Friday, December 16, 2011

In Reply to a Pro-Life Comment

(The following post started out as a response to a comment on my post Why I Am Pro-Choice.  However, my usual verbosity got the better of me, and I decided that it would be better in the end if I made an actual post of it.)

Hello Anonymous,

I wish I could be sure that you would see my reply to your comment, because just as you felt called to comment, I feel called to respond.  You say that you believe that every person, even an unborn child, has a right to life, and on that point, we actually agree; although I am pro-choice, I am not necessarily pro-abortion.  I simply acknowledge that there are times when people who are pregnant may wish to have an abortion, for reasons that are extremely important to them.  I would never condone the use of abortion as birth control (which happens far less frequently than you may have been led to believe).  And I would never insist that any woman experiencing an unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy absolutely had to go through an abortion.  But I would never want to remove the option, either, from any person who wanted to exercise it.

The thing is, sometimes pregnancies go wrong.  Sometimes the pregnancy is ectopic—that is, implantation takes place somewhere other than in the uterus itself—and this puts the life of the pregnant person in danger.  A ruptured fallopian tube is a very painful way to die.  Sometimes the fetus has developmental defects that are incompatible with the ability to sustain life, such as severely underdeveloped lungs or missing internal organs, and it would be by far more compassionate not to force the eventual child to suffer the death to which these defects would inevitably lead.  Sometimes the woman has medical problems of her own that make pregnancy and childbirth a particularly life-threatening prospect, and even if you take the callous route here and say that she should've used birth control of some kind, I must remind you that sometimes birth control of any type fails, no matter how careful people are about using it.  And suggesting that such women should avoid having sex at all is just plain cruel.  Physical intimacy may not be as basic a need as food, water, air, or shelter, but many people find that it is necessary nonetheless.

And there are other considerations.  Although it's rare, sometimes pregnancy is the result of rape, and it is manifestly unjust to re-victimize a victim of rape by forcing her to bear her rapist's child if she doesn't want to.  Sometimes women literally cannot afford to be pregnant, whether or not they want to have children; even if someone would be willing to adopt the baby immediately, during the pregnancy there would still be necessary doctor's appointments, sometimes medications which insurance (even here in Canada) may or may not cover, and usually maternity leave, which women (especially single women working low-paying jobs) may not be able to afford to take.  If she can't afford to actually take maternity leave, then that would be an additional layer of hardship for a pregnant woman, even if she was going to immediately give the child up for adoption after it was born.  And pregnancy and childbirth are not things that a woman should be forced to go through if she doesn't want to.  They take a serious toll on women's bodies, and even when they go well, recuperation can be difficult afterward.  C-sections, episiotomies, and even the wear and tear of a totally natural birth, can all be very hard to heal from.

In a perfect world, abortion would never be necessary or desirable.  But we do not live in a perfect world.  We live in a messy world where things go wrong and the right choice will not necessarily be the same thing for everyone.  And while you believe that God doesn't make mistakes, your belief does not, and should not, trump any person's right to determine what happens to their body.

So I stand firmly on the side of the person who is pregnant.  The person who already exists, who lives in the world, who loves people and who has people who love her, and who should not have to go through pregnancy and childbirth unless she actually wants to.  And if she doesn't want to, for whatever reason she has, you, and people like you, should not be able to have veto power over what she does in response to what is happening to her own body.

Although I don't know if you'll ever see this, or if you'll listen to me if you do see this, I would like very much if you would visit the following web pages.  I don't expect any of them to change your mind; I simply hope that reading these things will help you to understand why I, with my deep belief in the necessity of love, compassion, and respect for life, support the right to choose.

Pregnant 10-Year-Old Refused Abortion By Mexican State: Pregnancy can be dangerous for full-grown women, but even more so for children who have been raped and who have become pregnant as a result.  Children under 14 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than adult women.

A Heartbreaking choice: The stories of women who didn't want to have abortions, but who found them necessary anyway.

Every Saturday Morning: A blog written by escorts at a clinic which provides abortions in Louisville, Kentucky.

Abortions just as common in countries that ban it as in ones that don't: study: Whether or not it's legal, women who want abortions will find ways to have them...even at the risk of their own lives.

Abortion in America: A three-minute video by the Guttmacher Institute about women who have abortions, and the reasons why they have them.

As I said, I do not seek to change your mind.  If your mind changes at all, you're the one who has to change it.  But I do hope that you are willing to at least look at these resources and do your best to understand why I, and why others like me, believe in the necessity of choice, even if you don't believe in it yourself.


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