~from The Times Commentary
The greatest mother — the perfect mother — would carry to term every child she conceived, no matter how disruptive or ruinous, because her love would be great enough for anything.
I have problems with that assumption. For one thing, I believe something very elemental and, in the most academic sense, nonChristian. One of Sawyer’s biggest postmotherhood dilemmas over abortion was trying to work out where “life” begins with a foetus, and concluding that if abortion could occur before “life” begins, that would be a “right” kind of abortion. But given that both science and philosophy continue to struggle to define what the beginning of “life” is, wouldn’t it be better to come at the debate from a different angle entirely? For if a pregnant woman has dominion over life, why should she not also have dominion over not-life? This is a concept understood by many other cultures. The Hindu goddess Kali is both Mother of the Whole Universe, and Devourer of All Things. She is life and death. If women are, by biology, commanded to host, shelter, nurture and protect life, why should they not be empowered to end life, too? I’m not advocating stoving in the heads of children, or encouraging late abortions — but then, no one is. What I am vexed with is the idea that, by having an early abortion, a woman is somehow being unfemale and, indeed, unmotherly. That the absolute essence of womanhood and maternity is to sustain life, at all costs, whatever the situation.
My belief in the ultimate sociological, emotional and practical necessity for abortion did, as I have mentioned before, become even stronger after I had my two children. It is only after you have had a nine-month pregnancy, laboured to get the child out, fed it, cared for it, sat with it until 3am, risen with it at 6am, swooned with love for it and been reduced to furious tears by it that you really understand just how important it is for a child to be wanted. And, possibly even more importantly, to be wanted by a reasonably sane, stable mother. Last year I had an abortion, and I can honestly say it was one of the least difficult decisions of my life. I’m not being flippant when I say it took me longer to decide what work-tops to have in the kitchen than whether I was prepared to spend the rest of my life being responsible for a further human being. I knew I would see my existing two daughters less, my husband less, my career would be hamstrung and, most importantly of all, I was just too tired to do it all again. I didn’t want another child, in the same way that I don’t suddenly want to move to Canada or buy a horse. While there was, of course, every chance that I might eventually be thankful for the arrival of a third child, I am, personally, not a gambler. I won’t spend £1 on the lottery, let alone take a punt on a pregnancy. The stakes are far, far too high.