I Love Children. I NEVER Want to Have a Child.
Someone messaged me recently to tell me she assumed I was not sad about the tragic death of a woman’s WANTED unborn baby because I am pro-choice. This is a common, dangerous display of ignorance of what being pro-choice fundamentally is.
I encounter similar assumptions all the time from pro-birthers because in addition to being deeply pro-choice, I am 43 years old and I have never wanted kids in my entire life, not even for a second. I personally love kids, I just don’t want any. I like watching my friends’ kids grow via Facebook posts over the years, I enjoy going to baby showers. When I see cute tiny baby shoes like tiny glittery Chuck Taylor high tops, I do a mental inventory to see if I know any babies just so I can spoil them. When I read testimonies about women who have experienced the loss of a baby due to bodily harm, miscarriage, or had to get an abortion of a deeply wanted child because the fetus was growing without lungs or something, I ugly-cry, heartbroken for them.
I also enjoy the unvarnished, honest personalities of children, I like talking to them, I like treating nine-year-olds like tiny adults because I respect them. I always remember that being a child can be uniquely difficult in ways being an adult is not. I’ve always suspected I’d be a good mom. But I’ve never, not once in my life, had a desire to have children. Desire is an active word. When you fail to desire something it does not mean you hate the thing, it’s just THERE. For the unimaginative, that means you can love watching ballet without ever having a desire to fuck up your feet and subject your body to hours of hard training; this isn’t a difficult concept.
All my maternal equipment works — too well, frankly; Experience has taught me to avoid animal documentaries because my heart cannot take watching a baby elephant fall into a ravine while the mother is unable to save it, I can’t handle watching the scene in March of the Penguins where the baby chick dies and the parents visibly mourn. I am especially haunted by what happened at the border during Trump’s ignorant and cruel reign — at parents being forcibly separated from the children they came here to protect from pain and death. I felt absolute anguish for the mothers and even more anguish for the children who lacked the development to understand what was happening to them, and who will therefore never be the same — those who survived will live a lifetime navigating trauma disorders which will, itself, absolutely affect the children of those children. Every time I read about the babies in these camps I think of this paragraph by Nabokov:
“[She thought of] the incalculable amount of tenderness contained in the world; of the fate of this tenderness, which is either crushed or wasted, or transformed into madness; of neglected children humming to themselves in unswept corners; of beautiful weeds that cannot hide from the farmer and helplessly have to watch the shadow of his simian stoop leave mangled flowers in its wake, as the monstrous darkness approaches.”
I know all over the world there are abused, neglected children. And I know most of those children will not find help until they are grown if at all, and the damage is done, and that breaks my heart. And I’ve never wanted to have children. All of these things are not a contradiction unless you have the subtlety of an anvil.
So why, then, am I profoundly pro-choice? Asks the person who evidently knows nothing about abortion.
Abortions, one way or another, end the suffering of children before suffering can take place. Even literally: 95% of abortions occur when the fetus is the size of a pea, can’t feel a damn thing, and lacks the brain development necessary for pain and anything resembling what we would call sentience. At this stage, calling it a “life” is only true if you have the honesty to acknowledge it is the kind of “life” that is indistinguishable from a potted plant. Abortions at this stage should be celebrated, should be 100% legal, and you should be able to get them at every grocery store and gas station in America without the smallest shred of cultural shame. Abortions at this stage, if you do not want children (or do not want them too early), are HEROIC — they are you being a responsible goddamn adult. The other 5% of abortions happen for complex reasons I am not going to get into right now for space, but in short, NO ONE gets them unless the alternative is worse — usually worse for the fetus.
I love children and it is BECAUSE I love them that I am deeply pro-choice. I would 100% go to Planned Parenthood with Friend A on a Monday to help her get an abortion, and would 100% spend Tuesday crying with Friend B over the miscarriage of her deeply wanted child. This is only a contradiction if you have replaced a desire for a genuine understanding of what abortion is and is not — with the rhetoric surrounding abortion that is a mythological, romanticized, idealized understanding of birth. And I am fucking tired of people choosing the latter.
When someone loses a wanted child at ANY stage of development due to abortion, miscarriage, or other, it’s incredibly sad. When someone chooses to extinguish a microscopic fertilized egg because they are not ready to be a parent, it’s awesome. It is that simple. You can call the potted plant “a life” all you want, but in doing so, you will be making a philosophical choice to do so that NEVER grants you the moral right to force others to put that potted plant ahead of their own lives, their happiness, their career, their education, or their ability to care for their existing children.
So if you want someone to cry over your miscarriage with you, call me. If you want to invite me to your abortion party, also call me, I will bring cake. I will aid and abet your abortion.