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November 5, 2011

3

no one wants an abortion

by Andrea O'Connell

I spent most of today reading “Woman and the New Race” (1920), by Margaret Sanger.  I’ve carried with me certain memories from studying her work in high school and college.  I remembered all she did with regards to birth control, but I’d forgotten the magnitude of it upon society in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Cover of "Woman and the New Race"

Cover of Woman and the New Race

I did not remember the squalor that families lived due to having more children than they could feed.  Women were subservient to the wishes of her husband; they were the unwilling slaves to sex because they had no say in the matter.  The role of the woman was to be the weaker sex; she had no voice in the dynamics of her marriage; she kept the home, satisfied the man, bore children, and “remained a dominated weakling in a society controlled by men (Woman and the New Race, Sanger, M., 1920).”

What ever your thoughts on this matter, in the early days of this century, Margaret Sanger did her utmost to help women break the bonds of excessive child births to become owners of her mind and their bodies at long last.

Women were repressed – they were no more than brood mares.  There were so many cases of infanticide.  It was constant, tragic, unbearable…. those accused of infanticide were given harsh sentences.

The woman’s suffrage movement had just given women voting rights; she could also now own property and work outside the home, but she still had no control over her very being – her existence demanded she be subservient to sexual needs of the man, which meant she bore children constantly, weakening her body, pushing her into ill health and early death.

Woman’s acceptance of her inferior status was the more real because it was unconscious.  She had chained herself to her place in society and the family through the maternal functions of her nature, and only chains thus strong could have bound her to her lot as a brood animal for the masculine civilizations of the world.  In accepting her role as the “weaker and gentler half,” she accepted that function.  In turn, the acceptance of that function fixed the more firmly her rank as an inferior.  (Woman and the New Race, Sanger, M., 1920)

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, chances are you do not like the reality or the idea of abortion.  I surely do not wish abortion on anyone, but I would never want to castigate another woman for making the very difficult and serious decision to abort.

To abort a baby is a terrible and difficult decision for a woman to make. Woman are wired to want children, to love them, and nurture them.

I had a roommate years ago who got pregnant. She was young, unmarried, very little money, and no plans to have a long-term relationship with the man she was seeing at the time.  She made the decision to abort after talking it over with her family, who did not tell her what to do, but promised to be non-judgmental and support her decision – to have the baby, adopt or abort.  Who wants to make that decision?

I took her to the doctor the day of her abortion.

She came home emotionally drained, in terrible pain, and utterly devastated at the thought of what she’d done, but knowing she had to do it.

She was out of work for longer than a month because she couldn’t stop crying.

No woman wants to abort.  And no woman wants to be told she cannot abort.

There have been terrible lies since the misogynist Herman Cain made his ignorant comments about Planned Parenthood, and Margaret Sanger.

People are actually believing that Margaret Sanger was pro-abortion!  In fact, she was not.

Sanger’s goal was to end back room $5.00 abortions with the legalization of birth control

We have Sanger to thank for birth control, for men and woman.

Do you remember the Comstock law?  She fought against the injustice of the Comstock law and suffered multiple arrests as a result.

Woman’s passivity under the burden of her disastrous task was almost altogether that of ignorant resignation.  She knew virtually nothing about her reproductive nature and less about the consequences of her excessive childbearing.  It is true that , obeying the inner of their natures, some women revolted.  They went even to the extreme of infanticide and abortion.  Usually their revolts were not general enough.  They fought as individuals, not as a mass.  In the mass they sank back into blind and hopeless subjection.  They want on breeding with staggering rapidity those numberless, undesired children who become the clogs and the destroyers of civilizations.   (Woman and the New Race, Sanger, M., 1920)

What a voice Margaret Sanger has!  She writes with both clarity and passion.

There were many things I read, however, that proved to me that we do not learn our lessons well as a nation.  That’s a big subject for another time!

Here is the URL of the Google book:  Woman and the New Race, by Margaret Sanger.  http://books.google.com/ebooks/reader?id=VLHH8qVM0sgC&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&pg=GBS.PA118

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 6 2011

    When I was very young (teen) I had a best friend who was very promiscuous (sp?). She had gotten pregnant 3 times within a 2-year period. Her parents took her in for an abortion each time. Birth control was never discussed. From this, I had formed a very anti-abortion attitude, as I saw that my friend was using abortions as birth control. I come from a large family (8 kids) and have siblings who are 12, 14, 16 years older than I am. So I was an aunt at the very early age of 6. I knew that pregnancy resulted in cute little babies to play with and watch grow. Now at the age of almost 53, I have over 40 nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews.
    At the age of 21, I met the man of my dreams, the love of my life. In 1981, we had a daughter. In 1982, he was diagnosed with acute mylegonous leukemia. He underwent immediate intense treatment, followed up by regular intervals of chemo. One of the things his doctor talked to us about was the possibility of getting pregnant. He suggested we don’t get pregnant, as (at that time) there had been no studies done on the effect of chemotherapy-laden sperm. Then he also said that chances of getting pregnant were very low, as chemo would kill off sperm. Lots of science behind this, but I’m just laying out the basics! Well…it happened. He finally got to come home from one of his hospital stays. I became pregnant. It wasn’t planned (in hindsight, of course, I should have been using birth control despite the “chances of getting pregnant were very low). He and I were both very happy, but then reality started sinking in. There were appointments with genetics specialists and genetics counseling. Nobody along the way ever suggested that I abort; they just wanted us to be aware of the facts. Unfortunately, there were not a lot of facts to go by, as they just did not know how chemotherapy drugs would/could affect a fetus. We were told of the “possibles.” Then there were many counseling sessions with our pastor and other life/health/religion coaches. It was brought up many times that my husband would die, and I would be left alone to raise our children, one of which “may” have mild to severe birth defects/disabilities. I made the difficult decision to abort. For as long as I’d known about abortion, I’d always been firmly against it. Now, here I was, having made the decision to do so, and having even made an appointment to have it done. The day was a week away. From the time I made that decision, I could not stop crying. I was sick, more than just the typical morning sickness. Just sick to my heart, you might say. I kept flipping back and forth (in my own mind; I didn’t discuss it with my husband) on the abortion. And still, I could not stop crying. From the moment I woke up alone in the mornings, I started crying. Going to visit my husband in the hospital, I cried. I cried myself to sleep at nights. My heart was just telling me that it was not the right thing to do. And I realized that my opinions on abortion in the past were wrong. I realized that it is not my decision to make for OTHER women, only for myself. I realized that I have no business casting my thoughts/opinions on other womens’ situations. I was 4 hours away from the abortion appointment, and when I woke up that morning, I knew that I was NOT going to go thru with it. And it wasn’t because of my previous thoughts on abortion. It was because I wanted this baby with all my heart. I was going to keep this baby no matter what. I called and cancelled the appointment. I got myself together, gathered up my little girl, and drove to the hospital to visit my husband. For the first time in weeks, I wasn’t sick. I wasn’t crying. I told my husband that I’d cancelled the appointment. I told him that I knew God would never give me more than I could handle. My husband gave out a heavy sigh, with a smile, and said he was glad I’d changed my mind. I asked him why he didn’t speak up before. He told me that he knew it had to be my decision, because he didn’t have much longer to live, and I would be raising our children on my own. The rest of my pregnancy was an easy one. In December of ’83 I gave birth to a beautiful, perfect little baby girl. Two months later, my husband died. Wow, this turned out to be a long post, but in short…back then, I learned a lot about myself and about the abortion debate. I learned to not judge women on their decisions. I learned that I don’t know their circumstances, and I learned that it is NOT my business. I only know what is best for myself. As for my best friend back when we were so young, it is very unfortunate that she didn’t have the family support to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

    Reply
    • Nov 6 2011

      Kitt, That is an amazing and beautiful story…. made me cry…you tell it so beautifully. I am sorry your husband didn’t live to see his beautiful little girls grow up.
      As I read your story it would not be difficult to understand why you’d want to abort – given all the unknowns at the time, and dealing with the illness of your beloved husband. If you had chosen to abort, I agree with you, it would have been your decision alone. No one would have the right to tell you what to do, rather they needed to trust you would do the best thing for your health and happiness, which you did! The fact that your husband was so wise to step back, knowing he would not be able to help you raise the child, and let you choose is so touching, Kitt. What a wise and wonderful man he must have been.

      Have you ever considered publishing the story? It is both lovely and heartbreaking – it’s also beautifully told. Thanks dear, Kitt for sharing.

      Reply
    • Faith
      Nov 8 2011

      My dearest Kitt
      What a beautiful story. I too believe God will not give us more than we can handle. I had the German measles when I was first married and had already had one miscarriage,I didn’t know about that disease. When I started to miscarry again my doctor,who was of the Jewish faith,told me there were some doctors who would have wanted to terminate the pregnancy,he wasn’t one of them. I cannot imagine having to make the choice to abort or not,for any reason. I can still remember what color sheets were on the bed the night I first started the miscarriage,that was more than fifty years ago. I wish all women could understand what is involved in abortion and maybe they would take more care in avoiding a pregnancy. BTW they did run tests and the child would have definately been damaged. I also believe special needs children are usually given to special parents.
      Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story.

      Reply

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