If a woman has had an abortion, does that means she’s unfit for custody of her two children? That is what the lawyer for a high-powered investment banker appears to be arguing as she defends her client in family court.
Manuel (John) Mehos, a Houston banking bigwig, divorced Lisa Mehos after six years of marriage in October 2011. Now he has subpoenaed his ex-wife’s medical records and his lawyer wants her abortion to be used as evidence in a custody hearing. Lisa Mehos’ unplanned pregnancy was reportedly the result of a “one-time fling with a longtime friend”; she had the abortion over Easter weekend in 2012 while her mother babysat the kids and would not allow her ex-husband to watch them because it was Easter he was an “atheist.” John Mehos’ lawyer claims all this stuff about the abortion is pertinent because Lisa Mehos has said her ex-husband caused stress in her life, but the court should know she may also have been stressed by having an abortion.
Oh sure. I’m sure the stigma against women who terminate pregnancies — they’re selfish, they’re immoral, they’re slutty, they’re unfit mothers — has nothing to do with why this might come up in a custody hearing. Keep reading »
A few months ago, I chatted with a newly pregnant friend over ice cream. Eventually, after we exhausted the areas of the politics of maternity leave and the excitement of decorating her baby’s room, our conversation turned to reproductive choice. Specifically, we talked about her decision to terminate her pregnancy if she and her husband learned that the fetus had developed a major chromosomal abnormality that would drastically decrease its chances for a viable, healthy life. Although both she and the baby were currently healthy, and tests proved that the likelihood of such abnormalities was negligible, she and her husband chose to keep the option of abortion on the table, in case they truly needed it later in the pregnancy. “I want to be a mother,” she told me, “but I want my child to have the best possible chance at life.”
I am relieved that, for my friend’s sake, this is probably not a choice on which she will need to act. In all likelihood, her baby will be healthy and safe. But in case a difficult decision needs to be made, it is critical that such options exist for parents to consider. I thought about our conversation when I saw Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s new documentary, “After Tiller,” an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Like my friend, the majority of the women featured in are women who want to be mothers. They want to have healthy, happy children, and they want to provide their children with the best lives possible. Yet, when faced with the reality that their babies will not have the lives for which they planned, the mothers choose the option that they believe will demonstrate the greatest display of love and dignity. “After Tiller” shares these stories through the perspectives of the mothers seeking third-trimester abortions and the doctors providing them. Keep reading »
“Look at me. Look in my eyes. Let me tell you why I’m here. I’m here because I figure that the women who come here have already agonized over this decision enough. They have considered their own circumstances, looked at all the options, and come to the best possible decision that they can make. Once they get here, they deserve support. So please don’t listen to those people, because they aren’t listening to you. Only you know your story, and only you have the right to tell it.”
Clinic escorts are never supposed to say “good morning.” We are taught to never presume anything about the women and men whom we guide into the clinic, including however good or bad their morning is going. I usually ask them if they had trouble finding the clinic or I make a generic comment about the weather. During these raw moments of extreme vulnerability, I would rather that they judge my clichés than focus on the self-righteous hate speech emanating from the protestors. Most of the time, I am able to get them safely from their cars to the front door of the health center with little more than comments about traffic and Google maps. But sometimes it’s not that simple. Keep reading »