Margaret’s Story

My first abortion was when I was 24 years old and married to a great guy. We both worked with emotionally disturbed children and liked our work. I got pregnant through failure to be adamant about using my diaphragm. This was the early seventies and we were both feminists; I immediately knew that I didn’t want a baby; my husband agreed; there was no question and no doubt.

I got pregnant again almost exactly a year later. Same scenario, still married, still working in the same field but this year I had used the diaphragm each and every time except once and once was apparently not good enough. This time I was actually a bit embarrassed but also angry at my bad luck. However, I was not ashamed of my decision to not want to have children. Given the politics of the US regarding ravaging Southeast Asia and consuming most of the world’s resources so our kids could have a higher standard of living than most of the world’s peoples, it seemed more ethical not to reproduce. In any case, we didn’t want to.

The last time I got pregnant the choice was not as easy. I was 33 or 34 and still married to the same great guy but this time toying with the idea of having a baby as I wasn’t getting any younger. So I was lax about birth control and lo and behold, I got pregnant. Here’s where the ambivalence and anxiety began. I had to figure out why I had done this and whether I really wanted to or was just using the idea of a baby to give my life meaning and security. After 2 grim and agonizing weeks of self-reflection, scrutiny and analysis, I decided I would have another abortion and that it would be my last. My husband agreed to get a vasectomy to ensure this, which he did a few weeks later. Although the decision about having a child was a hard one, choosing to terminate wasn’t once I was clear about how I wanted to live my life.

Women are still pressured to reproduce and it’s hard to think through one’s desires when much of our desire is structured by the culture and in many unconscious ways. I have never regretted these decisions and in fact have been thankful that I never chose to have children of my own. I haven’t worked with young kids in decades but I’ve always had kids in my life and enjoy them, perhaps more than most cause they aren’t mine and they go home. I know that my life has been better for me because of these choices and despite my sister’s claim that it’s selfish not to have them, I feel that it can be selfish to have them, though that’s not necessarily the case. I guess what I most want to say is that I do not feel guilty, nor did I ever, about having an abortion. For me it was a responsible, ethical act.