ABORTION AND INFERTILITY: PLAYING RUSSIAN ROULETTE WITH REPRODUCTION
After I turned 30, it became much harder to take some of my single female friends to the Mass of the Ages. Mind you, at least one was having a conversion and said how much she wanted to assist at the Holy Sacrifice. When she did come, she just looked at the ground and at Communion she closed her eyes which were brimming with tears. She was on the Pill for years and is also post-abortion. In her 20s, the abortion industry told her, “You can go on to have a football team.” I have known hundreds of women who were told the same lie.
Like my friend, many of them aborted the only babies they ever conceived. When my friend goes to the Traditional Latin Mass with me, she sees women with many children and she feels harrowing pain. No one told her the psychological harm, that she would crave a baby but at the same time have “an allergy” as she describes it to being near one. Perhaps it’s too easy to merely call her jealous, but I sometimes hear other friends, Trad Mums with a big, beautiful brood who complain of women who give them rude looks and who behave stroppily towards them. The usual remarks to a woman with many babies is that she and her husband are lusty lagomorphs or that they are overpopulating. Jealousy is a factor here, when a childless woman tries to make a family feel at fault or even guilty for having something she desperately wants for herself.
I know many women who spent their 20s on the Pill, sleeping with men who were not father material, using up their precious fertile years when that same time could have been spent looking for a good man. Up until recently, women were sold a falsehood of eternal fertility. We can debate the varying degrees to which the Pill and abortion negatively impact fertility; some women have more resilient uterine walls, but these practices tend to make the womb wall harder. But there is something we can all agree on; the Pill and abortion allow for a lot of wasted time. It’s so much easier to take the pleasure on offer, even if the man is not who you want to be the father of your children, but encounter after encounter can add up to years. When I was in the pro-life trenches, I discovered that fear of infertility was the major issue that deterred pregnant women from having an abortion. I’ve met pregnant women from every walk of life under the sun and the vast majority – except for very few – had grave concerns that an abortion would impact their fertility. Their concerns were well-founded, not just because abortion is not good for the womb, but because no one can turn back the clock as Shakespeare wrote, “And nothing ‘gainst time’s scythe can make defence, Save breed to brave him when he takes thee hence.”
A Hindu couple who were hellbent on having a late-term abortion for their baby girl decided against abortion because they feared it would wreck the mother’s chances of conceiving a baby boy. It has always confounded my listeners when I tell them how worried women in crisis pregnancy are that an abortion will damage their fertility irreparably. If they want children, why do they abort the one they already have? Many times they are just not with the “right” person, granted, the man they have in mind is a fantasy figure and has an odd habit of never appearing. But for some pregnant women, the father of the baby is a total rotter and yet these women deserve to keep their fertility as strong as possible. Many rape victims, when they learned of the impact an abortion could have on their fertility turned totally against having one. As a proud African mum said to me, “my rapist took control of my body, he’s not getting my fertility, too.” A lovely young woman paid for an abortion but didn’t go through with it. Hers was a very hard case, her boyfriend was in crime, but she cancelled “the procedure” because she feared for her fertility.
The Pill and abortion mean playing Russian Roulette with reproductive functions. We are about to see an explosion of women on the cusp of middle age who conceived in their younger years, “got rid”, and then never had a baby. Childless by choice, and childless not by choice. True respect for the young who are coming up entails telling them it could be them. I write this as a childless woman myself; I gave my best years to helping others have children but am content I followed a certain calling.
This Summer it is 65 years since Humanae Vitae was promulgated, a document that tried to answer the proponents of contraception. I think it is only now, however, that the tide is turning on contraception, Louise Perry’s groundbreaking book, The Case Against the Sexual Revolution finally gives voice to the women who felt under great pressure to have sex when the Pill became ubiquitous. I myself remember being pushed to take the Pill when I was in my 20s. I have found, however, that nothing is so strong a factor in making a woman decide against promiscuity as explaining the link between the Pill and a childless life, spent alone and lonely. Thus, if we want to stop abortion, this needs to be better known.
As for my fellow women who attend the Latin Mass and are open to life, if you’re a mum with young babies, and you see a woman give you a dirty look, you may consider doing her the charity of asking her, “Is what I have something you wanted?” You just might see tears peep from her eyes. She’ll never dry her baby’s tears, but she’ll have plenty of her own.
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I wrote this piece for the Summer edition of The Mass of Ages.
The classic painting was executed by George Elgar Hicks.