I'm glad my teenager told me she was getting an abortion
I’m anti-abortion. I believe life begins at conception and that taking a life is wrong no matter how you look at it. I’m not preachy about it, but it’s what I believe. So when my 15-year-old daughter got pregnant, I never guessed abortion would be her answer.
While I don’t think I ever rammed my views down her throat, I guess I’d assumed she saw the world as I did, believed as I did.
The abortion she did end up getting was not a knee-jerk reaction. It was not the first decision she came to, and when she told me at about eight weeks along that she wanted to terminate the pregnancy, it rocked me to the core. I’d just settled into the idea of being a grandmother — sort of. I don’t remember exactly how the abortion conversation went down, to be honest. There were tears, both mine and hers. I know I tried to convince her to not do it. I probably even begged.
But I never told her she couldn’t do it.
I gave her my blessing, if that’s even the right way to explain it. I didn’t pay for the procedure. I didn’t drive her there. In my mind, those things would make me responsible for ending a life that deserved a chance.
But I knew her plans. I knew she had a safe ride to a safe, clean and reputable clinic. I knew to watch for signs of infection or other complications when she got home.
There were no complications. She was fine. But I kept an eye on her anyway because I knew what she’d been through. She got counseling afterward and moved on with life. It was far from the ideal situation all the way around, but at least I was aware of the situation.
Because I was her mother.
Because she was 15.
Because I was responsible for her.
I didn’t agree with her decision, but it didn’t make her less my child and my responsibility. If the law would have made it possible for her to have an abortion without my knowledge, I might have been oblivious to any signs of physical or emotional distress. I could have been in my own world, absorbed with my own stuff, treating the day just like another Tuesday when my teen was holed up in her room.
Alaska courts recently ruled that parental notification for an abortion is unconstitutional. Supporters of this change say notifying a parent about their child’s decision to have an abortion violates their privacy. One supporter says this:
“A young woman seeking an abortion doesn’t need additional hurdles. She needs a doctor.”
It’s just not that simple. As a mom who supported her daughter through an abortion, I know it’s not that simple. A young woman seeking an abortion needs a lot of things. Maybe she needs her mom.
I’m grateful my daughter came to me. I’m grateful that we made it through this with our relationship intact, mostly.
What if she hadn’t told me? What if she’d assumed I’d go off the deep end and throw her out on the streets? What if she’d wanted to have the baby and jumped to the conclusion that I wouldn’t support her? Oh, you know… because she was trying to make a major life decision while in crisis mode. While 15. What if the law supported her making that decision independently? What if the law declared it unconstitutional for me to know?
In the end, my daughter made her choice, one I disagreed with but supported her through. It still hurts me to think about it. I’m sure it hurts her too. It’s been almost 10 years, and we don’t mention it to each other. Maybe one day we’ll talk about it. Maybe we won’t.
Aside from what was legal or not, I’m glad I knew. Aside from how painful it was, I’m glad I knew. I’m glad I was there.