- Many planned children are aborted when it is discovered that the child may have a physical disability
- The emotional impact is even greater for those who have lost a sibling to abortion
- Contemplation of abortion can disrupt proper in utero mother/child bonding
- Abortion may distort the relationship between the mothers and children of this generation
- Generation 13 describes itself as lost, empty, and no good
The drawback, however, is that as children become more "planned" they also seem to become less "welcome."
Dr. Philip Ney, a child psychiatrist from Canada who has done a great deal of work with abortion survivors, points out that there is a significant difference between "wantedness" and "welcomeness."
With the arrival of the birth control pill in the early 1960's, however, there was a dramatic and widespread shift in mindset toward the importance of planning when and how often, and even if couples would have children. Even before children are conceived, planning parents have begun "fitting" their child into a planned life.
Many children who are planned and wanted are aborted if it is discovered that the child may have a physical disability that would be in conflict with the parents expectations for the child, a form of 'quality control.'
One abortion survivor said, "My parents always said they had wanted me. I often wonder what would have happened if they had not wanted me? I feel I must stay wanted. Being wanted means existing."
The children of Generation 13, also known as Generation X (those born between 1961 - 1981), individually and collectively, carry a heavy burden of expectations.
Many children of this generation now know if they were originally planned or "wanted." Some have been told that they were only conceived because mother's contraceptive failed (and she decided not to have an abortion).
A Generation of Abortion Survivors
One in 3 - 4 of this generation has been aborted. This fact has heightened the sense of inequality between generations.
While members of Generation 13 may be aware that they have escaped abortion, the emotional impact is even greater for those who have lost a sibling to abortion.
Dr. Ney, Dr. Edward Sheridan at Georgetown in the U.S., and others have observed that this effect can be felt even when the surviving children have not specifically been told about the abortion.
Dr Sheridan has seen children, who have learned about an abortion experience, who developed a learning disability. They had to block this bit of information about the abortion, but in blocking that they ended up blocking a few other things. That was something he saw quite frequently in his practice with children who knew about the abortions in their family.
A few members of Generation 13 have even lost a twin through an incomplete abortion procedure. Others have themselves survived an unsuccessful abortion attempt on their own lives. One survivor is Sarah Smith, whose story can be read here.
This latter group is especially significant. There is an uncountable number of children whose mothers, at least for a time, considered aborting them. This contemplation of abortion can disrupt proper in utero bonding between mother and child at least in the early stages, and possibly throughout the pregnancy.
Bonding or Breaking?
Thomas Verny, M.D., in his book The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, cites a case handled by an obstetrician in Scandinavia. After delivering a normal, full-term child he observed that it failed to nurse at the mother's breast.
Puzzled by this unusual behaviour, he experimented by taking the baby to another nursing mother who agreed to put the child to breast. Amazingly, the child responded by nursing vigourously.
Upon returning to the child's mother, he asked if anything traumatic had happened during the pregnancy.
She told him that she had not wanted to continue the pregnancy and had, in fact, planned to have an abortion. However, her husband was determined that she not do so and she continued with the pregnancy.
Verny concluded that the child experienced maternal rejection in utero.
This may be related to inadequate in uterine bonding, meaning that the mother/child bond that normally occurs during pregnancy did not properly develop. This can occur if the woman resists bonding because she is contemplating abortion or is awaiting the results of prenatal testing for fetal defects.
Furthermore, many writers in the fields of pre- and peri-natal psychology believe that trauma - in the form of rejection or exposure to inter-parental physical or verbal abuse, or traumatic birth experiences - can have permanent negative effects.
Since the blood chemistry of the mother passes through the placental tissue, it is possible that this might have an impact on the developing child. The hormonal chemistry of anxiety or alarm is quite different from the chemistry of calm and happiness.
There is substantial evidence to support the conclusion that hyper-arousal in utero may increase the tendency for a child to become hyper-sensitive to stress, over-fearful, angry and withdrawn.
Such children may act out, in the form of social aggression against others, or turn inward and become suicidal.
This issue of proper mother-child bonding is further complicated by the fact that women with a history of abortion frequently report that the birth of a subsequent child is often the trigger event that releases repressed guilt or anxiety about the previous abortion.
These aroused feelings of distress about the prior abortion can impede bonding with the newborn child who is subconsciously "connected" with the stress. The mother may withdraw.
Many women report that they became afraid of loving the child "too much, because God will punish me by taking this child away from me."
The same irrational fear that God will punish them for their abortion by hurting subsequent children has, other women report, turned them into hovering overprotective mothers who have stifled their children.
All the above scenarios suggest that abortion may be distorting the relationship between the mothers and children of this abortion generation.
When the mother has had an abortion
According to Dr Ney, there is a fairly definable cluster of symptoms in people whose mother has had an abortion. They are:
- "I am not glad to be alive." - we can call that existential sorrow.
- "I feel something is going to happen to me." - a sense of impending doom. "It's a feeling something is going to kill me, I don't know where it is going to come from, but something is going to get me."
- "I have tried to kill myself." - self destructive.
- "I fear I am losing my mind." - has a tenuous grasp on reality, "I think I am going to go crazy."
- "I have injured myself." - eg. reckless sexual behaviour.
- "I feel sad."
- "I am not pleased with who I am." - low self esteem.
- "I have feelings that things are unreal." - disassociation.
- "I am bothered by thoughts I cannot control." - obsessive symptoms.
- "I do not know who I am." - a poorly defined identity.
- "Life is not worth living." - depression.
Life as a Menace
On some level, the children of Generation 13 (and those since) are aware that they are survivors of a "pre-birth holocaust." Themes of survival, death, the destruction and revenge of innocents are common in their literature.
It is also reflected in their music.
Howe and Strauss also talk about the impact of the "evil child" movies on our society. They have identified at least 20 evil child movies for this generation. This trend first surfaced in the 1950s with the movie "The Bad Seed." (13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail? by Neil Howe, William Strauss, 1993)
Through these movies, children have been portrayed as unpredictable, evil and indeed, dangerous. Children have in fact been demonised.
Generation 13 is aware of this, describing itself as lost, empty, and no good.
This message is reinforced in school programs where children are taught that the birth of children impacts negatively on the environment and adds to the pollution of the earth.
Therefore, through school programmes, children are taught that babies (1) pollute the earth, (2) cost a lot, and (3) are a great deal of trouble.
The Unattached Generation
Three formative factors in Generation 13, two of which are targeted by Howe and Strauss, are:
- increased divorce rates
- a radical shift in the numbers of mothers in the work force
- increased societal mobility.
In previous generations families often lived in the same communities for long periods of time and, in the event of divorce or the mother needing to work, the children were looked after by family members, friends or neighbors.
One of the most serious outcomes of mothers being in the workplace in this generation is the lack of consistent caregivers for infants, small children and adolescents.
Babies and small children have the ability to bond easily to many people. When children are moved, from caregiver to caregiver, it is not often realised that they will grieve the loss of each attachment figure.
It is known that a factor in the development of an attachment disorder is the repeated change of the primary care giver. When children grieve, instead of being angry and searching for the lost object, they simply withdraw and detach.
Children of "Broken Homes"
Divorce feels like abandonment to children. The parent most often leaving home is the father and we need to recognise that the absence of a father in children's lives is a loss of life-shaping proportions.
David Blakenhorn, in his book, says "When the father dies, the mother typically sustains his fatherhood by keeping his memory alive. When a father leaves, the mother typically diminishes his fatherhood by either forgetting him or keeping her resentments alive.
When men have experienced the absence of their father when growing up, they fear intimacy.
Girls are also seriously affected by a divorce. If the father leaves they grow up in a home where they are poorly protected from other "sexually opportunistic males in the surrounding community."
Once a girl has been sexually abused, she is subsequently more likely to become involved in adolescent sex because her sexual boundaries have been violated. She has come to believe that sex equals love and attention. When propositioned, she has no boundaries to invoke.
She is more likely to pair with partners who will abandon her in a crisis and is also more likely to get pregnant. These pregnancies are often sought for many reasons:
- she hopes to escape an unhappy home life,
- she hopes to secure a commitment of marriage from her boyfriend,
- she hopes to prove her maturity and autonomy to her parents,
- she simply wants to satisfy the desire to have a child whom she can love better than she has ever been loved.
Once she is pregnant, however, the pressures to abortion can be overwhelming. Because of an underlying low self-esteem, lack of support from her family, and pressure from the boyfriend in whom she has invested her love, she is more likely to give in and abort.
In doing so, she is sacrificing her dream of a better life because, on a practical level, abortion "makes sense" - for everyone else.
In such cases, it is clear that abortion does not solve the problems of these young women, nor does it help them to achieve their goals in life. Instead, it often sets these girls up for a pattern of repeat pregnancies and repeat abortions.