This was a hard post to write for many reasons
I’m scared to talk about this subject here. Really scared to even mention it. It’s so heated and honestly I don’t want to add any fuel to the fire because here’s the thing, I get both sides of the argument. There are so many other topics that I don’t understand one side or the other. Like I don’t understand how you can ignore the dire climate issues, and I don’t understand how you can’t accept a few common-sense gun laws…
But when it comes to abortion, I actually do see both sides of the argument.
People who know me will be surprised to hear this because I am PASSIONATE about this topic. Like ridiculously passionate. I will be marching on Washington if it comes down to that, and I’m feeling furious for people in Alabama right now, and I think women’s rights are under attack. But still, I kinda sorta see the opposing side’s point of view. I don’t think a roomful of men should be making this decision for women, but I can see how some people are against abortion.
So when the abortion story was on the news tonight and my ten-year-old daughter asked what they were talking about, I took a deep breath and explained to her what an abortion is.
As strongly as I feel about the topic, I wanted her to make up her own mind about this one. It’s my job to teach her about the world, but it’s not my job to force her to think the way I do.
ME: Sometimes if a woman gets pregnant and she doesn’t want to have a baby, she has an abortion so she doesn’t have to.
ZOEY: Wait, like she kills the baby?!!
Don’t say anything, don’t say anything, don’t say anything. It took every ounce of willpower not to tell her how I feel.
ME: You can feel that way. Lots of people do.
ZOEY: So I don’t get it. Why are people fighting about it?
Hmmm, how do I say this in a way that’s unbiased?
ME: So some people think a woman should be able to make that decision for herself because it’s her body. If she wants an abortion, she can choose to do it. If she thinks it’s killing a baby, she can choose not to.
I could see Zoey thinking hard for a few seconds.
ZOEY: Yeah, you can’t tell someone what to do. Like at recess I can’t tell people they HAVE TO play something.
ME: Mmm-hmmm. It’s kind of like that, but a little more complicated.
I wanted to say all sorts of things to her. What if you want one someday? What if your best friend does? What if your daughter does? What if you get raped and need one? What if it’s for medical reasons? What if, what if, WHAT IF?!!! But I didn’t. A. She’s not old enough to think about these things yet. And B. It’s not my job to convince her what to think. So I held my tongue. And then she ran out of the room to go work on her LEGO set and the conversation was over.
I wish I had some grand finale to this conversation, some enlightenment at the end of this post, but I don’t. Zoey didn’t agree with me or disagree with me.
But I guess that’s okay because ironically my feelings about abortion are the same way I feel about my daughter’s opinion. Everyone has to make a decision for themselves. If she decides to be pro-choice like her mom, I’ll be very happy. But if she decides she thinks abortion is wrong, that’s totally her decision. And I’ll have to be okay with it. Because it’s her decision, not mine, to make.
Amazing!!! An amazing and open-minded response to your daughter.
It IS a tough one. After having my daughter as a single mom with a donor, the moment I held her in my arms sealed my decision. But I can respect that we are all allowed to have our own opinions. And that we should respect those opinions. You go, mama.
I’ve never commented here before but just had to this time. Your response was so perfect! I’ve been preparing for the day when my kids ask about it and so I really identify. Thank you, thank you for posting this.
I am from Canada and I feel so unbelievably sad for what is happening in the US. I understand both sides, as do you, but in simple terms no one should have the right to tell anyone else what to do with themselves, regardless of their opinion. I hope that if this goes to the SC that they really really think about the ramifications for women if Roe is overturned. Aside from the dangers of having underground procedures, there is the real possibility that your foster care system will become so flooded and these little people who could potentially suffer for the rest of their lives. And seriously, do you really think that some wealthy man (aka politician) in the south who gets his mistress pregnant isn’t going to find a way to make sure she gets an abortion? Of course he is. Will he or she then be charged? Do the men who are making all these changes or decisions in the south really care about the greater population and the potential fall out? From what I have seen to date, my answer would be no.
Ps – Love your stuff!
I think you’re awesome and I can imagine that this is a ridiculously difficult topic to explain to a young child. You are a bigger person than I am for trying to discuss this with her in such an ibiased way. However, I think when you say to her that “sometimes a woman doesn’t want to have a BABY and therefore gets an abortion….” the logical conclusion, especially at that level, is that she “kills the baby…” but of course this is then a whole discussion about whether it is really a baby? (And a woman and her dr should be able to decide what needs to happen at any point in the pregnancy) but if we start off with the premise that it’s a “baby”…then it’s hard to move off that. When in reality a lot of the abortions take place long before it’s a “baby.” The overall sentiment, however, my body, my choice (no one can tell someone what to play on the playground) seems to have come through and that’s, of course, at the core of it all.
I don’t mean to criticize the way you handled this, and it helps me think about how I should be talking about this with my own children, but this stuck out as something that didn’t quite sit right with me so I wanted to comment.
Well said and thoughtful point to consider when speaking about it – never thought of it that way.
This was exactly my take, Lena, thanks for clarifying so perfectly! One question is what is considered a baby scientifically, emotionally and personally. And from there we go to who gets to make choices about my body.
Just curious. I have always said no one WANTS an abortion. It’s a NEED. If a woman finds out she’s going to have a baby but she can’t have a baby, she would NEED an abortion. Is the use of ‘want an abortion’ because it is sounds more of a choice? Trying to be more unbiased? Hoping not to sound judgy or trollish. Honestly wondering if my thought is biased. I have needed two in my life, unfortunately. Glad I had the choice, but will always regret I had the need. Thank you for this discussion.
You know the way you responded is great, we should respond to our kids most of the time like this, we want them to think and form their own opinions don’t we? We want to encourage them to be an individual. I love this. I love that you wrote about it. I actually feel the same exact way you do, VERY passionate, but I do see the other side, I understand it, but ultimately I think politics needs to b**t out! Your kids are gonna grow up and be great thinkers! I love your blog
I commend you for discussing it with her, but I am a little surprised that you glossed over the things that are running through your head. You told her very basically about the people who get pregnant and don’t want it. You didn’t mention the part, which I know that you think about and support, where women get pregnant and want the baby so very much but the baby is sick or the mommy is sick. I don’t know how you explain that to a 10 year old without scaring her for the future, but it doesn’t seem like “killing” when there are extenuating circumstances.
Good response. And this is certainly not a “one and done” conversation. We will be talking about this with our kids a LOT. And sharing more information as it becomes appropriate.
Exactly how I feel. I can understand the other pov on this but there are so many what if’s – it’s very complicated and it really can’t be a blanket no. I’ve decided I’m pro-informed & educated healthcare.
You should really tell Zoey that women have abortions for a huge variety of reasons. Not just cause they don’t want the baby. Many women (families) are forced to make difficult decisions about terminating very wanted pregnancies. When the mother or babies health is in jeopary or the baby isn’t viable. Your unbiased explaination did your daughter a disservice. Also, lots of men force and coerce women to have abortions and your explaination puts the entire responsibility on women. It takes 2 to make a baby.
Actually around 1% of abortions are performed in regards to a woman’s health. This law would not change that. The majority are convenience abortions which is what this law would like to combat. You’re right it does take 2 to make a baby so the father should have some say if he doesn’t want said baby killed. Heaven forbid the woman actually think about protection before she gets pregnant.
“Heaven forbid the woman actually think about protection before they get pregnant”? I was on the pill for a year before I was date-raped by my friend’s cousin. I was a virgin before that. The pill was to control painful menstrual cycles. The pill didn’t work. I chose to abort. Perhaps know what you are talking about before typing. And? I’ve never ever regretted that choice.
Cheryl, thank you for sharing such a personal experience. I’m sorry that happened to you – it must’ve been so scary. I support you and your choice (not that it matters, just wanted you to know). Xo
You also fall into the around 1% category & are the exception not the rule. Obviously your situation doesn’t fall under the convenience umbrella.
Cheryl- I’m so sorry this happened to you and glad you could make that choice for your body.
Margot- I don’t agree that 99% of abortions fall under the “convenience umbrella.” Heaven forbid rapists, dates, boyfriends, husbands, etc think about protection, huh?
There are many reasons where difficult decisions have to be made about WANTED pregnancies too, not just the woman’s health (and therefore your 1%). There are SO many individual, personal stories out there that people are now feeling compelled to tell to combat this idea that abortions are some convenient thing that women nonchalantly use to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. You could stand to read just a few of those stories to understand the many ways in which abortion comes into play.
Nevermind all of the wording included in this legislation that further seeks to penalize women for miscarriage, etc. It’s definitely a targeting of women, and absolutely not acceptable.
My mom was on the pill when both I *and* my sister (2 years apart) were conceived. You absolutely can get pregnant after using protection.
Perhaps you could take a lesson from the ORIGINAL post about not putting your opinions on this delicate subject in the comments to judge or condemn others? 1) your statistics are WAY off, and if you don’t think so, please provide a verifiable source. 2) Birth control fails all the time. responsible people that did everything “right” also find themselves with unplanned pregnancies. 3) in a perfect world – sure it would be nice to include the “father” in the decision – but did you know that reproductive control (including contraceptive sabotage) is another way domestic abusers violate their partners? I didn’t think so. ULTIMATELY a woman needs to have absolute control of her body and the medical decisions for it – it is HER decision – to be made between her, her doctor and her god. YOU are not involved in any way. Please keep your judgments to yourself.
That’s a great way to explain your feelings, Karen. It is hard to explain such a complex issue to a child.
It’s not just that a bunch of white men decided on this with very little input from women, but they didn’t attempt to supplement by providing better s*x education classes, more accessible forms of contraception, gaurentee maternity leave or subzidize prenatal care, or even punish men who abandon their children by making them pay child support of any kind.
They certainly aren’t about to tell men what to do. Hell, in parts of Ohio married women can’t get their tubes tied without written consent of their husbands, but they can get a vasectomy no questions asked.
I just read ur blog. 1st i always enjoy reading them and truth be told urs is probably the ONLY emails i actually open..lol. and this one is no different. I was molested by a family member from the age of 4-9 and my “v” was taken by force @ 13. Luckily i didnt get pregnant at that time. I did get married after high school n have 2 beautiful grown boys. I could never think about abortion as any option for me but i have 2 opposing views on the subject of abortion. 1st: if it was a medical necessity or something was wrong with u or the baby was a result of a rape or kidnapping or something horrific.. then if u can do it. Have an abortion!! 2nd.. there are so many families that cant have babies that would love to go thru the process with u for the family outcome so give it to them. And 3rd.. if u just keep having unprotected s*x n keep getting pregnant n keep having abortions.. well thats between u n ur higher power n 1 day u will have to answer for ur actions.
–God bless you, you have a beautiful family–
Love from oklahoma!!
My oldest (17) had to do a debate on pro choice or pro life, for school. He HAD to do pro life side and asked my opinion. I told him my stance, and “forced” him to have a debate with me. He admitted was the hardest one he had to do. My younger kids (12, 11 and 9) got to hear it all. We then had a discussion on their thoughts hearing both sides. We talked about rape, being too young, medical reasons as well as the people that use is at a means of birth control.
I commend you on being able to bite your tongue and have this talk. Kids shouldn’t be shut out and learn to make their opinions
This is such a hard topic and I too had a chat about it with my 10yo recently. I try to use the word “fetus” and not “baby” to make it clear that nobody is killing a full-term, already-born baby. I hate when I people say “why don’t you just use birth control” – as if birth control never fails. I know several people who exist because their parents’ birth control failed, even a post-vasectomy baby. If you feel that killing a fetus constitutes murder, then don’t have an abortion, it’s that simple. But it’s 100% wrong for a government to be making that call and forcing women to give birth.
I’ve followed you for years but like others, haven’t commented before… until now. I LOVE your approach with Zoey. As someone who hasn’t had kids yet (because I live in Canada where that is my choice), my whole heart goes out to women where this isn’t an option. Thank you for being an example of what pro-choice really means. Also, thank you for being real and hilarious and a continued example of #momgoals.
Fabulous approach. You are a fantastic mom… love your posts.
I think what everyone should remember and I will tell my daughters on day when they are old enough is that it’s really hard to say you are pro choice or pro life. It’s a matter of drawing a line in the sand, which is admittedly a really hard thing to do when a million different circumstances abound. But most people who say they are pro choice have a line, pro choice at 12 weeks but really pro life beyond that (or 20 weeks or whenever they believe life to begin). I struggled with this my whole life, mostly thinking of victims of rape and incest. But what I realized after seeing multiple sonograms over four pregnancies is that my baby didn’t become my baby at a certain point. I never felt differently at a certain milestone. They were always a baby, a life to me. If I had miscarried, I had lost a baby, not a bunch of cells or the idea of a baby. And no matter how ugly life can be sometimes, I think you would be hard pressed to find single human in this world that wishes they’d never been born (mental health issues excluded of course). So yes it’s hard to draw your line, and a decision everyone has to make for themselves but once you do, I think it’s easy to shut out the noise, and realize that women were given this beautiful, magical power from God or Mother Earth or whomever you believe your creator to be. We are a vessel for human life, and sometimes life isn’t fair and things happen beyond our control, but I wouldn’t give up this superpower for anything. Babies are souls to be protected and love even in the most ugly of circumstances ❤️.
I choose to follow God’s law. I cannot agree with abortion for any reason. What is the difference between killing a baby at 16 weeks pre-birth or 16 weeks post-birth? In both cases it is murder of an innocent. The time for choice is BEFORE conception.
That’s just WONDERFUL if a choice of becoming pregnant is there to take, Cinda. You are not factoring in all the pregnancies that were NOT because a woman CHOSE to have s*x.
And why should they be punished????? Not ONCE is abortion mentioned in the Bible. Do you have a more recent connection to him than the Bible?
I 100% respect your religious belief. Please respect mine which does not agree with yours.
Isn’t it wonderful YOU ARE ALLOWED TO CHOOSE? An abortion would never be an option for you so absolutely never have one. Other woman would like to choose what is right for them too. God Bless.
Having my daughter 16 years ago nearly killed me…..I have hydrocephalus which unfortunately caused my blood pressure to drop dangerously during delivery…..they should have cut me open but because I am a unique medical case they decided to let me labor….In 2006 I had my shunt replaced with a new and improved model…..In 2009, I got pregnant again…..I chose to get an abortion because what if the same thing happened and I didn’t make it or what if a pregnancy became dangerous….My daughter had already lost her biological father before she was born….I wasn’t about to possibly make her a complete orphan….Thank goodness I live in Canada….And yes my daughter knows about the choice I made and why…..I also had my tubes tied the very next day.
This must have been just about the most difficult post ever to write, and even more difficult of a conversation to have with your daughter. You’re getting a nice long slow clap from me followed by a big hug. If more people were able to consider all sides of an issue we would be in a lot better place today.
Thank you for this. You never disappoint, and your honesty is so appreciated. I think you handled this wonderfully, and it is terrific that you shared it with all of your readers. It’s a tough question, and you did a marvelous job. Kudos to you!
As a woman who was the product of unplanned teen pregnancy in the 80s, I am very against abortion. If my 16 year old egg donor had had the means, would I still be here?
You did an excellent job teaching your daughter the facts without bias. If a tough job, to be sure. I applaud your candor.
Kudos for your Courage! How to talk about difficult many sided topics like this with kids is a topic well worth discussion. These things are especially hard when our own feelings on something are very strong. I encourage you to give her more insight into your own thoughts as time goes on. You are able to see both sides of the issue so show her your thinking. Like,
“Some people feel that life is so, so precious that once it’s started in a woman’s body that no one should be able to stop it from developing. Some times this is based on both their personal and religious beliefs.”
“And ,I believe that life is truly precious but there are other issue we have to think about too.”
“Some people feel that each woman has the right to decide for herself if she will allow that life to develop within her.”
And then you could go on to mention other countries where women do not have control over their lives and bodies and what that must be like. You could talk about how hard it was for women here before the law changed. etc.
Strangely enough a topic like this is somewhat like the topic of s*x. Kids are going to hear all kinds of stuff at school about abortion. If you want their source of information to be thoughtful and considered then share your own insight. That gives them both the information and the tools of how to think carefully even about emotional topics. As you know, it also opens the doors for them to come to you with questions. And that’s always a good idea when the alternative is playground rumors and sensationalism.
Thank you for your courage and for sharing your journey!
We watch a lot of cable news in our house and you can’t avoid the topic with it being in the current news cycle. My 9yr old asked what Abortion is. My husband and I have always been open, honest, and frank with the kids (9yr twins and 6yr) about their bodies, keeping themselves safe, knowing right from wrong, where babies come from (above mentioned 9yr old was relieved to hear the man does NOT pee inside the woman). So, I explained to her what it is, what it means, what the current laws are, RvW, reasons why you would want one, what the difference is between the Morning After Pill and a D&C, and then I answered all her questions as honestly as I could. Then she asked me what I thought about it. I was able to give her my feelings and thoughts on the subject. I told her I feel the way I do because its MY body and she needs to make decisions based on her body and mind.
Thanks for sharing. It’s been quite a week for these discussion with all the media coverage.