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.

Enduring Hardship

Knockout sporting his new headstall

Sunday morning dawned a cool, clear, beautiful Spring day!  🙂

I rose early to sip a cup of coffee before slipping quietly out of the house to saddle Knockout for a quick ride before church.

I carried a pair of shears for trimming brush along the path.  The first time trimming brush with Knockout went so well, I decided to trim another short trail loop.

After a relaxed trot to the back pasture, we entered the woods and I pulled out my shears as we approached the first overgrown bush.  Knockout showed considerable concern.  He was clearly uncomfortable with both the shears in my hand and the close proximity to the bush!

Honestly, I was a bit surprised.  A few weeks ago when I first introduced Knockout to trimming brush, he was much calmer than I had anticipated.  So, I was expecting to pick right up this time.  But that’s not where Knockout’s head was that morning.

So, I followed Ray Hunt’s advice to “work with the horse you have today.”  We took a few minutes to incrementally rebuild Knockout’s confidence with both the shears and close proximity to thick brush, and within five minutes Knockout was nice and relaxed as I snipped away with leaves and small branches falling on his head and around his shoulders.

About halfway through the trail, I moved Knockout toward an overgrown pin oak branch.  Knockout acted tense about this particular branch and kept trying to move away from it.  This surprised me, since he had been so relaxed up to that point.

Thinking Knockout might be bothered by the shear number of little branches and leaves on a pin oak, I decided to start snipping at the edge and gradually work our way closer.  That worked pretty well, but then we reached a point Knockout started acting nervous again.  I thought maybe the small pine log lying in the trail was a concern, but studying it carefully I didn’t see any sign of snakes or other danger…and decided if the log was causing him angst, then he needed to learn to relax near the log.

So, once again we spent a couple of minutes rebuilding confidence, until Knockout was standing relaxed with his front hooves straddling the log.  He stood for several minutes in that position as I snipped all the branches I could reach, then I asked him to step closer to the tree.

AND…he backed completely out of reach!  …and acted hesitant about coming any closer…

That’s really not like him.  So, once again I scanned the area to try to figure out what he was concerned about.

That’s when I saw it.  That pine log he had been straddling was completely covered in fire ants!  The ants were hidden beneath the log, but swarmed Knockout’s front legs when his weight disturbed their home.

I felt so bad!  Poor Knockout!  🙁

I quickly dismounted and brushed the ants off his legs as best I could.  Then I remounted and we found another way to access the pin oak branch without stepping near the fire ants’ log.  Knockout was good as gold the rest of the ride, and we finished trimming that particular trail loop.

Riding home, I couldn’t stop thinking about how stoically Knockout stood relaxed for several minutes while fire ants swarmed and stung his legs.  Simply because I asked him to, he stood there unflinchingly enduring the pain of those stings, until I asked him to move.

Had I known what he was enduring, I never would have asked him to stand in that specific location.  It was never my intent for him to be stung.  Yes, I wanted him under the pin oak limb, where I could reach to trim.  However, it was never my intent for him to suffer needless hardship.

I wonder how many times I do that with God?  How many times do I remain in a difficult or painful situation far longer than necessary, believing that is where God wants me?

I don’t mind asking Knockout to do hard things.  Knockout was initially uncomfortable standing near the thick brush, and I asked him to do it, anyway.  I had a plan and a purpose in asking him to do that.  My purpose included working together to clear the trail.  It also included building Knockout’s confidence in uncomfortable situations.  So, clearly, Knockout’s comfort is not my highest priority.  I don’t mind putting him in uncomfortable situations…but it is always for a good purpose.

I would never intentionally make Knockout uncomfortable unnecessarily.  Being close to the shears and the dense brush was a necessary discomfort that was part of my plan to fulfill my purpose for Knockout.  However, the fire ants were a source of needless pain that served no purpose.

Yes, I am very proud of Knockout for being willing to stand quietly, enduring the pain of fire ants, for my sake.  But that was never my intention for him, and I was quick to brush the ants off and help him avoid their abuse.

I think we sometimes have similar miscommunications on God’s intent for our lives in regard to abusive or toxic relationships.

Yes, God often calls us to do things outside our comfort zone.  Yes, He asks us to love others with some level of vulnerability and giving of self.  He makes it clear that our comfort is not His highest priority in our lives.

Yet, when He asks us to do uncomfortable things, or to endure uncomfortable situations, it is always with a plan and a purpose.  God does not delight in seeing us endure needless pain.  Yes, He delights in our willingness to trust Him in difficult situations…but that doesn’t mean He wants us to endure needless pain.

God loves us much more than I love my horses.  If I grieve over Knockout’s needless pain at the sting of fire ants, how much more must God grieve over our needless suffering at the fickle whim of an abuser?  And just as I hurried to brush the fire ants off Knockout’s legs, our Heavenly Father hastens to deliver us from abusive relationships.

God does not call us to needlessly suffer for Him.  He calls us to trust His faithfulness in all of life’s circumstances.

For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

What a faithful friend!