When I had my abortion, I didn't feel that I could do right by a child, but steeped in the rhetoric of choice, I wasn't prepared for the sudden knowledge that I was engaged in a life and death choice for baby. I felt a need to mourn afterwords, and at the same time felt that I didn't have the right to (especially faced with the miscarriage of a co-worker.) The Japanese have a way to mourn aborted children -even a temple dedicated to that purpose- and we would do emulate them.
I feel that once pregnant we are responsible for the potential child, and the decision to abort should be dependent upon whether or not we can do well by that child. When I was pregnant I was in a disintegrating marriage and I had no skills, living far from family. I wasn't sure I could take care of myself, let alone a child. And the idea of giving away my flesh and blood was inconceivable- a topic that should be explored further as it seems to be a visceral value at least as strong as the right of the fetus to life. I had hoped my husband would come through and declare he was willing to pump gas or whatever it took, but he wasn't willing to step up to fatherhood and I wasn't willing to bring a child to life under those circumstances.
I declared then that I would never have an abortion again. However many years later, with one child and a mentally unstable husband who would have fallen over the edge if we had a second child, I was forced to concede that if I had gotten pregnant, the life of my born child and the mental health of my husband would have trumped the potential life of a fetus.
I believe that abortion does violence to the mother at some level. It may still be the best decision, but it does not come without cost. I have medically treated Russian women who have had ten or twelve abortions, having lived in a society where other contraception was unavailable, and it leaves psychic scars.
While I do not believe that government can or should make a decision that involves weighing delicate competing interests, I find it appalling how many pregnancies end in abortion. All sides of the on the debate should find common ground in reducing the need for abortion.
The two best ways to prevent abortions are to make contraception available and to provide economic supports for women who bear children so that they can raise them properly. Absent such supports- which would include health care and enough welfare to support a child, with no penalties for part time work or requirements to work with a child below school age, we cannot claim a culture that values the life of a potential child.
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