I don’t regret helping my daughter get an abortion

by Laurie Bertram Roberts

“It is always easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them”- Alfred Adler

It was a day I never thought would happen. I thought I had done everything to guard against it. Yet several months ago there I was hearing that my 15 year old daughter was pregnant.

It all seemed so surreal. How could this have happened to us? As I stood listening to her tell me  the test was positive I struggled with the strong desire to scream and cry. In my mind my daughter knew better. She is the homeschooled daughter of the president of the state chapter of a national feminist organization. The first time she ever spoke at the capitol was at a joint Senate and House hearing on teen pregnancy. She was 13 and spoke about the need for comprehensive sex education. She and I along with her sister are clinic escorts. She knows all about birth control, condoms, and Plan B. She has always had knowledge about and access to contraception as well as being encouraged to wait until she is older to have sex.

This was one of those moments in life when I was faced with living my beliefs. I had always said if one of my daughters got pregnant as a teen I wouldn’t flip out and judge her like so many parents do. I would love her, respect her, and let her choose how to handle it. I would support her no matter what. Yet my mind immediately did judge and I wanted to shake her.

I took a deep breath put my arm around her and said “everything will be ok”. Then we traveled down the short hall to the counseling room at the clinic we escort at. I kept telling myself “stay calm, breathe, she needs to know you love her”. As we sat down all she kept saying was “I don’t know how this happened” over and over. The truth was in that moment she couldn’t remember having sex the one time with the young man she was seeing. She isn’t alone this happens to grown women all the time who find themselves faced with unplanned pregnancy. The clinic ultrasound tech peaked in with a soft smile and offered to take her back to see how far along she was.

Left alone with two staff members I broke down in tears saying “she knew better” and “I warned her”. It’s funny how all the rational things you know about teen sex and pregnancy go out the window in a crisis. The truth is my daughter was using condoms. Guess what sometimes they fail. Especially, when children who aren’t educated in their use like my child is are the ones placing them on their penis.

So there we were sitting, waiting. The clinic counselor said I was the calmest parent she had ever seen- so I guess there’s that. Even with that comment I couldn’t help feeling awful. Like I failed.

Like I suspected my daughter returned and said she was 5 weeks pregnant. I told her calmly and plainly she had three options she could parent, she could choose adoption or she could have an abortion. I also told her she had time to decide since she was so early in her pregnancy.

Let me tell you my daughter and I both LOVE babies! She loves kids. She is a great babysitter. She and her sister have a babysitting business. She wants to be a mom. She also helps me as a doula. Yet none of this means she is ready to be a mother at 15.

The clinic was closed the next week so we had over a week to be home with her being incredibly morning sick , unable to eat and asking questions about what it was like to be a teen mom. I was honest with her. I wouldn’t trade my children for anything but it was hard VERY hard. It is nothing like the fairy tale that anti choicers sell  to girls. Yes you can get benefits but you have to tell the state all your business to get them.  I had to work two and three jobs at a time often missing majors parts of my children’s lives. I wouldn’t have made it without my mother helping me every step of the way.

I made plans in my head for each options, if she chose to parent I thought it would be hard but we could do it. I’m a doula who works with teen moms I know the ropes. I tried not to tell her what to do and just gave her simple honest answers to her questions. It was about a day before we addressed the huge issue looming-the fact that my daughter has a illness that is managed by medication that is not compatible with pregnancy. The option for her would be to go off her medication and risk her health severely deteriorating during the pregnancy to the point of hospitalization.  Those are a lot of factors to lay at the feet of a 15 y/o girl but this was not my pregnancy or my choice it was hers alone. She spent hours curled up like a baby as I stroked her hair and after days of quiet reflection SHE settled on abortion as her choice.

So I made sure she received religious counseling pre procedure from Faith Aloud. She read the stories of other women online on the I had an abortion FB page.  I wanted her to know even there was no shame in what she was choosing to do she was walking a road many had walked before her. I wanted her to understand she had control. This was HER decision and she would have to be a parent, she would be the one relinquishing if she chose adoption and only she would be having an abortion, not me. I told her she could change her mind.  She said nope she knew what she wanted to do.

Doing the work I do I already knew the extra hoops parents are required to go through to obtain an abortion for their daughter if she is under 16. Let me tell you that knowing something and living something are two different things. In Mississippi a girl under 16 has to have parental permission from BOTH parents, a picture ID, and her birth certificate (which is redundant if she has a state ID since it was used to get the ID but whatever). It is the first time I was ever happy that Kayla’s father is not on her birth certificate because tracking him down wasn’t going to happen, we barely speak.

I had never even thought about having to go through the hoops of getting my daughter a state ID. We like many families in poverty who have moved often couldn’t find her birth certificate so I had to send off to her state of birth for that, priority mail. Then there was actually securing the ID. Our vehicle which like many low income families runs when it feels like it decided to break down when we were driving around to get the ID. Thankfully we have friends who could help us not everyone does. We also live in the city were we can get all this done . We didn’t have to drive 30 minutes or more away like many women.

We are fortunate that when my daughter and I couldn’t get through on the NAF hotline for abortion fund help (medicaid only pays for abortion in very rare cases my daughter’s wasn’t one her pregnancy was not a result of rape or sexual assault and she wasn’t about to die), I was give a person to call to get her intake completed. We were fortunate that we are surrounded by pro choice friends who were able to pitch in and help us with the cost of her procedure and take the day off to support her, unlike many of the families we see at the clinic.  Not only was I there on that day but a close friend who is a therapist was there in case she wanted to talk, had feelings to deal with, or just changed her mind and wanted to go home and come up with a different plan.

The day of her procedure she insisted on volunteering as an escort.  Which actually worked out well because when procedure time rolled around the protesters didn’t even notice her.  They were too busy harassing the other women coming and going to notice a regular fixture especially since we had several camera crews on site and they were showing off for them. In fact we were in a group of patients whose feet were filmed receiving the state mandated pre procedure counseling.

Since she is a minor she had the option to have me in the room for her procedure but she wanted to go alone.My daughter received excellent care. The doctor who performed my daughters procedure was caring and polite not only to my daughter but to me.   He asked her again before they started if she wanted to do it and talked to her through the whole procedure (I’ll let her tell her story in her own post).  Her procedure was quick and without complications.

She went home and rested. I felt relieved, she felt relieved. I was happy that she had choices and wouldn’t have to postpone or give up the chances like I did. Happy that she wasn’t being forced to risk her health to give birth. Within a few days she decided she wanted to go back to the clinic and volunteer to escort.  I thought she might want a break that the insults of the anti choice harassers might bother her. Nope, in fact her resolve was greater than ever. I don’t think she ever thought it would be her at the clinic. She says she just wants to help and she does just that.

For me the hardest thing about this whole journey has been living up to the principles I say I live by. It is easy to say we are “pro-choice” or “reproductive justice activists” those are  just words and titles if not put into action. It is hard to live them and let the people we love have autonomy, choice, and honor their decisions as their own regardless of what we think and feel they should do.

I know there are people who want to know if I regret helping my daughter with her abortion NO I DON’T! Frankly if she or one of her sisters were pregnant and asked me tomorrow I would do it again. Why? Their bodies, their reproductive futures are THEIR OWN not mine! They are my children-I do not own them. I guide them, I help them, I love them. That is my job. I am their mother NOT their owner.

I am proud of my daughter for deciding what was right for her and being willing to share her story with others and confront abortion stigma. There are plenty of people who wish to make her be ashamed and remain silent. She is rejecting that. She is refusing to be shamed by those who wrap their shaming in a guise of Christian love too (if she wants your prayer or thinks she needs forgiveness she’ll call you). As a mother and woman of color I will continue to strive to make sure no one ever has the right to tell my children or anyone else when, how, and if they procreate. As a people we have already been there done that and it didn’t work out well.

Below is a copy of the speech my daughter wrote and gave at the rally on 8/17/13. In case anyone asks I advised her against going public with her story but she said and I quote “I want girls like me to know it’s ok and they will be ok”.  Since she has went public the libelous slurs against my daughter and our family have already started. Kayla says she doesn’t care she wants other girls to know all their options and that they don’t have to be ashamed.  That is what she tells girls when they come to her for help. We then refer them where they need to go including if they need a doctor and a doula for their birth. That’s the thing about supporting women’s reproductive health and well being you have to support a range of decisions not just what you would choose.

“Hello my name is Kayla, I am 15 years old and I had an abortion. The day I found out I was pregnant I was scared and ashamed because I was 15 and pregnant. I had a big choice to make-should I stay pregnant, chose adoption, or have an abortion.
I cried because I want to be a mom one day but I was not ready for such a huge step at such a young age. So I chose to have an abortion. I was scared but I knew I was doing the right thing.
Did I feel sad? Yes. Do I regret it? No! Because I know that the spirit I named Mariah will go on to a woman who is ready for her. I love my mom for being so supportive of my choice- I love her for that.
For all the young ladies that might have been or will be in this situation- you are not alone. There are people who support you-always. Even when you don’t know it. Abortion is not a bad thing, it’s a lifesaver! I can now be who I need to be and I know God still loves me! Thank you.”

young fems

Delivering speech at the rally supported by her younger sister and myself-public speaking is scary

Kayla Roberts
JWHO Clinic Escort, Young Feminist

I support my choice

Kayla at rally with a sign she made

 

49 thoughts on “I don’t regret helping my daughter get an abortion

  1. This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing! I am truly inspired. You are an AMAZING MOTHER. I know that if I were going through this at 15 my mother would not have supported an abortion. Someday, when I am a mother, I want to be the kind of mother you are. I’m teary eyed at the moment. Again- thank you so much for sharing.

    • Thank you my goal everyday is what’s best for her I think she made the best choice for her. She is doing great. Oh and unlike what the antis scream outside the clinic she runs the family vacuum cleaner without problems.

  2. So proud you helped kill your grandchild. I hope the police remove all your girls since you let a molester have constant contact to them. Covering up for your finance while he rapes your daughters.

    God will avenge these deaths and what yiur doing to your daughters.

      • Why is it a lie ? Tell us that.
        You did help to kill your grandchild. You did teach your child to just have free seks and in case of a pregnancy she can just kill it. She did not learn to take her responsibility like this. She will do it again.
        While she is hoolahooping infront of a clinic where thousands baby’s en fetus have been en will be killed.

        I will not judge you. This are facts. Blessings upon you and your Children. I hope you all will repent someday

      • You aren’t judging but you are telling us to repent and saying that she is going to “do it again”. You know this how? What is “free seks”? I didn’t teach my child to have free sex I taught my child about biology and contraception. Those are called realities. Please don’t call us killers and then tell us you wish blessings upon us. You sound like you have bad cognitive dissonance.

  3. Beautiful story – thank you. I too have told my daughters that should they have an unintended pregnancy, at any age, I will support their choices and help them access the services and care that they need. It is nice to see this story written out, to have a chance to feel this reality. I am impressed with how you and your daughter handled it. Well done. Many blessings to you both. You’re an inspiration.

  4. Way to go, mom! When I was faced with my unexpected pregnancy (my IUD failed) I didn’t feel like I could go to my mom for support. It was a terrible feeling. I’m so glad that your daughter has such a wonderful, strong mother. Thank you.

  5. What a great mom and daughter! I am so sorry for all the hurdles you had to jump through. How brave and honest you both are! My quick comment is I hope everyone makes sure what is offered in the state they live in. I worked in a clinic on the west coast and the abortion charges were covered by the state, and parental consent was not required. Nor was I.D.

  6. I am so glad that your daughter had such a strong, loving, supportive mother when she was faced with this decision. I know it must have been so hard for you to face as a parent, and I think you did a wonderful job. *hugs* and I’m sorry the haters are hassling you. Your daughter can go on to have happy, healthy children (or not) as she chooses, with the assurance that she will be able to choose when and how to create her own family.

  7. thanks for your post – im lucky to live in canada, where abortions are performed in hospitals and are covered by public healthcare. my mom was always open with us about how if we ever became pregnant young she would support us in any choice we made. she was also open with the fact that she had two abortions in her early twenties and answered any questions we had. fortunately, neither me nor my sister have had to make that choice, and i am now an adult, and my sister will be 18 too as well. but it’s great knowing that i have a mom who i can go to with anything like this — and i know your daughter feels the same way! i hope to be the same way if i ever have a daughter. congrats on being an A+ mother!

  8. Bravo!! You are an AWESOME mom to support your daughter, especially with ensuring that she has the choice to decide for herself. My mom is pro-choice, and I would like to think that she’d be like you if I was pregnant at a young age. Kayla will be also an awesome mom, when she’s ready, thanks to you! 🙂

  9. I helped one of my daughter’s friends, when she was 16. Yes, I lied and said I was her mother, because her own mother’s religion would have banished her and blamed her for the rest of her life. Do I regret it? NO. She went on to marry her boyfriend after high school, and they have a beautiful daughter. She had the opportunity to graduate from high school, get married, and become an RN before she became a mother. HER way. On HER terms. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

    • There are many women who wouldn’t be the great mother’s they are now if not for their abortions. Those are the stories that people never hear because of stigma and fear.
      That is why our reproductive freedom fund helps women pay for plan B as well. Women MUST have options.
      Thank you for sharing!

  10. Thank you for sharing. That could not have been an easy decision for her. It definitely can’t be an easy decision for either of you to speak publicly about it, especially with such hatred coming from many who oppose you. People who are open and honest enough to share their journeys and admit their vulnerabilities make it easier for everyone else who goes through life’s struggles. You should be proud of her and proud of yourself for raising the type of woman who has the guts to share her story with others and confront the stigma.

  11. Thank you for sharing a difficult time in your lives with us-both Mom and Kayla. I love your statement that as a Mom you are there to guide your daughter, not “own” her. I also like and support what “Lynn” another commenter had to say about helping a young woman determine her future “HER way. On HER terms.” Supporting women’s choices means supporting “their” choices, not our own ideas, choices & religious instruction-I’m an atheist and refuse to listen to anyone instructing me or determining my future with their “religion.” Don’t judge unless you are ready to be judged by everyone for EVERYTHING you’ve EVER done in your life—I bet no one takes that offer.

  12. You are both incredibly strong women, I can see a wonderful future for Kayla, she has a maturity far beyond her years. May many good things come your way.

  13. Kayla, you and your mom are both strong, resilient women and I want you to know that both of you and your family have my support. Mom, great job on being there for your child, and you’re human. You WILL feel judgmental, but what makes you a great person is how you handled this situation. I like how you said “It is easy to be pro-choice and fight for reproductive rights” but completely different when you’re in that situation. It happens. Kayla, I know you will go on to make something of yourself and help others that were in your own situation. No one has the right to judge you or pressure you into doing something YOU don’t want. You are so mature for your age and I am extremely happy that you decided to do what was right for the child in the long run. God bless and both of you, keep going strong :).

  14. Having a serious health concern is one thing, but there shouldn’t be a justification for killing your baby because you’re just not ready for it. There are plenty of childless mother’s out there who would take that child and love it.
    How can killing it be the best thing for him/her? I’m glad you were a supportive mum and I know kids make mistakes, but implying Kayla is a christian (her words) then making the choice to murder is a bit contradictory.

      • No I am not God and that is my point. He decides life or death. I don’t say who is or isn’t a christian, just that it contradicts the Bible and the most well known rules God has…about killing. Yes Christians make mistakes. They aren’t perfect. But one thing they should do is realise when they make mistakes and admit it to God and themselves.
        I know your daughter had health concerns. I can’t imagine how hard that position would be to know what to do. But I do know that God heals and can do the impossible. And he loves all His babies. I don’t want your daughter to feel bad about this, please don’t let her read this, its just a passion of mine and on doing a lot of research lately it just makes me sad how often it happens and how gruesome the procedures can be. I just feel like I’m a voice for the babies …blessings to your family

      • I am posting this because if you didn’t want her to read it you shouldn’t have wrote it. The amount of nasty judgmental stuff that people who care about “the babies” have wrote to and about her is ridiculous.
        I want to remind you she is just a baby. She is also MY baby. She made the choice that was right for her.. If you don’t want to have an abortion then don’t.
        Word to the wise those pictures at “pro life” site that show “aborted babies” aren’t even accurate. This is what a first trimester abortion looks like http://www.thisismyabortion.com/
        It’s not super gruesome. Most abortions that happen at the Jackson facility the doctor is removing a embryo the size of a grape.
        Yes late term abortions happen but they are rare and they are for women who have severe health issues.
        Last thing if you think my daughter is a murder do you think she should be in jail?

      • Just to make sure I wasn’t being mislead by websites I rechecked the stats. Around 11000 late term abortions (past 20 weeks) occur in the US every year. I wouldn’t call that rare. And I truly believe they are not primarily because of health reasons for the mother. And these are true formed babies bigger than your hand that are injected or pulled apart to get out. I have even heard of them being partially born and stabbed in the spine or soft spot.
        This is what makes me sick.
        No I don’t believe your daughter should be in jail. She did not break a law this country has.
        And what is between her and God is just that.
        Now I really must go to sleep. Nite

      • That’s only about 1% of abortions that would make them rare and since most clinics don’t perform them women have to go through a lot to get one. Also why do research if you don’t believe it?
        Very few of that 1% are past viability but you go ahead and believe what you want
        Lastly I’m not sure what your ranting about late term abortion has to do with my daughter’s 7 week abortion?
        If my daughter’s abortion is between her and God why did you feel inclined to come on here and say she isn’t a Christian and call her a killer?

    • Realize that there are already plenty of children that those same women you speak of can adopt. Why should a young girl have a baby that she is not ready for, and make her go through a pregnancy just so that a woman can adopt it? Have them go to a foster home and adopt from there. There is no reason why more children should come into this world when there are already plenty of them needing families. That excuse doesn’t fly, and if people were truly as Christian as they say they are, they would worry about the children already here on this earth needing warmth and love.

      • Foster homes are not like pet stores. You don’t just go pick out the one you want, pay at the counter, and take them home. Most kids in foster care are not available to adopt. They’ve been removed from custody but the parents won’t give up parental rights. There absolutely are NOT plenty of babies available for adoption in the United States. You have no idea how long loving couples stay on waiting lists while abortion clinics slaughter the unborn. Kayla said “the spirit I named Mariah will go on to a woman who was ready for her.” That baby actually could have go on to a woman who was ready for her. It’s heartbreaking on so many levels that Mariah was killed instead.

      • Between 2009 and 2010 107,011 kids were eligible for adoption. Those weren’t kids who wee waiting for their parent to give up rights or have rights severed. Those were adoption eligible children.
        You said it right there is a shortage of BABIES for adoption and what people are obsessed with are babies especially white ones So please get off this page with your nonsense. You are taking Kayla’s words regarding her religious beliefs out of context which is disgusting.

  15. WOW!-SO EXTREMELY HEARTBROKEN to read this! I am a birthmom of 3(including twins,one of which is a 15 year old girl!) I chose LIFE for them! I was very young,poverty stricken,etc.,though educated(though I CHOSE to do those things anyways!) ie: have sex with out thinking much about the consequences! My mom & grandma are from young teen pregnancies(they ALL chose life & as I am gratefully here to write this to you!) I am so sad for you & your family! No judgment here,that is not what I do,it is only your daughter that will have to live w/ this the rest of her life & usually it’s forgiving yourself that is the hardest thing(though she is so young & in denial now). May God wrap his arms around her ,give her peace & forgiveness! My heat cries! May the peace of the Lord be with her as she seeks forgiveness! She seems like a very intelligent young lady,I’m sure her heart is big,hopefully her scars will heal as she can heal others through her story! I know it has touched me! Thank you for sharing,it is a big wake -up call to our youth! I hope that you & her sharing her story bring so many people to the realization of how PRECIOUS life is,never to be taken for granted even for a moment & that many”abortion survivors” like her will come to know God’s love & forgiveness! I am hoping through her story that this will not have to go on again,we have come too far as a Country & as women to have our babies so cruelly ripped from our very bodies! Thanks again!

  16. Laurie, thank you for sharing this personal story, and all good wishes to you and your daughter, Kayla. As you are a feminist leader, it was wonderful to see your willingness to honestly confront your mixed feelings about this experience — so many feminists (including myself) struggle with this idea that we have to be “perfect feminists” – where we expect ourselves to NEVER have what we think are “weak” or “non-feminist” thoughts or engage in actions that cause us to secretly say to ourselves (“bad feminist !” ) – (aka BE HUMAN) – and find that we berate ourselves for sometimes having thoughts or acting in ways that clash with our ideal image of ourselves as the kind of feminists we thought we were or “should be.”

    At the end of the day, we do the best that we can, and I think that’s what you did here, when you were surprised at yourself that you had some judgmental thoughts towards Kayla or feeling like you might have “failed” because your daughter got pregnant / had an unintended pregnancy.

    Hearing your honesty as you struggled with these issues was so helpful to me and I’m sure many others as well who have faced situations where our responses in reality didn’t match our image of our “ideal” selves as feminists. I think it’s great that you gave yourself permission to be where you were — in shock, perhaps in a place of some sadness, disappointment, admitting and expressing feeling that you might have failed, wanting to impress upon the nurse that you knew that Kayla knew better, letting yourself cry about this, and letting readers know that you cried….your humanity shone through as you struggled to confront all of this, and by your example, you showed us that it’s ok to be and feel all those things — and letting us know that it’s ok to NOT be the “perfect” feminist. Thank you for your courage in opening up in that way.

    I commend you on focusing on being there for Kayla, being supportive of her, and letting her know that you loved her, as you reminded her of the options and choices she had to deal with this unintended pregnancy. You are a good mother, Laurie — your compassion, your commitment to be supportive of Kayla, and your decision to think about how you could best support her and actively make her feel she had your support — those are the actions of a good mother — you did well by your daughter.

    And Kayla, much love and light to you — as a young woman, you have experienced a difficult situation and been faced with a choice that many women have or will confront at some point in their lives, and you have approached the situation with informed deliberation and knowledge, and you have emerged knowing you will be all right, and that you know that you made the right decision for you.

  17. Thank you for sharing your and your daughter’s story. It so brave of both of you to come forward knowing the backlash you would get. Nobody should be forced to carry and deliver a child against her will. Your daughter seems like a mature and intelligent young lady who made the best choice for herself and her future. This is what I would hope all of us do–make the best, well-thought out plans for our future that we can. As for the mean-spirited, so-called Christian passing judgement, I believe they need to spend a bit more time reading the Bible in private and trying to be more like Jesus rather than surfing the web and insulting people they don’t even know.

  18. I have to laugh when I see Christians declaring that abortion is murder and contradicts the Bible. You know what the Bible says about abortion? If a man causes a woman to miscarry (note that this is against her will, like fetal homicide laws), he has to pay her husband a particular amount of money. It’s comparable to punishments for property crimes. There’s absolutely nothing about women causing their own miscarriages. However, the idea that life begins at conception is incredibly new, less than a hundred years – traditionally it was considered to be quickening, when you first feel the foetus move. Some historical sources even refer to menstrual obstructions (missing your period due to pregnancy) as a medical problem that could (not would, could) lead to pregnancy if not treated. The history of women’s reproductive justice is fascinating and filled with a lot of very strong, knowledgeable women who dared to exert control over their own lives rather than submit to the wills of men who frequently did not want what was in women’s best interests. And reproductive justice isn’t just about abortion, either. It’s also about delaying pregnancy, and about choosing to have children when society doesn’t approve of it – there’s been a lot of instances of forced sterilisation of certain classes of people that provide proof of that disapproval, particularly non-whites.

  19. I took my daughter a few months ago i feel sick to my stomach but i think i done the right thing but since then she turned nasty on me what do i do

    • Give her time she may feel conflcted and judged. Often women don’t feel they can talk to anyone without them judging them. My daughter didn’t talk to me first about her feeling (positive or negative) she told her therapist. She also had a few other safe people to talk to.
      Abortion is something that touches one in three women’s lives yet no one talks about it.
      Here are some post abortion resources
      http://yourbackline.org/
      https://exhaleprovoice.org/‎
      http://www.faithaloud.org/faith/‎
      The first two are post abortion talk lines the last has a pre and post abortion pastoral counseling service but they are pro choice so there is no shaming, no judging and they are multi faith and even have secular humanist leaders available.
      I hope this helps! Feel free to email me if you need anything mississippiNOWprez@gmail.com

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