The Corner

THe Almost-Aborted

speak:

Like most Soviet-era fetuses conceived in Russia by couples who were already parents, I was scheduled for abortion as a matter of course. In a society where abortion was the only form of birth control, it wasn’t uncommon to meet women who had double-digit abortion counts. Often a couple would schedule the appointment before they even stopped to remember that they wanted a second child.

My husband, also a second-born, and I were lucky to have been two such afterthoughts, each brought into the world thanks to one of two parents’ change of heart. (Actually it was Anya Isaakovna, my mother’s usual at the public clinic, who sensed a tinge of reservation and kicked her out.) Coincidentally, both my husband and I were to be the third abortions, each of us having had two siblings who weren’t so lucky, which unfortunately was lucky for us.

Not quite so for my parents. Life’s turns dealt them a hand they couldn’t have foreseen 30 years ago while aborting, an act that people living in a nation of miserables can’t exactly be judged for. Indeed, among Soviet émigrés from the 1970s and ’80s, it’s very rare to see families with more than two children, the self-imposed quota among Russians of that wave. But in hindsight, as my mother said a few months after my newlywed elder sister and her husband died in a five-vehicle collision in 2000, had she known she would outlive one of her only two children, she would have had more.

In America there is room to judge, despite what the “sanctity of choice” crowd wants us to believe. Yet rather than do that, my intention is to plant a seed of consideration that may otherwise never occur to America’s reluctant with-child women and even girls. It’s a consideration that, for all our endless debating, goes unspoken, but that could alleviate heartache in later life and enrich our lives in ways we can’t predict….

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