Seething

Friday, March 13, 2009

Question

My boyfriend says he doesn't understand how anybody could go through with ending a pregnancy. But he also says that he thinks abortion should be legal. We had a pretty big fight about this because I don't want to be with somebody who doesn't support a woman's right to choose. I think his position is wishy-washy. Plus, what if I was ever in this situation myself? We are very careful with our birth control, but no method is 100% secure. Maybe I worry about this even more than most women because when I was younger, right before I went to college, I made a decision to have an abortion. He doesn't know about it and I sure don't want to tell him now. I wonder if I should just break up with him instead of inviting him to go home to meet my parents and attend my ten-year high school reunion.

Answer

Please do not break up with your boyfriend over this. He just doesn't deserve it.

Abortion is an extremely volatile topic. He told you the truth about his opinion. I give him credit for having a complicated point of view on an issue that way too many people want to make a simple matter of right or wrong. He IS validating a woman's right to choose by saying that abortion should remain legal. But he is also pointing out that it's a potentially traumatic decision that no sane person would make with unalloyed joy. A pregnancy is at the very least a potential child, a potential life. To end it is to close a door. Even if that means it will make it possible to travel a better path, it's only sane and honest to acknowledge that finality.

There are two things that you need to talk about with your boyfriend. One is your fear about having your birth control fail. This is probably affecting your ability to enjoy sex with him. Maybe you need to change the kind of birth control you are using or the type of sex you are having. But something needs to be done to set you more at ease so you can be more present with him. Just be gentle with him (and yourself). A speculative conversation entitled "What Would We Do If We Got Pregnant, Honey?" is bound to be a risky one. Every couple needs to ask themselves whether they want to raise children together. Sounds like this is a long-overdue discussion between the two of you.

The second thing you need to talk about is your own history. I am guessing that you know the anniversary, every year, of when you had that abortion. You may be happy and relieved now that you went through with it. I am glad for you if that's the case. But I'd also be surprised. Being ambivalent about an abortion is a more common reaction. At the very least, you are afraid that he will judge you and think you are a bad person. Maybe you simply need him to know when that anniversary rolls around and be a little more kind to you on that day. But I do think it is a big part of your life story that a committed partner ought to hear about.

This whole controversy erupted, I believe, because you are considering taking him home to meet your parents and attend that high school reunion. This represents taking the relationship to another level. You are letting him come further into your life and knowledge of you. Is the guy you got pregnant with going to be at that reunion? Do you need to examine how that makes you feel? Or how you want to handle seeing him again? Please remember that you can skip the reunion and take your boyfriend home with you on a less loaded occasion.

I hope he will be sensitive about these controversies and validate your right to control your own body and reproductive freedom. If he's mean to you about having gotten an abortion, or if he tries to impose having children on you when that's not what you want, you have my permission to kick his ass out. Or just kick his ass.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.