In the beginning of her poem she speaks objectively about the possibilities of emotional control that abortion could yield. In the first line of the poem Brooks says “[a]bortion will not let you forget”, personifying abortion as if a part of the conscience. In truth, abortion does become a part of the conscience because it emotionally attacks with its many side effects that could be detrimental to one’s life if not handled appropriately. Before she describes the mother – child relationship that was supposed to be, Brooks says, “[a]bortion will not let you forget” (Brooks, line 1) about the “the children that you did not get” (Brooks, line 2), reverting to her repressed feelings of her abortions. She has repressed feelings about her abortions because in 1945, when the poem was written, abortion was not legal. Abortion did not become legal until 1973 with the Supreme Court ruling of Roe vs. Wade (National Abortion Federation, History of Abortion). Being that they were illegal, many women had to conceal their abortions and the pain they felt about them.
Brooks describes the children as “[t]he damp smalls pulps with a little or with no hair” (Brooks, line 3) and what that they could have been “singers or workers” (Brooks, line 4) but “they never handled the air” meaning that they were never alive long enough to experience full life, especially punishment or to be “silence[d]”(Brooks, line 5) by a “sweet”(Brooks, line 6). The mothers will never be able to experience the relationship that they would have with their child either. They will never be able to “wind up the sucking-thumb” (Brooks, line 6), protect thee child from the “ghosts” (Brooks, line 8) of their imagination that the child may have been afraid of had they been born.
Apparently Brooks was remorseful about her abortions. She went through the motions of her pregnancy (Brooks, line 12), and then began to feel that she stole lives from her children. She feels that she “poisoined” (Brooks, 20) them with the drugs that were used at the time to abort. She did poison them, but not “deliberate[ly]” (Brooks, 21). She wanted her children.
Brooks reveals that although she did it, but she didn’t want to, which raises questions about why she went ahead with the abortion. A possible reason that she could have done it was because to have an abortion was not the social norm for women to have children out of wedlock. Although she got married in 1936 (Brooks’ Life and Biography, The Oxford University Press) she may have had this experience before then. Most women had abortions underground or at private practices. Even if they had an abortion at a hospital, it was still as risky as any other surgery done, because of the lack of information and technology to complete it successfully (National Abortion Federation, History of Abortion). Abortions may have been performed underground, but they were less spoken about. The topic of abortion was one of those subjects that as a culture was not discussed because it is thought to be inhumane. Around the time of Roe vs. Wade, states quickly hatched their own legislation about abortion. Some states and territories even made rules against speaking about abortion. There were not many doctors who did abortions. The women would have to go to get “surgery” (Bonavolgalia, xix) at an unknown address in unmarked cars…without anesthetic” (Bonavolgalia, xix). The mother and infant mortality rate at the time was high because of