Monday, October 27, 2008

the A word

I am a Christian but I support a woman's right to have an abortion. I am a feminist but I am uncomfortable with abortion past quickening and opposed to third trimester abortion. I don't think abortion is a sin. I do think abortion has the potential to deeply wound individual women. I think safe and legal abortion is absolutely necessary. I also think a healthy society should do everything possible to prevent unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.

I have had five pregnancies (that I was aware of), only one of which was planned. Three of my pregnancies resulted in live births, two of them ended in first trimester miscarriages. I have never had an abortion.

I became sexually active at 16. I was in a committed, loving relationship with a responsible young man. If I had gotten pregnant as a teen, I probably would have chosen to have an abortion. The reason was real to me then but now seems ironic. If I had gotten pregnant when I was 16 or 17 I would have had an abortion because I wouldn't have wanted the shame or scandal of being a pregnant teenage girl in my community, particularly in my church. I heard people say really mean things about pregnant girls and I wouldn't have wanted to be the one talked about; I didn't think I could handle the weight of the scorn. Pretty funny, when you think about it, that the church community that spent so much energy telling me abortion is a sin was the very reason I would have had one. But I was lucky. My boyfriend and I took lots of chances, had lots of unprotected sex but we never became pregnant (I did loosely practice a form of Natural Family Planning that I read about in a book at the home of a Catholic family I babysat for). I don't really understand why we didn't but I'm grateful that I never had to make that life or death decision and I'm especially grateful I didn't "have" to get married at 16, which, of course, would have been the other option. I shudder when I think of who I would now be if I'd been forced to marry at 16.

When I got pregnant with my oldest child I was 24, newly divorced from my first husband, unemployed with no health insurance, without a home of my own, carless and in a very casual relationship. I was the poster-child for instability. But I knew in my heart and in my mind that I wanted my baby and that I could care for him; almost the instant I was aware that I was pregnant, I loved him deeply. I never really even considered having an abortion. I firmly believed that everything would work out fine because it HAD to work out fine, and it did. I got a nanny gig that would allow me to bring my baby to work with me, moved in with Hammy and even paid the midwife in total before the baby's birth. Although on paper I appeared to be unstable, I actually had good internal resources and a supportive community to help me.

However, just because having the baby was the right decision for me doesn't mean it would be a good choice for another woman.

There are many reasons why abortion should be legal. Mainly, though, no woman should ever be forced to birth and raise a child she does not want. And no child should ever grow up without being loved and cherished. I think abortion is far preferable to a child being emotionally or physically neglected or abused. I think it would damage a woman's spirit and/or psyche less to have an early stage abortion than to give birth to and raise a baby she resented and didn't love.

I guess my sorta belief in reincarnation partially allows for my acceptance of abortion. Our souls, the Light within each of us, is a part of Divine Energy. Here on Earth or wherever we're part of God. Sometimes an individual soul has a journey to make on this Earth that takes 80 or 90 years and sometimes the journey is only for a few days; whatever the length of the journey, we'll all reunited with the One again, ultimately. I think that if abortion is a sin, it's only a sin if the woman believes it is and allows the guilt of making the choice to come between her and God. Which is not to say that if a woman does not think abortion is a sin she should enter into it lightly. Abortion should always be a deep, heavy and very well supported decision.

I know people who feel very differently about this issue who's opinions I respect. I don't think I have the answer for everyone, only for myself, and even then it evolves. I don't think anyone should make decisions for other people but that each person should be trusted and supported to make the decisions that best meet their own needs.


Anonymous said...

I think I'm both pro-life and pro-choice. It's a tough issue: I got pregnant and had an abortion just before I turned 16. At the time, it was the "obvious" choice, but in reality, it was no choice at all. You see, no one ever bothered to tell me there were other options. No one bothered to educate me about fetal development. Just quietly took me to make the "problem" disappear.

Years later, while trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, guilt came home to roost. Did the abortion make me unable to bear more children? Was I being punished for killing the only one I might have had? For years, Mother's Day was torture. Since then, thankfully, I've borne 3 healthy kids.

So do I think abortion is a good choice? Probably not. There are other options, such as adoption. Yes, going through a pregnancy is tough for a teenager, but what a blessing she can be to others! Abortion should stay legal, though, because each woman or girl should have the right to make her own choices - and the responsibility to make wise ones.

That's why education is so important, both prior and during pregnancy. We have a choice - let's make it an informed one.

Ganeida said...

Scripture says it is appointed unto man to die but once & then the judgement so obviusly I don't believe in reincarnation. Thus abortion is the snuffing of a light.

I was pro abortion until I carried my first child, which is not to say I think there is only one easy answer on this issue. What does upset me is when aborion is used as a form of contraception because people are oo lazy to practise good contraception.

Good post.