Which Was It ?

Recently, more than one woman, as the nuances are parsed out, has come to realize that what they thought of as a miscarriage was actually a type of abortion. Truth is the definition means that both result in a similar outcome.

Medically, an abortion is the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to a viability allowing it to continue living. Many doctors now prefer to refer to this event as a termination rather than an abortion (for obvious reasons). This can happen either spontaneously or it can be induced. Generally, the more spontaneous is referred to as a miscarriage and this can occur even rather late in a pregnancy. When the event is induced, it is referred to as an abortion. Often, when a D&C is performed, medical personnel don’t really know for certain, if an embryo is present. I remember having to have a D&C when I was receiving reproductive assistance between the births of my two sons due to my lining not developing well enough and being asked directly if I was or could be pregnant. Since I was experiencing secondary infertility due to age and had not had any embryos transferred, I could be confident in my answer. With recent laws at some state’s level, this kind of situation could risk legal ramifications for the medical personnel and the woman.

During in vitro fertilization, it is common to fertilize more eggs than will be needed as the goal is to increase the woman’s chances of a successful pregnancy. Those excess fertilized eggs are commonly frozen, disposed of or donated for scientific research (which will then cause their destruction) – none of those choices are thought of as abortion. Some couples, as we did, will donate their frozen embryos to another couple – though in our case – the couple whose effort initially was successful and joyous, ultimately failed to develop after that point. All reproductive assistance patients want their pregnancy to be successful. In my mom’s group, only about half of the woman who started off in the group with us ended up with a pregnancy and ultimately, a child or children (we had quite a few twins and even a set of triplets in our group).

Often tens of thousands of dollars have been invested in the effort. Though this effort may initially appear successful, the pregnancy can still end and a decision must be made to remove those cells and the lining. Technically, this would be defined as an abortion. I read today about one case where a patient was carrying triplets. The pregnancies created by through in vitro fertilization, each implanted but stopped developing at different stages: one at six weeks, one at seven and one at eight. Therefore, none of these embryos were going to be successful in producing a child. Her doctor had to remove that tissue. It is not healthy and serves no purpose in remaining.

There is a kind of miscarriage that will be referred to as a missed abortion. The pregnancy actually ended, even though no symptoms of that had occurred. The contents of the uterus have not been naturally expelled. Sometimes, there may be some brownish discharge. The fact that the embryo has died is often discovered during a routine scan by her OB. The patient will be given Oxytocin, antibiotics and a D&C (a complete uterine evacuation – abortion). This is a situation where new laws could become problematic, especially if this occurs after 6 weeks and a positive indication of pregnancy.

NOT A Gotcha Argument

Whether this statistic is accurate or not, it is an issue close to my own heart and personal experience in life. That said, just passing this along as a kind of public service announcement from one such adoptee.

I am an adoptee whose birth mom was a drug and alcohol addicted teenager, who repeatedly abandoned me, abused me, and exposed me to abuse including child sexual abuse.

STOP USING ME AND PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A “GOTCHA” ARGUMENT FOR ADOPTION.

I couldn’t be more sick of reading, over and over, “what about the kids who actually do have abusive or neglectful birth parents, don’t they deserve adoption?”

No. There are still better ways. One of the biggest ways to prevent sad stories like mine is to fight for abortion rights, and fight against the societal narrative that vilifies aborting an unwanted child and glorifies adoption.

But most importantly, if you’re not one of us, you don’t get to use our existence as a talking point in your agenda.

(With my own apologies for making this my blog today but I thought it was important.)

Are We Entering A New Baby Scoop Era ?

Before the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, >LINK Time magazine carried an article – What History Teaches Us About Women Forced to Carry Unwanted Pregnancies to Term by Kelly O’Connor McNees on Sept 30 2021. She is the author of The Myth of Surrender about two young women in a maternity home back in 1961.

Her article was motivated by Texas’ severe abortion law back in 2021. Reproductive rights advocates are justifiably concerned about a potential increase in unsafe abortions and adoption activists are right to be concerned about more adoptions taking place that will leave more people dealing with the trauma of separation from their original mother.

The image of coat hangers may seem obsolete in an era where medication abortions can be safely self-managed at home, but we also know that there will be some women who lack access to health care. They will resort to desperate measures to avoid the physical, psychological, emotional, social and economic trauma of being forced to complete their pregnancy and give birth against their wishes.

We have been here before. In the decades from 1945 to 1973, now known as the “Baby Scoop” era, more than 1.5 million pregnant girls and women in the US were sent away to maternity homes to surrender children in secret. In realizing that my adoptee mom conceived me out of wedlock in 1953, it has become to my own heart a minor miracle that she did not get sent away to have and give me up for adoption. I will always believe I have my dad’s adoptive parents to be grateful to for encouraging him to do the right thing when he had only just started at a university in another nearby town. This is why I was born in Las Cruces NM but I am happy to claim I am a native of that state.

It was believed back then that both the child and the birth mother would be better off. It would be a win-win scenario: the baby would be saved from the stigma and shame of illegitimacy, and the birth mother could put the unpleasant chapter behind her and make a fresh start. Meanwhile, the young men who shared equal responsibility for the pregnancies typically carried on with their lives unfettered by social stigma.

Birth mothers sent to these homes received little to no counseling on what to expect from labor and delivery, and were not advised of their legal rights once the child was born. They endured psychological abuse from nuns and nurses, and gave birth alone in sometimes terrible conditions. This is the scenario I imagined my paternal grandmother endured at a Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers when she gave birth to my dad. Many women still foggy from the effects of anesthesia following a birth under “twilight” sleep were coerced into signing papers terminating their parental rights. That was a tactic employed by Georgia Tann during her baby stealing days up until her death in September of 1950. Those who wanted to keep their babies were threatened with financial penalties, since many homes only covered the cost of prenatal care and room and board if the child was surrendered. Some women who refused to give up their babies were committed to mental institutions.

The promise that birth mothers would surrender their babies and “move on” turned out to be a lie. They did not go back to normal; they did not forget. Many were haunted for the rest of their lives by the uncertainty of their child’s fate and were prevented by strict adoption statutes from acquiring any information that might ease their minds. My maternal grandmother, exploited by Georgia Tann, reverted from her married name of Elizabeth to Lizzie Lou, the name on my mom’s original birth certificate, and even has that name put on her grave stone, when she died many years later. She never had another baby after my mom.

Unplanned pregnancies create a complex constellation of decisions that resist a tidy narrative. Sometimes they are the result of love, sometimes casual sex and sometimes rape. That was true in 1945, in 1965, and it’s true today. Given a different set of circumstances—access to legal abortion and open, non-coercive adoptions—the women caught up in the Baby Scoop era might have chosen to terminate their pregnancies, carry their pregnancies to term and make a plan for adoption, or keep and raise their children, and they would have made these decisions for all kinds of individual and personal reasons. In that more humane version of midcentury America, the decisions would have been theirs alone.

Women with unwanted pregnancies are no longer physically warehoused, but many of them are still trapped by what happens when they lose the freedom to choose whether or not to give birth. The overturning of Roe v Wade, and the rush in almost half these United States to totally ban any access to abortion regardless of the circumstances that caused the pregnancy, now guarantee that more women will face the same formidable future that women were facing back in the Baby Scoop Era.

It’s NOT A Partisan Issue

There was a book published in 2004 by Thomas Frank – What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. It was in Kansas in 2009 that Dr George Tiller, who performed abortions, was murdered by anti-abortion activists. Yesterday in a hopeful, surprising outcome – Kansas voted to continue to protect abortion in the state constitution. It was the first state to put this issue to the people since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the federal protection of abortion rights for women. You and I have to do our job out there at the polls to save this country from itself.

Kansas is a deeply conservative and usually reliably Republican state. President Joe Biden said, “This vote makes clear what we know: the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own healthcare decisions.” Kansas state senator Dinah Sikes, who is a Democrat, said “It’s breathtaking that women’s voices were heard and we care about women’s health,” The $3 million dollars spent by the Catholic church trying to eradicate abortion rights in Kansas failed.

The referendum was instigated by the Kansas Republican legislature. Their effort was criticized for being misleading, fraught with misinformation and voter suppression tactics. They scheduled this vote in August, when voter turnout is historically low, particularly among independents and Democrats. It was a tense and bitterly fought campaign.

The campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, Rachel Sweet, noted “We knocked tens of thousands of doors and had hundreds of thousands of phone calls … We countered millions of dollars in misinformation. We will not tolerate extreme bans on abortion in our state.” The key to this was driving voter turnout to not seeing abortion as a partisan issue in Kansas. Everyone – from Republicans, to unaffiliated voters, to hardcore libertarians – came out to say: “No, we don’t want the government involved in what we do with our bodies”.

Information for this blog came from an article in LINK> The Guardian. Abortion and Adoption are often linked, although one really does not relate to the other, still some people often try to make that association. Many adoption activists trying to reduce the prevalence of adoption in the US are pro-Choice. Many people who managed to get born are thankful that they were not aborted. Surprisingly, due to the trauma involved in all adoptions (whether acknowledged or not), many adoptees will say they wish they had been aborted.

Conveying Personhood to Embryos

I am good with the definition above. With the overturning of Roe v Wade, couples who have utilized assisted reproduction to produce embryos now in cryogenic storage are concerned. Therefore, people hoping to conceive with in vitro fertilization are now considering moving their stored embryos to states where abortion is protected.

A handful of states want to use an abortion regulation to define life as beginning at fertilization. This is language that is commonly present in several state abortion bans. Some have gone into effect and others will soon, including in Utah, Texas and Louisiana. Some states want to go further – giving embryos constitutional rights through what are called “personhood” bills, even though most will never become babies. Personhood laws have been proposed but have not yet passed in Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Nebraska.

IVF is the other side of the reproductive choice coin. Abortion is a woman’s right to choose ‘no.’ IVF is their right to choose ‘yes.’ Laws that define life as beginning at conception could lead to limitations around how many eggs are fertilized in each IVF cycle and whether the resulting embryos, most of which are often not genetically viable, can be disposed of. It’s standard to retrieve a dozen eggs or more, then fertilize and test them to ensure the one that is implanted in the uterus has the best chance of leading to a healthy pregnancy. If those embryos are considered people from the moment they’re fertilized, disposal could be a crime and doctors could be prosecuted. That would make IVF less successful, more costly and more inaccessible.

Couples are worried that their embryos could be held hostage by abortion legislation and that they would then be unable to move them out of state. They are worried their state will force them to have another child even though they feel their family is complete. They are worried about getting pregnant at all and miscarrying – will they be able to receive the care they need?

The bottom line is this – losing choice means losing the autonomy to dictate one’s own future. 

Much of the content for today’s blog came by way of this article – “IVF may be in jeopardy in states where embryos are granted personhood” by Chabeli Carranza and Jennifer Gerson in The Guardian.

So Young And Pregnant

Raped 10 year old Ohio girl had to travel out of state to for an abortion in Indiana. A 14 year old in foster care says “Conception, continuing the pregnancy and relinquishment was not my decision. As a child in foster care, those decisions were made for me.”

The future is not bright for the very young women who may become pregnant in light of the Supreme Court ruling regarding Roe v Wade recently.

Sadly, in the case of the 14 year old former foster care youth, the outcome is troubling. Here is her story.

I see adoptees speak of how traumatizing it is when their birth moms refuse to meet them. I don’t want to cause any pain but the thought of meeting sends me into a meltdown. Contact and meeting isn’t something I want but I constantly read that I “owe” this to her. I’m not in a place where I can handle the fallout it will cause. I’m not interested in reliving the hell of 20+ years ago.

This isn’t something I can make myself do. It is too traumatic. I can’t pretend I’m interested in meeting or having a relationship when I’m not. She represents everything I hate and resent. I want to spend the rest of my life as if she doesn’t exist. I don’t want to see pictures or hear her voice. I want to be left alone.

How am I supposed to handle this? I don’t want to explain anything. Will she get it and leave me alone or eventually show up at my door?

I leave the story here. I’m not wishing to delve into the responses. Just wanted to share how one young woman forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy and then give her baby up for adoption feels 20+ years later.

Always The Question

From The Huffington Post – I Was Adopted Before Roe v. Wade. I Wish My Mother Had Been Given A Choice by Andrea Ross.

“Would you rather have been aborted?” This is the question some people asked me when I publicly expressed horror at the June 24 overturning of Roe v. Wade.

This question is not only mean-spirited and presumptuous, it’s a logical fallacy. The notion that adopted people should not or cannot be pro-choice simply because we were born ignores the possibility that we can value being alive at the same time we value the right to make decisions about our bodies, our lives and our futures.

My birth mother was 18 years old and partway through her first year of college when she discovered she was pregnant. Her parents arranged for her to go away to a home for unwed mothers once she started showing. My birth mother had limited choices; abortion was illegal, so her options were to keep or to relinquish her baby. And maybe it wasn’t she who decided; perhaps her parents made that decision for her. Maybe she had no choice at all.

Either way, the right to choose to have an abortion has nothing to do with what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention crudely referred to in 2008 as the need to maintain a “domestic supply of infants” available for adoption, a notion that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito referred to in the opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade.

I was born in the home for unwed mothers, whisked away into foster care within a day, then adopted by yet another family three weeks later. I was shuffled between three families in my first three weeks of life.

The logic of the anti-choice, pro-adoption crowd is that I should be grateful for the fact I wasn’t aborted. After all, I didn’t languish in foster care for 18 years. And my birth mother got to finish college and pursue a career, to have kids when she was ready. It was a win-win, right?

Not by a long shot. Psychology research shows that women who relinquish their children frequently exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. And children who have been relinquished frequently develop relinquishment trauma ― a kind of trauma that “changes an individual’s brain chemistry and functioning … and can elevate adrenaline and cortisol and lower serotonin resulting in adoptees feeling hypervigilant, anxious, and depressed.”

What’s more, the institution of adoption denied me the right to know anything about my heritage, ethnicity or medical history. My birth certificate was whitewashed, amended to say I was born to my adoptive parents, in “Hospital,” delivered by “Doctor.” As a kid, I agonized over what I had done wrong, and worse, how as a baby, I could have been considered so intrinsically deficient as to be unworthy of being kept by my original parents. My life has been marked by self-doubt. I also have a constant and abiding fear of abandonment. I struggle with depression and anxiety. I’ve spent countless hours and many thousands of dollars on psychotherapy.

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett argues that “safe haven” laws allowing women to relinquish parental rights after birth are adequate to relieve the burdens of parenthood discussed in Roe v. Wade, implying that providing a ready avenue for adoption substitutes for the need for safe and legal abortion. Her claim is also a logical fallacy. Adoption is not a substitute for choice.

I’m now past childbearing age, and I don’t have daughters, so the overturning of Roe v. Wade will not affect me directly. But I think of my beloved nieces and female students at the large university where I teach. I am furious that they no longer have the constitutional right to bodily sovereignty, and I’m terrified by the possibility their lives might change for the worse if they are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. I do have a young-adult son, and if he impregnated his partner, I would want them both to be able to decide which option made the most sense for them. The circumstances that dictated my birth have no bearing on their rights.

No, I don’t wish I had been aborted, but I do wish that all those years ago, my birth mother had possessed the right to make her own decisions about what to do with her own body, the same right we all deserve.

Hanger Baby

My sister is a hanger baby. My mother was terrified of giving birth after then seven children. When she was pregnant for my sister, she tried to abort her using a hanger. It was one of those secrets of the family.

My sister was born normal but as she grew, she was more street smart than book smart. My mother favored her terribly because of the guilt in what she had attempted to do. She thought she made her stupid.

My mother had three nervous breakdowns, suffered with debilitating alcoholism, and we lived in incredible poverty our whole lives. The only pride we were afforded was knowing we our father was a good catholic who used that at every turn to borrow money using his ten children as collateral.

There were little joyful experiences in my childhood. One friend asked me once to think of my happiest moment when I was a child. I have a photographic memory but could not think of one happy experience. I am sure there were some, but they were usually times that were devoid of trauma, so they were happy in comparison.

I was cursed on my birth by my mother. She delivered me in a drunken stupor.. She hung on to the doorway frame of the wall when they tried to take her to deliver me. She just screamed how much she hated me. I lived my life in galvanized numbness. I don’t think I have been able to fully shake it. I was well in my twenties before I realized that some parents love their children.

People always say they are speaking for the unborn. But they are not. They are speaking for their religious bias. They are speaking for a conditioning to bring babies into the world for some kind of political numbers game. The unborn would be better off if they landed in a place of love for them. It worked out well for my sister being born because of my mother’s guilt, she had an advantage in life.. I was not so lucky.

Every child has the right to be loved. I did not have to endure such a loveless existence. As I grew, I have had many memories bleed through about my past lives. It was not a thing that was in my belief system and yet the memories bled through.

If I had past lives, then I know I have future lives. I have the knowing that all of who I am doesn’t depend on this one lifetime. Nor does it with any fetus. I have had sessions with clients who brushed people’s lives by being their miscarried baby. It was all the interaction they needed to complete the transaction between parent and child.

What I have endured, I would not inflict on an innocent baby. There is the starving, being poor, being unloved and trying to thrive through incredible dysfunction. It is not something I think of everyday but the trauma of being a “have not” in a world of “haves” is the most cruel fate you can thrust on a baby. It would be different if it was merely a material thing. A mother’s love can help a child through any disadvantage. But without the love between a mother and child, the fate of both seems an unnecessary fate.

I know everyone who says they are pro life think they have the most scrupulous vantage point. But if they lived the life of a loveless baby, they may be much more agreeable to allowing there to be a choice. Perhaps they can trust Love to make the best choice for each soul and take their discretion out of the equation.

~ this personal experience was shared my Facebook friend – Jen Ward. Her website is – Jenuinehealing.com

Forced Behaviors

Pro Lifer: Well the mother should just give the baby up for adoption if she doesn’t want the baby

Me: So who will adopt the baby?

PL: I don’t know there’s lots of couples who want to adopt

Me: Do you know any couple who is waiting to adopt?

PL: Um well not personally but like I know there’s lots of people waiting to adopt.

Me: Do you know what a domestic adoption costs?

PL: I don’t know. $15,000 maybe?

Me: The average cost of domestic adoption in the United States is $70,000 if you go through a private agency.

PL: Oh I didn’t realize it was that much

Me: Yep it’s really expensive. It can be more if you want a newborn straight from the hospital. Up to $120,000.

PL: We’ll all life is precious.

Me: it really is. I’ve adopted through foster care and am currently a licensed foster parent. Would you be interested in becoming a foster parent yourself?

PL: Oh no I couldn’t do it.

Me: Why not?

PL: It would just be too much for me right now.

Me: Why is that?

PL: It would be too hard to handle all the issues that came with it. I’ve heard horror stories.

Me: Yep it can be extremely difficult. But what if I told you that you were required by law to become a foster parent?

PL: what?

Me: what if you had to become a foster parent by law?

PL: they would never do that. That would never happen.

Me: Well, if a woman is forced to bear a child she doesn’t want, and she goes ahead and has that child, someone has to care for the child either through adoption or foster care. You have to do one of those two things.

PL: But I don’t want any more kids.

Me: So you don’t want someone forcing you to have a child in your home that you don’t want or aren’t able to care for?

PL: no, that’s not my job to raise someone else’s child.

There it is, folks.

Have the baby, but we don’t want anything to do with it afterwards.

(Copied and reposted, thanks to a friend for sharing this herself)

Be Very Worried

Generally speaking, I have the least concern about my privacy of anyone in my family.  I am an open book and don’t mind being a straight shooter about what I think and believe.  I do have concerns about data privacy for any pregnant women who does a google search related to her physical condition.

Before the recent overturning of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court – pregnancy crisis centers outnumbered actual abortion clinics by 3 to 1.  Like so many issues with data privacy, there is now a definite concern about what could potentially happen with the information these organizations collect – especially in the states with near total bans on abortion and bounties offered to ordinary citizens for reporting on other citizens.

In the past decade, a new data-collection has been rolled out in pregnancy crisis centers. Time magazine reviewed two dozen pregnancy-center privacy disclosures and although many reference HIPAA as well as provide an assurance of broad data privacy, the promises have no legal foundation. Data collected in a REAL medical clinic is not the same as the rules that apply to these places. They are un-regulated by federal law. They are NOT subject to federal privacy laws.

Most of these pregnancy-center networks use data-collection interfaces that can track a woman who interacts with their organization – whether it is in person, on the telephone or on their website. One 24-hour hotline collects the name, location and other demographic information related to the caller. Some even will ask outright what the woman plans to do with her pregnancy. The technologies collect and centralize vast amounts of people’s private information and there is no clear indication of what use this information will be put to.

In cases filed under the new state abortion ban laws, lawyers could subpoena information from pregnancy centers.  There is a precedent for using such data to arrest or threaten legal action against women. Since the advent of Roe v Wade, there have still been more than 1,700 instances where law enforcement took some legal action against women in cases related to their pregnancies according to the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.  In fact, internet search histories and information gathered by actual medical  professionals was even presented as evidence.

Those who could be motivated by bounties might include the pregnancy-center staff, any of their partners, vendors or contractors.  After all, the staff that works in that kind of advocacy work does so because they believe strongly that an abortion is equal to murder.

~ information in this blog includes content from Time magazine’s article titled “Compromised State” in which a Time investigation found anti-abortion pregnancy centers may expose women to new legal risks. The article was written by Abigail Abrams and Vera Bergengruen.