When I was in 8th grade my CCD class was subjected to a video of an abortion. I'd say it was an anti-abortion video, which it undoubtedly was, but what stood out to me was the incredibly graphic images of a baby being aborted. There was no doubt in my child's mind, with my little brother at home, that this was a baby being murdered. Before I'd even known what abortion was, its function, its history, I was opposed to it. I didn't know about its legality, or the policy implications of it, but I knew for sure that I didn't want to do that to myself or my child, and I hoped that other people wouldn't do it either.
Gradually I learned that whether or not women should legally be allowed to terminate pregnancies was a political issue, a hugely political issue, one about which there was heated debate. I didn't know where I stood on the legality of it, but I still felt for sure that this wasn't something I wanted for myself, or for anyone I knew or cared about. When I moved in with my mother, shortly before my 16th birthday, she was horrified to find that her daughter was opposed to abortion. She sought to change my mind.
I learned about issues surrounding unwanted pregnancies that were the consequence of crimes against women. Women who were raped, should they have to carry a child that was the result of that violation? "Should" is the key question here, and I thought about it, my mom and I debated it. It seemed a cruel fate for a woman to be subjected first to a crime and then to a lifetime reminder of that crime, complete with the responsibility of motherhood. In these cases, the best interests of mother and child seemed to be at odds. We spoke about adoption, the burden of carrying a child. And in time she convinced me that it could be in everyone's best interests for abortion to be "safe, legal, and rare."
I still wasn't okay with abortion, but I was okay with the idea that it could be a really tough call, and might sometimes, rarely, be something that a woman would undertake with grief, with regret, and feel necessary to do anyway. I was opposed to abortion, but I understood that pro-choice was not pro-abortion, but a hazy, painful middle ground where the unthinkable was the only option women could imagine for their lives. It seemed rough, it seemed wrong, and it also seemed like it wasn't my call.
Then "shout your abortion" came along.
"Shout your abortion," activists said. The idea was that abortion was just another medical procedure, a form of birth control, nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to worry about, and no cause for concern. Celebrities began to announce on awards stages that they'd had abortions and that their careers would not have been possible without having terminated their pregnancies.
It was nauseating.
Here I'd thought that abortion wasn't something used for the sake of convenience, but something undertaken with gravity, with grief, with an understanding that a human life was being terminated and that in all cases, no matter the circumstances, that was an impossible loss. But I was wrong. That wasn't what abortion was about. Instead, abortion was a celebration of hedonistic licentiousness, a celebration of having absolute sexual freedom without any care at all for that act's potential to create life.
It was hard to comprehend the depravity of a celebration of abortion. How could women and men be so disconnected from their offspring as to celebrate their demise?
When "safe, legal, and rare" morphed into "shout your abortion," my position on abortion went from one of understanding as to the potential difficulties, to one of abhorrence and disgust.
Abortion is not simply a medical procedure, it is the termination of life. The industry that sprung up around abortion is not one that values women's lives, but sees women as a commodity, their unborn children property to be bought and sold for medical research, and the founder of the biggest abortion advocacy group in the nation, Planned Parenthood, was a known eugenicist who wanted less black Americans to be born. And that eugenicist has got her wish.
It turns out that most abortions are not of the kind that my mother told me about, those that are the result of criminal acts against women. Most abortions are absolutely elective, for no other reason than that children and motherhood are seen as an inconvenience.
This attitude, that children are simply there for our pleasure, to be born when we wish to indulge in that pleasure and never otherwise, that motherhood is a burden to be avoided, and that our own autonomy from the consequences of sex is more important than God-given life, are what pushed me away from being willing to consider the arguments of the pro-choice advocates and all the way into the anti-abortion camp.
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Remind me next month