Abortion Conversations

As a general rule, I try to avoid controversial topics on which I have no direct personal experience.  Partly, this is to protect myself from unnecessary confrontation.  Mostly, it is to avoid being presumptuous on topics where others have much more knowledge and experience than I.

This past week, the topic of abortion law has once again become a hot topic, and social media is swirling with memes and opinions…mostly unhelpful, oversimplifying memes treating a complex issue as though it were a binary logic decision.

As usual, I have remained silent.  I have no direct personal experience on this topic.  I have no medical background.  So, I really don’t have anything of value to add to the discussion.

BUT…I have the privilege of being closely related to some truly amazing women!  My sisters, nieces, cousins, and daughters are continual sources of wisdom and insight.

This week, I have had the privilege of reading an on-line conversation between some of my nieces.  These ladies are devoted Christians who are firmly in support of pro-life and also have lots of medical experience.  They are also wonderful mothers to their own children.  Their stories carry so much more compassion and understanding than the typical pro-life meme!

Also, this week, a dear cousin shared a painful story of loss from her own experience…and how that experience has given her a deeper sense of grace and compassion toward others.

I still have nothing of value to add to the conversation…but they do.  So, with their permission, I am sharing their unedited stories.

Niece 1 – a labor and delivery nurse close to finishing her CNM (certified nurse midwife) MSN degree:

In years and years of working with women, I have only met one or two who were thinking of abortion because they saw a baby as an inconvenience. Most were in some terrible situation and saw no way out. Also abortion has fallen dramatically in this country in the last few years because we have gotten better with birth control availability, among other things. If we really want abortion to continue to decrease, we need to take care of the mothers. Abortion will not go away if it is illegal. Women died by the hundreds from illegal abortions throughout history. If we really want to take care of the babies, we will take care of the mamas.

And we need to tread lightly and with gentleness around this issue. Many, many women every year have to face unfathomable choices when they are diagnosed with severe health problems, or their baby has a disorder incompatible with life. People think this is more rare than it is. I have personally cared for many women and babies in this situation. Women usually do not have the choice of “my life or the baby’s.” If the mom dies, the baby usually will too. And even if not, who am I to tell a woman her life is less valuable than her baby’s?

I am pro-life, but the pro-life community makes me crazy. The closer you are to the issue, the more gray you see-—vast areas of gray full of hurting women that should be given compassion and care instead of judgments

And in case anyone thinks I am making this up, things like preeclampsia, severe heart disorders, severe diabetes, liver disorders, aggressive forms of cancer, certain disorders and implantations of the placenta, clotting disorders, severe hyperemesis–ALL can be seriously life-threatening in pregnancy. If your own pregnancy was a breeze, be thankful…and remember with kindness those that have faced decisions or losses that are unfathomably difficult. Stepping off my soap box now.

Niece 2 – an oncology/hematology nurse:

I have to add- I see a major problem with the medical community telling women their only choice (when faced with life threatening complications) is abortion. There are many (but not enough) pro-life doctors who will closely monitor and help both the mother and baby find a viable solution. Working in oncology, we would sometimes have a pregnant mother who we could give low dose chemo until the baby is viable (about 24wks) then give the high doses after delivery. But a lot of women are being told they don’t have a choice- when they really do. That nothing can be done- when there ARE options. Even when trying to bury an early miscarried baby there is so much red tape to go through. The conversation needs to change from- ‘this is what you have to do’ to ‘here are some options, I’m here for you and your baby.’

Niece 1:

Absolutely!! And offer effective contraception for those that have life-threatening illnesses. Had a lady that went into heart failure with one pregnancy, then got pregnant again. Women need us to be honest about all their options and possible outcomes. Then respect their choices.

Niece 2:

Yes, and be honest about side effects of contraception. I’ve been told ‘there are no side effects with this.’ Then I had to reveal I’m a nurse and educate her on that. Also, remembering that only abstinence is 100%.

Cousin‘s post:

I like to keep my Facebook page funny and inappropriate. I never talk about personal shit because let’s be honest, no one wants to hear it. But after reading so much hate the past week, and being unfriended by a couple people yesterday due to an article I shared, I feel compelled to tell MY story. One a lot of you know. One a bunch of you lived with me. One that I’m asked repeatedly to relay to women who are struggling.

I woke up on March 25, 2011 just like every other day. My now ex-husband and I were happy. I had the most amazing 3 year old stepson. AND I was 10 weeks pregnant with our “Pumpkin.” Life was good, y’all!

And then, it wasn’t. Later that day, I was rushed to the hospital after passing out in a parking lot. 20 minutes later, I got to hear my baby’s strong heart beat and felt relief! And 10 minutes after that, I was told they couldn’t save our baby because he or she was stuck at the very end of my fallopian tube, causing it to burst, and I was bleeding out. I was rushed into emergency surgery where they cut my LIVE baby out of my belly. I lost half of the blood in my body. I spent 3 days in the hospital and had 4 blood transfusions. My baby almost killed me, literally.

My relationship never fully recovered. We gave it the old college try for 3 more years, but ended up divorcing in 2014. I’m still haunted by the loss of a child, all these years later. I’m not the same person I was before then. I’m bitter and I’m jaded. My life has been forever changed. And not for the better.

My situation isn’t the same as what you’re seeing in the news. Not even close. I didn’t have an abortion that day. I didn’t get to choose. But the guilt and agony and sadness that I live with every single day PALES in comparison to what these mothers must be feeling when presented with such a horrific choice.

I cannot even fathom the heart wrenching decisions these women have to make when told the baby they’ve carried and loved for however many weeks, whether it be 8 or 37, won’t make it. Or that they could potentially die if they continue their pregnancy. Contrary to what you may think you know, no healthy woman is walking into a clinic after carrying a healthy child for 9 months and saying “nah, I’m not feeling it, just kill my baby.” These mothers will never recover. They will be heartbroken and changed for life. Believe me.

So until you’ve lived it, or some version of it, don’t assume to understand it. Save the “here’s what I would do,” because you have NO idea what you would do. I hope you never have to find out.

Don’t judge what you don’t know.

Pray for these mothers. Pray for the fathers.

That’s all. Thanks for listening.

We need more of these sorts of conversations.

 

Note: Any derogatory comments will be immediately deleted.  Discussion is welcome.  Disrespect is not.

5 thoughts on “Abortion Conversations

  1. I think abortion is way too complex to be reduced into a political issue. Unwanted pregnancy is a major problem. It’s for the woman (or girl) to decide. She will stand before God. What about pregnancies that are the result of rape? So, outsiders (men in power) get to enforce childbirth on rape victims? That baby ties the rape victim to her rapist for life. In many states, the rapist gets rights as the father of the child. And forced pregnancy is a major strategy of abusers and rapists to forever bind their victims to them, making sure their entrapment is complete.

    I think the pregnant woman (or girl) should be given all the information that she needs. No tricking her into this or that supposed “choice” by presenting lies as though they are facts.

    I don’t agree with abortion for myself, but I see how forced pregnancies and forced childbirth isn’t necessarily the answer. Women (and girls) should be given the ability to decide for themselves. If some doctors don’t want to perform abortions because it goes against their conscience, so be it, they can opt out. It’s understandable.

    Unwanted children are usually born to those who can least afford a child and in this self-righteous world of ‘you made your bed, now lie in it’ (or similar) dictating out minimal levels of support and aid, be it welfare, or childcare, or health insurance or housing, it’s really something how things play out.

    But I think it comes down to men dictating out reproductive control of women and that’s wrong. Many abusers make sure to force unwanted pregnancies on their victims to trap and tie them to the abuser for life. Rapes can result in pregnancies. What then? It’s a woman’s body (or girl’s body), therefore, it’s her choice. She will stand before God. She answers to God. It’s her call. She knows her situation and circumstances best. She should be supported in real, material, substantive ways if she does have the kid, so she isn’t pressed and pressured into abortion due to poverty, homelessness, being trapped even longer in a DV setup.

  2. And although I could not go through an abortion myself, I don’t fault those who do. It’s already a no-win situation when abortion is being considered. Why should men in power dictate what happens to women’s bodies (and girls’ bodies)? Women have such little support in life as it is. Women have few choices and it’s her body. Abortion should not be a political issue.

    I think abortion is wrong, but I figure those who do have an abortion have really good reasons for doing it, and if they don’t, well, they’ll stand before God eventually.

  3. I think abortion is so wrong, but then again, so is rape. What happens when a rape victim is pregnant? But’s it’s a life. I wish people wouldn’t be so condemning and harsh with those who are pregnant, be it teenage girls, unwed women, or whatever. The judgmental scrutiny that women and girls face needs to be lessened.

    Abortion is wrong, for myself, but I think sometimes there are girls who are tossed to the streets because of an unplanned pregnancy. The pressure is so great to not shame the family. For those who were super young, sometimes 12 years old, and had an abortion, as it seemed to be the only way to survive, I can’t fault them. What 12 year old is ready and able to be a mother?

    I condemn abortion. But I also condemn rape. I condemn the pressures and hostility girls and women face from unplanned pregnancies.

    But for those who recklessly engage in sex, don’t want to be ‘inconvenienced’ with a baby….. God knows their hearts and their wrongdoing just as well as He knows what happened in the lives of other abortions.

    I think abortion is wrong. But I also wonder about how God feels about those who did have an abortion, perhaps as young teenagers, totally alone, with an abusive boyfriend pressuring and coercing her into such…… I just don’t want those who felt like they had no choice, and deeply regret their forced/coerced abortions. to feel forever outside of God’s grace.

    Everyone will stand before God. Maybe if people weren’t so condemning of woman and girls who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy — who knows if such wasn’t the product of rape? And life is so hard for so many as it is, let alone to be responsible for another human being, while still a child, perhaps kicked out of the house, homeless, abandoned, and without any ability to care for a baby.

    I hope there’s a lot of really good support for those who are in such a situation. Homes they can live in, support during the pregnancy, and even making the adoption process flexible.

    But for those who have ‘recreational abortions’ to merely not be inconvenienced with a child, having engaged in voluntary, reckless, unprotected sex, I think they are murderers and God will judge them.

    • So much pain and sorrow surrounding this topic…so much gray.

      Like you, I am strongly pro-life. However, that does not mean I think I have all the answers…or that I think new laws would necessarily solve everything.

      I really wish we could get folks from both ends of the spectrum to sit down, really listen to each other’s concerns, and develop better solutions.

      Thank you!
      joe recently posted…Abortion ConversationsMy Profile

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