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Nineteen years ago, on October 17th, 2002, at 8:47 a.m, I was brought into this world. Smiling and wide-eyed, I didn’t even cry as I was pushed out of my mother’s womb into the waiting hands of the doctors surrounding her.
Little did I know the incredulous odds of my ascension into this world.
About two years earlier, when my mother was 19, she became pregnant with my older sibling. Being 19 years old, how could she have possibly been expected to give up the rest of her life to raise and provide for a child?
So she had an abortion. And then two years later, she was pregnant again — except this time, it was with me.
Some might argue that this piece of my life should install me as an avid ally of the pro-life movement.
But as the one who survived, I am still pro-choice.
I am now the very age my mother was when she first got pregnant. As my mother’s daughter, I am now acutely aware of just how vulnerable being young and pregnant made her. Even now that I have achieved my life’s greatest success in making it to Harvard, and gained so many invaluable life lessons throughout my time here, I still do not feel anywhere near mature enough to allow myself to carry a baby to full term. And as a victim of sexual assault, I can only imagine what it would’ve been like had I been impregnated and forced to carry that forced baby.
The decision I make every day to wake up and choose to support those who have abortions is a deliberate, intentional one. The fact that I am able to make this decision every day undoubtedly relies on how my mother decided to carry me to term — but even if she had not, there would have been many others in the world making the same decision every day in my absence.
As the child who lived, I am comfortable with the knowledge that I might not have. My contribution to this earth is not yet complete — but any such contribution I have made has not been and will not be unique. The crux of the abortion debate is not battling between ideologies of pro-life and pro-choice, but rather failing to understand that our places within this world could have easily been fulfilled by another mind. Another child would have been born on my exact birthdate, made it into Harvard, and contributed something else to society in my vacancy.
Knowing the outlook for little girls and women across the country now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned has only strengthened my resolve in my decision. Had I been the product of rape or incest, or had my fetal stage been killing my mother, I would not want to be here today. I would not want to be the source of my mother’s continued grief. I would not want to experience my mother’s residual psychological damage from being forced to carry me after being sexually assaulted. I would not want to live with potential abnormalities or chronic illnesses that would drastically diminish my quality of life, had I been a product of incest.
My mother’s mental health would and should always come before the “what if” of my supposed success, defined by men who will never know the gravity of these situations. That is what love is: to make the sacrifice of one’s own life in order to see the ones you love be happy.
I know that my mother was ready to become a mom and raise me properly to become the successful person I am today. I am the product of her having a choice to do so. When that choice is stripped away, when women who didn’t want to be mothers are forced to raise children, they cannot put in the effort to raise a child properly. Or worse, young mothers take the decision into their own hands and try dangerous methods of abortion that lead them to kill, scar, and emotionally damage themselves.
As my mother’s daughter, I would’ve wanted her to decide to have me. As my mother’s daughter, I would’ve wanted her pregnancy with me to have been safe and filled with love and excitement. As my mother’s daughter, I thank her for having me, but do not burden her with the what if’s of my older sibling.
As the daughter who got to live, I am still pro-choice.
Kelisha M. Williams ’25, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Kirkland House.
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