Decades before she become a cult leader, my grandmother was a young mother. She had married well and had four daughters in short succession. The fourth died of a congenital heart defect; no one’s fault, but not something she could easily live with either. A few years later, she found herself pregnant by her second husband and also diagnosed with uterine cancer.
So many people pressured her to abort. “You have children at home who need you”, they said. And I think she must have felt so terribly alone. This was the 1960s. Obstetric, neonatal, and cancer treatments were all different, with much harsher odds back then.
She made the choice not to abort, to take a chance and roll the dice that she and baby could make it out okay. And they did. But even if they hadn’t, it was her choice to make.
I think we all have ideas in our minds of the “right” circumstances to give birth and to abort. When someone else makes a decision so different from what we imagine we would do (or know we have done), it can be hard to accept that choice as legitimate.
If you are used to defending the rights of ill women to terminate their pregnancies, it may be hard to accept a woman who wants to see things through no matter the risks. And if you’re used to ensuring teens have access to abortion rights, seeing a teen choose to go through with pregnancy and parenthood at a young age can be heartbreaking.
But choice always matters. We cannot make these choices for someone else, no matter how much we believe it would be for their own good.