At this time of year, I feel drawn to consider the many things my mother has given me in my life journey. With my father’s and grandmother’s help, my mother launched me into a successful and productive adulthood, sparing no expense for my education, health and nutrition, and supporting me in my growth as an individual. I always felt lucky that my mother had the financial resources to send me to preschool, to the doctor for shots and check-ups, to the optometrist for new glasses every year as my eyes worsened, to the dentist for braces, to performing arts camp in the summer, and eventually to Smith College, where I earned the degree that allowed me to find the good job I now have, as Executive Director of Aurora Medical Services. It was more than luck, though, that insured my access to these and other advantages: when I was a small child, after my parents’ divorce, my mother chose to end a pregnancy so that she would continue to be able to provide for me. She would not have had the emotional, physical and financial resources to be the mother she was to me if she had not chosen abortion. And my mother is not alone: according to the Allan Guttmacher Institute, 6 out of ever 10 women who obtain abortions are already mothers. I see my family’s story re-enacted daily at Aurora Medical Services. The mothers I see at Aurora, who make up the majority of our patients, tell me they feel like they are “being selfish.” They doubt themselves and their worth as women and as mothers, even as they choose to end a pregnancy to protect the health and welfare of the children they already have. Everyone deserves parents who want them, love them and care for them. I’m lucky to have had that, and I’m grateful that my mom trusted her wisdom as a mother, and with the full protection of the law, made the best choice for our family.
Mothers are wise. They do what they need to do to help their children become productive citizens, even if that means choosing not to parent another child until they are mentally and financially able, if ever. Abortion is a mother’s issue, as it was for my mother, and as such affects the quality of life of countless children. If mothers are unable to choose safe, legal abortion, they will die from illegal abortion, as they do in countries all over the world where abortion is illegal, and their children will be orphaned. Or these women will be forced bear children that their bodies, families and communities cannot support adequately. No one who is concerned with maternal and child health can let this happen in the United States of America. I pray that women in this country will continue to have the rights my mother was able to exercise, so that future generations of children will be parented with the love, skill, energy, and resources with which my mother parented me.
At Aurora Medical Services, we believe that every woman must be able to decide for herself when, how and whether or not to become a mother. We honor this belief in our work by providing birth control, abortion and donor insemination to women from our local Seattle community, and from all over the region and the country. We help women who are not ready to become mothers prevent pregnancy with contraception, and when contraception fails, with safe, legal, sensitive abortion care. And when women are ready to parent, whether they are single or partnered with a man or with another woman, we help them conceive much-wanted children free of judgment and full of joy for the journey upon which they are choosing to embark. My mother became a parent on her own terms, and every woman deserves that same right, regardless of marital status or sexual orientation. I was invited to participate in the birth of a baby conceived at Aurora Medical Services in my capacity as a childbirth professional or birth “doula.” As the birthing mama leaned against me to push her son into the world, I watched her partner, the baby’s other mama, beside her, eyes widening with tears at the miracle of her son’s head emerging. This baby came into a family so full of love. Every baby deserves this same blessed beginning, and on Mother’s Day, I honor the women and mothers who choose to conceive or not, to bear children or not, to become parents when the time is right, on their own terms.
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