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The way I try to understand the emotions of the abortion issue is to try and really see the people who are getting abortions as people who are walking their own spiritual path. I have yet to meet anyone, who has had to make the decision to abort, who was not forced to look at themselves and grow in conscienceness; no matter how young and irresponsible they were or what the circumstance.

I am a physician and I have seen the worst of human nature and lack of self responsiblity; I have also witnessed heartbreaking human tragedies. I have been there when couples - people who were married, educated, high income earners who had planned their pregnancies and wanted their babies more than anything else in the world - be told that there was some horrible defect, and the pregnancy and the baby that they had such expectations for and such plans of perfection and joy were not to be. All most all of these adults choose to abort, because they knew themselves and knew that they would not be able to meet the challanges of a special needs child or a child with overwhelming handicaps. How could I judge someone in that situation and tell them that they were sinning or wrong for following what their own conscience was telling them was the "right" thing for them to do in their individual circumstance? How could I not acknowlege their heart ache and devestation in hearing that their dreams were not to be?

Likewise, I have also been there to see young women make the same mistakes of judgement again and again with men that are abusive and be left alone with a pregnancy that they could not support, or become mothers that were too emotionally detached from their infants to mother them - most times due to their own psyco-spiritual wounds that needed healing. How could I tell them that "they made their bed and had to lie in it" with out seeing the distorted psyche underneath and the need for healing and a second chance?

I remember when I was a resident in internal medicine, one of my fellow residents and his wife decided that it was time to start a family. At five months of gestation, an ultrasound told her something that she had begun to suspect; the baby was not developing properly and near dead.The kidneys had failed to develop. It would be just a short matter of time before the fetus was dead and it would cause her a serious obstectrical complication called DIC ( disseminated intervascular coagulation), due to her body recognizing that the protein of the baby was foreign and would kill her. She needed to terminate the pregnancy before that happened. Since they were active duty military and in a military residency and military hospital, she could not have the abortion in our facility. My fellow resident and his wife had to travel to an abortion clinic in New Orleans and be subjected to the slurs and judgements, and unbridled hate of people picketing the enterance of the clinc. Not one of the people on the picket line ever once, stopped to think and ask themselves the question of what could possibling be going on in this couple's lives; that is how sure and confident the "right to lifers" were in their judgements of how the world and the people in it are suppose to work and how people who get abortions must be. The word devestation does not even begin to describe the blow this young couple experienced. It was the first major, adult disappointment of their lives, and to be ostrasized by people who did not know them and did not even feel the need to know them and their circumstance was the true sin.

I guess the the limiting factor in this debate is the notion of compassion, what it means and how it shows up in practice. I want to know what makes the people on the "right to life" side so sure that their view is so right all the time and that their way is the only way. I would think that in order to have compassion for the people involved in these circumstances, you have to suspend the way you think it is suppose to be and actually be emotionally present for what is in front of you. The reality of life is that there are disappointments and there is irresponsibility and mistakes and you can't help the person through the mistakes and help them learn from it if there isn't room for a second chance and some understanding. The topic of abortion, as far as I am concerned, does not allow for ridgidity of thinking or for any kind of fanatasism. To do so is to lack compassion and a sense of humaness for the people involved.