« A Holly by Any Other Name | Main | To ClamoringChampion »

01/22/2007

Comments

Bookmole

[this is good] My friend's daughter just had a late term abortion; trauma for her, her mother and her grandparents.  But she cannot take care of herself - why should we think she can care for a baby?

Excellent post.  Haven't got down to Redz yet, but I will.

RedScylla

[this is good] It brings home the thing I always wish people could accept--that they just don't know what any given woman is going through.  How horrible for this poor woman to be faced with such a painful choice.  I applaud her for taking what was probably the harder of the two roads.  I may be biased on that as a childhood friend of mine lost her mother to breast cancer.  Her mother was pregnant with twins when she was diagnosed with very aggressive cancer.  She was told that in order to receive treatment she would have to have an abortion.  She was 4 or 5 months along and a devout Catholic--mother of 5 already.  Opting against treatment, she carried the twins to term and died two weeks later, leaving behind 7 motherless children and a devastated husband.  As a child, watching my friend--the oldest of those 7 kids--forced into virtual motherhood, I've always thought her mother took the coward's way out.  She might have suffered emotionally if she'd had an abortion, but that's nothing compared to the suffering she left behind.  21 years later, my friend is a miserable wretch, burned out with raising her siblings.  She managed to get 3 of them to college, although she never was able to go.  She supports her father, who is still a shell of a man, and the twins were wasted effort.  One is a hateful wastrel, intent on making everyone around her unhappy.  My friend is raising her sister's two children.  The other twin committed suicide when he was 17.

Sorry for the long, rambling story.  Your poem just touched off that old wound.

Holly

My heart aches for your friend. That is truly horrible, but she is a blessing to the three who made it to college and the children of the "wastrel" twin. (My first thought, as a mother, is "How dare they waste the gift of life like that? How DARE they?") Your friend shouldn't have been thrust into that role; life's not fair. But it sounds like she rose to the occasion and accomplished more good in her life than many people who have college degrees ever manage to do. Perhaps the two she's raising now, and the ones she got through college, will one day be a blessing to her, and bring her some much-deserved happiness and joy.

You're right, I think, about which is the more "difficult" choice - and not many people would see it that way, but you've seen the results first-hand. You know.

beba

[this is good] Normally, I would post on this topic on my own blog. I have a lot of preggos reading right now, though, and I've learned the hard way (I've got 10 years of discussion group childbearing and -rearing flame wars under my belt) that abortion discussions and pregnancy do NOT mix.

I can understand that, I find the topic more distressing myself when the exercise of choice becomes less theoretical and more immediate possibility.

But I still have something to say, so I'll say it here instead. :-D

It's interesting... I will be 39 years old when this baby is born.
Between us, DH and I currently have 5 kids. Even though I've always declined fetal
testing for birth defects in my previous three pregnancies, I firmly
thought that this time I would have the testing and if there were
serious problems - even if there was Downs, a condition that is not
incompatible with life - I would have an abortion.

My how things change once I saw two lines (and more intensely researched the topic).

Explaining exactly why I changed my mind is too tangled, complicated and convoluted for a comment post. Hell, I think it might be too big and messy for me to articulate in any forum. And I'm sure my reasons are as much emotional as rational. Bottom line, the numbers are still massively in favor of a healthy pregnancy, healthy baby combined with the fact that test results are not infallible.

Maybe at some point in this pregnancy something will occur to tip those odds. If so, I'll deal with it when I need to and make the decisions I need to make. But for now I'm exercising my choice to NOT seek information which might force me to face the abortion question. What if the baby has a condition that could be treated in utero? Am I negligent if I don't leverage every high tech advantage for diagnosis and treatment?

Whatever I decide, right or wrong, it is MY decision to make. And I strongly believe it should remain that way. It is NOT my right to impose my values and choices on anyone else.

That is why I am pro-choice.

Holly

[this is good]

Well, it's a shame this isn't a post of its own, but I completely understand your reasons there! I'm glad you chose to share it here.


I don't know that anyone can understand that shift in thinking that happens when you're actually pregnant - when theory becomes reality and if becomes when. When I was writing about "Baby Doe," even Down's Syndrome seemed like enough hurdle to justify abortion (to me). But as I learned more and saw more people not only coping with Down's, but thriving - having meaningful, productive, independent or semi-independent lives - the question became more problematic. And, as it did, so did other questions.


I felt differently with my second pregnancy than I did with my first. I had a better idea - not a perfect understanding, mind you, but a better idea - of what my limitations were. I knew, then, that I could bear a whole lot more than I gave myself credit for eight years earlier. I knew, then, that the capacity to love isn't tied to ten fingers and ten toes and perfect health. And I knew that pain was relative; I'd have taken my daughter for a day, a week, a month - however long G-d saw fit to let me hold her. But I wouldn't have wished some things on her.


I didn't know then what I know now, and my feelings on the subject have changed again, I'm sure, in small but significant ways. And I still don't know exactly what I'd do, faced with the question.


I'm forty-three years old, now. I'm done. I'm perimenopausal (past wanting, but probably not past being able, to bear a child). I don't want another child - healthy or otherwise. I want to raise my two to be independent adults with rich lives of their own - and then I want to enjoy my husband all to myself, selfishly, for a time, while we're still young enough to do things we won't always be able to do. But if I got pregnant tomorrow...


I probably would not have an abortion. It doesn't go against everything I believe - I believe it's my right to choose. It's just...I pray I'm not ever faced with the choice, and I'm glad I live in a country where the law recognizes my right to make that choice.

RedScylla

I think it must take incredible nerve to have pre-natal testing.  If I were pregnant, I don't know if I could go through with a test that might cause me to question the rightness of an otherwise wanted pregnancy.  I might just have to fly blind.  How's that for being a coward?  

Holly

Not so cowardly, really. Just a different kind of fear - and a different kind of faith. My cousin's wife had pre-natal testing (AFP and ultrasound) that indicated several serious problems. She opted not to have the amnio and take on its risks, because they'd already decided it wouldn't make a difference in their decision to have the baby. What should've been a happy, uneventful pregnancy now had a real element of worry, but knowing there might be a problem didn't affect their plans. Just their mental, emotional state. And in the end, their daughter was healthy and beautiful and had no problems whatsoever. She's lovely, petite, and rather gifted. Did the pre-natal testing help a darned thing? No. Helps to know where you stand on the question before you start looking for answers, I guess.

ClamouringChampion

Holly,

Thank you for posting on my blog, and I appreciate your kinds words.  As you know, I am in quite the opposite camp as you regarding abortion.  And, as you may have noticed, I am likewise a Catholic struggling to be devout.  I wanted to offer my thoughts on your post, which is, make no mistake, full of tragedy.

First, the semantics.  The pro-life crowd that would like to make abortion illegal when it threatens the LIFE (not health, since health can be interpreted so broadly) of the mother is very small.  In fact, in the Catholic faith (which says that the taking of any life as an end in itself, is immoral) acknowledges that there may be times when the treatment of the mother might cause or be abortive in its means.  The key difference is that the abortion not be the desired end.  For example, should a mother decide to undergo treatment of cancer during her pregnancy (as one of your other commenters posted), it is a sad consequence if the baby's life is lost.  However, it is a consequence.  The Catechism has this to say regarding the issue (scroll down to Abortion) - take special note of section 2271.  I also find it interesting - the language is couched unmistakably in human civil rights terms.

Next, the number of pro-life persons to commit murder in the name of the pro-life movement is incredibly small and equally condemned by true pro-life persons as well as society at large.  I have never met someone like this, and I have no respect for anyone like this.  Notice the section on Abortion is under the 5th Commandment in the Catechism - "Thou shalt not kill".

More personally, I take extreme exception to the statement "it was better to x than bring an unwanted child into the world."  This is just not a substantial argument for abortion.  There are plenty of us around these days that were unwanted at some point in our lives - unexpected pregnancies (plenty of which are met with grief and carried through to term), two year olds (there are times when I wish I could take a break from mine), bullies, smelly people on the subway, used car salesmen, presidents, politicians, the Jews - the list goes on and on.  And it is NEVER permissible to terminate any of these peoples lives because they are unwanted.  This argument is one of the truly repugnant sentiments in our society today.  When people are judged by their convenience to society, we become Nazi Germany.

Finally, your last paragraph truly reveals the tragedy.  It has become a recent trend in the pro-choice movement to admit that abortion is the taking of a life.  The complacence with which this fact is admitted is staggering.  Have we become so callus in our posh American lifestyles that we can say comfortably, with a strait face, "This is taking a life, and this is okay." (this being any particular action)?  This is not something I can live with.  Do I understand that people who are driven to abortion do it because they think, ultimately, it will help improve their situation?  Of course.  Do I understand that some times it actually does (in appearance)?  Of course.  I, with the Church, assert that it is never morally permissible to do an immoral act to achieve any intended consequences.  Period.  I will stick to that.

I do hope my comments are not taken in a mean spirit.  I am a little intrigued as to how you found my blog, and truly appreciate your gracious comments.  I am always eager to dialog on such an important topic, especially one so deeply personal to me.  Alas, I am not gifted with brilliant words - I am a lowly engineer.  But I will do my best.

I will complete this (incredibly long) comment with this.  Part of the reason I take this stance is because I have been there.  My girlfriend and I experienced an unexpected pregnancy, one that our parents described as "having ruined our lives."  It was incredibly difficult.  But we live our lives now knowing that we chose the difficult road and free of the guilt which surrounds so many of the mothers, victims of abortion as much as their babies.  It is difficult - we had to truncate our education and change our life plans completely.  It hurts when people look at our wedding date and the birthday of our child and do the math.  It immediately comes to mind "ah, they don't know how to take care of things." 

And that is how abortion has affected my life.  My children, whom are trying, I'll be the first to admit, are also the greatest blessing (aside from my wife) in my life.  And they are seen by so many in our society as a mistake, a bad decision by two individuals that stunted their careers.  My wife and I have to live with this, and this is our punishment, but I will not stand for a world where my child was seen as an inconvenient choice.  She is a person, with all the rights endowed her by her Creator.  The side affect of abortion is that our culture now thinks of children as choices, things brought into being to serve another.  And that is a poverty.

The comments to this entry are closed.