One of the more nonsensical statements thrown out by pro-lifers is “how would you feel if your mother had aborted you?” Sometimes I think they watched It’s A Wonderful Life or Touched By An Angel too many times, thinking of angels hovering benevolently by as they show someone just how horrible the world would be had they not been born. There are those who even term themselves “abortion survivors” just because at one time it was slipped to them that their mothers had considered abortion.

I guess that makes me a survivor too.

I am the youngest of four children. My brother, the eldest, was a “honeymoon surprise,” born roughly nine months and two weeks after my parents’ wedding. My oldest sister arrived a little less then eighteen months later. My other sister was born almost exactly two years later. My parents told a few people that three was plenty, and precautions were taken. Two years passed, but around Christmas 1965 my mother started feeling sick. She learned that she was pregnant on New Year’s Eve day. She wasn’t happy about it. Neither was my father. They were already struggling to provide for three kids. My dad worked nights as well as having a side business fixing TVs, and my mother, a nurse, had been making plans to return to work. But things just … carried on, and I was born in September (four weeks late for those doing the math).

I have heard indirectly from some family members that my mother did consider aborting me. After all, we only lived fifty miles from New York City. A bus trip, some money changing hands, telling my dad she’d miscarried … no one would have been the wiser. We were Catholic, though, which probably stayed her hand (although she was not so Catholic that she didn’t believe in birth control; I remember finding her pills in her purse when I was about six). I have few regrets in life, but one is that I never had an adult conversation with my mother. I was twelve when she died, just beginning the journey into adolescence. We’d skirted some issues and I can remember her honesty. Then again, if she’d remained alive I’m positive my life would have taken a very different turn. Was my mother pro-choice? Again, I don’t know. She was not a judgemental person, I know that much. When one of my cousins came out as gay in the mid-seventies and other members of the family barred their doors to him (including his own mother) Mom made sure our door was open to him and his boyfriend and furiously shouted anyone down who denigrated him.

Do I feel like I should be grateful to my mother, as the pro-lifers believe, for choosing not to abort me? No—because it was her choice and hers alone. I’m pretty sure the world would have kept turning should I not have been born. A couple of people have picked up on the fact that I’ve mentioned that my family doesn’t know about INS and take that as some sort of shame I have about the site. It has nothing to do with that. My mother’s death literally tore my family apart, and nearly twenty-eight years later the scar is still sore and thin-skinned. We don’t talk about a lot of things, so a rousing abortion discussion is probably not in the cards. I would wager it’s not a hot topic of conversation at anyone’s family gathering unless your family is the sort who loves a good political discussion as some do. I suppose if I choose to advance INS they’ll know, but I’m generally considered the weirdo of the family anyway for a variety of reasons so I don’t think it’d come as that huge a shock.

Then, of course, we have those wonderful caring individuals who will probably read this and send me e-mail saying “your mother should have aborted you!” (actually I’ve already gotten a couple) So what if she had? Then someone else would have come up with the INS idea and you’d be sending them hate mail. And I bet their name would be easier to spell than mine.