I don’t usually post about hot-button issues. You know what they are…the social/political/moral/ethical topics that, brought up at the wrong time, can rip apart even the best friendships/closest families/most loving partners. Today, I have been moved to speak on one.
Abortion. You’re either pro-life or pro-choice, according to most people on either side. I beg to differ. See, I am pro-choice…though I must confess that, as I age and progress in motherhood and life, and read more and more stories about women who do not practice safe sex and use abortion as their birth control, I get more and more in the view of “Even if it can’t be outlawed, gosh darn there need to be better regulations in place.” I think that it’s sad that some women can’t be bothered to take a pill every day, or, I don’t know…make him wrap it up for Pete’s sake…literally…(there is such a thing as Planned Parenthood for low-cost and/or free birth control) but seem to feel no qualms about getting an abortion every time they get knocked up.
Abortion would never be an option for me unless my life was in immediate danger. I have three children, and I have an obligation to them to kind of be alive to shepherd them through life. So yes, if my obstetrician told me “This is what’s going on with the baby you’re carrying (no, I am not pregnant at the present time), and your life is in very real, very probable danger if you continue this pregnancy”, I would, in all likelihood, terminate the pregnancy. Of course, I would get second and third opinions, but if it were to be reiterated that there was a very real and probably chance that the pregnancy would kill me, for whatever reason, be it something wrong with the baby, or something with my body, I would end my pregnancy. I would not do it with joy in my heart. I would be sad beyond belief, but I have three children who still need me to stick around.
I do not approve of women using abortion as birth control. I also believe that aborting a healthy child when you are capable of carrying to term, simply because you don’t want a baby, is a slap in the face to all the couples who struggle with infertility. I believe that abortion should be allowed if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, though I do know of women who have carried babies conceived in rape to term and given the infant up for adoption. I even know someone who kept her baby that was conceived in rape. She’s a good mother and loves her son with all her heart. She believes he is proof that something beautiful and amazing can come from even the darkest moments in our lives. Her unconditional love and courage in raising her son is a wonderful manifestation of her loving heart, her strong soul.
But I also respect that another woman’s body is hers, and it is not my domain, duty, or right to tell her what she can and cannot do with. I have a right, and a duty, to tell her my point of view if she were to ask me. But along with that right comes the duty and obligation to express my view in a way that is compassionate and courteous. I do not have the right to look down on her or belittle, berate, or bully her to get my point across. Besides, how’s that ol’ saying go? Oh yeah…you catch more flies with honey. Offering kindness and understanding in expression of your views, and you can make an impact. Bully and demean a woman for a choice that doesn’t jive with your beliefs? She’s likely to shut down, get defensive, and not listen to a word you say before you even have a chance to say them. In other words, just because a woman is having an abortion doesn’t mean she’s automatically a whore or a slut. Listening to her story, her reasons with a sympathetic, understanding ear will go much farther than telling her she’s a dirty whore sinner who is going to hell because she’s committing murder.
Let me tell you something. When I found out I was pregnant with SchoolGirl, I was going to get an abortion. I had my consultation appointment made, and it was quickly nearing the eleventh hour in the window for me to get it done. On my way in, an elderly woman was standing outside, and she touched my forearm. She asked me politely if I was going in to have an abortion. I stated that I was not getting an abortion that particular day, but simply going in for my pre-procedural consult. She asked me if she could talk to me for a moment, and, as I was early (I am a painfully early person…), I said she could. She then handed me a pamphlet, and spoke to me about abortion, what I could expect to go through, and asked me why I was considering abortion. I responded that I was in no position to have a child, I couldn’t give it the life it deserved. She then reminded me about adoption. I went in for my consult, was told what I could expect (the woman, it seemed, had been perfectly honest with me), and in accordance with that particular clinic’s policies, I had to think about it for 24 hours, and call them after that time frame to set up the appointment to have it done. On my way out, the woman touched me again, and handed me another pamphlet. She hugged me, whispered to me “Think it through…thoroughly. Please.” I promised her I would, and I went home, where I looked at the pamphlet she’d given me. It had no images of aborted babies, no judgements. Instead, it was a pamphlet listing resources for post-abortion counseling. The original pamphlet she gave me was not slanted, judging propganda either. It was a listing of adoption services, and various types of adoptions.
I called the OB who would come to provide my prenatal care during my pregnancy with SG, told them I was considering abortion. The midwife on duty, Keri, asked me to come in that evening. “I’d like to show you something.” She’d said.
She showed me my baby. My little 10-week’s gestation baby, there in my womb. She was wearing headphones, and suddenly she stopped moving the wand over my abdomen, and pulled the headphones out of the jack they were plugged in. A whooshing sound filled the room.
She’d shown me my baby, and my baby’s heartbeat. At the very first sound of that little heart, my course was set. I would not be calling that clinic back. If anything, my baby would be given up for adoption (which I couldn’t go through with either, but that’s another story), but I could not make the choice to silence her heart. I was in love with my baby, and I determined that somehow, be it adoption or my own trepidation, I would find a way…but I could not bear the thought of that sound echoing in my soul ever being silenced forever. SG is now a beautiful 7 year old, and I love her more every day.
That being said. I was headed to Walgreens to pick up some pads (just as good as Always pads, ladies, and cheaper too!). There is a women’s center pretty much right next door. I often see people outside on the sidewalks with their anti-abortion signs. That’s fine. I really don’t give a rip. Until today, they’ve been a rather peaceful, kind bunch. The type who, for all intents and purposes, try their hardest to stay to the tenets of their faith as they try to convey their message. They do not harass, bully, or accost the women who go there. But if someone wants to talk, they do it with compassion and kindness.
I say until today, because I saw a sign larger than the usual ones today, and it looked, from the distance as I was approaching, to have a picture on it. My heart flopped and I told ToddlerGirl, in a quite terrified voice to close her eyes and not open them until I said so. Normally, she would have resisted and asked a million questions why. Thank whatever is up there that she did as I asked, right away, because as I passed, I nearly vomited all over myself. This was a LARGE sign, and taking up the space was a graphic picture of an aborted baby. It was awful, and the reaction I had in my gut shocked me, terrified me, and this pervasive grief for the baby settled over me. It was sad, and that is an understatement.
The front door to the women’s center does not face the street, it is on the side and faces the parking lot. The abortion activists were standing at the corner, the image pointed towards the street, which is a four lane main road.
I get it, I really do. They’re trying to make a point, and unfortunately we live in such a desensitized society that it often takes a shocking image to make a point. But, given the nature of the image…they should have had it pointing towards the center’s door and parking lot. A lot of cars travel that road every day, and a lot of those cars have children in them.
Now, I know, they were well within their First Amendment rights to stand there on public property (they stand on the sidewalk because it’s public, whereas the women’s center property is not, obviously) and speak their minds. Peaceful assembly and free speech and all that. Fine. Whatever.
But a child, especially one so young as TG, should not be exposed to an image like that. Anyone could obviously see that the image was a baby. Children are innocent. I should not have to explain to my 4-year-old why people are standing on the corner and waving a picture of a badly mutilated unborn baby. Thank goodness she listened to me and I didn’t have to explain it. These are supposed to be Christian people, and not one of them had any thought for any child in the cars that went by. The image should have been pointed towards the women whose minds they were trying to change, not at passing cars carrying young children. Or children at all.
No, there isn’t a law saying they can’t stand there and show my children, and other children, a picture of an aborted baby. But since when did we as a society abandon common sense, compassion, and consideration simply because “There’s no law saying I can’t stand here!”? There shouldn’t have to be. Because yes, you little “Christians”, there with your picture where any child could see it, you have every right to stand there and state your case and support your cause. But maybe you should take from that good little book of yours, with all its messages of consideration and compassion for your fellow human, a note that maybe you should just point your sign the other way. I do not like that you force that image into the minds of our children. TG listened to me, but I have to wonder how many cars carrying young ones passed by before me. I wonder how many parents didn’t have time to tell those children to close their eyes. I wonder how many children didn’t listen if they were told to close their eyes, or look out the other window. And I wonder, how many parents now have to grapple with an answer as to why people were holding up a picture of a dead baby. I know the types and amount of questions TG asks. I can’t imagine having to struggle to figure out how to tell her what was going on.
You have the right to free speech and peaceful assembly.
But you do NOT have the right to sear such a graphic, awful image into the minds of children who aren’t even old enough to understand HOW babies are MADE, let alone WHY you were showing the world how a baby was DESTROYED. No right, at all.
Show some courtesy and consideration, for crying out loud, and turn your sign around to the people you’re REALLY trying to reach. Leave my kids out of your crusade.