Writing in the Globe and Mail, “L. Allen” relates her feelings of pain over having two abortions. No doubt many women have the mixed feelings the author describes: the relief from responsibility for a child that abortion makes possible with the sense of some sort of loss of the child that was killed by abortion. There is no delving by Allen into why a mother would feel grief over killing her two children, so there is some intellectual dishonesty in the piece. Still, the message to women that some of their sisters who experienced abortions have indeed suffered feelings of guilt, grief and remorse is one that more women should hear.
I don’t like the conclusion in which she compares her story to that of the writer Anne Lamott (who had an abortion and considered having a second):
Ms. Lamott listened to an internal voice and made her choice, just as I did in my own way. And I have forgiven myself. Finally.
So all choices are equally valid, as long as one follows one’s own conscience, even if that choice will lead to years of “silent, unspoken pain.” Allen says that the pain “begged to be noticed and dealt with” but that she “chose to ignore” it. Unfortunately for many women, public discussions of feelings of pain and guilt are stymied because it would question the abortion license. And if there is any discussion, the blame is placed on the pro-life movement for making the woman feel guilty. Again, Allen doesn’t explore the range of possible reasons for said pain, although she implicitly blames pro-lifers who protested at the hospital where she had the abortion performed. But might not that pain be result of the violation of her motherly calling and the denial of biology, or the knowledge that she killed her baby, whose image she saw in an ultrasound? Sometimes there is good reason for feeling guilty.
I am of mixed opinions about this article because of the fundamental refusal, at least in the article, to discuss what really caused her feelings of pain. But in a culture in which too many people think abortion is consequenceless, this message — even this partial message — needs to be heard.