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Abortion and Regret: The Remorse Can Cut Both Ways

There’s a scene in the movie “Fish Tank,” (often hailed as the U.K.’s answer to “Precious,”) in which the mother...

There’s a scene in the movie “Fish Tank,” (often hailed as the U.K.’s answer to “Precious,”) in which the mother of the 15-year-old heroine tells her daughter that she’d intended to abort her.

It’s a difficult thing to listen to — and to watch the mixture of pain, anger and confusion that passes across the teenage daughter’s face. But one of the many things this brutally realistic film forces you to do is confront the question of what each of these female’s lives might have been like without the other.

In the Woman Up thread that’s coalescing around the issue of feminism and abortion and summarized by my colleague Bonnie Goldstein, some of my sister bloggers have described regret as a component of many abortion decisions. Joanne Weiner quotes President Obama saying something along the lines of “I know that many women today are still regretting that abortion they had 20 years ago.” My colleague Mary C. Curtis similarly notes that she’s heard plenty of regrets and one woman even say, “When I was on that table, I knew I would never let this happen again.”

I agree that there’s probably plenty of regret out there on the table (so to speak). But there are other ways in which regret enters into this equation that we talk about much less.

Read the rest of this post at

Image: Pregnant Woman by Bete a Bon-Dieu via Flickr under a Creative Commons License

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  1. Shelley June 16, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    Another possible regret is aborting a child when a teenager and then ever again managing to conceive when one is ready. However, the regret is possibly more about the latter than the former. I know it’s painful for men to lose control over a conceived child, but honestly I think they should have considered that before the act. I don’t think men are qualified to make the decisions they do that affect women’s bodies in this capacity. I was ‘desperately wanted’ and wish that gift for every child. My heart goes out to your friend and to her child.

  2. PNW Gal June 17, 2010 at 6:20 am #

    Loved the article and as someone who at 19 had an abortion (oh sometime in May; but I can’t remember the date) and whose boyfriend at the time was pro-life, I am not regretful about my choice. I knew deep down at the time that it was my choice not the boyfriends because I would be the one to bear the responsibility. Yes, every now and then I think I would have a 16 year old IF… but I never EVER regret my choice. I totally agree with your assessment of that therapist–awful.

  3. delialloyd June 17, 2010 at 6:24 am #

    thanks guys. @PNW Gal: it’s really important to hear from people like you. all best, delia

  4. Daryl Boylan June 17, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    The argument most often advanced by the anti-choice people is that, altho’ you may not want your child, there are many people who’d love to take it. They never mention the inconvenient fact that if said child is other than white, “defective” in any way, or just older than 2 or 3, the bull adoption market gets real bearish real fast. Then, lots of luck to mother & child.

  5. Elaine June 19, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    I had an abortion twenty years ago. I have never regretted it, not once.

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