. This is why I will not take the time to pick apart the abortion debate in an attempt to persuade others to my personal perspective. I know that no amount of rational rhetoric or comparatives will convince someone opposed to my position. I will simply say that I respect the choice of others, no matter how they’ve arrived at it so long as I’m provided space to make my own. Living within a country comprised of a diversity of experiences and faiths, we must collectively agree to make compromises to protect our capacity to make personal decisions in accordance to our own beliefs. Once we begin to enact moral legislation dictating who we may sleep with, or marry, or how and when we become parents, we fundamentally change what it means to be “free.” Once we dissolve and exploit the meaning of murder, of motherhood, and of the woman to benefit a moral agenda we lose sight of the substance and significance of these concepts.
I am one woman sharing the experience of millions. The fear of unplanned motherhood has plagued women since the dawn of humanity. References to abortion have been part of the written record since the dawn of the record itself. The earliest reference to induced miscarriage appears in the Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian medical text written in about 1550 BCE. The bible itself details a recipe for the abortion of a child conceived by an unfaithful wife (Numbers 5:11–22). It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that it became a crime. Despite the history and frequency of abortion within the annals of humanity there is virtually no record of the female experience. Perhaps we can attribute this to the omission of women’s voices from history generally, but what about in the last century, or decade?
The collective silence reeling through space falls heavy on pregnant women. Despite the taboo, many groups have encouraged women to engage in public discussion about their abortions to illuminate and demystify the experience. This is sorely needed. Silence grants power to those who wish to stigmatize the act and shame the actor.
This is why I am writing about my pregnancy experience. I have written a daily entry from the moment I discovered I was pregnant and will continue to do so through the termination process. We so often focus on the abortion itself without considering the nuances of the entirety of the experience — the surreal moments between motherhood and unmotherhood. How does an uninsured woman in Detroit navigate the legal implications to terminate her pregnancy safely and affordably? The resources available to someone in my position are sparse and often confusing, even for someone who has spent the last year researching the topic.
I will not offer rationale for my decision because I do not seek approval. The entries are written solely from my internal, personal perspective as much a process of self-examination as it is a public record. Following the termination of my pregnancy, all entries will be archived and the website will serve as a resource to help others navigate the often complicated legal and medical system in Michigan. It is my hope that this action will fracture a vacuum of silence and provide clarity to the experience of unmotherhood.
Visit the website: http://familyplanningmichigan.com/