I was pressured to abort my children.

Catherine Glenn Foster, Opinion contributor
Published 7:00 a.m. ET Oct. 28, 2020

Women like Justice Amy Coney Barrett expose the lie that children with special needs are anything other than a gift.

Motherhood is never easy — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! It looks a little different for every woman, but for more of us than not, our journey to and through motherhood can be a challenge. Mine certainly has been, a road so full of twists and turns that it looks more like a corkscrew than a straight path. Yet as I travel around our country and speak with thousands of mothers about their own stories, so often I find just how much we have in common.

I share with them that I have had four viable pregnancies. I know the pain and devastation of miscarriage as well, the fear of being far from home and rushing to an emergency room. But for those four viable pregnancies, abortion was pushed on me for each one. I gave in and did abort my first, but I fought for the lives of the other three, and all of them are thriving today. 

With the confirmation hearings of now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the scrutiny that society puts on mothers has been clear for everyone to see. Her choice to have a large and vibrant family is a living refutation to the claim that women rely on abortion to advance professionally. No wonder the abortion industry opposed her advancement so stridently.

When I look back on my decisions surrounding my children, Barrett makes me think of the preconceived notions and prejudices of those around me who encouraged me to abort. 

Abortion took my choice away

In 2001, when I was 19 years old and a sophomore in college in Georgia, I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I was embarrassed and scared. I searched “pregnant and need help” online and called the second-cheapest abortion clinic in the results, thinking it was sure to be safer than the absolute cheapest. I didn’t know for sure what I would do, but I knew that if I did end up getting an abortion, it would have to be fast because I could tell I was already bonding with my child.

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I remember that week vividly. I was wearing my boyfriend’s oversize sweatshirt and tried to comfort my baby — and myself — as I walked around campus. I named her. And then walking through the doors of that abortion business, nothing felt right.

No information, no care, no compassion. I was still making up my mind, and I asked to view the ultrasound they performed to see how far along I was. The technician refused. It was against their policy. Nothing about that day restored my choice, my autonomy or my sense of empowerment. They were just stripped from me over and over. I aborted my first child that day. And that decision has been with me every day since. 

Special needs are not a hindrance 

In the years to come, I faced the challenges of timing and circumstances of conception that push hundreds of thousands of women to the abortion storefront each year. I did not grow up in an actively pro-life household and I was urged by family, friends and medical professionals, to seek an abortion with my next two children.

Thankfully, I chose life for my now-13-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. They are loving, compassionate, full of energy, and a testament to the amazing things that can happen by choosing motherhood even when you’re scared. 

While I was expecting my third child, my youngest daughter, one trip to the doctor’s office yielded news no mother wants to hear. I was told that my little girl was at a significantly elevated risk of a trisomy disorder, the most well-known of these being Down syndrome. 

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Over the past few years, some countries have claimed they have practically “eradicated” conditions like Down syndrome, but what they really mean is just aborting every child who is diagnosed with it. My doctor said I should consider abortion. I knew I could not. Hearing that suggestion was heartbreaking and appalling from the person I entrusted with my and my daughter’s medical care. But I did not change doctors; I wanted to provide a witness to the medical team of choosing life, even in the face of adversity. 

Catherine Glenn Foster in Washington, D.C., in October 2018. (Photo: Family handout)

As it happens, after giving birth to my daughter, it was clear that the doctors had gotten it wrong with that early test. My curly-haired little girl was born healthy as could be, with no trisomy conditions. Fetal diagnoses and prognoses are not a guarantee, but many women may be directed towards abortion based on those results. 

Strong women like Justice Amy Coney Barrett show us the perseverance and gratification that comes with being a mother to a child with special needs. These children deserve our love and care, not heartless, utilitarian eradication. Policymakers must focus time and resources on how to support mothers in challenging situations, and how to make the world a better and more welcoming place for all human beings.

Providing real alternatives to abortion is necessary to create a culture that allows for an understanding of motherhood that is inclusive of women’s hopes and dreams. No woman should be pressured to choose abortion. Women like Barrett remind us of what we are capable of without ending the lives of our unborn children. 

Let’s support women, not push them towards the violence and neglect of abortion. 

Catherine Glenn Foster serves as president and CEO of Americans United for Life. Follow her on Twitter: @cateici


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