Trying unsuccessfully to reconcile Abortion and Motherhood

By Dave Andrusko

Renee Bracey Sherman

Renee Bracey Sherman

I ran across this at Huffington Post a year ago, forgot about it, and inadvertently ran across it again today. By “this” I mean “Claiming My Mamahood After My Abortion,” written by Renee Bracey Sherman.

NRL News Today readers may recall Sherman’s name. We wrote about her back in February.

More specifically we used that post to discuss a glowing tribute to a 2 minute, 6 second long video Sherman had put together in which she talked about her abortion. Alanna Vagianos gushed over Sherman’s maturity at age 19. The operative paragraph in Vagianos’ two-thumbs-up tribute to Sherman was

The best part of this video — besides that it shows she made the best decision for herself at the time — is that it reveals so much about Sherman’s personality, family and upbringing, showing that she’s so much more than her choice to have an abortion.

As we wrote at the time, in fact, there was much more under the surface than Vagianos’ by-the-numbers celebration of abortion.

But Sherman’s “Claiming My Mamahood After My Abortion” is fascinating–and disturbing–on many levels. (The piece was written in May 2014 for the annual “mamas day,” which is a whole other story.)

There was what is obligatory in certain circles–the ritual denunciation of Mother’s Day–along with angry blowback at anyone who does not agree that abortion is just one mothering option among several.

According to Sherman–because she’s a good neighbor and a good aunt to other women’s children–while she may not be a ‘mother’ (in quotation marks), she is a ‘Mama Anay’ (also in quotation marks).

This day [Mother’s Day] tries to tell us that because we didn’t choose motherhood, we’re alone in our struggles, and we are one of few — but it’s actually not true.

We are strong. We are tough. We are brave. We are the one in three who have transformed our pregnancies into a different kind of motherhood.

You might think that “strong,” “tough,” and “brave” would be more associated with the decision to put her baby’s future first–but you would be wrong.

Mother’s Day is “an annual reminder of a path not taken, or not yet taken,” Sherman wrote. “It’s a reminder of the day I admitted I wasn’t ready to become a parent – an empowering, yet sobering day. For me, Mother’s Day is also a celebration of future possibilities, if and when I decide to become a parent.”

Put these two thoughts today and motherhood was a road not taken (or, in a manner of speaking, taken a part of the way, and abruptly ended when Sherman made a detour), replaced by a different road Sherman trods where she is helpful to other women.

As I mentioned in the post in February, Sherman offers some of the customary rationalizations and justifications but I sensed that there was more at work than we might suspect at first. That was borne out in her Mother’s Day 2014 post near the end where she wrote

Late at night I dream about the beautiful home and loving family I will create for my future children — whether I birth or adopt them, and most importantly, when I am ready. In turn, I know the other mamas will be there to support me.

And that is the rope Sherman’s holds onto. She knows she wasn’t “ready,” reason enough–justification enough– to end her child’s brief journey.

So very sad that Sherman didn’t realize there were then as there are now plenty of “other mamas” who would have been there to support her–and her unborn child–who would have provided the “beautiful home and loving family” Sherman felt she couldn’t provide her baby.