I don't really believe that anyone likes abortion. I think simply the idea is counter to our very being, our instinct or drive for survival, however, I believe that being human makes it all so very complicated. And I believe that it is an impossible conversation that cannot be resolved, not ever. That is because each person and each person's experience is so very unique. I myself would have told you for the majority of my adolescence and adulthood that I am absolutely and resolutely opposed to abortion because it is ending the potential for life, however small and unnoticeable, of a human being. That has changed somewhat over the last few years. I still believe that morally we are obligated to protect our young, and spiritually I believe that it is our obligation to let be what is to be. But I have had the unique and, at the time, cursed, but now blessed, situation of having a baby prenatally diagnosed with a significant birth defect. Just prior, ten months, to be exact, of this baby's diagnosis, our second child was stillborn due to a true knot in his cord. He was "perfect". She was definitely not. Having felt my soul ripped from the very core of my being, and the alienation of being betrayed by my own body, twice, some might say, left me standing in the rubble of my former religious, moral, and faith values. Lost. Alone. Completely alone. I was left wondering, was my stillborn boy anyone at all? Did he exist? Was he mere tissue? Were his red eyelashes, ten little toes, shock of dark hair, chubby little tummy and dimpled chin simply products of pregnancy? Did he count? Did I have two children, or just one? And then ten months later, the doctors told us, "she has Down syndrome. This is what her life will be like and yours....." What now? Does she count? Does she have ten fingers and ten toes, does her chubby little tummy count yet? It's been nearly five years since our boy, David, was stillborn, and whenever I hear an argument about abortion, I wonder about the woman who is facing this kind of a dilemna. I wonder about whether or not she has support from the man, if he was a stranger who harmed her, or a family overwhelmed by debt or life circumstances. I wonder who she will have to support her after her decision, or if she will have to suffer either choice alone. Because what I've found through my life circumstances, losing David, and welcoming Samantha, is that once something happens, you are alone. My son died accidentally, and the pain was too much for others to bear, my husband and I were alone in our deepest grief. Samantha was born alive and well, despite the Down syndrome, and we were alone again. The pain was too awkward for others to share. So my conclusion is not that this country is "pro-life" or "pro-choice", but that we are not either. We are "pro-birth" or "choose-one-or-the-other-and-then-out-the-door". Pro-lifers don't support each other once that baby is born, and pro-choicers don't help heal the wounds that termination leaves behind. What if we supported each other fully? What if the family struggling next door, was the recipient of occasional boxes of diapers and precooked meals? What if adoption was more of a real option? What if all the crazy red tape and high fees and stigma were removed from adopting and giving your child to an adoptive family? What if the embarrassment of finding yourself pregnant the fourth, fifth, sixth time and struggling to make ends meet was no longer embarrassing, but instead finding a loving home for that child was acceptable? What if we didn't see children like my Samantha as burdens and "icky" as a society and instead saw their unbelievable and very misunderstood potential as fully functioning human beings? What if we helped our young people who have always and will always make mistakes in their quest for "adulthood" deal with the consequences of their actions without stigma and blame? What if a woman who is facing death herself, could give her baby a funeral after she has made the unbearable decision to terminate to save her life? What if she were allowed to grieve openly for her child, or her decision, whichever side you stand on? Abortion cannot be black and white. And it will not be resolved until we stop looking to the politicians to make these kinds of decisions and start looking at ourselves and seeing what we can do to help in our own lives, our own circles.
I would like to know from both sides-where are you? Where are you during that termination and in the months and years afterward? Where are you after that baby is born and the parent(s) is struggling to parent, or survive, or feed that child? Where are you when that baby with that birth defect is born and the whole family is trying do their level best for each member of that family? Where are you when that woman is raped and then has to struggle with her morals and her spirituality when she finds herself pregnant? Where are you when those kids followed their hormones instead of their heads and now college is no longer an option? Are you simply pointing your finger and laying blame, or helping them heal?
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