I'm afraid to write this, because I know how polarizing this particular debate is, but part of the purpose of this blog is to document our life to my children, and that includes - occasionally - telling them how I feel about things...
When it comes to debates about abortion, my initial feeling is flat out confusion. I truly don't understand.
I came across an info graphic on Facebook about a week ago that offended me deeply - and I'm not often offended. My looming menstruation was probably partially to blame for the fact that I found myself wanting to curl up into fetal position and cry for a week, but the feeling was real, and it really hurt.
The graphic uses drowning as a metaphor for unwanted pregnancy. It facetiously stated that because being in water can lead to drowning, no safety devices should be permitted in the water, because everyone should know that water can lead to drowning and the only 100% effective way to keep from drowning is to stay out of the water. It was snarkily poking at those who oppose birth control.
Reading the graphic initially made my stomach sort of churn. I saw the parallel, even found myself being slightly - yet uncomfortably - swayed by the clever seeming presentation.
Until I saw this phrase: "You should see DROWNING as a gift."
This phrase stuck in my head - it repeated because I knew there was something very, VERY wrong with it, but I couldn't quite place why it made me want to vomit. Shortly after this, I was trying to think of a different example for this parallel - a situation in which this statement would not be mockable, because simply putting one word in place of another to prove that the original statement is ridiculous is really not a valid style of argument. There must be SOMETHING that could make this statement always, always true. Winning the lottery. Living in peace. Having parents and family who love you. Wait - A CHILD!!! Just because the statement above is ludicrous, does NOT make the statement 'Babies are gifts', 'Family is a gift', 'Love is a gift', etc. equally ludicrous. It got me for a second - and everyone who agrees with the point of the infographic probably bought it as genius, but it really isn't. It's actually stupid enough for me to wonder if the graphic might possibly be against the argument it seems to be representing... but anyway...
The infographic was subtly saying that being encumbered by an unwanted child is comparable to drowning. Baby = death.
I was an unwanted child. My mother considered aborting me - and I don't blame her for this consideration because I understand that she was not ready for the complication I caused her. I understand, but that doesn't mean abortion would have been the right thing to do. I can understand a lot of poor choices, but having compassion on a person's situation does not make those poor choices 'right'. Experiencing the frustration of a crying baby for nights on end made me understand how some mothers might be tempted to shake their babies - but it doesn't make it ok.
It hit me that the world really seems to believe that because I was not wanted - my life is somehow not valuable. That my mother may as well have died as carried me to my birth. Like I said earlier, I blame my emotional pre-menstrual state, but this struck me to tears. It struck me because I have friends who believe this. Members of my own family believe this.
But the frustrating thing is, they would probably refuse to draw this parallel. This is where I don't understand.
They wouldn't mean ME. They might say that if I had been aborted, no one would have known any different, so it somehow wouldn't have mattered. This is true, but that doesn't mean that the implication and bold statement that life might have somehow been better without me doesn't hurt. It does. It hurts a lot. And even if my mother's life would have been drastically improved by my non-existance, would that really justify my death?
I didn't like the idea of abortion for personal reasons for years before I became pregnant with my first child, but I had reservations. Pregnancy locked it for me. I learned the science behind an infant's development. I learned when a fetus develops major organs, loses a tail :) and begins to hear sounds outside a mothers' body. I learned about how distinctly HUMAN a baby is from the first things we know about their development. Then, when I had my second child, I learned how completely different children are - even months before they are born. There are quirks that I noticed about Audrey's personality within me that were SOOO different than Clara's, and some of these quirks I was blessed to witness when she emerged. Funny little body spasms and movements that are just so very HER.
Another thing that struck me remarkably was how bizarre it felt to carry ANOTHER human being inside my body. This was another person - not a part of me. This person was as much a mystery to me as any other person is. I didn't know my child's thoughts, and I couldn't feel my child's physical body. My body fed their little bodies, kept them safe and kept them warm, but that is all. They were not me. If they had died in utero, I might not have known for days. There is no scientific or medical argument that proves that these little beings are actually, physically, part of a woman's body. They aren't.
This is when true confusion set in.
Why are the people who so actively fight against killing these incredible little beings the same people who have a reputation for being the LEAST scientific. Wouldn't the scientific community - more than anyone - be in the best position for realizing just how human we are from the time of conception? Wouldn't they be the ones who would understand that because a child who can survive outside a mothers' body now is drastically younger than a child who could survive in the 1900's, we can't possibly determine an individual life based on their dependency level?
Before I became pregnant I was unsure. I was unsure because I had compassion for girls who became pregnant as teenagers - girls who really didn't understand the consequences of what they were doing, and would now have to face a completely different future. I had compassion for girls who became pregnant as a result of rape, and had to choose whether or not to carry the reminder of their pain, and I had compassion for girls and women who become pregnant and the pregnancy threatens their own lives. I still do have compassion for people in all of these circumstances, and I want to say this completely without judgement - I understand how abortion could seem like the only reasonable option in so many circumstances.
The only reasonable option - as long as we ignore that the 'thing' we are getting rid of is another human being. As long as we don't call it a person, as long as we convince ourselves that it somehow is not yet a human being. So it makes sense that we all believe the lie that a fetus is not a person, because if we didn't, we would all have to admit that it was murder, and the debate would be much more complicated.
If I see our world as a place where people increasingly tell each other that life is about enjoyment - it's about having fun, and taking it easy - it makes sense. We really don't want to have to deal with consequences, and we feel as though it is our right to not have to face consequences wherever possible. When those we love become deathly sick, we blame doctors for not doing their job properly, we angrily claim the right to life - but in many cases doctors don't have nearly as much power as we give them. When people around us die as the result of a tragic accident, there is no avoiding the consequence - a life without that person. We can plead if we wish - "it was only an accident!", "I didn't know this would happen!", "I'm only a child!" - but we can't reverse death.
I see a world where many, many people experience pain and horror beyond what most of us want to admit. Even in our 'peaceful' western culture, there are people watching their family members die in horrific ways everywhere - if you haven't, you probably know someone who has. We avoid pain wherever possible, and although I know an abortion must come with some level of pain - the idea behind it is that it results in less pain than a pregnancy. I won't even speak to whether or not that is true, but I don't believe that life is all about the 'pursuit of happiness' or comfort - especially not when another human being is at stake. So many people never experience physical comfort, wealth or even financial stability, peace... why do we so completely convince ourselves that we must be different?
"Life is pain, Highness - anyone who says differently is selling something" The Dread Pirate Roberts