October 17, 2006

Hey, let’s talk about abortion and religion!

(Wait, where are you going?)

Two things:

1. JB and I went to the Bodies exhibit a couple weeks ago. I highly recommend checking it out if it’s in your city, the specimens are truly amazing and give you a unique chance to appreciate the fascinating machinery under your skin.

One section of the exhibit is devoted to fetal development, and it includes many actual fetus specimens floating, ghostlike, in their containers. You can choose to bypass this room; I imagine it would upsetting to some people. There are heartbreaking examples of birth defects which are particularly difficult to view.

Most intriguing to me was the area depicting gestation week by week, from chorionic sac to embryo to 32 weeks in development. In the first couple weeks you see what you might expect: a tiny blob of cells. By five weeks it takes on the form of a living creature, preliminary arms and legs are there.

The eighth week specimen was so perfectly formed it took my breath away. Fingers. Toes. Eyes. I can’t explain it, except to say it’s one thing to see photos of this stage, and it’s something else entirely to see the actual body from all angles.

I have felt differently about abortion since Riley, which is not to say I have changed my pro-choice stance entirely, but rather that the subject feels much more emotionally charged. It is now difficult for me to be objective or clinical about a process that prevents a viable baby from being born.

I had an abortion when I was a teenager, which I hope is not such an intimate confession it will make you feel uncomfortable – it’s just the truth. I was maybe eighteen and was in no position to feel anything but an overwhelming desire to end the pregnancy. I have no lingering sorrows over that choice. At the time I was incredibly relieved to have the option available to me.

When I think about abortion now, my mind can’t quite escape the image of that eight-week-old fetus. Fingers. Toes. I don’t know how to view it any other way than ending a life.

For my own situation, I didn’t want to have a child. I had nothing to offer a baby: no stability, no money, nothing. I believe my life took a better course for not being a teenage mother, although who can say for sure. I believe Riley would not exist today had I made a different choice back then.

But was it morally wrong? I feel less certain that I know the answer to that question.

2. I have also felt differently about religion since Riley, which is not to say I have changed my personal agnostic, uh, nonbelief system. I am more empathetic to the desire to believe, I guess. I understand that there are things in the world so glorious and good there is no better word for them than miraculous. I understand, in some small scared way, the unspeakable enormity of a child’s death, and the need to believe that this world is not our last.

I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith (which I picked up because she is a great and funny author; she also wrote Bird by Bird, one of the best books on writing I have ever had the pleasure of reading), and while I do not share Lamott’s spirituality, I find her point of view inspiring. She talks about Jesus and God and Mary and so on, but her faith is completely without judgement. She uses her faith as a supporting pair of hands, the motivation to get out of bed on a day that offers no comfort, and a reminder to love her fellow man without exception.

Her perspective is a beautiful thing to read, in my opinion. It is quite different from the ‘family values’ bullshit that is really just hatred and intolerance with a halo drawn on top.

She fundamentally lives her life by a set of what I choose to believe are mythological constructs. But her flavor of Christianity offers a moral compass I can respect and even envy.

Lamott herself believes in a woman’s right to choose, by the way. She wrote, “It is a moral necessity that we not be forced to bring children into the world for whom we cannot be responsible and adoring and present. We must not inflict life on children who will be resented; we must not inflict unwanted children on society.”

I want to support this right. I really, really do. I have many reasons for believing that women should have legal access to this procedure.

And yet. Fingers. Toes. Visceral reminders of the machinery being built, with all its potential. It’s complicated. It is more complicated for me than bumper stickerisms or yelling lunatics with signs or choices made in the name of God.

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warcrygirl
15 years ago

As a Christian I feel that abortion (used as a means of birth control) is wrong, however; as a woman I feel it is not my place to make that decision for a woman. God didn’t allow us to evolve to the top of the food chain, to evolve into the intelligent beings that we are and not allow us to make our own choices. What a lot of religions forget is that faith is only faith if it is of one’s own freewill; anything else is oppression disguised as faith.

I did the exact same thing you did; abortion at 18, had a child and decided that maybe there really was more “out there”. Please don’t think that all Christians are the holier-than-thou club, some of us really are pretty accepting.

Ang
Ang
15 years ago

It’s amazing how offspring can change so much. It goes way beyond interrupting our sleep!

Annie
Annie
15 years ago

Thanks for posting this. Not all abortions are due to unwanted pregnancy. I wanted my baby badly but found out at 20 weeks that he would only suffer for a short time after birth and then die. So we chose to terminate. Yes, I had a late term abortion. It was the best decision we could make for our unborn son and for our family. One more week and it wouldn’t have been legal. Keep that in mind when you vote next month.

Karla
15 years ago

Your post is so well written. I had a hard time understanding where my views on abortion and religion fit in anymore after I gave birth too, and said goodbye to my first baby all on the same day, and then had a miscarriage a few months later.

I am definitely pro-choice, but at the same time, it hurts knowing someone is giving up a baby when I have lost two. And faith? Not that I am a particularly religious person, but any shards of faith that I had were completely ripped to the core when my baby died. Some days, I think it is my lack of faith that got me through that, because I didn’t want to believe in a master plan from a god that killed babies, or condemns people for making difficult decisions, like proceeding with an abortion.

There is more to humanity than fitting into the boxed in rules of religion.

Lori
Lori
15 years ago

Long time lurker here, I just had to say your writing just keeps getting better and better.

wealhtheow
wealhtheow
15 years ago

I’d love to see a world where no woman ever had to get an abortion. But this world isn’t perfect yet, and as long as women are faced with difficult choices I’ll support their right to make the choice that is the best for them.

A friend has the same feelings you do, Sundry. He has a big problem with the pro-choice movement not acknowledging that abortion is ending a life. I told him that I would never tell a woman who had an abortion that she just killed her baby, and I would never tell a woman that had a miscarriage that her baby wasn’t alive. I truly do believe that when life begins needs to be between a woman and her doctor (and the father if he’s involved).

Pete
Pete
15 years ago

Really good post. The rest has been said by those before me.

b.
b.
15 years ago

I’m not a Christian, but I am religious…in my particular faith, it is generally believed that the soul is breathed into the fetus at 40 days. Abortion is not supported, even if the baby is not wanted, but it’s not forbidden, either (keeping in mind that it is an assumption that conception will occur within the confines of marriage). Extenuating circumstances can and do exist; these are recognized and considered valid reasons to get an abortion if necessary (usually within that forty-day period before the soul turns that collection of cells into a life). Birth defects, the health of the mother — physically and mentally — incest, rape, etc., are among the extenuating circumstances. Birth control is highly encouraged to prevent pregnancy if the couple doesn’t want children for whatever reason. That’s my religious side of the coin.

My secular side of the coin: I am pro-choice. Despite what I personally feel and believe about babies and abortion, I can in no way condemn a woman to illegal and dangerous backstreet abortions. How to put this clearly? All life has the right to exist without being killed, but women (and teenaged girls) have a greater degree to that right to life than does an fetus. If an individual is truly anti-abortion, his or her efforts would be better spent ensuring that unwanted pregnancies didn’t happen in the first place.

It’s never easy to face the reality of abortion. Now that I, myself, have two children, exactly what is lost when a could’ve-been child is aborted is painfully and heartwrenchingly clear. But my soul grows cold at the thought of taking the choice away from women. Claiming the moral high ground and making abortion illegal, when the ramifications of that legal decision are broken bodies, broken lives, broken minds, and broken hearts, is nothing short of hypocrisy.

KJ
KJ
15 years ago

Sundry – you are an inspiration to us all with your diplomacy, your patience, and your strength of character! Even when we get some of the details wrong or read something into your posts that wasn’t there to begin with – we’re all eager to drink it in and discuss it with peace, compassion, and intelligence. Thank you for giving us this gift of a secret little community we can share together. All of us weird-o’s out here really love it when you bring out posts like this. We also love the poop stories and the retina searing-ly cute baby pics. We love hearing about your iron-clad union to like, the MOST awesome hubby ever. It takes some serious grapes to put this kind of stuff online for the world to see – and we, the world, are far better off for it.

Thanks again m’lady!
I’ll go be a dork to myself again now.

Rayshell
Rayshell
15 years ago

Linda…Thank you! I have read your blog for almost a year now and LOVE it! I can really relate to your post today though. I also had an abortion (at 16!). 12 years later I am still with the same man and he is now my husband and GOD I love him!! We are trying for a baby now and I am SO scared. I wonder if I will have issues concieving (sp?). Will our baby be healthy? I am pro choice, but damn I feel so different about it now. Just knowing that I aborted a living being is hard but I know I had to get my life right before I could have another person depend on me. I’m ready! :)

Jane
15 years ago

Another thing about being pro-choice that people always miss: it’s not just abortion. It’s pro-choice to let women who have 13 children to have a 14th. It’s pro-choice to allow couples go ahead and have a baby even though they know there’s a 1 in 4 chance of the baby having a genetic birth defect that will cause it to die at birth. It’s pro-choice to allow crackhead women to remain fertile. Reproductive freedom means that the government can’t tell you what you do with your uterus, not just whether you can have an abortion or not and that’s why I support it. I had three miscarriages in a row, and that completely changed my view on abortion, because you better believe that seeing a heartbeat at five weeks meant “baby” to me, but I wouldn’t dream of telling someone else what “baby” means to them.

renovatingme
15 years ago

I used to feel very very very strongly about the right to choose before my son was born. And while I feel we as women should have the right to decide what to do with their body, like Sundry I saw this exhibit and all I can say is WOW.

I too like many other women had an abortion. One at the age of 16 and the other at 19. Am I sad because I had them? Yes and No. Yes in the sense that I am sorry I didn’t have the support I needed, and no — because it was the right choice for me at those times. And terribly frustrating because I was on the pill both times. I am greatful that I had the choice and those services available to me.

I still want women to have the right to choose, but I will stick my neck out here and say I hope they choose not to abort but to carry their baby to term and place it for adoption if they feel they can’t care for a baby.

Did that make sense?

Staci
15 years ago

It has been so good for me to read all of these comments. I didn’t realize that pro choice doesn’t mean pro abortion… I’m so glad to learn that.

Maybe if we showed teens the Bodies exhibit (and also left them alone for a weekend with a screaming newborn!) they would really see the painful choice they would have to make if they accidentally got pregnant (abortion or keep the baby). Maybe that is the kind of information they need to decide whether or not to have sex and whether or not to use birth control.

Kari
Kari
15 years ago

I was 18 when I found out I was pregnant with Starla. I was in college and my boyfriend (now fiance) loves me very much. I never had a second thought about it. I had a 2 year old little brother and countless young cousins that I had taken care of, so I knew how to take care of a child. I didn’t enjoy college at all and didn’t want to be there in the first place. So I guess it was just the right time for me. I wish that we had been better prepared money-wise and such, but we live comfortably now, finally. Everything is getting pretty good now. She’s a year old. I’m so glad I didn’t have an abortion. I never thought about it though. But I can see where to some, it may be the only possible option.

squandra
squandra
15 years ago

I don’t know how to thank you for posting this.

Every word.

Sue
Sue
15 years ago

I think your title says it all… this complicated life. Sure is!
Thanks for all your great posts!

gabby
gabby
15 years ago

Chalk me up for another Christian (in the non-crazy fundamentalist kind of way – we actually do believe in being tolerant, gracious and….shall I say it? Christlike towards all humans! Shocker, I know.) who is anti-abortion, but pro-choice. I don’t believe in it, I don’t like it, but our country would be poorer if that choice was taken away and I certainly can’t imagine condemning anyone who did make that choice (yeah, the self professed Christians who are physically or mentally or verbally abusive to those who believe differently? Make my head hurt. Do they not know the basic commandments? Sheesh…).

Our baby was born this summer and it was advised that I don’t have any more for the sake of my health & life. We are doing steps to prevent us getting pregnant again, but should something happen and we end up pregnant, I can’t lie and say I won’t be very glad that choice is there. Whatever we may decide to do.

angela
angela
15 years ago

I do not have children, but my BF does and he is pro-choice, and separates his children from his views. Maybe it’s a mother thing? Having carried the child and all? Hard to say.

Someone mentioned that they hate how Chistians are all lumped together as fundamentalist wakos. It’s not like that for me, although I’m sure as an Athiest, I dislike crazy fundamentalist Christians just as much as the “normal” Christians do. For me, it’s that Christians can’t seem to stick to their religions, making excuses and exceptions for whatever suits them. I don’t like wishy-washy people. But that’s just me. The whole christian faith is splintered into so many denomonations, simply because someone decided they ddn’t like the way things were being done, so they made up a new religion. I find that odd. I’m sure it’s the same with other religions. People claim to be a religion, but they don’t practice, and then judge those who hold different views.

Being Athiest is not a total lack of morals and values, being Athiest means determining them for yourself, not just accepting someone else’s. And being an Athiest takes a certain amount of faith as well. There are so many holes in humans’ collective knowledge, but I have faith that one day science will explain it all.

That being said, I hate talking about religion. I think it is such a private and personal matter, and really, I choose to believe what I believe and you choose what you believe and that’s it. Sitting around trying to convince people that what you believe is right is such a waste of time to me. I’d rather spend time enjoying my life and my friends and my family, than fighting with strangers about such personal things.

MRW
MRW
15 years ago

I agree with Caitlin that as I reached my mid-twenties, my pro-choice stance became more directed towards other women’s bodies than my own mainly because at that point, although it would have been hard, I could have supported a child on my own. After having a miscarriage and a baby, my thoughts on abortion remain much the same as Lisa’s: “Don’t want one? Don’t have one. Don’t want other people to have one? Then make sure they don’t have a reason to get one — give ‘em better sex ed and access to birth control that works.” I had the luxury of having access to sex ed, health care which meant the pill, and because I turned 15 the year AIDS really started making headlines and news, I still made guys use condoms. As a result, I could choose when to try to get pregnant, so many other girls and women don’t have that luxury, which is incredibly sad.

As for religion, I guess I’d say I believe in some kind of higher being, but I don’t believe in religion. Was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school etc, but I guess it didn’t take because I have too many problems with “the church” to stay there. I think some of the ideas espoused in the bible are good guidelines for life – love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, let he who is without sin throw the first stone, etc, but lots of these ideas seem to get ignored or sublimated, so I just try to keep them as guildelines and leave the rest. I don’t really believe there is someone out there controling our lives or defining our destiny, but there are things that, although they explainable by science, remain miraculous anyway. I guess I seem to be taking logic and faith and putting them in the blender on high ;-)

Louise
Louise
15 years ago

Thankyou for broaching this subject so honestly. I’ve ALWAYS been a great believer in pro-choice, and have always voiced that opinion and yet friends still feel uncomfortable around me if the subjects of pregnancy and abortion come up. I’ve had two miscarriages in my life, and I had to have a hysterectomy when I was 30 (I’m now 37), so people automatically assume that I’m going to rage and holler at anyone who chooses to end a pregnancy, just because none of mine were fruitful and never will be.

Looking back on my life now, and what I’ve accomplished I realise that if my first pregnancy (at 17) hadn’t ended in a miscarriage I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today, and certainly wouldn’t of been able to support and raise the child as I feel children should be – I was a child myself back then.

Each woman, has a choice in this life. Whether we ultimately make the right choice is neither here nor there, we have to live with what we decide at that moment, and make that choice with our heads held high. For me, the choices were taken out of my hands, but I commend and honour the women, who everyday make such difficult decisions.

jonniker
15 years ago

As a random aside, I would like to add that birth control isn’t foolproof, as I can say from first-hand experience, and there seems to be a pervasive assumption that if you get pregnant, it’s somehow your fault because you weren’t taking all of the precautions and/or properly educated (Everyone has been quite gracious here, so this is directed at no one here.)

I got pregnant when I was on all sorts of birth control. By all accounts, I was entirely “responsible,” which goes to say that it could indeed, happen to anyone. Statistically and qualitatively, I am (and was) nothing like the candidate for abortion that immediately leaps into people’s minds, I guess, and I’m pretty sure there are others like me who made other choices. I guess I’m just thankful that the choice is there, and that no matter what, right now, we all get to pick what’s best for us, and don’t have to justify our circumstances to anyone else.

(My freaking God, this is my fourth or fifth comment. Clearly, uh, I think about this a lot.)

angela
angela
15 years ago

Jonniker, i have had to resist the urge to post multiple comments. When it comes to this subject matter, I find it’s really hard to put into words my true feelings on the subject. I’ve already found 36589 problems with the comment I posted, but eh.

Sonia (DDM)
15 years ago

I heart you Linda. Thank you for this.

Donna
Donna
15 years ago

Good discussion. Nice people. Hard decisions.
Didn’t have an abortion, I was lucky I never got caught pregnant.
Then I was on the pill. It made me have migraines so bad I was suicidal.
So I went off the pill. And by then I had been married for 3 years, and it was time to have a baby anyway. So I had a daughter. Then I did get caught pregnant with my son using contraceptive foam. The doctor asked me if I wanted an abortion, and I freaked out. I would never have considered it. So I had my son, had my tubes tied right then, and never had to worry about it again.
I never once considered having an abortion, but I am glad that to this day, if I needed one I would have that option. I don’t know if I could. Not because I believe it is a baby from the moment of conception, I don’t. I do know that if the morning after pill was available I would use it if I needed to. But because I don’t think that anyone should be able to tell me I have to have kids, the same as I don’t think anyone should be able to tell me how many kids to have. Like someone else said, pro choice is just that, prochoice.
You are brave Linda, to start this discussion, to say that you had an abortion, and to take the chance that people would lose their minds here. Bravo.

victoria
victoria
15 years ago

I have never been pregnant, never had a kid or a termination. But I thought it was really brave of you to post this. Thank you.

robin j.
15 years ago

Just one point to keep in mind: the ‘6-week-old’ fetbryo in the exhibit correlates to what we think of as 8 weeks pregnant.

Anne
Anne
15 years ago

It’s so funny all of the issues and emotions that swirl around the abortion debate. I had a very long and passionate debate a few weeks back with a good friend. She argued that if my reason for being pro-choice was that the government shouldn’t regulate people’s chioces about their bodies, then I should be against laws making drugs and suicide illegal.

The argument had gotten to the point where I couldn’t make a rational point anymore, I was so worked up, so we left it there.

angela
angela
15 years ago

I may sound like a total loser, but suicide is illgal? really? wow.

Drug laws are more social laws, than “body” laws, IMO. Also, I saw a really intresting special on the history of drugs in the US, and the only reason that drugs are illegal is because the first DEA guy appointed was regarded as kind of a loser, so they made him in charge of what they felt was a problem with no solution, and BAM, he finds a loophole in the law to make drugs illegal, gets a promotion and personal fame, and the laws still stand to this day.

Sundry
Sundry
15 years ago

I didn’t know suicide was illegal either. That’s…completely nuts.

Katie
15 years ago

I’m commenting before reading any other comments–to keep my viewpoint straight here.

As my grandfather says, “Every child deserves to be conceived in love and born into joy.” For some, that isn’t the reality. And for them, and for all of our sakes–the government should NOT be butting in. Some fat white MAN in D.C. should not tell me what I can or cannot do. It is my choice. And if my daughter finds herself pregnant in a few years and desperately trying to end it, it DAMN well better be safe and legal. If she dies from some brutal coat hanger type accident, I would never forgive the “pro-lifers.”

Ann Lamott–one of my heroes. Someone who keeps me from leaping off the bandwagon of “religion” every chance I get. Also, try reading Marcus Borg. His view of Christianity is one I can actually swallow without gagging. It is based on history and academics and REALITY.

Thank you for writing such a thoughtful (and gutsy) post. Now I will read the other comments!

Jen
Jen
15 years ago

re: the religion part of this –

I just read something last night in my book for Sunday School about world religions (don’t laugh, we just finished learning about how correct evolution is)… this is portions of a speech by Jimmy Carter:

“The first step [to religious extremism] is to feel that our faith is superior… The second step is to believe that anyone who disagrees with us is also disagreeing with God. [The third step] is to say that those who disagree with God are… not only mistaken, but inferior… [the fourth step is] to say that those who disagree with God, their lives are not worthy in the eyes of God… but to exalt ourselves as the singular and chosen believers, that’s when the cruelty comes and the basic principles of our faith are abandoned.”

The crazy ones ruin it for everyone. Faith is a very personal thing. My own is constantly changing and getting much more liberal as I get older and learn more than the black and white world view taught to kids in church. The more I try to learn the more questions I have, unanswerable questions. All I know at this point is that it seems like the only thing to do is to try to truly love one’s neighbor, regardless of any situation.

Thank you for posting this.

thejunebug
15 years ago

I’ve always believed in a woman’s right to choose, but I’ve always also believed in personal responsibility– if you can’t handle the possibility of being pregnant, or if you can’t imagine someone being your baby’s father, don’t have sex. Not abstinence per se… but intelligent consideration of consequences.

I think the only time I’d have made that choice myself is if I were in your situation… 18 is too young. Right now when I’m 25, married, and in a stable job? Never. But I wont stop someone else from making the choice.

As for religion… I grew up LDS, and we believe in a pre-life and after-life existence.

Emily
15 years ago

I already commented, but I thought of something I wanted to add, based on something I heard while listeing to election nonsense this morning, and which came back into my mind because of what you wrote in response to someone’s comment about whose lives are more valuable: a baby’s or an adult’s …

I think it’s odd that politically these days, liberal Democrats are pro-choice/anti-Iraq war, and conservative Republicans are pro-life/pro-Iraq war. I mean, in both cases, people are dying — why is it okay for Christians (since they are mostly Republican/conservative) to approve of war deaths, but not abortion? (And vice-versa, for the other groups.) FUCK, this world is so damn confusing.

Erica
15 years ago

There are already so many comments here – and I haven’t read them all, so I may well be repeating things that have already been said – my apologies for that, but here goes anyway.

As a personal choice, I am against abortion. It could never be right FOR ME. Politically, though, I am pro-choice.

You see, I am the adoptive mother of two wonderful girls who both lived terrible lives before coming to me because of abuse and neglect at the hands of incapable, drug-addicted parents. Every day, my life revolves around making up for the sins of other people.

I have a seven year old daughter who wants so badly to love and be loved and, yet, cannot quite grasp the concept that I will never leave her, that I do love her and that real love means forever. She carries the scars of severe ADHD, ODD, Bi-polar Disorder and more with her every day. She has had to be hospitalized twice in fear of her hurting herself and/or others.

I also have a 14 year old who was shuffled around from her parents to foster homes and back again for eight years before landing here. She was starved physically and emotionally. Everyone who was ever supposed to look out for her, take care of her, ended up hurting her. She is only now, at this hormone driven difficult age, learning how to carry and present herself. How not to make herself a sex object in order to gain approval. Even the medication she takes for depression and PTSD is a daily reminder that she is not like other girls her age. That she was not loved and protected the way she should have been.

Is it for me to say, that it would have been better had they never been born. I can’t say that. I love these children as if they were my own. I can’t imagine my life without them. And yet, when I think of the horrors they have faced AS CHILDREN, how can I not hope that at least an abortion would have prevented all this pain?

Of course I don’t mean that every woman who has aborted a child would have a situation that turned out like my girls’, but even if it is one in 10, one in 100…

I just don’t know.

Sundry
Sundry
15 years ago

Can I just say how appreciative I am of everyone’s thoughtful, respectful comments? Thank you all for such an interesting conversation.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

I haven’t read all the comments above– it’s late and I need to get to bed. But thanks for your honesty, for not tying it all up in a neat little stance. It’s a messy issue.

And I love me some Lamott. Man, can she write. Plus, her hair is awesome.

Just for the discussion’s sake– has anyone here tried to adopt an unwanted baby in this country? The expense is absolutely insane, prohibitive for many families with moderate incomes. The wait can be YEARS, especially if they’d like to bring home a baby to begin its life with them.

It’s hard for me to be “pro-choice” when I see my infertile friends waiting and waiting and waiting and scrimping and saving in hopes that they’ll someday find a baby.

But the system’s screwed up when there are mommas and daddies wanting babies and babies needing parents and the two can’t be brought together.

This world is so broken. I think that’s part of why the Christian worldview speaks to me.

omuchacha
omuchacha
15 years ago

When I was younger and in college, etc. I took every precaution I could against getting pregnant. I used the pill and I made the guys wear condoms. I wasn’t going to get myself into a situation that would require an abortion to get out of – though honestly, if I did get pregnant that’s probably what I would have done. Now I’m unable to use any form of hormonal birth control – and it scares the hell out of me even though I’m married and in a good situation because I’m not sure I want a second child.

I have my son now. He turns 1 year old on Sunday. Reflecting back on the past two years (one carrying him, and one since he arrived) having a baby is HARD work. Even though my son was wanted, planned for and has been loved since before we even saw him as a little yolk sac at 5 weeks on the ultrasound, there have been times in the last year that made me realize how someone who might not have wanted their child or might not have planned for them could cross some of those seemingly uncrossable lines and do horrible things to their children out of frustration, anger, and hopelessness. While I know those things are horribly wrong, I now understand how they could happen in a way I never could before. (Hormones, lack of sleep and a crying or inconsolable baby can drive you to the edge pretty quickly, and if you were close already? Eek!) I honestly believe even more now than I ever did before that abortion needs to be kept safe, legal, and available. And I too agree with the others who said that if you disagree with the right to have an abortion for someone else, then you had better work to make darn sure that people are educated and birth control is easily and readily available to people of all income and education levels so people can avoid the need for an abortion in the first place.

katie d
15 years ago

Kudos on another thoughtfully well-written entry, especially on such a sensitive subject.

I was raised Lutheran and still embrace those values, though I do not practice organized religion, liking, as I do, to think for myself, and favoring tolerance over hellfire. I’m pro-choice, anti-abortion, and I think women should have the option without shame or bullshit, but I also think it’s pretty frigging reprehensible to use it as birth control, and i’ve met some who have. I believe the soul is born at conception, so for my part, it would be a hideously difficult thing to do, to end a life via abortion, and I thank God I have never had to make the decision.

HOWEVER.

I was an adopted baby. My adoptive parents were abusive, and childhood was hell. I’m still dealing with it. I tell you this because were I faced with a pregnancy I am in no way able to properly care for, I would abort the baby. I can’t get my own life together enough to find healthy, well-rounded relationships. There’s no fucking way in hell I am taking chances with my own judgement in picking a couple to raise my child, and there’s an even bigger no fucking way in hell I’m letting the state of California do it – they thought Jack & Mary Doyle would make outstanding parents. I will kill a child in its embrionic state before I plunge it into the hell I was placed in. (I think the odds of it being adopted by good people are not in its favor; I know too many damaged people.) I hope God would forgive me for that. But I hope even more I’m never in a position to decide.

Emblita
15 years ago

It’s impossible to tell you just how different this is in Europe… I mean since abortion was made legal in the 70’s the laws haven’t been touched much… and I doubt any politician or judge would dare.
I am pro-choice all the way, what people do with their bodies is their responsibility and choice, it is not my place, nor the governments place to tell them what and how to go about things. That being said, I’m all for more sex-education, because (as has been pointed out on numerous occations here) no one wants to have an abortion. I doubt that any woman has ever considered it a form of BC, it is simply too traumatic an experience to be able to function that way.
I have fortunatly never had to make that choice, but am glad that its there.

Sympathetic Reader
Sympathetic Reader
15 years ago

Thank you Linda. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I too had an abortion when I was younger, and now that I am happily married, with secure finances, and lots of love to give, I often think I do not deserve to have children because I had an abortion. I read your blogs and see how happy you are with Riley and it often makes me think of having a child. As awkward as this sounds, knowing that you had an abortion makes me somehow more peaceful with my choice so many years ago.

Jennifer
15 years ago

This was wonderful to read. Thank you. Sometimes I am jealous of the people whose faith is so strong that they are sure that they can and should force everyone (by law or other means) to abide by their rules. But most of the time, it just makes me angry.

Thanks for sharing your story.

april
april
15 years ago

Your interview has been posted. I hope you’re happy with how it all came out. Thank you again.

Dawn
Dawn
15 years ago

I have always been staunchly pro-choice. I feel there should be no limits at all on when a woman can have an abortion. Like many others here have already stated though that doesn’t mean I celebrate abortions.

I recently had a child and if anything it cemented my feeling that abortion needs to continue to be safe and legal and more needs to be done to make it accessible. I loved being pregnant and truly revel in being a mother but it’s something that has to be chosen. It’s too hard of a thing to do to have it forced upon you in any way. There is also the terrible burden of wanting a child, conceiving a child and then discovering that your fetus will be stillborn or that it carries a horrible genetic defect.

velocibadgergirl
15 years ago

This is a GREAT GREAT post. I feel very similarly to you and many of the commenters.

I am staunchly pro-choice, because I wouldn’t want anyone else to be able to make that difficult decision for me, and I don’t feel it’s my place to make it for anyone else. Therefore, choice is what’s right.

I am also going through the faith / religion / spirituality struggle. I was raised Catholic, but don’t really feel drawn to the church experience anymore. I still love to go to Christmas Mass for the tradition, but feel closer to God out in nature. Seeing how so many crazy / hateful people blare their “Christianity” from the rooftops makes me uncertain if that’s a label I want anyone to associate with me.

I know that when I finally have children, my worldview is going to be rocked to the core.

It makes me so very happy to know there are other people out there, thinking these things being brave enough to write them out.

So, THANKS. You rule. xoxo

Lawyerish
15 years ago

Well, color me impressed. I was cringing as I hit the “comments” button, expecting the link to open and food and other flying objects come out of the screen from all the wrasslin’. And yet: nothing. It’s a testament to your lovely and sensitive approach to this subject, Linda. I’ve been quietly reading along for a while, enjoying everything with a little smile on my face; but just now was compelled to weigh in to give you kudos for presenting this so beautifully.

I saw the Bodies exhibit here in New York, and had the same feeling you did. It didn’t change my pro-choice stance at all, but it is a stark reminder of human development in its earliest form. Also, it made me tremendously sad for women who experience miscarriages — when you see a fetus at 12 weeks that truly looks like a teensy person, and know that people lose their babies then and even later, you realize just how wrenching the experience must be.

As for religion, I am sort of a quietly spiritual person (a few-times-a-year churchgoer and Episcopalian — read: very liberal), and I am going to have to check out Ms. Lamott, because she sounds right up my alley. I grew up in a Southern Baptist town surrounded by screechy Bible-thumpers and cat-sweatshirt people, and I am so refreshed when I hear about someone who presents Christianity in the intelligent, serene and positive light it deserves.

Colleen
Colleen
15 years ago

What a thought-provoking discussion. Thanks, Linda, for a great post.

wn
wn
15 years ago

Great Post (as usual) Linda and kudos to the peoples for engaging in this debate in a respectful and insightful way.

I was struck by what Staci said about teenagers being shown things such as the Bodies Exhibit.

I know some people are faced with the choice as to whether to have an abortion because their birth control really did fail…or because they were raped, etc…but there are others who simply did not really think of the consequences of their actions (please don’t misinterpret this statement as me passing judgement…mistakes happen and I firmly believe in having options available including abortion) …I wonder however whether kids might take birth control a bit more seriously (thus avoiding the difficult choice as to whether to have an abortion) if they had more knowledge about the biological realities of development in the womb….

just something I am wondering….

angela
angela
15 years ago

if they show Faces Of Death in drivers ed, they should show stuff like this in sex ed.

Elizabeth
15 years ago

Just wanted to thank you for this post. It got me back to thinking (and writing) about how my miscarriage and current pregnancy have made me give my position on abortion a little more thought.

Also, I think Angela makes a good point. I wish the exhibit were coming to DC.