Regret (verb): feel sad, repentant or disappointed (over something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).
When a child gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar they learn from an early age something that will often haunt them through their teenage and young adulthood years. They learn that when they make a decision that their parents don’t approve of, the worst thing in the world isn’t being yelled at. Children learn from an early age that the worst punishment from a parent is for them to utter those dreaded words, “I’m disappointed in you.” Most people, myself included, would far rather be yelled at and scolded for making a decision my parents didn’t approve of, than hear those words.
While many, if not most, women do not regret their abortion, there are still a great many who do. In fact in our society, I often wonder why more women don’t regret their abortions. Women have been having abortions for thousands of years, as documented by the 4000 Years for Choice campaign. The fact that abortion has been prevalent in so many different cultures for over 4000 years demonstrates that it is only in modern times that women have begun experiencing guilt in significant numbers. I don’t think it is merely a coincidence that we live in sexist, misogynistic, religious and paternalistic times. That isn’t to say none of that was around 4000 years, but I doubt that over the past 4000 years cultures have so pathologically and methodically sought out women who have aborted and told them abortion is something they should regret.
Just like the child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, women regret their abortions because they are lead to believe they have done something wrong. I want to be clear here: in no way, shape or form am I discounting what these women feel, but I do believe that society is to blame for making women feel guilty, and thus regret their abortions. When a woman has an abortion, she is bombarded from the moment she parks her car at the clinic with people screaming at her, calling her a murderer; it is no surprise many women regret their abortions. They believe these people when they tell her she is a horrible human being. Never mind that she knows she can’t afford to feed another mouth, or that her fetus is so horribly disabled it would live a short, painful life. Forget that she has dreams. She believes these strangers who think they know better. Truthfully, I am surprised more women don’t regret their abortions when they are bombarded with this hate. If half of the energy spent combating abortion were used to combat drunk driving, nobody would even consider it. It takes a strong person to hear the words “I’m disappointed in you” and steal the cookie anyways.
I suspect the reason more women don’t regret their abortion is because so many women opt to give birth and either parent or place the child for adoption. I am certain there are women who regret their decision to keep the fetus, but nobody ever asks those women if they regret being mothers or regret giving their child up for adoption. Nobody asks those women if they cry every night because they gave up their dreams or their child after holding him or her in their arms. Anti-choicers only care about the women who regret their abortions because it furthers their agenda and at the end of the day, all women lose because of regret.