Lived Through This

Why I Hate Abortion but Believe in the Right to Choose

My high-risk pregnancy convinced me that every woman has the right — and obligation — to make this choice alone

Annette Tillemann-Dick
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readOct 19, 2020
Black and white photo of a mother smiling at her young baby.
Photo: AleksandarNakic/Getty Images

My position on abortion is paradoxical: I hate abortion, yet I’m pro-choice. I expect more people than you might think agree with me.

Abortion rights were a big deal on college campuses when I was a freshman at Yale in 1971. Students held loud rallies promoting it on the Old Campus where most freshmen lived. It was confusing and a little lurid to me. That women should claim, as the defining characteristic of their liberated womanhood, the right to terminate a pregnancy seemed wrong and unnatural. I was looking forward to having children one day and just hoped it would be possible. I couldn’t understand the fervor of pro-abortion crusaders.

Most of those yelling were not parents; their obsession with the right to end the miracle of life seemed perverse. I hadn’t thought much about abortion before listening to the chanting on campus that night, but, once I did think about it, I understood that the fight for abortion was not my fight.

Flash forward: In graduate school, I married the love of my life, a fellow student. Nine months later, in a car driven by our housemate, we sped toward the hospital in the cold pre-dawn darkness of a mid-December morning in New Haven, Connecticut.

With a broken heater and two little dogs jumping all over the car, my husband delivered our first baby — a boy. When we pulled up to the hospital and opened the door, our Lhasa Apso bit the ankle of the doctor who came out to cut the umbilical cord. It was, by and large, a joyous occasion. So much so that we continued to have babies in conventional and unconventional settings for many years.

We were thrilled when, in 1995, we learned we were expecting identical twin boys. But we were soon devastated to learn they were conjoined at the heart. A friend from Yale’s School of Medicine, the one who had met us when we arrived at Yale New Haven Hospital with our first newborn son, had in the intervening years become an internationally acclaimed expert on the prenatal diagnosis and treatment of heart…



Annette Tillemann-Dick
Human Parts

Mother of 11, grandmother of 12, home-school educator extraordinaire.