A few months ago, I was late. …[M]y NuvaRing had failed me. I’m married, happily at that. And I’m a mother, happily as well. But our family feels “complete,” as demographers put it, at one child….

As we lay awake at night whispering pros and cons for continuing the pregnancy… I wondered if our mere deliberating might call into question my soundness as a mother….

Is the stigma that attaches to abortion actually compounded if one makes this choice as a mother? Are we right to think that terminating a pregnancy after carrying another one successfully to term will undermine our standing not just as women but as good parents?

At the University of California-San Francisco, Kate Cockrill directs the Social and Emotional Aspects of Abortion Program, and is trying to measure sources of stigma. She has found that many mothers deliberately explain their choice to abort in the context of their motherhood, thinking that doing so will ward off judgment.

“Motherhood is an assertion of their humanity,” Cockrill told me of women who fear condemnation, “and claiming their motherhood is part of managing the stigma of abortion.”

Still, Cockrill has found that once they have established social identities as mothers, many women will do everything they can to avoid tarnishing that identity. For example, she found women who had babies delivered by an OB-GYN refused to see that physician when they found themselves in an unwanted pregnancy.

“They wanted to be seen as a mother,” she said, “not an abortion patient.”

~ Lauren Sandler, Slate, October 17

[Photo via tressugar.com]

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