New York Times contributor: “My Mother’s Abortion”


That was your sibling.

On July 7, a rather startling piece appeared in The New York Times. Op-ed Contributor Beth Matusoff Merfish writes about her “mother’s abortion.”

Although the author mentions that “it took a few years for the shock to wear off,” it’s clear that she has not had any more clarity on the issue, but rather only strengthened her stance on supporting abortion. This is how Matusoff Merfish describes hearing about her mother aborting her sibling, which she was told about right before she began college:

I was shocked: at 18, I naïvely believed that only other women — not my family and certainly not my mother — needed this right that our family had long supported. We had volunteered at Planned Parenthood and canvassed for candidates who supported abortion rights. My mother said she wanted to reassure me that I had no reason to doubt her support in any situation I might face in my own life. Although it took a few years for the shock to wear off, knowing made me even more proud of her and more determined to defend reproductive rights.

Instead of finding peace and healing with her mother, the author only committed herself further to her hardened support of abortion and the industry which killed her sibling. And hearing about this only makes Matusoff Merfish committed to the death of siblings of others, all in the name of being “even more proud of her and more determined to defend reproductive rights.” To say she is proud of that is downright sickening, no matter how much she attempts to dress it up.

However, this part of the piece does not occur until towards the end. Thus, we are given insight into just how pro-abortion the author is. She begins her piece by discussing her presence at the Texas legislature, when SB5 was defeated. She credits its failure to pass to the filibuster. Matusoff Merfish even mentions how her mother yelled out and that they remained until they were told to leave:

We remained in the gallery until 1:30 a.m. on June 26, when state troopers finally made us leave. An hour and a half later, celebration erupted when we learned that the filibuster had succeeded.

Sadly, the victory was fleeting, as Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, has summoned the Legislature back into special session to take up the issue again this week.

… My mother, Sherry Matusoff Merfish, sat and yelled in indignation beside my sister and me in the Senate gallery. She has two graduate degrees and has built an immensely satisfying career as a political fund-raiser devoted to the election of women who support abortion rights. She also embodies maternal warmth.

Her “victory” is indeed fleeting, as it is neither an honest nor true one.

Matusoff Merfish also writes in a tone that in many ways comes across as immature and naive. There are instances where she seems like she will have a sense of clarity on the issue, but it ends up being nothing but committed to abortion, all while dressing it up in pretty terms to make it something that much more normal to support.

While there is no practical purpose in exposing women who have had abortions in order to shame them, the pro-abortion side, Matusoff Merfish included, seem to think that that’s what pro-lifers are about. However, it is possible to help women to realize their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. Sherry Matusoff Merfish used abortion as a form of birth control when aborting her first child, which her daughter describes merely as “her first pregnancy.”

My mother chose to abort her first pregnancy, in 1972. She and my father, who celebrated 40 years of marriage on Jan. 6 this year, met as undergraduates at the University of Texas, Austin. They got engaged. Then my mother became pregnant. She was 20, and he was 21.

They knew they were thoroughly unprepared to be parents, but abortion was illegal in Texas at the time (unless a woman’s life was at risk). This was the year before the United States Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, a case originating in Texas, affirmed a woman’s right to have an abortion until the fetus was viable.

Fearing the stigma that would result if their families knew they had engaged in premarital sex and not used contraception, my parents did not tell their parents when they traveled to Albuquerque to end the pregnancy…

Matusoff Merfish keeps trying to defend her parents, it seems, by making them seem more human. She describes her mother as someone who “also embodies maternal warmth.” Nobody would argue that the author’s parents are any less human for aborting their first child, but that child was no less human, either. Matusoff Merfish never once mourns her sibling, but rather just describes him or her as “pregnancy,” and an unborn child as a “fetus.” There may be some sort of attempt at “support” for those who go through with an abortion, but it is really only support for the abortion.

In a further move of ignorance, Matusoff Merfish hails Roe v. Wade as a case which “affirmed” a “right” which was in reality decided based upon more of a penumbra, or feeling, in the Constitution. She also seeks to defend the case with “viability.” Yet that can pretty much be disregarded, as exceptions have to be allowed for the life or “health” of the mother, the latter of which can be anything the mother and a doctor decide.

Matusoff Merfish discusses how her mother met with friends to share the story of her abortion, and that the other women had either had an abortion or knew someone who had had one. And Matusoff Merfish rather uses this to encourage women to share their stories about abortion. The pro-life movement invites women to as well, but for different reasons. We don’t want them stuck in the pain of abortion and the sacrifice of children under the disguise of some “right.”

Matusoff Merfish very much seems to believe that abortion is normal and should be accepted. She doesn’t even seem to think that it is all that controversial. This is clear from her tone throughout, as well as from her paragraph on women telling their stories:

What the movement for reproductive rights needs is for the faces of freedom to emerge from the captivity of shame. To my mother’s generation, I ask: Speak openly about the choices you have made. To all women: ask your mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, aunts, sisters, daughters and partners about their reproductive histories. Show that abortion has myriad faces: those of women we love, respect and cherish. You have the power to cement in the minds of your communities and families the importance of reproductive freedom. You have made decisions that are private, even anguishing, but the weight of this political moment demands that you shed light on those decisions.

It shouldn’t be “the weight of this political moment” that brings women forth to share their stories. To say so is to actually play politics with women, something which the other side has accused us so very often of doing. Just because the author tries to make something normal or accepted does not mean that it is ever right or moral. Abortion will always be wrong.

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