Honoring Mothers and Non-mothers Alike

Loren Drummond

For Mother's Day this year, Loren honors all our choices about our bodies and motherhood—including the choice not to be a mother.

Three things to know about me: I'm in a satisfying, loving relationship. I want to be a mother. My partner doesn't (ever) want children.

I see a precocious toddler playing in the dirt, and I swoon. My lover growls.

Sound like a recipe for a failed relationship? If I were to write into most advice columns, or give Dr. Laura a call, I'd wager that's how mainstream pop psychiatry would characterize my situation. An impossible relationship. A dead-end. A sure road to unhappiness.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

I'll admit that it's a tricky situation I've put myself in. But I propose that this seeming paradox—my simultaneous desire for motherhood and my passion for a smart and giving lover who has absolutely no interest in parenthood—has actually cracked open a freedom in my identity as a woman and in how I approach relationships. I would even say this situation has contributed, not detracted from, the value of my contribution to our social fabric.

I've been with my partner for about three years. I knew in the beginning her feelings on children. I trust that her distaste for motherhood is honest. And by honest, I mean that I don't expect it or want it to change. I love her for who she is, not for what I would make her.

When I explain to friends, family or coworkers about our opposite takes on the issue of parenthood, I am often asked if I think she would ever change her mind. Not once has anyone asked me if I would think about changing my mind.

This happens in part because we are both women, and women are expected—even today—to want babies. This simple fact is easily evidenced by contrasting the ever-mounting barriers to women's reproductive rights with the untouched men's reproductive rights. Men can be in and out of a vasectomy in a day. Women who want similar sterilization face a firestorm of resistance.

Our society, on the whole, is uncomfortable with a woman who does not want to be a mother. It makes them nervous. I'll admit it made me nervous at first too, made my armpits sweat a little to date someone who would prefer to interact with people once they've at least hit their teens.

But, I've grown comfortable with the idea that I have no idea how I will get from point A (a unique joy and fulfillment in a relationship with this woman) to point B (a unique joy and fulfillment in a relationship with my future children).

Why don't I find this complicated situation a problem? Because I'm living my life in full position of my choices as a woman who came to adulthood in the last several decades of the 20th century in America, a place built on the principle of self-determination.

I possess the right to make up my mind about whom to marry (legally is a different story), or not. To decide if I think I will make a good mother to a child, or not. The right to grow intimate with another human being, even without a contract of commitment or an expectation that it will last for life and end in a nice bungalow with 2.3 children and a dog.

What I have is the free will to journey between points A and B, and to learn from all the wisdom, love and spiritual uplift that comes from that journey.

I'm under no illusions that my relationship will last forever (although sometimes we both would like to pretend it would…who wouldn't want love like this to last?). But even though this relationship of mine won't lead to the children I so want in my life, I refuse to write it off as a failure.

How can something, someone teaching me so much about the real fabric of society—joy, passion, intimacy, communication—not, in the end, have value independent of its contribution to the future fruits of my reproduction.

For Mother's Day this year, I would like to honor all the choices about our bodies and motherhood that we have in this country. I would like to honor all the mothers out there—married mothers, single mothers, reluctant mothers, would-be mothers, adoptive mothers, lesbian mothers, grandmothers, unconventional mothers.

I would also like to honor women who don't want to be mothers. Women who have chosen adoption for their children. Women who have chosen abortion. Women who want to be mothers but for some reason can't. These women deserve to be honored as much for their life choices—just as weighty and important as the choice to have children—as the mothers in our society.

And I would like to honor my own mother, who told me to take my own path. And meant it. For my body and for my relationships. Even when they don't mean the same thing.

News Politics

Anti-Choice Democrats: ‘Open The Big Tent’ for Us

Christine Grimaldi & Ally Boguhn

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America gathered Wednesday in Philadelphia during the party’s convention to honor Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for his anti-choice viewpoints, and to strategize ways to incorporate their policies into the party.

The group attributed Democratic losses at the state and federal level to the party’s increasing embrace of pro-choice politics. The best way for Democrats to reclaim seats in state houses, governors’ offices, and the U.S. Congress, they charged, is to “open the big tent” to candidates who oppose legal abortion care.

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America members repeatedly attempted to distance themselves from Republicans, reiterating their support for policies such as Medicaid expansion and paid maternity leave, which they believe could convince people to carry their pregnancies to term.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Their strategy, however, could have been lifted directly from conservatives’ anti-choice playbook.

The group relies, in part, on data from Marist, a group associated with anti-choice polling, to suggest that many in the party side with them on abortion rights. Executive Director Kristen Day could not explain to Rewire why the group supports a 20-week abortion ban, while Janet Robert, president of the group’s board of directors, trotted out scientifically false claims about fetal pain

Day told Rewire that she is working with pro-choice Democrats, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both from New York, on paid maternity leave. Day said she met with DeLauro the day before the group’s event.

Day identifies with Democrats despite a platform that for the first time embraces the repeal of restrictions for federal funding of abortion care. 

“Those are my people,” she said.

Day claimed to have been “kicked out of the pro-life movement” for supporting the Affordable Care Act. She said Democrats for Life of America is “not opposed to contraception,” though the group filed an amicus brief in U.S. Supreme Court cases on contraception. 

Democrats for Life of America says it has important allies in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL), along with former Rep. Bart Stupak (MI), serve on the group’s board of advisors, according to literature distributed at the convention.

Another alleged ally, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), came up during Edwards’ speech. Edwards said he had discussed the award, named for Casey’s father, former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, the defendant in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which opened up a flood of state-level abortions restrictions as long as those anti-choice policies did not represent an “undue burden.”

“Last night I happened to have the opportunity to speak to Sen. Bob Casey, and I told him … I was in Philadelphia, receiving this award today named after his father,” Edwards said.

The Louisiana governor added that though it may not seem it, there are many more anti-choice Democrats like the two of them who aren’t comfortable coming forward about their views.

“I’m telling you there are many more people out there like us than you might imagine,” Edwards said. “But sometimes it’s easier for those folks who feel like we do on these issues to remain silent because they’re not going to  be questioned, and they’re not going to be receiving any criticism.”

During his speech, Edwards touted the way he has put his views as an anti-choice Democrat into practice in his home state. “I am a proud Democrat, and I am also very proudly pro-life,” Edwards told the small gathering.

Citing his support for Medicaid expansion in Louisiana—which went into effect July 1—Edwards claimed he had run on an otherwise “progressive” platform except for when it came to abortion rights, adding that his policies demonstrate that “there is a difference between being anti-abortion and being pro-life.”

Edwards later made clear that he was disappointed with news that Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock, whose organization works to elect pro-choice women to office, was being considered to fill the position of party chair in light of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation.

“It wouldn’t” help elect anti-choice politicians to office, said Edwards when asked about it by a reporter. “I don’t want to be overly critical, I don’t know the person, I just know that the signal that would send to the country—and to Democrats such as myself—would just be another step in the opposite direction of being a big tent party [on abortion].” 

Edwards made no secret of his anti-choice viewpoints during his run for governor in 2015. While on the campaign trail, he released a 30-second ad highlighting his wife’s decision not to terminate her pregnancy after a doctor told the couple their daughter would have spina bifida.

He received a 100 percent rating from anti-choice organization Louisiana Right to Life while running for governor, based off a scorecard asking him questions such as, “Do you support the reversal of Roe v. Wade?”

Though the Democratic Party platform and nominee have voiced the party’s support for abortion rights, Edwards has forged ahead with signing numerous pieces of anti-choice legislation into law, including a ban on the commonly used dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure, and an extension of the state’s abortion care waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours.

News Politics

NARAL President Tells Her Abortion Story at the Democratic National Convention

Ally Boguhn

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates.

Read more of our coverage of the Democratic National Convention here.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the story of her abortion on the stage of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) Wednesday evening in Philadelphia.

“Texas women are tough. We approach challenges with clear eyes and full hearts. To succeed in life, all we need are the tools, the trust, and the chance to chart our own path,” Hogue told the crowd on the third night of the party’s convention. “I was fortunate enough to have these things when I found out I was pregnant years ago. I wanted a family, but it was the wrong time.”

“I made the decision that was best for me — to have an abortion — and to get compassionate care at a clinic in my own community,” she continued. “Now, years later, my husband and I are parents to two incredible children.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Hogue noted that her experience is similar to those of women nationwide.

“About one in three American women have abortions by the age of 45, and the majority are mothers just trying to take care of the families they already have,” she said. “You see, it’s not as simple as bad girls get abortions and good girls have families. We are the same women at different times in our lives — each making decisions that are the best for us.”

As reported by Yahoo News, “Asked if she was the first to have spoken at a Democratic National Convention about having had an abortion for reasons other than a medical crisis, Hogue replied, ‘As far as I know.'”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards on Tuesday night was the first speaker at the DNC in Philadelphia to say the word “abortion” on stage, according to Vox’s Emily Crockett. 

Richards’ use of the word abortion was deliberate, and saying the word helps address the stigma that surrounds it, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Vice President of Communication Mary Alice Carter said in an interview with ThinkProgress. 

“When we talk about reproductive health, we talk about the full range of reproductive health, and that includes access to abortion. So we’re very deliberate in saying we stand up for a woman’s right to access an abortion,” Carter said.

“There is so much stigma around abortion and so many people that sit in shame and don’t talk about their abortion, and so it’s very important to have the head of Planned Parenthood say ‘abortion,’ it’s very important for any woman who’s had an abortion to say ‘abortion,’ and it’s important for us to start sharing those stories and start bringing it out of the shadows and recognizing that it’s a normal experience,” she added.

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates. In April, Clinton called out moderators for failing to ask “about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care” over the course of eight debates—though she did not use the term abortion in her condemnation.