Not too long ago, I was there to see the two people pictured above playing together, gathering to themselves all the love and joy that could be mustered, even in times and places that might make it challenging. They are my daughter and my grandson. I’ve always been cognizant, when the subject of abortion comes up, that it could have been my daughter’s choice, that we might never have known this beautiful little boy. My daughter got pregnant accidentally (literally, guys), in difficult circumstances. She had a choice to make. She made it, and every day everyone who knows her son, Theo, is thankful for the blessing of that child. But honestly, the same could be said for Johnna. My pregnancy with her was unexpected and scary. I guess I never really think that she could not have been here. There was never a time I made a choice. There was not for a millisecond of time a thought of not keeping her.
I was able to have this certainty for a few reasons. But the biggest one is that, I confess, I’d had an abortion before. It was one that probably would have snuck in under most of the anti-abortion laws being discussed these days. I did it literally the day after my period was due, a menstrual extraction when there was truly only a clump of cells.
As a result of that abortion, however minor a procedure it was, I became an avid pro-life advocate for awhile, as I negotiated a period of intense grieving that lasted well over a year. There was not a day that went by that I did not weep for my lost baby.
So I am not pro-abortion. Honestly, I don’t know anyone who is. I do, however, understand that there are times and circumstances when it is the only realistic choice.
I also understand that there are worse things than non existence, far, far worse things. Like small children whose hearts ache for lack of love, not even because their mother doesn’t love them or want them, but because there is no maternity leave, so she has to go back to work a week or two after giving birth, denying her and her baby the bonding experience they both need so badly. She can’t afford good quality child care either, so she takes what she can get. She is exhausted by her 24 hour work schedule, as well as the stress of not being able to pay the bills, or live in a safe place, because even poor quality child care is expensive, and wages have not kept pace with the economy for a long time. All this is perfectly designed to tear both the mother’s and the child’s heart to pieces, each stress, each hurt a blow to their hearts and souls. And this doesn’t even go into situations of abuse.
Every baby should be wanted.
Every heart should be guarded, covered in love. Life is hard enough and unpredictable enough as it is. It’s so easy to hand off glib advice, like put your baby up for adoption. But if you have had a baby, you know that is not a solution for most people. If aborting a cluster of cells can cause such profound grief, what would carrying a baby to term, giving birth, and then giving it away do to you? It would literally be like ripping your heart out of your body. You can call it selfish if you want. I call it instinctual. It is built into our cells as mothers. We cannot live without our hearts.
I am bothered, however, by the “my body my choice” chant, because really there are two bodies involved. The question of when life begins is beyond my capacity to answer, but I do know that at some point during pregnancy, the fetus has a functioning nervous system. They can feel pain. There is some question as to exactly when that date is, and I’m not writing an actual proposal, so I haven’t fully researched it. But I think that the pro-choice movement has pushed the pro-life movement to the far limits by their insistence that abortion should be legal up until the point of birth. There should never, never, ever be a partial birth abortion happening as far as I can see. If for whatever reason you discover at that late date that you can’t have that baby, the baby should be delivered, given a chance to live, and put up for adoption. I am told they rarely happen, and only when the mother’s life is in danger, but if it is to save the mother’s life, why is it necessary for the baby to give up its life? Yes, as I’ve said, adoption is hard to choose, but unimaginably easier than knowing your baby’s head emerged only to be crushed to end his life.
Really, it makes me sick to just think about it.
Gun advocates campaign against Democrats because they think they want to take their guns away. But they don’t. They just want some sanity involved, some checks and balances. Apparently, enough of the gun enthusiasts are not okay with limitation that they will never vote blue. The left is the same way about abortion. They don’t want any limitation. Can’t we all stop being all or nothing? Can we allow some restrictions on our freedom to protect the safety of the vulnerable among us, while also protecting our rights?
And while we are giving and taking, if people really want to stop abortion, they need to do something about what causes it. And I don’t mean abstinence only sex ed. Most abortions occur because the mother simply cannot care for her child. Pass laws to support her in her pregnancy and child rearing, and perhaps she will be able to make her own decision not to abort.
If you are truly, truly PRO-LIFE, instead of working on legislation to make abortion illegal, work on this legislation:
- Healthcare for all, including mental health.
- Guidance, education, in home assistance as needed by the new mothers.
- Food and housing assistance for the poor (and may I add that the current definition of poor is laughable).
- Generous paid maternity leave and quality subsidized child care.
- I might also add legislation to terminate paternal rights at birth. There are rapists who are getting joint custody of the children that result from their crimes! There are other women who are in abusive relationships who do not want their abuser to be able to control and terrorize them and their child for decades to come. In one case, when a woman applied for financial assistance for herself and her child, social services sued the rapist sperm donor to cover the cost. Instead of paying child support, the rapist sued for joint custody. And won. Would you want your child to spend half his time with someone who is not only a violent criminal, but who isn’t really interested in your child — just in not paying child support?
Life is hard, and it is so much harder now for anyone to have children, much less a single mother. In fact, it is not just hard. Sometimes it is just plain impossible. If you are not supporting these women and children with your votes, and with your heart, honestly you are responsible for a lot of abortions that happen. Own it. And then can we all work together for the good of these most vulnerable among us?
I have my doubts for sure. But can we try?