Earlier this year, I wrote for the first time about abortion and some of the thoughts I was developing about it. Since then, I’ve struggled with where I stand on the issue, and tried to figure out ways to express it.
Thankfully, I have a friend who is great at tagging me on posts with articles all about these kinds of issues, that have helped lead me to where I am today. She also is the reason I realized that although I am against abortion, my views actually set me apart from the Pro-Life movement.
Here’s the thing. I don’t agree with abortion. As several women who I respect and admire once told me, being pro-choice is not the same thing as being pro-abortion. Not everyone who is pro-choice supports it.
What we support is the ability for a woman to have safe, free access and to make the choice for themselves.
I used to think the issue was clear-cut black and white. Abortion is murder, period the end. There are zero circumstances in which it is okay. Until I started reading stories from women who were left without much choice, support, and had to make the hard decision.
You see, being a Christian, I’ve grown up hearing all the horror stories. The women who were broken-hearted that they had gone through with an abortion, the women who felt there was no other choice and ended up emotionally destroyed because of it. Girls born out of rape who have come to be big, life-changing women and men, who speak out about how their mothers carrying them to term was incredible.
And it was. These stories are heart-wrenching, they’re filled with truth, and they’re filled with words we need to hear.
But here’s the thing. These stories don’t show why abortion should be illegal and why we need to force women to STOP having abortions.
What it tells me is that we have failed many, many of these women. We failed them, because instead of focusing on increasing funding so that there are more options of support and counselling for women who feel it is their only choice, those against abortion are too busy screaming MURDER and picketing to have abortion clinics closed.
When I started hearing stories from the other side, I realized this issue wasn’t so black and white. That the stories shared as part of the Pro-Life movement pull on our heartstrings, but are used in a way that hide part of the truth.
Earlier this year, I read a story of a woman who chose to have an abortion because she couldn’t afford another child. You see, she was the mother of four kids already. The father had walked out on her the year previous, and she was struggling to make ends meet. To make matters worse, she was raped by a friend and ended up pregnant. She couldn’t afford to feed another mouth, but even worse, she couldn’t afford to be pregnant. After seeking a doctor’s opinion, she was told there were a number of health risks associated with this pregnancy and she would likely have to be on bed rest for quite a while. Maternity leave would have left her unable to pay the bills and feed her children.
The article was one of the most heart-wrenching stories I had ever read. This wasn’t a decision the woman took lightly, and it wasn’t one she made with joy or celebration. It came down to whether or not seeing the pregnancy through was worth the risk of the lives of her already existing four children.
At that point, I decided that I was pro-choice for early abortion, but not for late-term abortion. How could anyone at all think it was okay to abort a child that was almost fully developed in the womb?
I felt that way right up until I saw an article about a woman who felt the same way, right up to the day where she had to make that call. Her baby had severe, severe development problems, which would have been uncontrollable my medication, could leave it in a vegetative state, and having to rely on feeding tubes for the child’s entire life. The child wouldn’t have the capability to live a life at all.
I decided to do further research, and found that in most cases a late term abortion isn’t because a mother randomly changed her mind, but because the complications with the pregnancy were too high, and often the child would be born with too many difficulties.
I know people who have been in that position, advised to abort, didn’t and are happy putting in the extra attention and care to the medical needs of their child, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it takes a very, very strong person to be able to do it. But not everyone is cut out for that kind of parental job. Not everyone has the patience, or the financial capability to make their life 100% about that child.
I can’t support the idea of forcing a parent to give birth to a child that would consume their entire lives in ways that parents of healthy children could never imagine.
Don’t get me wrong when I say any of this: the idea of abortion, of any child being killed breaks my heart. But when we make abortion illegal, when we tell women that they have to go through with all pregnancies no matter what, we’re telling them that their lives are not nearly as important as one that has yet to be fully formed.
When we tell women that they can’t abort from a rape because God ‘ordained’ this child to be born, we’re telling those women that the loving God we’re trying to show someone is okay with the kind of violent horrors that were done to that woman solely for the purpose of having this child come into the world.
We’re telling women that they don’t matter; only what is inside them does.
And let’s face it. Women are going to continue to seek ways to abort even if it’s illegal. And those ways are damaging emotionally, physically, and often end up with the woman dying. Making abortions illegal isn’t going to help push women to seek the alternatives. What it does is makes them afraid to express the reasons why they don’t want to have this child; it makes them afraid to speak out and possibly even seek help.
We are failing women. And as a Christian, I believe that supporting the Pro-Life movement is failing women far worse than the Pro-Choice movement is. If we were to focus more on loving and supporting women, on giving them a safe space, then maybe, just maybe, we would see the number of abortions decrease.
This post is part monthly link up called The F-Word, all about feminism. This month’s topic is reproductive rights, and you can check out the main post over here, called I Want a Government So Small, It Fits Inside My Uterus.