When I made the choice to become a parent, it wasn’t because I had the resources, support, or financial security that I needed to provide for a child. In fact, because of societal pressure toward pregnant people—stigma that implies if we don’t continue our pregnancies then we are bad or irresponsible—it didn’t feel like a choice I made at all.
Parenting should always be a choice, not a consequence. Yet that perspective is something I’ve rarely heard outside of abortion advocacy.
Like most people who have abortions, I was already a parent when I had an abortion five years ago. As parents, we’re the experts on our own lives, and we know what our boundaries are when it comes to planning our families. We understand what it takes to provide for a child, and we know that sometimes, in order to keep providing for our children, we can’t always expand our family. It’s unrealistic to think that in the 40 or so reproductive years we may have, that we won’t experience unintended pregnancy at least once.
Sometimes the decision to have an abortion is simple; other times it’s complex. But I wish my decision to have an abortion was as celebrated as my decision to have a child because it allowed me to continue being the parent my children needed me to be. Since it’s not, I always celebrate my abortion on Mother’s Day, and every other day of the year, too.
Mothers’ Day—originally conceived as a day of service to support mothers who lacked the resources they needed—has been so commercialized over the years that even the woman who created the holiday eventually called for it to be abolished.
I find the flowers, cards, and Mother’s Day brunches to be smokescreens that deflect from the way our government systems continue to fail parents and children. It perpetuates the false narrative that our government actually cares about disparities such as the lack of parental leave, the absence of equitable and living wages, and the appallingly high rate of maternal mortality and preventable pregnancy-related complications that Black women experience. And yet, instead of lawmakers pushing to protect parents and their families, we continue to see anti-choice bills sweep legislatures nationwide—designed to pit mothers against our own needs and our families.
Beyond celebrating my children and my own motherhood, when it comes to Mother’s Day, there are always things to reflect on. Will society continue to rally behind my decision to parent now that I openly identify as queer? Is my disabled child both considered and centered in conversations involving disability justice, or are they disregarded by non-disabled people as a burden on society? If I can no longer make ends meet, afford health insurance, or put food on our table, will society question my decision to become a parent in the first place?
Or will it advocate for me—and others like me—through policies like Medicaid expansion, and bills that prohibit government funding being reallocated from programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and funneled into “crisis pregnancy centers” that exist to prevent abortion?
These are the issues that impact my daily challenge to be the best mother I can be. These decisions should all be supported and respect—including my decision to have an abortion as a mother. Otherwise, what’s the point of a day honoring my sacrifices while berating me for them the other 364 days of the year?
Reimagining motherhood means getting real policy solutions, support, and respect. We need more than flowers, cards, and Mother’s Day brunches. We need to feel reproductive justice every day, with every pregnancy and parenting decision we make.
Reproductive justice cannot be achieved until families have the ability and freedom to plan and raise our children safely, and we deserve the tools, resources, and information to empower us in whatever we choose—whether that’s parenting, abortion, or adoption. That’s what I want for Mothers’ Day, and every day.