How My Miscarriage Made Me More Pro-Choice

This is a guest post by Melissa Weininger. Melissa Weininger is an academic who currently teaches at Rice University. She writes frequently on literature, gender, and religion and blogs about these and other topics at

In August of 2008, I became pregnant with what I thought would be my second child. A few weeks later, I lay on a table in a darkened room in my OB-GYN’s office while a sympathetic ultrasound technician shook her head sadly and said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t find a heartbeat.” A few hours after that, I was in an operating room having a D&C, having chosen, on the very good advice of my doctor, to get it over with sooner rather than later. A few months later I peed on a stick and saw two pink lines, and my miscarriage was largely forgotten.

That’s not to say that I felt nothing about miscarrying, or that I denied the feelings I did have. I was sad; I was anxious; I was disappointed. I cried and felt sorry for myself. I worried that I might not be able to get pregnant again. But I realized, as I experienced the hormonally enhanced emotional aftermath of my miscarriage, that even the source of my sadness was a powerful argument for choice. I was unhappy because my expectations had been radically and unexpectedly altered by circumstances outside of my control. The thing that upset me most was that I had chosen one future, and my body had chosen another. This understanding in and of itself was enough to cement my previously untested feelings about reproductive choice. Because whether you choose to have a baby or you do not, the most crucial thing is that you are able to choose.

In addition to this intellectual understanding of my emotional reactions to miscarrying, I also experienced a kind of physical revelation. The actual fact of the fetal tissue that had been removed from my body (my own tissue, after all) didn’t bother me in the least. I had to undergo a somewhat uncomfortable medical procedure, sure, but I knew definitively, even physically, that I had not lost a baby. There was no baby to lose; there was only my idea of a baby, and my sense of loss was a feeling I only had for myself. This is not a story about conversion or conflict, but about certainty: after miscarrying, I was now absolutely sure that safe, legal abortion was necessary and morally neutral. I became more pro-choice than ever.

In the last few months, I have read two articles about the nexus of motherhood, miscarriage, and reproductive choice – specifically, abortion. In January, in the Motherlode blog on The New York Times’ website, Christina Loccke described her conflicted feelings about abortion now that she is a mother, and how those feelings of ambivalence were amplified by her own miscarriage. A few weeks ago, I read JJ Keith’s account in Salon about how her multiple miscarriages complicated her feelings about abortion and caused her to temporarily question her commitment to reproductive choice. Both of these articles were thoughtful and well written, and although my experience has been completely different than theirs, I understand and respect their positions. Nonetheless, I wondered: am I the only pro-choice woman to miscarry who felt it produced no conflict with her political support of abortion rights? Or does nobody want to read the testimony of women who are unconflicted about miscarriage and abortion?

The current mantra of the pro-choice movement is “legal, safe, and rare.” Pro-choice organizations like NARAL also work to decrease unwanted pregnancies through giving women access to subsidized and convenient birth control methods. And we – even those of us who believe abortion should be widely available – should work to make sure that it’s not the only option. Choice, after all, means you have to have choices.

But what sometimes gets lost in the rhetoric around abortion – even left-wing pro-choice rhetoric – is that abortion should also be ok. A woman shouldn’t have to have a “reason” to have an abortion beyond that fact that she chooses to do so, and she shouldn’t have to feel conflicted in order to prove her worthiness to choose. People love stories of moral or emotional conflict, so I understand why personal narratives about the clash between political ideals and individual feelings are popular. But when we privilege stories about the conflict between women’s experiences and their commitment to their own pro-choice ideals, we do everyone a disservice. These stories are real, heartfelt, and necessary, but so are stories about women who had abortions and felt empowered by it, or women who miscarried and, like me, felt more strongly pro-choice.

The writer Emily L. Hauser has written one of the few stories of this kind about her own abortion. In a story published in The Chicago Tribune in 2006, she wrote of her own decision to have an abortion precisely to normalize the experience and destigmatize stories of abortion. Most importantly, she defends her right to decide without explanation of her decision: “And why, in the end, did I have my abortion? I’m not going to record that here. You and I don’t know each other, and my reasons are personal. I don’t need to defend them, and neither does your neighbor, the stranger at work — nor, perhaps, your girlfriend.” I would argue that the corollary to this claim is that neither do we have to engage in a staged morality tale in which we advertise our internal conflicts over intimate questions of health and reproduction. There are those who are conflicted – I wish them nothing but peace and comfort. But the very experiences – miscarriage, abortion, motherhood – that cause some women a moment of ambivalence with regard to dearly held political and philosophical beliefs have occasioned certainty in others of us.

I am a mother, and I love having kids, but I wouldn’t think twice about having an abortion if I got pregnant again. I miscarried, and it confirmed my deeply felt commitment to reproductive choice. Certainty may not be sensational, but talking about it may be crucial to the preservation of our reproductive rights and the normalization of women’s everyday experiences with pregnancy and its end.

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47 comments for “How My Miscarriage Made Me More Pro-Choice

  1. Kristin Rawls (@kristinrawls)
    June 26, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Still feministe has nothing to say about the historic Texas filibuster and people’s uprising. I don’t know why I expected any better.

    • debbie
      June 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      How dare the feministe writers not write posts on your schedule! For shame!

    • June 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Attention was drawn to it on the weekly open thread. If you’re desiring a full post on the subject, you do realize it takes time to write a quality post? And the filibuster only happened 11 hours ago, when most people were asleep.

      I don’t know why you didn’t write a post yourself and submit it the mods, if you were concerned about the subject being covered promptly here.

    • Victoria
      June 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Um, Look here.

      Also, this is a guest post, so the author has little to do with it.

      • June 26, 2013 at 6:32 pm

        Also, this is a guest post, so the author has little to do with it.

        Yep, it’s exceptionally poor netiquette to stomp into the top post on the front page with no regard for topic or author and complain about the blog itself, because it’s disruptive and a potential derail. Stomping complaints about the blog are what Open Threads or #spillover are for, and #spillover is where further discussion of Kristin’s faux pas belongs.

      • Victoria
        June 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm

        Sorry, did I do something wrong, too?

      • June 27, 2013 at 12:01 am

        Victoria, you’re fine. I just wanted to head off any potential for a further pile-on.

  2. EmbraceYourInnerCrone
    June 26, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Thank you, I had a very similar experience. I have had 2 miscarriages (actually one was spontaneous, the other the fetus had no heart beat but was not miscarried so they did a D&C after a few days, wish they had not made me wait) and one full term pregnancy. My daughter is one of the joys of my life but if I got pregnant now I would have an abortion. Really not likely to happen as I had tubal ligation when she was 5 but remotely possible even though I am 50.

    I think abortion should be safe, legal, available and possible, if you need/want one, no matter what your financial circumstances and I don’t think it should be “rare”, that part always bugged me.

    My 2 miscarriages were very different, as the second was the loss of a planned pregnancy and yes I had all those dreams of what my expected future child would be like, but I felt that what I lost was possibilities not a child, not yet. That’s my experience, other people are not going to necessarily feel that way. My first miscarriage was the loss of an accidental pregnancy (birth control failure) and I was honestly kind of relieved after the pain was over.

    I had been pro-choice already, but both those experiences made me more pro-choice .

    • Azalea
      June 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      I don’t think it should be “rare”, that part always bugged me.

      It should be “rare” because you terminate a pregnancy because you don’t want to be pregnant. The hope is; you don’t get pregnant when you don’t want to be and if you do become pregnant it is a safe, healthy and happy pregnancy you wish to continue. I cant fathom a good set of circumstances behind an abortion. Could you?

      • June 27, 2013 at 12:26 am

        Agreed — to me, the “rare” portion of that mantra is a reference to the desire to make contraception widely available and without stigma. To ensure that everyone receives an education about how it works and how to maximize its effectiveness by using it correctly.

        Making abortions rare is just part of an overall commitment to increased preventive health care. I want open-heart surgery to be rare, too, and that has nothing to do with judging someone’s virtue or morality or worthiness — it has to do with wanting to prevent invasive procedures when we have the tools at our disposal to help people avoid them in the first place.

  3. Athenia
    June 26, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Thank you for this. I think people don’t want to hear about miscarriages making women more pro-choice because people don’t want to think about the female body as protecting itself. People want to hear about the “precious life” that could have been—and how can we think like that when the female body doesn’t even think that?

  4. June 26, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Over the past four years we have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on fertility treatments. I have experienced 3 miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy. I will never forget the pain and terror of the ectopic pregnancy and the absolute relief that my doctor was able to do something about it. Currently I am 13 weeks pregnant with twins and I hope to give birth to two healthy babies sometime in December. I have been pro-choice since I first became aware of abortion and my experiences in trying to become pregnant have only made me more so. Just like I don’t want outsiders making my reproductive choices for me as I go through fertility treatments, I don’t want anyone trying to make decisions for a woman who feels ending a pregnancy is the best decision for her.

  5. rapacious traveler
    June 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I think in most situations where abortions actually happen, the pro-choice position definitely makes sense.

    But I think the hard question is when *does* the state have a legitimate interest in the life of a fetus? Is it quickening, viability, or some other point? I think most people would agree (maybe I’m wrong) that at some point, only the health of the mother should justify an abortion.

    • mamram
      June 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Even if we accept, for the sake of argument, that there is a point at which a fetus should have the same rights as a born person, and that the government should protect those rights, those rights have never included the right to another person’s body. A person with leukemia may need a bone marrow transplant in order to survive, but they are not entitled to a bone marrow transplant against a donor’s will. A child is not entitled to a blood transfusion from her parent, even if she would die without it.

      This idea that the “right to life” supersedes another person’s right to bodily autonomy is completely bogus (in the US, even dead people have the right to refuse to donate their organs), and wouldn’t fly in any context other than pregnancy. When you make this argument, you’re basically saying that women’s reproductive organs are public property, and so being denied access to them is a violation.

      • rapacious traveler
        June 26, 2013 at 3:15 pm

        Except that a fetus is in a completely unique position compared to those other scenarios.

        I’m not saying your analogies are totally useless – they do help tease out what we really think. But I’d say a mom who refused to breastfeed her infant when that is the only sustenance available would be guilty of some crime, moral or otherwise. Even though it’s her milk, her body. The law correctly recognizes that in some situations we have obligations to others that go above and beyond what we might owe to a stranger, a friend, or an acquaintance.

      • Victoria
        June 26, 2013 at 5:05 pm

        But I’d say a mom who refused to breastfeed her infant when that is the only sustenance available would be guilty of some crime, moral or otherwise.

        That is because the mother has chosen to take responsibility for her child by not having an abortion, giving the child up for adoption or leaving the child at a designated location in the amount of time. Such an action is neglectful because the child is in her care. Had she terminated her parental rights after birth, the state could not compel her to breastfeed the child if there was no other means to feed the child. They (or the adoptive parents, or whoever was charged with the child’s care) could ask her to do so and appeal to her better nature, but they couldn’t compel her to do so, just as they couldn’t compel someone to donate an organ or blood just because they are a match, or even related. It is not that the child has a right to her body, but that by choosing to raise the child, she has, in the eyes of the law, a responsibility to care for the child and if she has a means of doing so but chooses not to, she is being neglectful. However, seeking an abortion is a process of choosing not to be responsible for the pregnancy, so this is not analogous to refusing to breastfeed a child when you have no other means to feed the child.

      • mamram
        June 27, 2013 at 1:20 am

        Seriously? When else does the law obligate us to make our bodies available for another person’s use? What even comes close to this? It’s a huge violation, and the only reason it doesn’t particularly seem that way to you is that in our culture, women’s reproductive capacities are often seen as a public resource.

    • Past my expiration date
      June 26, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      But I think the hard question is when *does* the state have a legitimate interest in the life of a fetus? Is it quickening, viability, or some other point?

      Some other point. Namely: birth.

      (Or, alternatively, after Lois McMaster Bujold has invented the uterine replicator.)

      • rapacious traveler
        June 26, 2013 at 3:10 pm

        So you’re okay with elective abortions at 8.5 months? Really? That strikes me as an extreme, monstrous position.

      • A4
        June 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm


        That’s all.

      • Sizzle
        June 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm

        I am fine with a woman’s complete bodily autonomy. Including abortion until the end of her pregnancy. I do not feel monstrous about that.

      • Nanani
        June 26, 2013 at 9:01 pm

        I’m pretty sure that at 8.5 months it’s not “abortion”, it’s birth.

      • June 27, 2013 at 12:29 am

        Who has an elective abortion at 8.5 months?

      • June 27, 2013 at 1:18 am

        The anti-choice brigade play rhetorical games with the term “elective” when it comes to abortion, Anna.

        It is a fact of how surgery works in hospitals that nearly all surgeries are technically “Elective” when it comes to triaging the allocation of Operating Room Suites to surgical teams i.e. if an Emergency Surgery is required absolutely immediately to save someone’s life who is bleeding out right now, then any other surgery no matter how crucial/urgent will be bumped from its slot in the OR queue so that the Emergency Surgical team can save the life of the person who will die within minutes without an operation.

        Heart and other major organ transplants are Elective Surgery, because a heart transplant operation will be bumped for somebody who is haemorrhaging due to a car crash if there is no other operating room available, because donor organs stay viable long enough to cope with short delays. The point is that lifesaving operations are not always Emergency Surgery, and when they are not Emergency Surgery then they are Elective Surgery, for a delay of half an hour or a few hours in scheduling the surgery will not lead to the patient’s death.

        Likewise the following are all Elective surgeries: joint replacement surgeries, skin graft surgeries, most coronary artery bypass surgeries, tumour removal surgeries, gall bladder surgeries, and by now I’m sure you get my drift. Very Important Surgery that addresses Significant Disease or Dysfunction is still Elective Surgery because it is not Emergency Surgery.

        So, TOP aka abortion is almost always Elective Surgery, because in most cases the pregnant woman is not about to die within minutes without the surgery. Many anti-choicers misrepresent late-term-pregnancy Elective TOP surgeries as indicating that a woman has decided to abort just upon a whim, and that the label “Elective” means that there is no critical/lifesaving underlying cause that has led to the decision to terminate the pregnancy. Those who use this line of argument are either woefully misinformed or wilfully disingenuous.

      • June 27, 2013 at 12:58 am

        So you’re okay with elective abortions at 8.5 months?

        FFS. At that point the foetus has every damn chance of survival and the fetal death causing methods are probably going to be useless anyway (abortion pills, etc). At that point most methods of “abortion” would, you know, result in a live birth (assuming the foetus was able to live, and not being removed from the mother because it was dead or anencephalic or whatever).

        So, you know, take your bullshit abortoholocaustofascistnaziwhatever faptasies somewhere else.

      • shfree
        June 27, 2013 at 2:32 am

        So you’re okay with elective abortions at 8.5 months? Really?

        These people, they give me the vapors. If a person would be having an abortion at 8.5 months, it would be because the fetus was not viable (and because actually being able to obtain an abortion earlier was some clusterfuck that prevented hir from getting to a clinic, like she lived in North Dakota, Texas, North Ireland, or some other place where the lawmakers seem to hate people with viable uteri.) That is the only step I’m willing to take into your bizarro conjectureland.

        Honestly, the fact is abortion is part and parcel of reproductive health care. It isn’t pretty, but no surgical intervention is. And what chaps my ass about the whole “Safe, Legal and Rare” thing is that at this point, I think “Accessible” is waaaaaay more important than “Rare.” They are trying to legislate “Rare”, which is fucking bullshit.

      • Chataya
        June 27, 2013 at 9:14 am

        Yes. To presume otherwise would be to claim knowledge that the pregnant person and zir doctor do not have. I am not a mind-reader or a medical expert.

    • rain
      June 26, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      I think most people would agree (maybe I’m wrong)

      Yes. You’re wrong.
      You know what I think is monstrous? Thinking it’s OK to put other people’s human rights to a popular vote.

      Here’s Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s son. It might help you with that “everyone agrees with me so I’m right” thing:

      It would be impossible to overstate my father’s influence on me. As a child of 6 or 7, I got into an argument with three boys on my street about who was the best player on the Montreal Canadiens. I said Jean Béliveau, they said Henri Richard. “We all agree,” said one of them, “so you must be wrong.”

      That night, I asked my father about it when he came to kiss me goodnight, and I remember his words today as if he’d just spoken them: “You can be the only person in the world who believes something,” he told me, “and still be right.”

  6. Past my expiration date
    June 26, 2013 at 11:32 am

    am I the only pro-choice woman to miscarry who felt it produced no conflict with her political support of abortion rights


  7. lucky
    June 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I had a different experience with the same end. If pressed, I would have claimed to be “pro life” (anti-abortion but I’ve also always been anti-death penalty, pro-gun control, pro-social safety net, and anti-war as well) though it was always a pretty lukewarm commitment. Too many of the hardcore anti-abortion advocates have always seemed so mean spirited that I didn’t want to be associated with them.

    I suffered severe postpartum depression after my first child was born and decided it wouldn’t be responsible for me to have another child (soon) biologically… but within days of voicing that opinion, I found I was pregnant with my 2nd child. I am not sure I would have made the decision to abort even if I had been pro-choice at that point in time because I was paralyzed by fear and unable to make any major decisions — the decision about what to eat for lunch was so anxiety-ridden that I had dropped well below my very healthy pre-pregnancy weight because it was easier to just not eat. It was a little surprising I managed to get pregnant and was still nursing with that weight loss.

    Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, I got both pharmacological treatment and talk therapy and made it through (it did feel like a marathon) the 2nd pregnancy and survived having 2 very young children.

    I finally felt like I was getting healthy again, part of that was getting my body back to myself when I weaned my 2nd child (I am glad I breast fed, don’t get me wrong, it was kind of a final “through that phase” marker). I confirmed – no more biological children for me, at least not for a very long time.

    I was waiting to get onto new insurance so I could get an IUD because I never tolerated hormonal birth control well (hence the earlier unplanned pregnancy) and discovered I was pregnant yet again (Fertile Myrtle here) and was devastated. I cried for 24hrs at a complete loss for what to do… and then I miscarried.

    I was shocked and appalled at myself at how happy and relieved I was — I was pro life and supposed to view all children as blessings — but what felt like the total loss of control was so debilitating.

    So I did a little soul searching thinking through how I, middle class, in a stable happy marriage, with a comfortable income, physically easy pregnancies and births, and healthy beautiful children, and myself healthy aside from the ppd, could be so desperately miserable at the prospect of another pregnancy and child. How would it be for women who are struggling to make ends meet, are alone or in abusive relationships, have or are facing the prospect of caring for children with significant disabilities, had health issues, or simply women facing the prospect of losing control over that aspect of their lives… and decided that even if I couldn’t pull the trigger to do it thanks to the lingering anxiety issues, I certainly couldn’t deny the choice to others.

    • Liz
      June 26, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Thank you for sharing this story. I’m sorry that you had to go through that, but I’m grateful that you were able to take that experience and use it empathize with women who are struggling with this type of decision.

      What often gets lost in the abortion debate is that those of us who are pro-choice want as our ultimate goal that every single child be born to parent(s) that want it and are in a good position to provide for it. Only the pregnant woman can make the decision if it’s a good time to become a parent.

    • (BFing)Sarah
      June 29, 2013 at 10:28 am

      I had a similar experience, lucky, in that I was raised in a very pro-life household (as in: my mom and grandmother went to the March for Life and wore those baby feet pins) and I adopted that viewpoint for myself. I would always say that I was pro-life for me and pro-choice for everyone else, but I didn’t feel strongly about my pro-choice convictions and I totally understood the positions of the pro-life crowd. Fast forward to my unplanned pregnancy that happened with I was scheduled for uterine surgery…and a lovely 7 months of a painful, scary pregnancy on bedrest…rest assured: my position changed. I feel like during this pregnancy I suffered from very severe depression that went undiagnosed. I felt helpless, trapped, sick, angry at my body, angry at the baby, sad that I felt that way, and upset when everyone in my family would say things like, “You are so blessed. This child is a miracle (b/c I wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant). No, the child wasn’t a miracle. The child was the result of sperm meeting egg–happens all the time. What was a miracle was that I got through that experience without jumping out the window b/c that is what I felt like doing. When my son was born, I will say I felt a LOT better and my depression lifted…but that conviction that NO ONE should ever have to go through that without choosing to do so remained. That was a miserable pregnancy, as pregnancies sometimes are, and we have no right to mandate that a person go through that experience. They don’t need to have a reason. “I don’t want to” is quite good enough.

  8. Victoria
    June 26, 2013 at 11:39 am

    But what sometimes gets lost in the rhetoric around abortion – even left-wing pro-choice rhetoric – is that abortion should also be ok. A woman shouldn’t have to have a “reason” to have an abortion beyond that fact that she chooses to do so, and she shouldn’t have to feel conflicted in order to prove her worthiness to choose.

    Thank you so much for this. We often hear stories about women discovering that something is wrong with the fetus she is carrying that means it won’t survive the pregnancy and she tearfully decides to have an abortion. These stories are important because it reinforces the idea that abortion is a valid healthcare need, but the emphasis we put on them often creates a dichotomy of “necessary abortion” vs. “totally selfish abortion.” I don’t want children. I don’t want to be pregnant. Before I discovered that I actually couldn’t have children (the universe got that one right), I knew that if I ever got pregnant, I would have an abortion. I could never admit it, because it didn’t seem like a legitimate reason, because even in pro-choice rhetoric it was always all about the extenuating circumstances.

    I’m actually in a similar position to the post-miscarriage pro-choice discussion, because I’ve encountered a number of women who are anti-choice because they are unable to have children of their own. I understand how it is totally an emotional thing, but it kind of bothers me that if you accept this line of thought you are basically telling anyone who makes a choice that you personally don’t have that they should have chosen the way you do. The analogy I like to make is that before I developed a serious tremor at 16, I wanted to be a surgeon. It isn’t fair of me to be upset any time someone who doesn’t have a tremor decides not to be a surgeon, because not everyone wants the same things out of life.

    • (BFing)Sarah
      June 29, 2013 at 10:35 am

      That was the quote that stuck out to me, too. It is okay not to feel conflicted. It is okay to choose abortion. That is a valid choice.

  9. June 26, 2013 at 1:26 pm
  10. Helen
    June 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you for this post. I had a very similar thought-process after my two first-trimester miscarriages, especially this:

    There was no baby to lose; there was only my idea of a baby, and my sense of loss was a feeling I only had for myself.

    Another feeling I had after my miscarriages was rage at the anti-choice movement because of their obvious lies about caring about fetuses. My doctor said that up to 25% of pregnancies miscarry. The anti-choice proponents should consider that an epidemic. Why, instead of focusing on babies that are not wanted or can’t be born, aren’t they focusing on saving MY wanted pregnancies? Why aren’t they pouring their church money into research about how to prevent miscarriages? (I’m mainly presenting this as a debate topic; I don’t necessarily think that we should try to prevent the miscarriages like mine that happen due to incompatibility with life.)

  11. Sizzle
    June 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I had an abortion at 20 and have never regretted it. Just shy of 30, I got pregnant, not planned but I wasn’t using much besides pulling out so not a complete shock. I miscarried early and was surprised to find I was pretty sad and we decided to stop pulling out at all. While my miscarriage was disappointing it was also very clear that it was a loss of possibility and not the loss of a baby. Even physically it was just a very heavy period. Miscarrying a pregnancy I had chosen to continue did not change how I feel about my abortion 10 years ago. I look at the 2 experiences as a choice narrative. I was angry and sad and frightened when I found out I was pregnant the first time and relieved to end that pregnancy. I was excited and terrified to be pregnant the second time and pissed that I didn’t get to continue it.
    I also think its interesting that I am about as sad when I get my period now while we’re “trying” as I was miscarrying. It wasn’t the embryo I regretting losing, but the hope of the birth when I would actually have the baby. If that makes any sense. I guess this is a personal spiel to just say I agree totally with the OP writer.

    • Asleif
      June 27, 2013 at 11:57 pm


  12. Lolagirl
    June 26, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    My experiences with miscarriage and infertility only further cemented my pro-choice stance. Because those experiences only served to reinforce the lesson that an embryo does not guarantee one a baby at the end of a pregnancy. Embryos poop out all the time, for no good reason, and being sentimental about them is ultimately futile in light of that reality.

    And that isn’t to say that I wasn’t devastated by my miscarriage and infertility, because I was. I raged at the world and my life daily, even hourly at times. I had great dreams and plans for all those hoped for pregnancies, but I always knew that those embryos created on our behalf by our RE were nothing more than a promise for the future and not a guarantee.

    And so, yes, those things never made me feel conflicted about being pro-choice.

  13. Goldenblack
    June 27, 2013 at 12:58 am

    My experiences of a miscarriage and then a successful pregnancy made me even more pro-choice than I previously was.

    The miscarriage because my mental health required my own mental conception of a potential child as just that – potential. Miscarriages are extremely common amongst women in my family (my mother had seven with two live births), and I knew from the moment I was pregnant that a miscarriage was highly likely. People insisting I should be gigantically invested and then feel huge amounts of guilt or grief were essentially wanting me to suffer.

    I was lucky the second time around – I managed to keep the fetus, but the pregnancy itself was devestating to my health, with permanent consequences and intense suffering. That pregnancy was something I had difficulty describing afterwards to others – it involved agonising pain, constant pain, legs so swollen the skin split. The whole idea that ANYONE could force me to undergo that ever again was terrifying.

  14. emily
    June 27, 2013 at 6:08 am

    Thank you for this. I feel very similarly. I’m actually going through a spontaneous abortion right now and having similar feelings. Pregnancy with my first child made me a lot more passionate about reproductive freedom. And my spontaneous abortion even more so.

    I hate not calling it a spontaneous abortion. The term “miscarriage” sounds like mistake. It makes me feel like I did something wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. If I understand correctly, “spontaneous abortion” is the medical term. But apparently, we’re in the privileged class of lost pregnancies and don’t want to be lumped with those other women who’ve had abortions. At least, so says wikipedia, without citation to any research on how we actually feel.

    I hate that I see the forced birth movement turning on spontaneous abortions next, if they ever get their way with elective abortions. If an elective abortion is murder, then a spontaneous abortion, is that manslaughter? Should I have eaten that lunch meat sandwich? Lifted those boxes? Gone for that hike? Cleaned that litterbox? “Allowed” myself to get so stressed (my husband is about to lose his job and us our health insurance. Did you know that you can’t purchase individual health insurance as a pregnant woman? I sure didn’t!)? Did my negligence cause my spontaneous abortion? No. I’m confidant that it didn’t. But the forced birth movement doesn’t pay attention to facts, like the fact that the birth control pill and the morning after pill are not abortifacients. Why would they listen to the science that says that stress does not cause spontaneous abortions? Or that says if you cleaned your cat’s litterbox prior to getting pregnant and your cat is an indoor cat, you have probably already been exposed toxoplasmosis, if your cat even has it?

    I wanted to have a D&C. I wanted to go into a surgical center, be sedated, and get it all over with. We have hospitals and great medicine. Why shouldn’t I do this safely and comfortably? But my bleeding picked up a few days before surgery was scheduled, and I was left in horrible pain and bleeding through my clothes as I watched Senator Davis’s amazing filibuster. And maybe I’m paranoid, but I think she was fighting for my right to have this procedure done safely in a surgical center as well as my right to an elective abortion.

    But since I bled out at home, I didn’t the closure of a D&C. Instead, my closure was going back to the doctor yesterday to make sure I passed everything. And when I got up from the ultrasound table, seeing my hope of another baby run down my leg and onto the floor.

    • kungfulola
      June 29, 2013 at 11:38 am

      I’m sorry you’ve had to suffer such a sad disappointment, emily. I hope that the passage of time brings you healing, and that your future takes the shape of your longing.

  15. Alara Rogers
    June 27, 2013 at 7:53 am

    I’m with the OP. I was grief-stricken at my miscarriage, but it never for a moment changed my pro-choice beliefs. I have *always* believed that the crux of abortion is not “is it a human life” but “does a human have the right to eat you if you don’t want it to”.

    I had two pregnancies that resulted in live births. They were wanted. They were horrible. I endured them because I wanted the children they would produce. I see voluntary pregnancy as a type of heroism, and involuntary, forced pregnancy as slavery. If I choose to die for my beliefs, I’m a hero. If I’m murdered for my beliefs, I’m a victim. And every mother should be a hero, not a victim, vis-a-vis the life of her children.

    (Please note: the entire point of heroism is that it cannot be mandatory, and there is nothing wrong ever with not being a hero — it’s going above and beyond what can be expected of a person — and there are many types of heroism. I am by *no means* saying that childfree women are cowardly or not heroic — the cowards are the people who cannot themselves have children but demand that other people must be forced to. Childfree women can be heroic in the way they stand up for what they believe is right for their lives and bodies and resist social pressure, and regardless of what a woman does about her reproductive abilities, she can be a hero in any number of other ways. I am *not* saying that being a mother voluntarily makes a woman a special snowflake who is better than other women who didn’t so choose; I am, however, saying that one way to be a hero is to voluntarily suffer for the sake of another’s life, and when that suffering is involuntary, the person is a victim, not a hero. Taking away the right to abortion makes *all* mothers into victims, because it makes our choices meaningless — just as you can’t consent to sex if you’re not allowed to say ‘no’ because the lack of ‘no’ makes ‘yes’ meaningless.)

    Pregnancy destroys women’s bodies. It doesn’t usually kill us, although it can, but it makes us weak and often causes permanent health conditions. *No* one has the right to make a person suffer like that on behalf of another. But then, I am also strongly morally opposed to the draft, and I’d fight that as hard as I fight anti-abortion laws if the draft were currently being implemented.

    My miscarriage hurt me because I had come to *want* that child (that one was unplanned). It has nothing whatsoever to do with what other people want or don’t want. Women who become anti-abortion because they miscarried would be like women who oppose all women having sex, ever, because they were raped. Except that, outside the context of fundamentalist religions that are anti-sex anyway, no one thinks that way, and we’d consider it ludicrous if they did, so why would we take anti-abortion proponents seriously just because they had a miscarriage?

    • emily
      June 27, 2013 at 11:19 am

      What you say really reminds me of a woman I met through on an online Harry Potter forum. She spoke about how her mother died when she was young because, when her mother was pregnant with her sister, the mother was diagnosed with cancer and opted to not get treatment because it would jeopardize the pregnancy. This woman was pro-forced birth because of her mother. And whenever she went on her crusade, I had thoughts along your hero v. victim idea. She was proud of her mother because her mother chose to continue the pregnancy, not because she was forced to. But she never realized this.

      The most ironic part (to me) of all of this (and why I brought up how I met her) is that Dumbledore said that it’s our choices that make us who we are, not our abilities. It was her mother’s choice to not seek cancer treatment that made her a hero in her daughter’s eyes. If she would have been unable to make that choice, the same result would not occur.

  16. Katherine
    June 27, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I’ve never had a miscarriage, to my knowledge, but I’ll tell anyone who asks that my pregnancy made me more pro-choice, if that was possible.

    When I was pregnant I remember thinking how awesome, amazing, scary, wonderful, terrifying, uplifting, uncomfortable and painful it was. Take out the positive emotions associated with a wanted pregnancy, and I wouldn’t have wished that on anyone.

  17. Asleif
    June 27, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    I miscarried just two months ago. Ultrasounds clearly showed no development and no heartbeat. Thankfully I have a good ob/gyn and live in Canada. I had no difficulty obtaining the procedures which freed up my uterus so I could try to get pregnant again as soon as possible – the same procedures as for an abortion. Just a change in terminology.
    My miscarriage definitely reinforced my pro-choice attitudes. Women (everyone really) deserve full access to health services. The end.

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