Aren’t you glad you weren’t aborted?

I want to explore some of the presuppositions undergirding the question, “Aren’t you glad you weren’t aborted.” That question contains these messages, and probably others:

Your mother had the power of life and death over you. She was given this power by the State, and nobody is permitted to question this power. Had she chosen to exercise it, nobody would have mourned you. Your remains would have been disposed of like trash, or sold for medical research. You would have never been given a name, you would have never breathed, never laughed, never cried. We wouldn’t be having this conversation.

If I (the person asking the question) am pro-choice, I would have applauded her decision. You could be dead right now and I wouldn’t even care. We know this because there are plenty of aborted fetuses in your age bracket/of your ethnic background/of your sex/ and I care nothing for them.

Just be grateful, OK?

If you are pro-choice, don’t ever, EVER ask this question of anybody. You have no idea how insulting it sounds. You just told the person that they could be dead and you wouldn’t care.

If you are pro-life, please, do not ask this question or its cousin, “Aren’t you glad your mother chose life?” Because the answer may be, “No, I’m not glad. My life has been so painful that I often wish I had been aborted.” Consider that you may have an unspoken motive: to teach the person a lesson in gratitude. Is death really the best way to approach that?

Actually, as I think about it, if you ever hear somebody saying that they wish they had been aborted, you can let them know they are in good company. Job was a prophet in the Old Testament, and there is a whole chapter where he wishes he had never been born (Job 3). And later, after he had finished venting and presumably worked through his issues, God praised him and blessed him doubly from what he had before (Job 42). So there’s really nothing wrong with feeling that way and letting God know–in some circumstances, it is a totally normal reaction to extremely painful events.

However, please don’t feel tempted to set up this question with those Bible verses as a response. Don’t feel tempted to use death as a lesson in gratitude. Instead, you can consider asking it like this: “Have you ever wished you were aborted?” I think that’s a lot more honest.

Even so, if you feel compelled to pose these kinds of questions to somebody who might have been aborted, please hit the pause button and consider your motives. Not only are they problematic for the reasons I gave here, the question itself reveals a profound power inequality between the generations. Because of this, there just no good way to spin it.

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Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I'm writing in order to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I will also discuss problems with other non-triad family structures, since there is a lot of overlap. People often think that better parenting skills will overcome problems in non-triad arrangements. While I agree that parenting skills are important, they cannot overcome the problems I discuss such as fractured ontology and perpetual liminality. I converted to the Catholic faith in 2012, and will discuss Catholic things from time to time as well.

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