Is "the mother" a pro-life or a pro-choice poem?

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"the mother" by Gwendolyn Brooks does not specifically take a political stance for or against abortion, but in its emotional tone, it is a pro-life poem. The terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" refer to ideologies having to do with the issue of abortion. People who are pro-life believe that life begins at conception and so abortion should be illegal. Since the pro-life viewpoint equates abortion with murder, people holding this opinion think that the government should intervene and make it a crime to get an abortion. People who are pro-choice believe that a person who becomes pregnant should have the option to terminate the pregnancy through abortion, at least up to the point of viability (which refers to the ability of a fetus to live on its own outside the womb). Pro-choice people believe that the person should choose whether or not to have the baby when they become pregnant, while pro-life people insist that the government should forbid all abortions by law.

In "the mother," the narrator is a woman who has had multiple abortions. She cannot help thinking about the babies that the aborted fetuses might have become. She imagines how she might have treated them, gazed on them with the eyes of a mother, and nursed them. In the second stanza, she directly addresses her aborted children, confessing that she might have sinned in stealing their births and their potential lives. She admits that they are dead and then corrects herself by saying that they were never made. She then more specifically admits her guilt by saying that "you were born, you had body, you died. It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried." When she writes this, it is obvious that she feels responsible for the deaths of her children. In the last stanza, she confesses that "though faintly," she loves all the potential children she aborted.

We see, then, that although her abortions were almost certainly performed when the fetuses were not yet viable, the narrator in the poem still considers the aborted fetuses to be her children, and she imagines possible lives for them. For this reason, we can argue that "the mother" is a pro-life poem.

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