I’m Not (Just) Pro-Choice



On the 41st Anniversary of Roe v Wade

I used to do clinic defense, escorting women past screaming mobs. Standing up to people with their fetus signs and Bibles. I’ve sat in meditation in front of Planned Parenthood because others were doing their “40 Days of Prayer” across the street. I’ve done these things because women’s lives are sacred.

I had one abortion in my early 20s. A condom broke. It happens. The abortion wasn’t easy. It was necessary. I vowed to never have to go through one again.

That abortion saved my life.

Not my physical life, but it saved my life nonetheless, enabling me to work toward the life I have now, one which (I hope) contributes and gives back. That abortion also saved the life of whatever child that fetus would have turned into. It saved that child from a life of poverty and difficulty. It saved that child from a parent who didn’t want it and who still needed years to work through the abuse from her own childhood.

I am pro-abortion. I am pro-abortion early term. I am pro-abortion in the middle of a pregnancy. I am pro-abortion late term. Those people who think a woman in late term pregnancy wants to terminate for any but the most serious reasons? They have to be deluded. Abortion is not a walk in the park, even early term. It costs. For many of us, it just costs less than carrying a pregnancy full term.

I am pro-abortion because a parent’s life is worth more to me than the life of a zygote or a fetus.

I am pro-abortion because, in my religion, death and life walk hand in hand, as part of one great cycle.

Death and life are inextricably intertwined. To deny a woman’s power over the workings of her own body is to deny her right to foster life itself. Fostering life comes in many forms.

We are not chattel. We are not property. We are humans who are willing to face the hard choices of adulthood. Rites of passage. Sometimes the patch of carrots must be thinned for other things to grow strong and healthy. Sometimes the fire moves through the forest, so the pines can release seeds.

I have grown so many things. Yet anti-abortionists would tell me, “not enough.” As one sister wrote to me at the time, “You’ve killed one of my nieces or nephews.” As though my family doesn’t have enough children and grandchildren. As though tipping the scales at 7 billion people and counting isn’t not only enough for this planet, but far too much.

I honor the cycles of life. I honor the cycles of death. I honor my power, as a priestess, to hold out a hand to both. I clasp those hands, bringing life and death together. 


One cannot work for the liberation of all beings if one isn’t willing to sacrifice. To sacrifice is to claim power. It is an offering. The blood pours upon the altar from the calf. The incense rises. The fruits of the land are given. I offered the temporary joining of my body with another’s, that brief coming together of cells…I offered up my pain. I offered these for the promise of a life of creativity and service.

I’m still living up to that promise. I’ve needed all this time.

Thank you Roe, even though by now you’ve changed your mind. I honor your sacrifice, too.

Post Script: Lest anyone think I am chastising poor families for having children, I am not. We all have to make our own choices about whether or not raising children is within our capacity. In my particular case, having a child would have had disastrous consequences for me and whatever child was brought to bear.

127 Responses to “I’m Not (Just) Pro-Choice”

  1. David Salisbury

    This really did speak to me. As a man who took his young female friend to a clinic once, amidst a furious and ashamed family. Friend is doing great work in the world now because of that choice.

    • Thorn

      Thanks for sharing your story, David. All of these stories are so important to tell.

  2. Fourge

    This was very bold of you. Some people would say I don’t have a voice in abortion rights, firstly because I’m male and secondly because I’m Gay (as though my sperm doesn’t function like a Straight man’s does). All I know is that if the LGBT community didn’t have our Straight allies to support us, we would be way behind. I’d say the same applies for all fights for women’s rights and their male allies. I won’t pretend I know the answer on abortion (as though there is just one answer) or how I feel about abortions in general. But I know I’m pro-choice, because I feel we should all have a choice. I’ve left it there until further contemplation or epiphany.

    It was very strong of you to write, and very powerful said. Thank you for sharing. My deepest gratitude.

    • Thorn

      Fourge, thanks for your thoughtful reply. This is a topic that bears a lot of thinking on: what are our ethics and what is the basis for our ethical choices?

      • Fourge

        Crazy how things usually start with some creation within us that’s birthed and spun outward into the world. A change beginning from within our very being. Though not always. Yes, laws seem to be made based our ethics, which is shaped by what bears value to us. Still, even within our own ethics and values, I believe we need to constantly be asking questions in order to reaffirm what truly is important to us, because ethics and the taste of value is constantly changing within us until we grow firm standing, and even then can still be changed. Your blog post is an example of one person. My second comment further below us another. Now, it’s one thing for a person to move from pro-choice to pro-abortion. That takes a deepening. But I still cannot understand people who objectify the choices of those who are not they themselves! That takes a mere shifting from that phase of mind than a reasoning, and I still do not understand the seeds of those kinds of thoughts. It must be from some place other than religion. That’s what I feel. Maybe that’s where it started, but it must be more than that if partly that at all.

  3. Crow

    Oh, amen. I resonate with all that you wrote, Thorn. And at the moment, especially this.

    “I am pro-abortion because a parent’s life is worth more to me than the life of a zygote or a fetus.”

    As a survivor of rape, I was placed in a position to potentially have to make a decision to abort. It turned out that I didn’t have to do so, but I would’ve done it in a heartbeat, and this among other reasons is exactly why.

    I often have trouble articulating how I feel about this issue when discussing it with those who are anti-abortion because my feelings run so deeply and so hot. Reading what you’ve written helps with that.

    Thank you.

    • Thorn

      Crow, thank you for sharing your story.

      Coming to that sentence was a great clarifier for me. It actually tipped firmly into the pro-abortion camp from being more generally pro-choice.

      • Jennifer

        I appreciate you making the distinction between the terms. I worry that too many of us, by using the euphemism “pro-choice,” fall into that trap of abortion as an unspeakable evil. It’s important to use the correct terminology so as not to weaken our argument.

        • Thorn

          Yes. It remains shameful. I’m so over that.

          Took me years to get here, though. It has been a process.

      • Jennifer

        correction: I should have said “unspeakable act”

  4. River

    Brilliantly said. I wish I would have had this message as a teenager going through a similar and agonizing decision-making process. I never had to go through with it — my situation turned out to be just a scare, but this concise and powerful argument would have gone a long way while I struggled for a few weeks, terrified about my future. Bless you for this.

    • Thorn

      River, thank you.

      That is part of why I wrote this. We’ve let other, more fanatical voices dictate the terms of this narrative for too long. It’s time for us to say, very clearly, what we believe, and what we experience, and why that is important.

  5. ione

    Hi Thorn. Its a truth to say that my mother was never fit, physically or mentally to have children. We grew up below the poverty line with mum as a single parent, disabled and mentally raving. Life was stressful, unstable, hard, horrible, joyless and guilty at any glimmer of happiness. I was an enslaved, whipping post and it took the act of my mother committing fraud against me to be able to cleanly break free and start to rebuild my life. I wouldn’t wish that childhood/young adulthood on anyone. I’ll probably always be damaged goods but I embrace who I am and learn from my mother’s mistakes. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I would never bring a child into this world unless I had some capacity to look after it and love it. I agree with everything you say Thorn. Pro-choice, pro-responsibility, pro-humanity and pro-love. Bless you for your words and work.

    • Thorn


      What a powerful story. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing it with us.

      Damage may have been done to us, but healing is available, thank the Gods. I’m so glad to read you’ve found a path toward freedom and wholeness. May your spirit be blessed.

  6. katsmeow

    I agree totally with all the comments thus far and they echo what has happened to me as well. I have children now but the early me was not good parenting material at all. I am totally pro choice and also tipped intot the proabortion camp after stupid comments were made by the un informed and uncaring ones had said their piece about it and I knew there was no middle ground.

    • Thorn

      Katsmeow, I’ve heard this from others, as well. It is a powerful thing to have these choices, and be able to determine for ourselves the right place and time to bear and raise children, if ever.

  7. Niki

    Amen. Beautiful, succinct, bold. I am pro-family and pro-woman and pro-child and therefore I support abortion choice too, for all of the reasons you state.

  8. Helen/Hawk

    The phrase “pro-abortion” rankles a bit for me. YES, I am pro support for any and all free choices a woman may make. Saying “free choices” because such pressure can be put on a woman that it can be hard to make the choice that is right for her, pressures frankly in both directions. I am pro a real right to choose. I am pro-abortion in the sense of truly freely available. And yet….I find it interesting that I’m not comfortable saying the phrase “I’m pro-abortion” as a stand-alone statement.

    • Thorn

      Hawk, I understand that view. That’s where I was for a long time. I shifted dramatically, however.

      Part of it was fully claiming that a woman’s life is actually more important to me than a fetus. The other part was realizing there are 7 billion people on this planet! People are really going to say women shouldn’t terminate pregnancies? I am actually for abortion now. Not just pro-choice. For me, being pro-abortion helps me stand on firm ground when people start splitting hairs over things like “late term” for example.

      Caveat: I am not, however, pro forced abortion or enforced sterilization.

  9. Hannah

    Dear Thorn!

    Thanks for being visible yourself.

    My own journey is quite different with respect to this. I am physically not able to have children. So I also am never called to a decision like this. OTOH, even now I’m not completely sure whether I’d be able (and really willing) to commit to the responsibility that childbearing and raising would entail even if I could have them, so I can perhaps still empathize a little bit with that aspect.

    I’m not sure whether I’d agree with “pro-abortion”, but I still very surely and decidedly agree to pro-choice.

    So I can fully understand that you used to ally with women who needed the availability of abortion, of their own choice and power of decision and responsibility over their (heck, our) own bodies and lives.

    • Thorn

      Hannah, thank you for writing in with your story. I appreciate it! Childbearing is a complex topic.

  10. Zot Lynn Szurgot

    Thank you. Thank you and blessings. Your clarity, however hard-won, is well-received, cherished, even. Thanks to ione as well.

  11. lynn

    thank you for your post, thorn. i was 10 years old in 1973 so don’t remember what it was like for women of childbearing age before that. on another thread today, several folks chimed in, women and men, who are at least a little older than me…

    “my mom told me that everyone in her generation knew someone who died from an abortion.”
    “one of my classmates died of peritonitis after telling her mother she had the stomach flu.”
    “one of my dad’s colleagues lost a daughter to a botched abortion.”
    “my dad’s first wife died of a botched abortion.”

    it made me realize that i’ve not heard those stories in my family. we haven’t talked about it. not yet.

    i am pro-choice and that’s how i usually say it. i have wondered why i don’t say that i’m pro-abortion. i think i’ve wanted to in response to hearing ‘no one is pro-abortion’ which seems to feed into the theory the lie that there is something wrong with a woman having autonomy over her body and choosing to end a pregnancy. so why haven’t i?

    i think there’s a sense of safety (perhaps false) in saying pro-choice instead of pro-abortion. it feels risky to say both. it feels risky to say neither. different risks though.

    • Thorn

      Lynn, yes, I’ve heard those stories from people older than I (I was 7 in January 1973). Not too many, but enough.

      In response to the “pro-abortion” piece, I really appreciated what one person said on my Facebook page today. Dakini Uma Amitabha wrote: “It is important to not only support women’s rights to choose, but to help the general population to understand that choosing abortion is sometimes the BEST choice. It can be a very positive avenue to take for not only the betterment of a woman’s life but the lives of those in her greater community, etc. Let’s keep focusing on the positive factual aspects and see what a difference it can make.”

      That attitude takes the shame right out of it. There is no shame in choosing abortion, as yet another commenter wrote.

    • KatyD

      My father-in-law is an anesthesiologist, and a man who is as politically and socially conservative as you will find. We have little in common personally, but one area where we both vehemently agree is that women should have the right to safe and legal abortion. As a medical resident in an inner-city Detroit hospital in the 1960s, he saw firsthand the horrors of the pre- Roe v. Wade days. On an almost daily basis, women showed up in the ER bleeding to death or dying from massive septic infections that resulted from botched illegal abortions. They were from all racial and religious backgrounds, and ranged from girls as young as 13 up to women in their 40s who already had several other children at home. He also saw some of his fellow medical professionals turn away and refuse to help, saying those women deserved their fates. Meanwhile those with money and means sent their inconveniently pregnant daughters, wives and girlfriends to Europe, where abortions could be done safely and legally. The hypocrisy sickened him to the point that he joined a couple of local doctors who worked underground, performing abortions after hours in their offices in exchange for under-the-table cash. They kept at least some girls from dying at the hands of the back-alley butchers, and he says if abortion ever became illegal again, he would risk arrest to do the same.

      My own pro-abortion stance came into focus when I was 14 and survived a violent sexual assault attempt. I managed to get away before any penile penetration took place, but almost 30 years later I still cry and shake in anger when I think about how close I came to being pregnant from that horrible encounter, and how some people, even in my own family, would have forced me to carry my rapist’s spawn to term, no matter the cost to me physically, mentally or spiritually. It is sickening. It is as if these people regard women not as human, but as nothing more than baby-carrying vessels. It disgusts me.

      Even if we lived in a more sex-positive world where comprehensive sex education and free, effective birth control was available to everyone who needed it, there would still be times that abortion would be the best choice, even the only choice. It is a choice that every woman should be allowed to make, no matter what.

      • Thorn

        Katy – what amazing stories, both your father-in-law’s and your own.

        I’m glad you got away from your rapist.

        Bless your father-in-law for his work. Bless him for his commitment. It brings tears to my eyes.

  12. Leni

    Thank you Thorn. The ability to choose, to have agency and be able to make our best choices, is what carries us through times of grief and calamity. Being able to choose when I became a mother allowed me to be a much better mom, than if i had been compelled into it. My kids have a better, more stable, patient mom, and I’m happier as a parent. The right to choose is precious.

  13. MrUkpyr

    I have always believed that as a male, I have no right to tell a woman what she should or should not do with her body.

    Thus, I have always been “pro-choice”. It is not my place to choose what another free willed person should be doing with their body. As have always wished for the freedom to freely make choices in my life, I must logically then choose to support others being able to freely make choices in theirs.

    Thank you Thorn for an intelligent, articulate, and most interesting essay.

    • Thorn

      blessings to you.

      To you and the other self-identified men who’ve written in, I want to say: I also hope over time the conversation about how conception, pregnancy, and birth affects everyone can expand. How do we deal with life and death when we feel alone? How do we deal with life and death when we feel in family? Can we talk about our choices?

      I have no answers to some of the other questions this brings up, but I think further conversation might help clarify our thoughts and feelings.

  14. Davina

    I hope every woman I know that has chosen an abortion will read this. As a peer, and as peer support to other precious women as they went through their experiences with it, I think it’s refreshing and hopeful to have these dialogues with each other. Pro-Abortion rings true for me, and the comments are very insightful. Thorn, so much gratitude and love.
    Thank you for sharing your stories. Blessed Be.

  15. Stephy

    My abortion saved my physical life. If I had landed in a religious rather than corporate hospital with my pregnancy gone horribly wrong, with my fever and infection and the fetus’s heart still beating even though there was no way to save it, I have no reason to believe that my uterus and I would both still be here. I’ve since been told that Catholics will only remove a fetus in that case if they take the uterus too, and I don’t know how true it is, but I’m glad that I live in a place where I wasn’t left to die like Savita Halappanivar or forced into a far more invasive procedure than my case required. I am thankful for the women who have stood and fought so that, when it was my life on the line, I would have a chance.

  16. karen

    Wow…you won’t believe this, but I was most struck by the use of the word zygote cause I just haven’t heard it. The rest I completely understand and I think we need to learn more to move to choice. Just yesterday I found some of my writing about a zygote…my desktop dictionary came up ‘not found’. It wasn’t in the dictionary on my computer? I was compelled…what happened to the use of zygote. A zygote isn’t as easily determined as a ‘person with rights” and can’t be a separate ‘being’ from the power of female anatomy, Women and child growing together as life for both. I realized. Anyway, I’m off on my own thoughts here and just thought you might want to see my latest post that addresses some embedded mythology from women studies histories about why the female reproductive powers aren’t even fully acknowledged by women themselves. But, nonetheless, thanks for sharing so much of yourself. http://karendee57.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/2300-years-later-the-egg-or-the-sun/

    • Thorn

      You know, you are right that the word zygote has dropped from usage. Interesting.

      I haven’t had time to read your piece, but thanks for sharing it with us. The more information, the better.

  17. Petite Vioette

    Thank you for this strong and powerfull article. I took the liberty of translating it in french and sharing it on Facebook with a link to this orginal article.

  18. TPW

    Thank you for this viewpoint. So much of the rhetoric is framed as a response to Christian belief, but you place it beautifully (and painfully) in a Pagan context. And using the term “pro-abortion” is both bold and accurate. I am pro-choice because I don’t think men can ever truly be anything else, but your arguments in favor of the planet and the fate of the souls involved resonate deeply with me.

    • Thorn

      TPW, yes. I have become very tired of always framing rhetoric in response to someone else’s paradigm. It is good for us to get more active and frame things according to our beliefs and experiences.

      thanks for writing in!

  19. JeninCanada

    Well said, and as a fellow Pagan who’s been there as well, invited in Death and made It welcome for a time, I appreciate you writing about this.

  20. Shauna Aura Knight

    Thank you for writing this. Though I’ve written before about being pro-choice, and how I wish there was more space for women to be able to speak about having had an abortion without a terrible stigma. Women still barely talk about miscarriage. But I think that it’s the stories of women who have gone through it–women that we know–that cause a little bit of a double take. It might be enough to make someone rethink their stance that abortion is “bad” and that all women who have had one are somehow “bad” to realize, my best friend had one, my relative had one, my community member had one, that teacher had one, etc.

    I’ve written about being pro-choice, but I’ve never had the courage to come out and say why it’s so important to me, until your post today. I have had an abortion, and I think that it saved my life too. Like in your situation, it was an accident, but that child would have been born into excruciating poverty to a single parent who in’t in any position to raise a child. Abortion activism made so much more sense to me having gone through it. I was fortunate to be able to get one for a reduced cost–something you can do in Illinois, but not in Wisconsin–and I was able to afford the anasthesia, which they do charge extra for. I didn’t have to go through Wisconsin’s barbaric (and costly) extra requirements of a counseling session and extra 24 hour wait period. It was seeing these laws first hand, and how they seem innocent, but make it infinitely harder for a woman who has no money to begin with to afford to terminate a pregnancy that she can’t afford either. It’s why I’m a more committed activist, and you’ve given me the courage to speak out my own story about this. Hearing about “other people” who’ve had an abortion doesn’t change minds. Hearing that someone you know had one, hearing a personal story, I think that has the power to change things.

    • Thorn

      Shauna, thanks so much for sharing your story. All of these stories are so important to read, to speak, to share. Thank you for bringing in the element of income and resource inequity. That is a key piece to the puzzle. Wealthy women have more options. Always have.

  21. Steve

    Thank you so much for this, Thorn. This inspires me beyond its context, because I hear an alternative to the lifelong pressure I’ve felt to treat parenthood as the ultimate and most important endeavor. I hear sacred service, larger service, in your value of embracing life and death, and it rings much more true to me than the narrow path I grew up in. Again, thank you so much.

  22. Hecate Demeter

    I agree with Thorn. I am pro- all methods of family planning, including abortion. I will say that I don’t think we have to say that abortion (even late term) is a difficult choice or that it causes women concern, suffering, pain, etc. That plays into the framing that they aren’t entitled to it unless they suffer. Women have a right to control their own bodies. Full stop. But that’s a very minor quibble. Thanks, Thorn for sharing your story and for pointing out that Mamma Gaia is already well beyond her carrying point. Abortion is often a very personal way to take responsibility for healing ourselves and the planet.

    • Thorn

      Good point, Hecate, regarding suffering and pain. Calvinism is insidious.

      There needn’t be pain involved, but there is still a cost. There is a cost for everything. I think of that every time I eat something.

  23. s00j

    Corrected comment (sorry)

    I hear you, my she-ro. Thank you for this. I’m nodding my head at Shauna’s words. I was shocked to learn last year that every other woman with whom I was studying dance had had an abortion. Oftentimes, I bear witness by listening, to stories of old, old wounds shared with me by fans and friends. Abuse, abortion, rape…I have suffered none of these, and I weep that so many people in my life have survived one or all of them. I feel that I’m in the minority, there’s so much I Haven’t had to go through. I am pro understanding. I am anti ignorance. I want to live in a world where no woman ever has to choose in fear. I want a world in which I would feel safe choosing to try for motherhood. But I don’t. Certainly not in the state of Arkansas, where I make my home, and where I and my colleagues and our allies continue to make a stand. Honestly, is popular opinion in certain communities Really that by making abortion legal, supported, and safe, it would give us all a hankering to go out and have abortions just because we can? I fear as much. Half the world seems to want women to do nothing but be mothers. The other half would criticize us constantly for making That choice over our careers. I was appropriately horrified by the story of Mrs. Muñoz when I read it this morning. It’s pretty clear just how much a woman’s life OR her death isn’t worth, here in the 21st century, in large parts of the first world. By contrast, stories from my friends who chose abortion in the Pacific Northwest contain nothing but support and relief. This? This is what I pray will spread. I still have plenty of time left to choose motherhood, if I do. I’m not there yet. What I do know is that we all deserve a world wherein motherhood is not forced upon us. By authority, by government, by abusers, or by sheer ignorance.

    • Thorn

      Thanks Sooj, for sharing your words.

      ” I want to live in a world where no woman ever has to choose in fear. I want a world in which I would feel safe choosing to try for motherhood. But I don’t.” Powerful.

  24. Kat

    Thank you for sharing this. I had my son at 18, and was pregnant again within two years. I decided since I had such a difficult birth and pregnancy, and a young child, and I was poor, to abort. I’m glad I did, my son has had a better life because of it. It wasn’t easy, but it was a valuable learning experience, and taught me compassion for other women who have to face the same challenges.

  25. Sitara

    So beautifully said. I just want to add my own voice and say, finances or medical reasons are not the only reason to choose. I had an abortion in my 30’s. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and my first pregnancy wreaked havoc on my mental state. It took years to get stable again. Just the thought of the possibility of going down that road again with a second pregnancy put chills down my spine and I’m not certain I would have survived. Having an abortion also saved my life. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am so sick of the shaming when a woman makes this choice, especially when it comes from other women. We have to support each other and tell our stories and take the shame out of it.

    • Thorn

      Sitara, thanks for shedding light on yet another important reason to keep abortion legal. Abortion is the right choice in so many cases. Yes. No shame.

      It strikes me that part of the shaming aspect is simply around having had sex. There is no shame in sex unless it is forced upon us – and then the shame is on the other party.

  26. Kestrel

    Beautifully and powerfully written. I alienated one of my relatives by telling her that to deny death was to deny life. I’m Pagan now, and she isn’t, but the idea that Death and Life walk hand in hand is equally part of the faith I grew up in.

    I think the problem with the term “pro-abortion” is that linguistically it carries a connotation that an abortion is something to seek out. It isn’t. It’s an enormous decision at any time. I know of no one who has gone into it casually, even if they knew that for them it was the only correct decision. That’s why I do call myself “pro-choice”. A woman should be able to make whatever choice is right for her. NO ONE ELSE gets to tell her what to do. Anything else returns women to the status of children or chattel.

    I guess I’m a bit older than most who are commenting here. I remember the consequences of botched back-alley abortions. I remember the 8th grade classmate whose older sister died that way, and the whispers in the community. Premarital sex was immoral, getting pregnant was worse (and would, in 1970, have gotten her kicked out of high school), and the censure that went with that deprived her parents of dearly needed support because they felt they couldn’t talk openly about how their child had died.

    Shame kills. Poverty kills. Child abuse kills. Keep living your truth, Thorn. You are a blessing.

    • Thorn


      “Shame kills. Poverty kills. Child abuse kills.” Yes. All of this.

      And thank you for telling us about the people you knew who were directly affected by lack of access. That poor family and that poor girl. What a tragedy.

      What is remembered, lives.

  27. Maddie

    I was 16 when I had one. It has scarred me to this day but, I am pro-abortion. It saved my life and I looked at it as if I was saving the child’s life. This was moving. It’s nice to see something positive like this. It’s facts and there’s justification. It has meaning for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  28. Critias

    What a crying shame that you (all) think abortion is about YOU. Newsflash: It’s NOT. It’s right there in the definition of the word. If I ‘abort’ a game, I am ending the game prematurely. It’s not about ME, it’s about what was ended. In your case(s), it was a human life. In the last 41 years, Americans have ended 55 million of those lives. The great shame of this statistic, and our culture and society, is that you all will think I am a religious nut or ‘extremist’ of some sort. And you’d be dead wrong. I’ve made this trip to the clinic myself, more than once in the last couple of decades, and I am sorry each time that I did.

    • Thorn

      Critias, thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear of your pain and struggle.

      I don’t think it is all about me and I don’t hear that from others, either. I mentioned the potential child I aborted, and I think had I borne a child, they would have had a very hard life. I truly believe that whatever spirit may have been trying to come through at that time was far better served by not coming through me. I talked to that spirit, before the abortion, and explained why I had to send it on its way.

      I stand by my statement that a parent’s life is worth more to me than a zygote or fetus. Life in action is still worth more to me than life in potential. And there are 7 billion humans here already, many of whom need huge amounts of care and nurturing. I am far better able to act in service to those people because I don’t have children. Not that there aren’t activist parents – there are – but I am clear on what my capacity is.

      And sometimes we do have to concern ourselves with our own lives. Just as children deserve good lives, so do we. Everyone should have a good life. We can all continue to work toward that for one another.

      again, thank you for writing in to share your story. I appreciate it.

      • karen

        I grew up on a farm. My grandmother was ‘forced’ to have 14 children – rape, no choice. My mom had 7 believing God would decide. These women were treated like cows being milked. There is nothing ‘natural’ about women being forced to have child after child. 1 does not equal 7 in CARE. Older children end up caring for the children. Traditionally, men milked cows and sold the milk and in the same way, they used women, and the children worked on the farm. I grew up with plants and trees and nature. All walnut trees produce in abundance. That doesn’t mean every seed, every nut is to be a tree. Nature works by producing more than enough and the ‘environmental conditions’ determine which seed will grow to a tree and which will not. And it’s a different situation when you have a system that ‘grows’ nature and people for all different purposes. I, of course, am glad for my 28 aunts and uncles. I am glad for my 6 brothers and sisters….but I’m not stupid. My anger in this issue moves this argument….if you can force women to have children, then there needs to be a set up to take care of those children. The suffering of my family is clear as to why. And while my grandmother ‘loved’ her children, I met others who had mothers who deeply resented the children they were forced to take care of. Women are not cows. And Cows were not designed to be milked beyond their bodies natural functioning. Women need a social system where their bodies and sexuality can be what it is – beyond state force. Horace Mann said the State is the father of the children and mothers have had the work of children but not the authority over them or their bodies.

        • Thorn

          Karen, that is just terrible. So terrible. I am the youngest of 8. I’m glad I’m alive and yet…my family suffered with all those children. And yes, there was violence in our household, and the scourge of alcohol abuse. My mom loved us, though she didn’t protect us, and my dad took care of us as best he could, which wasn’t always very well.

          Would my spirit have gone elsewhere and lived in a different way if I hadn’t been carried to term? I can’t know. But I’m open to that possibility. I would’ve gone somewhere – a blade of grass, some stardust, perhaps another human being. Everything cycles, we just are not always clear what form those cycles take.

          “All walnut trees produce in abundance. That doesn’t mean every seed, every nut is to be a tree.”
          I am in full agreement with you on this.

          • karen

            I certainly don’t have all the answers either, but I have studied, researched, thought and wrote. The force of men being providers to children is the same state force. When 13th and 14th amendments were implemented for black men to be freed and seen as more than 3/5s of a person…there was discussion because these lawmakers understood that women and children would also fit under those laws. At the time, the lawmakers argued that these amendments do not apply to the other relationships. In essence, slavery as a ‘standard’ was the base of this ‘forced’ relationship. Marriage itself is ‘forced’ indirectly by elimination of other options. Women were allowed to own property, rent or buy houses or be employed outside the home. So, IMO, the larger issue that this is embedded in is the issue of a ‘slavery’ type superior-inferior relationship mentality. So yeah, we need to go farther in thought in all ways. When black slavery existed, it was on slaveowners to provide the basic needs for their slaves. Today, wage slavery allows these ‘owners’ to not only buy a person’s life, time and body, but doesn’t have the expense of providing ‘needs’. In fact, the basic needs are also exploited. Definitely diverging offtopic, but until we really move out of the teachings we are in, we can’t see the options. The issue is too much of what is ‘normal’ is actually very extremely unusual! But familiarity is confused with what is right/wrong, natural, normal, etc.

  29. Holly

    I am a woman with quite a few children. I was relatively well parented myself and am comfortable with parenting and mothering. I do the joyful homebirth and radical breastfeeding thing. So many folks assume that I am pro life. I am not. Not at all. Having children makes me aware fo how much work they are and how much energy they require, not to mention money, time and all sorts or resources, both spiritual and material. I would never demand this of another woman. Even in the best of circumstances raising a good, whole person is a tremendous undertaking and it comes down to the old sage adage about it being a woman’s body and her choice. I too, have crossed the lines of hate and judgement at an abortion clinic on the anniversary of Roe v Wade and I will always vote and raise my voice to uphold every woman’s right to hold her own power. Thank you, Thorn for the strength and candor fo your story.

    • Thorn

      Holly, I have said many times that “Parenting is a big job. And it’s not my job.”
      Big respect for the work you do.

  30. Kiya

    Choice should have No Limitations or Condition’s…
    I’ve not had to go through what you and many other women have gone through. I respect every Woman’s Right to a Choice.

  31. Fourge

    I never knew this would turn into something that would changed me . . . Now after I have read all the comments, as a man, I would say that in order for the men to understand more fully and deeper, more space should continue to open for women to speak their stories without fear. Men need to witness this. Women need the male support. Brave and courageous is the man that can walk into a clinic with his wife to abort her pregnancy, and even more to speak in a crowd and tell the story of how he himself has been affected. Men, as the impregnators of the women, by force or by love-making, are part of the story and should be amongst the counted. It’s also one thing for a women to convince another woman by saying, “What would you do if you were in my shoes?” But sharing these stories excessively helps the men see through your eyes, live through your words when we don’t have access to that type of experience and never will in our male lifetime. The most we can do is be there at the clinic with you in your fear and see your soul through your frightened and sceptic eyes. We don’t know what it’s like to feel the scare and make those decisions about our own bodies or go through the actual process of an abortion. We can only support your decision, whether we agree or not, and feel sympathetic and empathetic at the very least as beings of the one human race. Us men need your stories. All you bold women have definitely changed me. Thank you.

    • Karen

      I agree Fourge that women should have space to share stories. Our culture has created an environment that accuses women of being babykillers. Like much abuse of women, women’s realities and lives are silenced due to not only shame but the ‘abuse’ that results when women attempt to speak up for themselves. I realized years ago the discussions were stale and if just all women would start saying to their families and friends that they did it. That’s why if find this space that Thorn created here among the best places so far. Unfortunately, this doesn’t exist elsewhere – as much – that I’ve come across. If women would open up, we’d learn the reasons that are embedded that women feel pressured to be pregnant and give birth. For each woman making decisions, we have a hostile environment about those decisions – all the more reason, to have the discussions.

      • Fourge

        One of the worst things related to what you said, Karen, is that this attitude toward women is being carried on from parent to child. Of course, kids may pick up stuff from their surroundings. But even then it’s the job of the parent to say, “No, not like this. Don’t be like them. This is bad and hurts people.”

        I feel there will be a time when women will rise enough through the oppression that you will be equal if not revered again as you once were long ago. Nature is cyclical, right? The one day will come where humankind will see the grand importance of women in society, and not only as the potential carriers of the future human race. And that can all begin by those who do wish to carry child of their own free will and bring them into this world to teach them, not right from wrong, but helpful from hurtful, compassion from apathy, love from indifference.

  32. Fortuna

    Thanks, Thorn. Way back, I had one abortion, and know that it saved my life, and certainly that of the unborn child: I knew I didn’t want to pass the dysfunction of my own family along. I want to emphasise that at the time, there were many abortion clinics and it was prior to too much protest from ‘pro-lifers’ …but it did indeed have an enormous significance and was not an easy, frivolous decision or procedure. And only afterward did I actually realise the weight of the decision: In my life I have made the decision to take a life.
    love to you.

  33. Jim Dickinson

    If only every potential parent would come to the same self awareness about their preparedness to raise a child (planned or not) and have the resources to act on that awareness. I wish this for all women (and men)! Far too little attention is given to the aftermath of unwanted or unsupportable births – on the baby or the parents. I also agree with your assessment that relative to personal reproduction the needs of a living person – here and now – is more important than an as yet unformed, dependent cluster of cells. If we were not so backwards about sexual education and birth control and access to medical care, fewer of these tragic and painful but necessary procedures would be needed. There are so many pieces to this puzzle, but it is undeniably essential to ensure a woman’s right to choose to have or not have a baby.

    It is also essential to establish and ensure a man’s right to choose to support or not support the baby when legal entanglement does not exist (marriage, etc.) and the pregnancy is carried to term without his consent – regardless the reason for doing so (faith-based reasons having no more sway than non-faith-based ones, for instance). There are two people in this equation. In the current system, women are oppressed by stealing their fundamental rights to control their own reproductivity and men are oppressed by forcing them to support a baby they neither planned nor wanted when the woman exercises her choice to take it to term.

    Women should be able to claim motherhood when they think it is right for them and men should be given the same right to claim fatherhood when it is right for them. Men should not be able to force an abortion, of course, nor demand a baby be taken to term (it is the woman’s body!), but in cases where the man has made clear that he does not want the baby, a woman should make the decision to go forward or abort based on if she can or cannot support the baby alone – and not on what the court will order the ‘father’ to pay her – and this decision should be binding forever. Obviously, there would be exceptions (I am sure everyone can immediately think of a few involving criminal behavior – statutory rape, etc.) and they are too complicated and many to address individually here.

    Bottom line: safe abortion should be legal, unencumbered and collectively paid for when those that need it do not have their own resources – and refusal of fatherhood for unwanted pregnancies and its subsequent consequences when the woman exercises her power to choose should be given equal time. It is actually in the best interest of everyone involved and might actually result in adult, rational, reasonable and overall beneficial decision making that would result in better parenting when the time comes for each person to parent. And, if that is too lofty a thing to hope for, then at least it would be more fair to all involved by allowing each to make their own choice and live with the outcomes.

    • Thorn


      You are so right that education, birth control, and access to medical care are necessary. Let’s keep working hard for all these things.

      It is just these sorts of conversations that men and women need to be engaging in. I am not 100% certain where I fall on the rights of men regarding childbirth, but I firmly know that more of these sorts of conversations need to happen. I want to think more, talk more, listen more, and try to open to what the right answers may be.

      Taking away shame and stigma, and making sure abortion is accessible goes a long way toward making these conversations possible.

      thanks for your thoughts.

  34. Wendy Griffin

    Thanks, Thorn. I also did clinic defense for about 15 years. I only stopped because the last time, two men from Operation Rescue slammed me up against the clinic wall and my arm was almost dislocated. I decided I had gotten to the age where I didn’t heal that quickly and left physical defense to younger people. Back then, among our most loyal supporters right there with us were gay men from Act Up.

    I was lucky. I never needed an abortion. But I’ll never forget one night in the 60s in London when a woman who lived in the flat under us tried to self abort with lye.

    Abortion must be safe, legal, affordable, and available. Period.

  35. orange_gravy

    I supported my best friend through an abortion when she was 18. Her boyfriend was abusive. Even anonymously I don’t feel I can say how bad it was as it isn’t my story, but it was really bad. My friend still deals with the problems created by that relationship nearly 15 years after it ended. And she deals with the guilt. If she had kept the baby her life would have been entertwined forever with this man and it would have been incredibly destructive for her and the child. She is now a graduate and working for a PHD in a medical field which helps improve people’s quality of life. That would not have been possible if she had had the child. She is also recently happily married to a fantastic man who (just about) deserves her. I am so proud of her for her accomplishments, and I am proud that I live in a country that grants legal abortion. It is a fundamental right to have healthcare and that is what abortion is. Full stop.

    • Thorn

      Thanks, Orange Gravy.

      “She is now a graduate and working for a PHD in a medical field which helps improve people’s quality of life. That would not have been possible if she had had the child.”

      Yes. This. This is true of so many.

  36. Sylvia

    I had two abortions in the early days after Roe v. Wade, when it was an easy, peaceful, inexpensive process that involved no shaming whatsoever. In both cases, it was the right decision for me. Far from being difficult or scarring, it was incredibly empowering to know that I had such autonomy over my own body. It’s incredibly unfortunate that abortion has become such a controversial topic, and that access to abortion has become so difficult.

    • Thorn

      Sylvia, thanks for writing about this. Wow. What a difference. I wonder what led to these changes…

  37. Sandy

    My views on this, like the views of so many others here, are informed by the life I have lived, though they might be a surprise to many. I struggled with infertility in my 20s and my eldest son is mine because a woman in another country could legally neither abort NOR place the baby for adoption. The only option was abandonment. My heart breaks for that woman. Without her, I would not have one of the loves of my life. If her options were different, I might not have him. Still, every part of me believes she should have had safe, legal options to make whatever choices she felt were right. Even when my body could not create a child, I had options and she did not. We are linked always through our child whom she created and I have raised. The reality of who has choices became very real to me and very close to me. I will be forever grateful for the beautiful son that unknown woman gave me and forever saddened by all the ways that experience was wrapped up in loss for her.

    Many years later, when I was pregnant with my younger son, I was struck by how clear it was in my state that I had all the choices and my husband had none. I did not even have to inform him I was pregnant. It was then that I understood the burden and blessing of choices. And it was then that I saw how clearly each woman’s decision to carry a pregnancy to term or to abort weighs on that woman. She will make a choice, she will pay the price. Jim is right that there should also be an element of choice for potential fathers. I can’t say that I have the wisdom to know how that could be done well while still respecting women’s rights to own their own bodies, but I hope that together we can work toward a compassionate answer that supports all of us in the best ways possible.

    • Thorn

      Sandy, thank you for this story, and your thoughts.

      ” Jim is right that there should also be an element of choice for potential fathers. I can’t say that I have the wisdom to know how that could be done well while still respecting women’s rights to own their own bodies, but I hope that together we can work toward a compassionate answer that supports all of us in the best ways possible.”

      I don’t have any answers for this one either – all I know is more conversation and thought needs to go into it.

      • karen

        I have put thought into this. A real underlying problem here is treating children as biological objects to be ‘owned’. Any human being treated as property is problematic and lowers the bar on relationships. Horace Mann said, the State is Father of Children. After studying women studies, it is clear to me, we live in mythology and these distortions lead to endless useless conversations….no one has common base of information to begin conversation.

        • Thorn

          Karen – that is an interesting viewpoint. I agree that treating any human as property is a grave problem. *And* I don’t think that is always what’s going on. I want to maintain awareness that relationships are important. What sort of compacts do we make with one another, and how can we make the healthiest compacts possible?

  38. libramoon

    it’s not just about the mom/child dyad or economic issues or the health of mom or fetus
    I had an abortion to save a life, the life of a young father with 3 young children to support and a thriving career

  39. Thorn

    DH, I want to let you know why I won’t unscreen your comment. It is not because you disagree with me. I’m fine with disagreement. I am not unscreening your comment because it was insulting to me and to the others engaged in conversation here.

    Comments on my blog must be respectful and made in good faith. Anything else is counterproductive.

    That goes for everyone.

  40. Thomas R OFS

    This is a difficult issue for me, and a difficulkt article for me to read, Thorne. My beliefs about abortion are always a state of flux, it seems. As another gentleman said I think, being a man gives me a different and dare I say, inferior view on pregnancy, birth, and abortion. The bottom line is that, as a man – regardless of my personal views on the matter – I will never be pregnant…I can’t begin to fathom a woman’s experience of these things. I’ve listened to women I respect on both sides of this issues (you and many of your blog followers included, Thorne). The passion and fervor and conviction you all hold are humbling to me.
    I’m personally uncomfortable with the idea of abortion…but I’m more uncomfortable with the idea of a woman being forced to carry a baby to term and give birth. I struggle with the idea of person-hood and when human rights begin…a fetus born a month premature has rights and is protected under the law, but a fetus at the exact same developmental moment may be terminated and what would be murder 5 feet away in an incubator is deemed a medical procedure,
    To all here…these are my own thoughts and personal ethical struggles. As a Catholic and professed religious (although deemed a heretic by many in my own Church), I admit I have an old-fashioned ethos, that is developing as I pray and experience and attemot to strech beyond my own spiritual understanding. I hope and pray my comments do not offend. I politcally support a woman’s right to choose.
    Thorne et al, I thank you for providing a global face to this issue a la world overpopulation. And to all the women who have posted here and shared so deeply – I thank you for your courage.

    Pax et Bonum,

    • Thorn

      Thomas, thank you for your heartfelt contribution.

      Peace and goodness to you as well. I think any matter such as this deserves deep thought rather than glib decisions. All contributions in good faith are welcomed. They all help clarify.
      Blessed be.

    • Karen

      I’ve posted a few times on here. Maybe that’s inappropriate but I just want to suggest that that one way to investigate where ‘rights’ belong needs a better understanding of the power of female reproduction and ‘ownership’ rights. Rights come from ownership. Without ownership of bodies – essentially slavery residue – there are no fights for rights. I believe, knowing history here, that there is a misinformed and at times deceptive agenda that denies the rights of women’s bodies and places the right in the unborn when that actually places the rights in the ‘state’. Horace Mann said the State is the father of children. Some worry that the state will have the right to kill. The state already does and by not allowing abortion that right remains intact. It’s a thorny tanglement. I think learning about female anatomy helps to investigate so there is things to learn before deciding. I already mentioned by website in the comments here, so I suggest you find it, if interested. It helps raise questions about female anatomy. At some point, the mother and zygote are living as ONE for life. The argument should move beyond either or but to life for both. Surgery plays a part in the violence to life where historically there was no surgery until recently, still, women controlled their own bodies because they were tied to the earth and it’s products. Abortion only became the issue it is now because medical science became a player. Women and childbirth was a ‘secret’ and ‘taboo’ to discuss and it was a private affair, not public. Abortion became a product of surgery ONLY after the chemical companies were successful in making women’s knowledge of herbs, plants and roots both illegal and ‘superstition’ and removing women’s role in the ‘daily’ health care of their own bodies and family. So surgical abortion is the result of male state power over women’s bodies to begin with. The same is happening with birthing. Women are birthing through surgery like never before. The history of women and surgery overall is a part of the knowledge necessary to broaden the issue to move to resolutions of conflicting views, IMO.

  41. Saga

    I have always supported women’s right to choose but was one of those women who thought she would never consider having an abortion. My attitude completely changed by the time my youngest child was ten. My husband and I were polyamorous but he was the only one whose children I wanted to have and he’d had a vasectomy. Fortunately it never happened but if I had become pregnant by another partner I would have terminated that pregnancy. Circumstances make all the difference.

  42. Persey

    As I read this, my heart goes to Spanish women who are about to see their right to abort virtually disappear. I shared this on Facebook for them. A woman’s body is her own and no government should think they are legitimate to make decisions that will change this.

    • Thorn

      Persey, thank you for the news, and for sharing this. May the women of Spain get the support they need.

      • Hannah

        I just saw an announcement for a manifestation in solidarity with the people(*) in Spain who can get pregnant and who want and need their own power of decision back.

        The link is this: http://evibesenglish.blogsport.de/2014/01/26/we-give-birth-we-decide-2/

        I hope it’s okay to link this here, Thorn.


        (*) In the German text, they tell that it’s not only women who can get pregnant; it’s women*, trans*, inter*, queer*, a-gender*, non-binary-gender* people who can, with all these designations possibly overlapping.

        • Thorn

          Hannah, thanks for the info and for the (*). I’ve been aware of that thread through this whole conversation, but in fielding all the thoughts and comments hadn’t taken the time to make it explicit. The best I did so far was talking about “parents” instead of just “mothers” or “women.” I appreciate you bringing the variety of humans who can get pregnant into this conversation.

  43. Josh

    I see 3 communities with claims to life in the abortion discussion. The first is the unborn human, the second the mother, and the third, the community of humans that the child will be a blessing unto. Based on significant experience with the first and third communities, I am profoundly opposed to abortion. Personal examples and insights from the first and third communities will follow if they must, for it is from within these communities, and speaking on behalf of the first as a caretaker of young children, that my deep opposition arises.

    However, and critically, I have no experience as the second community and no possibility of experience, and as such I defer to the wisdom of women, who as a group are overwhelmingly in favor of abortion rights, and especially to the mothers. It is clear from the outside looking in on the second community that there are cases where abortion could be regarded as a moral choice, and that the final decision in any conflicted instance lies with the second group. I trust women’s spiritual competence to make difficult decisions on behalf of themselves and the human community.

    Yet in these discussions, we should not pretend that the individual mother is the only claimant to life. Such is the view of the atomistic, or antispiritual, universe and its conceptual systems. The individual mother is part of a cosmic process of blessing that affects the Whole process. The presence or absence of one human child affects us all. And whatever her decision, the mother’s greatest power comes from the ability to give and nourish life, not the ability to destroy life, which is what abortion, even when deemed necessary, is: the destruction of life.

    I add that I also respect the courageous choice of mothers who face abortion and choose not to have one. I count among my own friends the fruit of those decisions.

    • Thorn

      Josh, thanks for writing in with your perspective.

      I personally do not think the mother is the only “claimant to life” and certainly never said that. What I said is that her life holds more importance to me than a zygote or fetus.

      A carrot’s life is important. The microbes I kill every time I breathe are important. We are all part of the web of life and death.

      “the mother’s greatest power comes from the ability to give and nourish life” That is certainly not where my power lies – at least, not in nourishing the life of a child borne of my body. My power lies in nourishing life in myriad other forms.

      • Josh

        Right, Thorn, I didn’t mean you or any women’s greatest power comes from the ability to give biological birth to a human child, though I certainly would not disconnect power from birthing in any context.

        As to the carrot commentary, I’m not sure if you are entirely serious in linking the morality of abortion in all stages with carrot morality and microbe morality. I don’t want to drive a metaphysical wedge between ourselves and our carrot, walnut, and microbe brother/sisters, but all parts of the Sacred Web do seem to have somewhat differentiated spiritual vocations depending on their present incarnation; difference matters too, and mourning the death of child does not seem to be part of the walnut tree’s lifeway as it is ours. Of course, I”m not presently a walnut tree, so I could be wrong.

        In the case that you are serious, and believing that Death is a Sacred part of the Whole, I still think a slightly modified quote from a Supreme Court justice pertaining to the death “penalty” would be my response to you: I prefer not to tinker with the machinery of death. 🙂

        • Thorn

          Josh, if you are what some Christians call a “seamless garment” person: who stands against abortion, murder, war, the death penalty etc I can actually respect that position.

          Yes, I preference human life over carrots, but am not 100% sure that isn’t just chauvinism. And when does sentience begin? I am clear I don’t want to ever kill a living, breathing human. Yet I eat animals. And yet my actions, hard as I try, contribute to the poor treatment, the misery, and the deaths of humans across the globe. I mourn for this. I mourn for the mountain gorillas slaughtered or driven from home so I can have a cell phone. Gorillas are sentient, for sure.

          I also prefer to not tinker with death’s machinery and yet I live with the consequences of my impact on this planet daily. In the US, we are rapidly killing one another by our vast consumption of resources. We actively cause harm and suffering on a daily basis. We like to think we can ignore the cycles of life and death. That is a good way to sidestep our responsibility. I am not accusing you. I am speaking in general.

          Should cancer be allowed to grow indiscriminately? Should capitalism? No, humans are not “a cancer” and yet we are also reproducing exponentially right now. We’ve gone from 1 billion in 1800 to over 7 billion today. Is that not itself dealing death? If we look at climate change and resource consumption, I would have to say yes.

          • Josh

            Thorn, I greatly respect the seamless garment position, but believe that in its absolutism it is a form of death denial.
            I am a heretical Christian mystic with a Pagan heart (think Matthew Fox) in case you’re wondering.

            And I am not a eugenicist, in any way, shape or form. I do not think that the solution to overpopulation (which is indeed a crisis) is to let poor woman of color bear the brunt of the failure to create an economy of Love that nourishes all life. What of the many women of color who would like to bring their children to term, but cannot, because our society places almost no economic value on them, their bodies, their children and their children’s bodies, and provides almost no economic assistance for women to actually do the vitally essential work of mothering and patenting? Why are the needs of Capital more important than the life of living beings? What is a pro-abortion response to this injustice?

            I agree that we live in a death-dealing culture, which makes it all the more essential that we choose life whenever we have the chance. As I said in my previous post, I think there are instances when choosing an abortion can be choosing life, and that mothers should be making that choice.

            But I also want our children, all of our children, to be welcomed into a world that Loves and respects them and wants the best for them. Humans are part of Nature. Humans are Nature. Nature, through us at a minimum, is capable of wanting this for itself, and working towards the further incarnation of Love-Justice within Itself, as Itself. That’s what I think anyway. And in order for that to happen, abortion out of economic necessity has to go way, way down, as part of holistic social justice response to our culture of death.

            Brightest blessings, Sister.

            • Thorn


              those who know my writing and my work know that social justice has always been a frontrunner of my actions, life, and words. To create a just and equitable society based on love instead of greed and fear is my ongoing attempt.

              I hope we all keep trying. Let’s work on closing prisons, decriminalizing drugs, increasing free access to education, and giving everyone a basic income, shall we?

  44. Chief

    I have to preface this by saying that I loved your blog-post. My girlfriend and I both read it and thought that it was fantastic. I happened to read a decent portion of the comments as well and was glad to see a lot of positive response. However, a few things I happened to disagree with, minor things really, are your point that we are overpopulated. I feel that it is a problem that we, as a species, will overcome with technology and to back my argument I’d simply like to present you with a link to an inspiring TED talk made in 2012. http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_diamandis_abundance_is_our_future.html
    On another note, I do not find your religious views or your personal views or what have you to be disagreeable but your statement “I am pro-abortion because a parent’s life is worth more to me than the life of a zygote or a fetus.” also frustrates me a little. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, as are those who think in a 180 direction from you. But your statement seems somewhat unusual as a point of argument. I’m not saying that a parent’s life shouldn’t be worth more than a zygote or fetus or even that a zygote or fetus’s life isn’t worth more than a parent’s. It’s just that it’s a matter of opinion or perspective. For example, I don’t like violence. I feel that we should allow everyone their point of view so long as it does not explicitly bring us harm. But I also feel that my life and the life of my loved ones is “more important” than anyone’s life who would put me and mine in harm’s way. I just feel that your logic doesn’t work universally if you feel that all life is important. I don’t really mean to start anything. I guess I’m rather confused on the matter, or maybe I just don’t 100% follow the logic. Sure your life is more important than the zygote… or the carrot, or what have you. But I feel like that translates into your life is more important than anyone who would bring you harm or inconvenience. I’m not against women having a choice, I guess I just don’t see perfectly eye to eye with you on the topic and I’m not sure how to resolve that, with my own mind, not necessarily with you. I like that you seem to have read everyone’s comments and responded in kind. I hope that my convoluted reasoning hasn’t completely diminished any sort of point I may have had.

    • Thorn

      Hi Chief, thanks for writing in.

      I do feel all life is important. I also feel that life is not divorced from death. There are cycles within cycles, and sometimes, within these cycles, choices must be made.

      In the web of life, some things live a long time, others a very short time, and still others barely form. Life and death walk hand in hand. Those of us who live in technologically advanced places have a greater cushion around this reality.

      Thanks for the video link – I’ll make some time to watch it.

  45. Jessica

    Thank you for this post. I really needed to hear that there were others in the world who felt like me. I chose to have my children, for the sake of the man I was with because I honored his choice. I love my children but I made the decision after trying so hard for so long to be something I was not, that they belonged with their father on a full time basis. This took tremendous courage and was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I know in my heart that I made the best choice. Thank you again.

  46. Elizabeth C. Creely

    Very happy to see clear, lucid thinking on this issue coming from within the pagan community. Thank you.

  47. ~Angie Buchanan

    This is an important discussion. Thank you Thorn, for putting it out there.
    Too many times, our opinions on these kinds of topics are based upon emotional internalization and then, projection. We “can only imagine” what everyone else involved is thinking or feeling when they are faced with this kind of decision. We become anxious and distressed when they don’t make the choices we think they should, based upon our own thoughts, feelings, experiences, or convictions. We become attached to the idea that we KNOW. Not only do we know what she is experiencing but we know what’s best for her, for the dividing cells, for the situation.

    The reality is that we cannot possibly know. Even if one has personally had to face this choice, they cannot project their own thought processes or judgments onto another woman, the only one who truly has all of the information is the host of this potential; the pregnant woman. THAT woman will consult with those she believes need to be involved, as she sees fit; the father, her parents, her friends, her doctors, the spirit of the potential human, or none of them. She is the only one who knows all of the circumstance of the past, and who has the best perspective of the future in her particular, individual, and very personal decision. She deserves the final say about what she will or will not allow to happen to her body because, she is to be trusted.

    I too have crossed protest lines with sisters, and friends seeking abortions. I have held their hands, wiped their tears, offered them reassurances, even offered to jet them out of there at the last minute if they change their mind, and I have sheltered them in my home after the procedure, for recovery. Every single woman is different. There is no such thing as a blanket policy and in my experience, not one of them or any other woman in that medical facility was there because they were eager to jump up on that table and have that procedure done to them.

    Additionally, I think that every child deserves the birthright of coming into this world wanted and loved. No child should be forced into a life of poverty, or abuse because someone didn’t have the resources, courage or support to simply say, No – you cannot come here through me this time. And last of all, any pain, regret or grief associated with a choice like this also belongs to the woman. She does not need to be saved from it by well-meaning souls. Sometimes we get thrown situations in which there are no good solutions, only the best possible solution for the event and there is only one person who can ultimately decide what that will be.

    So, while I cannot go so far as to say that I am pro-abortion because, at this point, in this day and age of technology, I believe abortion is an archaic procedure that has been intentionally left in the dark ages but; I will say that I am pro-woman. Abortion does not need to be the dirty little secret hiding in a back alley with a coat hanger, anymore.

    • Thorn

      Powerful words, Angie! thank you. Thank you so much. This brought tears to my eyes.

  48. Denise Potter

    In the mid seventies post Roe v. Wade, I did volunteer work for the local abortion clinic. My job was to help women following their abortions find the support and assistance they needed to begin their healing. We provided safe house from abusive mates and family, a bowl of soup, bus tickets whatever was needed, but mostly a listening ear. I held the hand of a 12 yo and a 50 yo while they told me their stories, cried with some women and laughed with others. I came to understand how personal and individual the decision to have an abortion is. Didn’t hear one single story about having an abortion to fit into a prom dress or how abortion is just another form of birth control. So many of the anti-abortion arguments I would come to hear in later years concerning the “real” reasons women had abortions were never expressed by these women. Most expressed a mixture of grief and relief, sorrow that such a choice was necessary and many looked forward to a time when things in their lives would be different and they could welcome a child. It’s kind of hard to pass judgment on someone who is facing one of the most difficult decisions they will ever make. I use the term pro-choice as opposed to pro-abortion deliberately as a result of some of the stories I heard from some of the women who said the abortion was not their decision, but they were being pressured to have one from a husband, boy friend or parents. They feared the loss of social position, support from family and friends and some were in fear for their physical well-being if they didn’t comply. The early seventies were a different time and there were fewer laws covering domestic abuse. I fear the loss of autonomy for women. With some of the rhetoric I hear and read from politicians regardless of the decision she chooses there are those who will shame and vilify her. That is why I still tell women you choose and I’ll help no matter what.

    • Thorn

      Denise, thank you for being with those women and for sharing their stories, and your story, with us today.

  49. Emerald City

    I don’t normally write about personal stuff like this on the internet, but this amazing piece and the wonderful response have compelled me to. This is a refreshing change from the usual “No one is pro abortion” and “Abortion is the hardest decision any woman can make” rhetoric. I’ve had two abortions, and in both cases it was literally the easiest decision I’ve ever had to make. I knew the experience would be less than pleasant, but nowhere near the utter hell of pregnancy, childbirth and raising a child I did not want and could not properly take care of. See, I’ve never wanted to have kids. It just does not appeal to me at all. I’ve geared my life towards what many consider to be selfish pursuits for a woman; developing my intellectual and creative faculties.
    My mother’s mother’s mother (great grandmother) had 10+ kids. When my mom was pregnant with me, she expressed to her that she only wanted one child. My great grandmother said “I only wanted one, too”. This was in front of my grandmother, who was number 9 or so. Ouch. But really, she didn’t live that way because she wanted too. Back then women didn’t have what we have today. A CHOICE. She turned into a bitter and angry person. Who wouldn’t? On top of that, that one child who she did want, her firstborn, died having an illegal and unsafe abortion, ostensibly to save herself from a similar fate. I’m glad that’s not my life. I’m glad that I have access to safe and legal abortion. Since I’m not a Christian, and I don’t believe that abortion is murder, I’ve never been anguished by my choices to abort.

    • Thorn

      Emerald, I’m glad you felt free to share this here and now. These stories are important.

  50. Dave Linton

    My grandmother died in 1924 of an infection that followed a botched back-alley, illegal abortion in Chicago. Her son (my dad) was two at the time, and I know from reading her letters that she dearly loved him and her husband. Her situation? I found out only through much research – she was raped by her brother in law during an extended visit. She felt she had no options, and in fact, carried her secret to her grave, and I don’t believe her husband (my grandfather) ever knew the story. No woman should ever have been trapped in the no-win situation she found herself in. Had Roe v Wade been the law of the land in 1924, I would have known my grandmother. Being raped should not carry the death penalty, should the victim not wish to carry the rapist’s child to term.

  51. Carrie Skinner

    I’ve been doing an ancestry search for about a year now on my mother’s side of the family and it is amazing just how many children my ancestor mothers were forced to bear. It also was interesting to note the faces of the parents in family photos where there were up to 15 children in some. The fathers always had big smiles on their faces while the mothers always had sour, miserable looks on theirs. I was 10 years old when my poor catholic mother became pregnant with her 4th child and desperately began looking for a way to abort it. She drank a lot of disgusting things and did some pretty horrible stuff to herself. Then when she finally miscarried she went into a deep dark depression over guilt that she never really recovered from. If more of us were to tell these stories of our ancestor mothers maybe we could all realize just what kind of prison women have been bound by when forced to bear more children than they are physically or emotionally capable of.

    • Thorn

      Carrie, your mother’s story is sad. It is really too bad she had no community to support her and no better options to choose from.

      Growing up in a family of 8 children, I had friends from families of as large as 13. Unreal. If it weren’t for the fact that my mom and I both almost died during my birth, she would have kept on. I sometimes quip that I was an activist at birth because of this. My birth made it impossible for my mother to have more children.

    • karen

      Thorn, why don’t we collect these stories or others, with permission, and put them together in a book?

  52. Dorothy

    Hello. I am not a regular reader of you blog, but saw this link while browsing The Wild Hunt. I am and always have been pro-choice. I work at a public library and my husband is a commercial artist. I am happily pregnant with our very desired child.

    Having this child will be hugely financially difficult for us. Having a child in our current society is for all but the upper classes a huge burden in these times. If my husband and I were to separate, I and my child would be in abject poverty. I’ve done the math.

    What I find noticeably lacking in these discussions is the support of women to birth their children regardless of their socioeconomic standing. I hear lots of people supporting the choice of the poor women to abort a fetus, but who supports the choice of a poor woman to birth her child conceived in love. Outside of Ina May Gaskin and the Farm midwives, I have seen pretty much zero activism in this regard. I have always supported my sisters in their choice not to become mothers, but where is the support for those women that do?

    For my many peers who are choosing not to have children, this sentiment about the world’s overpopulation does seem to bring a great sense of comfort. But what future or hope is there for humanity if the best of people, the most compassionate, idealistic, intelligent, and hard-working among us deliberately choose to be the end of their line?

    Humanity is not a scourge upon the earth, and we need to support all the women choosing to be mothers even when that choice is difficult too. To make it sound as if aborting a fetus is the most ethical choice for a child who will be born into poverty implies a great deal that I find incredibly disturbing.

    • carrie skinner

      What you are saying is all true and I agree with most of it . I think that what you don’t realize is that there really isn’t any opposition out there to women HAVING babies but there is ALOT of opposition to them aborting them. That is why you hear more on this subject than you do on the other. I lived in near poverty all of my childbearing years and had 3 children and never had an abortion but I am totally in favor of every woman having the choice to do what ever she feels is best for her own life and body. That is what we are struggling for at this time. I don’t think it has as much to do with being poor or rich, it just has to do with being woman. No one is out there trying to shut down hospitals that deliver babies. They are out there trying to shut down places that supply birth control and abortion. That is why there are discussions like this happening.

      • Dorothy

        I do realize how many people are vehemently anti-abortion, and as I said I am pro-choice, vocally so.

        What I am saying is that we can not fight for our bodies and reproductive rights effectively if we are not fighting for right to birth (and birth safely – maternal death rates in this country are absolutely shameful) in tandem with our right to abortion. Many of us are not making a wholistic argument, and it is part of the reason we are so vulnerable to attack. Poor women who genuinely wish to continue their pregnancies have few sympathetic voices to turn to in liberal communities where overpopulation and pro-abortion have become the rallying cry. My concern is that we are essentially abandoning our sisters to the patronizing and patriarchal care of privately-run crisis pregnancy centers run by the religious right. We are not politically active for mothers (non-existent maternity leave, feh economic and social subjugation of childcare workers, the lack of social security benefits for mothers who provide child are, ect.)

        It is time to fight for reproductive rights across the spectrum. It would make for a stronger case and more mothers who have not ever chosen abortion, and would not choose it would see that we genuinely care for the bodily rights of all women.


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