“It’s positive,” the nurse said.
OK, that was not my idea of positive! I had positive all mapped out. Positive was a four year stint in the Army followed by a four year stint at college, then a career that included opuses, and lovers, and a family safely distant – say the distance between the San Francisco and Cleveland. Nowhere in my positive did the word ‘baby’ intrude. I wanted to be an aunt not a Mom, an Auntie Mame sort of aunt, only without the money or the husbands. I would be whole in myself without the need of any other.
And then I had this whole other inside of me.
This whole other... What? That “what” is the question at the heart of the abortion debate. What is it? This smidge of tissue, this conceptus, this abstraction? To me, this is an intensely personal question. Until this tiny thing can live on its own outside of a woman’s body, its whole universe is tied up in hers. The ‘what’ is a question that only a pregnant woman can answer. Until she answers the question, her pregnancy only implies the potential for a human being, not the child that the embryo might become. Only she fully understands where she is in life and what her pregnancy might mean. A woman needs a lot of support to have and raise a child and that support is not always there. Having been faced with this question myself, I do not believe any woman has an abortion casually. Quite the reverse, considering an abortion forces her to face the issue and answer those hard questions.
If a woman already is in an abusive relationship, where is the morality in bringing a child into a place that she knows will harm her child? Another moral question that arises concerns the greater community. If we are to say that no pregnancy can be aborted, then where is the support that a woman and her child need to survive? It’s easy to place the blame on a mother – she’s the one left holding the bag that can’t be detached from her. It’s easy to say she should have been more careful, less sexual, more saintly, but here she is and here the child is, and sometimes the father is nowhere in sight. Sometimes distance between mother/child and father is the best thing. Our community is very good at placing blame, but not so good at the practical matters.
As for the spirit, maybe God can answer the question of when does soul attach to a human being, but I’m certain that no human being can answer that question. For myself, I believe that soul arises from the mind and body combined. I don’t believe an embryo is capable of supporting soul. I also believe that God wastes nothing. If now is not the right time for this child, this soul, then maybe next year, next century, the right time will come.
I think that I already do understand the position of those who disagree with me. If I really believed that an embryo was a human being, then condoning abortion would be like saying that murder is OK by me. What I don’t understand are some of the things that seem to go along with the pro-life perspective. One I’ve already touched on: if it’s so important to save the unborn, then why do they waste so much time & money on protesting outside of clinics? Why don’t they direct that energy on helping women who don’t have a family to support them so that they can have their child? Another is the question of birth control and family planning education. People who are pro-life also seem to be the same ones who object to educating young people about birth control. Abstinence only can’t be the only reply to such complicated questions. And finally, how can someone labeled “pro-life” bomb clinics and murder doctors?
Pro-choice, pro-life – I don’t like either of those terms, but I’m not sure what I’d replace them with. I can’t say that I’m pro-abortion – I’m not. I’m pro-keep-the-government-out-of-my-most-personal-decision-ever. I guess pro-choice will have to do. I chose to not have an abortion. I’m glad that I had a choice.
(The pictures are of me and my son when he was a little thing. He's 31 now and teaches art at Montana State University in Bozeman --check out his website www.rollinbeamish.net -- moms are moms no matter what their stance on abortions :-)
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