Here’s Why and How Conservatives Lost the Right To Decide What Happens to My Offspring
I’m finally coming out because conservatives are trying to make embryos into full-fledged people
I have to be honest with you. Conservatives lost their privilege to have any say over whether my offspring develops into a person or not. They did so on December 16, 1981. I will explain more about that in a moment.
My pregnancy wasn’t supposed to happen. I have a condition that makes getting pregnant very difficult. In addition to that, we had been using condoms.
But then, someone attacked Senators with anthrax in 2001. I was a research associate studying PTSD. My supervisor sent me to Washington, D.C. to study the after-effects of the bioterror attacks on the people who experienced it.
I threw up on the bushes of the Rayburn Senate building on my way to an interview. When I kept having to run to a bathroom, they took me to the Capitol infirmary.
A nurse suggested, “Honey, could you be pregnant?”
I replied insistently, “Of course, not.”
After collecting the rest of the research data in between heaving, I flew home. The research was a success. Not for nothing, but people are more distressed by visual terrorism than bioterrorism.
Home was something of a nightmare. My stepson had been fighting brain cancer for over a year. He had lost his capacity to talk. He had lost his capacity to walk. He was throwing up on the hour. He had a feeding tube inserted, but he still lost weight to a frightening degree.
I interacted constantly with my husband’s ex-wife, because we all needed to coordinate my stepson’s care. It was a necessary, if not ideal, situation. Since my constant vomiting and nausea was now disrupting my ability to help, I saw the doctor again. This time, a pregnancy test was administered.
The doctor informed me I was pregnant.
I was floored. Not. Possible.
I had made a decision in my twenties not to have children. I raised my younger brothers and sister including having formal custody of my sister and my youngest brother starting when I was twenty-three. I felt like I never had a youth. I had changed diapers for four snotty-nosed children starting when I was five.
But I had a much more critical reason for not wanting to have children. My DNA is riddled with health and mental health problems. My father was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, although I think he may have had schizotypal personality disorder based on the fact that I am pretty sure that is my brother’s diagnosis, too.
My father’s health problems were extensive as well. His diabetes was wicked with sugar levels in the 400s. I inherited a insulin-related endocrine disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome from him, no doubt. This disorder is what allegedly made me infertile.
Then, there’s my mother’s side. She’s got bipolar disorder II. She is plagued by chronic migraines. Her father had both of these problems as well. Since my father had a bad back, this is a tough call, but I think it may have come down from grandpa, too.
I could bore folks with a litany of other miscellaneous health problems like arthritis, plantar fascistis, and acid reflux but I think people get the picture.
So here’s the reality.
My mother and father needed supportive living services for their mental health conditions. They needed income support from the government, because each of them needed to work part-time to accommodate their mental illnesses. They needed health and mental health care.
They were needy people. They decided to have a lot of children because of their conservative religious beliefs. Their children needed supportive services because of their parents’ struggles.
And you are not willing to provide those. You are just not. Nope, not willing to pay for them. Not to consider them “pro-life”
Okay, maybe you are a liberal who believes in providing mental health services and health services and a comprehensive social welfare safety net, but American society is not.
On December 16, 1981, conservatives made clear they were unwilling to provide those supportive living services. Police were involved. Child abuse investigators were called in. My parents lost custody of their children for long enough to traumatize already mentally ill people in unspeakable ways.
My parents lost custody of their children for several reasons:
- The house was 38 degrees inside
- There was almost no food in the house
- The house appeared unsafe and unclean
- Very young children were left unsupervised for over an hour
- Their children had evidence of frostbite
- The school reported there was evidence of drug abuse by parents (Ridiculous misunderstanding of mental illness)
- The school reported one of the children picked food from garbage and ate it.
- The school reported the children came to school dirty and cold.
All of these things were true except the drug abuse. At the time, I lied to cover for my parents because I didn’t want to be taken to foster care. But it was a no-win situation. If I stayed with the people I loved, there was a lot of misery to be had. Society was not willing to help mentally ill people. They would let them go hungry. They would let them freeze. They would force them to live in an unsafe house.
I knew all those things were true after my mom’s childhood church turned my parents away from a charity request. I knew that after everyone at my small-town school mocked me for using the free lunch card that was bright pink while theirs were green. I knew that after Ronald Reagan made up the myth of the black welfare queen, and then cut the government program we were on. It was called Aid to Dependent Families-Unemployed Parents. They also lost food stamps and Medicaid.
We ended up moving from an overcramped, but modern apartment in town to my grandpa’s abandoned farmhouse that should have been declared uninhabitable. As the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers. But our lives were literally worthless. We were left to die in 1981 until December when the State made clear that Americans were willing to pay more to split our family between two foster homes than they were to keep us together as a family unit.
This sounds like a distant event, right? 1981 was a lifetime ago. Not for my little sister. She was an infant when this happened. She’s nearly forty now, but she’s riddled with chronic PTSD, an attachment disorder, and borderline personality disorder. She is chronically suicidal. That’s not a real problem? One of our other brothers already took his own life.
So with that backdrop, I came to my shocking position at the turn of 2001 with an unwanted pregnancy. I had taken birth control precautions. I was not supposed to be fertile. I was in a monogamous, married relationship with a husband who had the only two children he wanted from a previous marriage.
I had been taking medications for everything from my PCOS to a bioterrorism prevention regimen to bipolar. The embryo developing inside me had also been exposed to a feast of chemicals for weeks before I had any idea I was pregnant. I was heartsick thinking about it. There were so many possible defects that could have developed.
There was absolutely no doubt in my mind. This embryo was NOT, NEVER, under ANY conditions developing into a human being. There were a million things working against it and no loving parent would ever do that to offspring. It had been drenched in harmful chemicals. It was bogged down with life-draining DNA.
Aside from my own misgivings about the damage to the embryo, my husband was adamant about not wanting more children. Since the pregnancy was making me extremely sick, he wanted it over. The sooner, the better. He needed me to be there for him and for our sick son. We had another boy who needed attention, too. He was easily not getting enough.
There remains yet perhaps the faint option of adoption, since I had always told myself that I would never have an abortion personally. It was just something that I supported as a right for others. But then I thought about my best friend from college. She was adopted. Her adoptive parents are just horrible.
We are not friends anymore. She came to live with my husband and me for over a year when her mental health deteriorated. She was diagnosed with a personality disorder and a mental health condition. She needed supportive services, too. I struggled to get them for her. Americans don’t want to provide them. Not for her. Not for my parents. Not for us kids.
After my husband wouldn’t tolerate having a house guest in our cramped apartment any longer, I had to ask a relatively helpless person to leave. Her adopted parents were not taking her in. It broke my heart. I’m not sure how she is doing.
Many years have passed since my abortion. Almost fifteen. I stopped the development of the embryo using medical abortion, which means using pills. It basically causes a miscarriage. This is not a pleasant process, but contraception is clearly not perfect. The woman at Planned Parenthood started to give me a lecture about using contraception, but I shut that down right away.
She should have known better. She knows no method is perfect. But she started the lecture before she asked me what happened. It was Missouri. I’m sure it was cultural. She backed off and apologized when I told her my story.
I never have regretted my decision, although it still makes me sad to ever have to have had to make it. It is not like it is ever an easy decision. It is not like I wish things couldn’t be different. It is not like I didn’t mourn because I did. And I still do. What might have been is always a wistful deep dive. I want the best for my offspring. That’s why I am comfortable with my decision.
No one can take away the risk that I will get pregnant even when in a loving monogamous relationship with my husband. No one can take away the right to decide whether I carry on my genetic deficits. No one can take away my right to decide whether I was able to provide a safe enough womb for the developing embryo to have a competitive life. No one can take away my right to decide whether I can manage to be sick during a pregnancy. No one can take away my right to decide whether I am willing to risk letting my offspring be raised by God knows who. No one can take away my right to know that I don’t have to be a parent if I don’t want to be. No one can take away my right to be assured that I don’t have to have a child that will have genetic weaknesses society WILL NOT support. No one can take away my right to decide.