I've had a lot of frivolous and short posts lately, so I decided to tackle a bigger issue.  Abortion.  I have plenty of people in my neighborhood who are both pro-life and pro-choice, and it seemed that this was a big (if not the biggest) reason why most of the Christians in my neighborhood tend to vote Republican.

I posted this on lcp a couple days ago.

I think one huge misconception is that everyone
who is pro-choice is pro-abortion. You can hold the opinion that
abortion should be legal in order to be safe, without encouraging it as
the right thing to do in any case. The thing is, women are going to
make these decisions no matter what. I think abortion should be
legalized so that these women have a place to exercise that choice in a
safe environment.

Then, let's make every woman who wants an abortion undergo at least one
counseling session with a professional or understanding ear at the
center itself. Make it part of the process. The counselor wouldn't try
to dissuade the woman (because that can often times get the woman to
shut down and go somewhere else that might not be as safe), but rather
walk through her particular situation and make sure that the woman
understands (a) all of the options she has and (b) the full
consequences of her actions.

To make the choice to have an abortion is not an easy one, and if a
woman has a place to go that will help her make the decision and
support her in whatever she decides, she'll be more likely to be safe.
Also, focusing on preventing unwanted pregnancy and encouraging
counseling before and after the act will actually lessen the number of
abortions had, and decrease the sense of helplessness that women in
these situations might feel.

My two cents.  What are yours?  Let's try to keep the discussion respectful and polite, but other than that, post whatever is in your head.

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  1. I think that your view on this balanced and smart. I have had an abortion before, which is not something I am particularly proud of, nor was it an easy choice. However, were I to go back, I would not hesitate to do it over again. I've never had any regret over it because at the time I believe it to have been the right choice for me. Having someone to talk to, I think would have been wonderful. It wouldn't have changed my mind, but it's still an emotional thing to do, and girls who are having an abortion often times don't have anyone to turn to for encouragement.
    I have always and will always view abortion as a sad thing, and definately not the ideal choice, however if you are not prepared emotionally, financially or physically to have a child than it may be the better choice. I personally want to wait to have children until I know that I can give them the best of everything- primarily two loving parents. The concept of forcing someone who willingly admitts that they are not prepared to have, or do not want to have a child to have one seems like a decision that could only result in babies dropped in dumpsters, or neglected, or illegal unsafe abortions.
    I've seen girls growing up, who had kids because of their parents pressure to keep a baby, but then went days without feeding them, or never bothered to give the children a hug or a kiss. I think that the stigma against unwed mother's particularly in religious circles is the cause for many abortions as well. People with religious familes may fear having a child would cause them to be dis-owned by their families or eternally treated as inferior- which sadly is often times true.

  2. On another note, I think that like you said preventing pregnancy should be given alot of emphasis. Lack of sex education- like I wrote about in my recent post is scary to me because of how it can result in pregnancy. Abortion should not be used as a form of birth control like some people use it. I had a co-worker years ago, who would go days or even a week without taking her birth control pills, and as a result had had 4-5 abortions.

  3. You make a good point. But I can't, in good conscience, believe that abortion is wrong and still want it legalized so that women can be safe. I do acknowledge that some people can make that leap (as you have done here), but personally, I can't. I do not believe that there is ever an instance where abortion is the right decision.
    Cate – thank you for sharing such a personal story on a public forum.

  4. I am very much pro-choice and support a woman's right to make that decision for herself and ensuring that she has access to a safe and legal procedure. While I am of the "Safe, Legal, and Rare" camp, I wouldn't do anything to limit or block a woman's access to abortion services to make the "rare" part real. The "rare" part comes from comprehensive sex education, access to affordable and effective contraception, and a general cultural change in how people view sex.
    Often I hear pro-life people say that having the child is the "price" for having sex. I don't think that a child, a life, should ever be viewed as a "price" or a punishment for someone's sexual decisions. I am thankful that when I was 15 I had access to safe and legal abortion. It is not a decision that I am particularly "proud" of, but it was the best decision for me at that time of in my life. Like Cate, I was not emotionaly, physically, or financially prepared to have a child at that age.
    Then, let's make every woman who wants an abortion undergo at least one counseling session with a professional or understanding ear at the center itself. Make it part of the process.
    Counseling is a part of the process. When I worked at an abortion clinic, my role was as a counselor before the procedure and as support during. It was the most emotionally taxing job I have ever had, but it was an invaluable experience. By the time a woman comes to an abortion clinic, she has already made her decision. At that point, the main thing the counselor does is support the woman in her decision and make sure that it was truly hers and she was not coerced into it. If there is any hint that the woman has second thoughts or is unsure of her decision, the procedure would not happen on that day.

  5. I've often struggled with the reality that, were abortions made illegal again, it wouldn't stop abortions from happening. Girls and women who are afraid or unprepared to have a child for various (very understandable) reasons would still end up using back alley abortion doctors or wire hangers as was seen in the past.I don't have any answers of my own to offer, this is a huge deal and I need to continue to think long and hard about it before I open my mouth (especially being that I'm not a woman). I just really appreciate your desire to re-frame the discussion in a way that is gracious and generous, especially in a discussion such as this one which is most often toxic and sometimes violent.

  6. You write: “Then, let's make every woman who wants an abortion undergo at least one counseling session with a professional or understanding ear at the center itself. Make it part of the process. The counselor wouldn't try to dissuade the woman…”
    It is my understanding that already is the standard practice of abortion clinics. Is that good enough? Also, would counseling also be required for woman that plan to deliver? Let’s be fair.
    And of course, the vast majority of terminated conceptions are due to the pill, or what strict pro-lifers call chemical abortion. So before a woman could fill a prescription for birth-control pills, would she also be required to have counseling? Or, would she need to have counseling each an every time she took a pill?
    And of course, we have the problem of protecting the lives of a group even larger than the unborn. How about the un-conceived? That is all of those defenseless little egg and sperm that will perish unless they are frozen until they can find union in a safe place? As we all know, fertilization is but the union of life to life and on and on.
    This may seem like the splitting of a hair to some people, but if any of us can imagine some significant start for life, so can another. Thus, I guess men should also get counseling before they use contraception. Maybe all of this counseling could be taken care of in school with some good and impartial sex education.

  7. The abortion I had was a "chemical" abortion, however this still requires going to an abortion clinic, receiving info on the different types of abortion, having an ultra-sound, blood testing etc. You are then given two sets of pills, and have to return after a week for followup. It's not like you just call your doctor, then go to the pharmacy to pick this stuff up. Other than the medical consult, I was never given an option for counseling as part of the process. My regular doctor that referred me was rude and cold and said, you know you should have the baby, and the abortion clinic did give me a pamphlet about adoption. Honestly, I think the number of people who don't want a child but are willing to go through both the social and physical demands are 9 months of pregnancy. There was never any questions regarding why I was having an abortion or how I felt about it. I personally, did seek out counseling on my own, but if I hadn't had health insurance which paid for this, I wouldnt have beeb able to afford it.

  8. Ooh! Heavy issue. I have two kids and am lucky enough to have been able to stay home with them. To me, children are the most precious thing in the world. But the U.S. is not exactly a baby friendly nation. And the "Right to Lifers" are certainly no more baby friendly than the rest of the U.S.no matter how many claim to "focus on the family".I think that women want to have an abortion is a societal problem more than it is a problem with the individual women who want to have the abortion. This is what has always bothered me about the "Right to Lifers". Are Right to Lifers willing to take care of all of the children that are born to mothers who are not emotionally or financially prepared to cope with them? No. Foreigners adopt many of the U.S. black babies because we can't find adoptive parents for them here. (See article.) Adoptive parents still want blonde-haired blue eyed babies. Why aren't the U.S. Right to Lifers standing in line to take care of the other beautiful children if they are so ready to demand that they be born? Are they willing to help make the changes necessary to make the birth of children a joyous occasion rather than one that is so difficult for so many? No. Becoming pregnant out of wedlock is still seen as unscrupulous and shameful among many of these groups. And truth is, we are not a nation that is particularly fond of children. They are born and we institutionalize them almost immediately. Most states don't even have subsidized preschool programs in a world where people can barely raise a family on two incomes, much less one. To me, what is going on in our society is a far bigger issues than an individual female deciding to end a pregnancy. We are not a child friendly nation. I am not pro-abortion and I am a stay at home mother who nursed her kids until they were 3 and allowed them to sleep in my bed until they were ready to sleep on their own and I homeschool. I am pro-children and believe in allowing life to occur in whatever form it occurs and highly doubt I would ever have had an abortion had that been a choice I was faced with. But I think pro-choice is much more important in the society we currently live in. Only the woman having a child can know what it is she should do. It's between her and God, not between her and a bunch of self-righteous people who don't exactly put their money, time or service where their opinions are. And until we make our society a more habitable place for children – especially children of lower income families – then I think the "Right to Lifers" are way off base.But not all! My husband and I used to work with some nuns from Mother Teresa's order (Sisters of Charity) in Dallas. They were a beautiful organization that housed unwed mothers, made sure they had good prenatal health care, took them to the hospital when they were ready to deliver, helped them after the delivery, taught them parenting skills offered counseling. Then helped them with adoption if that is what they chose. These women did not believe in abortion, but they were very sympathetic toward those who had had abortions. They didn't condemn them. Oops – sorry this was so long.

  9. [ciò è buono]

  10. Very well written Laura. I agree with your points very much. Holding a sign up proclaiming the horrific nature of abortion is alot easier than taking care of the child who's mother either can't or won't take care of it on her own.

  11. First I just want to say thank you to everyone who's commented so far. Your viewpoints and stories are enlightening and intelligent! I've been trying to hold my comments back for a while and just let discussion flow, but I feel like I should interject here. Just because my opinion and the majority (so far) of the responses have been pro-choice does not mean that we don't want to hear from pro-life people!The pro-choice side has a tendency to think that the pro-life side is a bunch of holier-than-thou Christians who won't do anything other than look down on others for choosing the wrong thing. I know this is not true! Especially not of the people in my neighborhood. If it were true, you wouldn't be here!Both sides have a tendency to think too abstractly. Once we get into a debate about where human life begins, I think we've lost contact with the real issues. This is not an abstract problem. It is a problem that involves real individuals with real feelings who feel helpless, perhaps even to do what they may know is right. I think (correct me if I'm wrong) we all agree that abortion is not a good thing and that it shouldn't be taken lightly. We can center our discussion on the fact that we *all* care about these people. However, we have different solutions to the problem. Don't be afraid to share yours!

  12. Did you ever see Citizen Ruth with Laura Dern? Ruth who is an impoverished drug user who ends up getting pregnant. Immediately both sides, the pro-lifers and the pro-choicers, get a hold of her and try and to get her on their side of the issue, hoping to make her a poster child for their cause. It speaks to this issue of both sides thinking to abstractly, and both being equally self-righteous, beautifully.

  13. Meant to finish the thought by saying that the issue becomes more important than the actual people.

  14. No I haven't seen that movie, but I do think it is certainly a danger of this exact thing happening. And really, it's the human side of this issue that will bring the two sides into respectful and caring discussion. I might have to check it out. 🙂

  15. Pro-life views are as diverse as pro-choice views and there is a lot of overlap. The terms truly are problematic since they are used to frame the issue in a political way. When I was in high school in Houston, Texas in the late 1970s, the National Right to Life people used to come every year and hold an assembly showing us horrible pictures that grossly misrepresented the actual abortion process. They used these pictures to call the people who went through the process murderers. I checked out the National Website and they seem much more humane and compassionate about it than they used to be, even going so far as to say the mother who aborts is as much a victim as the child, which is a far different attitude than the National Right to Life people had when I was in high school. That is encouraging. Does anyone know if such groups are still allowed to hold assemblies in public schools? And if so, how do they present this issue to high schoolers today?

  16. Most Americans are so respectful of an individual’s rights–in this case of a woman’s choice in abortion–that they remain silent. However, when asked by public opinion pollsters, the vast majority say that abortion is an individual woman’s business. Thus they feel no need to label themselves as pro anything and are content to silently respect a woman’s freedom.
    It is disingenuous of anyone to suggest that those that use the pro-life label are likewise respectful of a woman’s right to make reproductive decisions on her very own without interference from anyone.
    Some folks, pretending to be very fair, are willing to discuss limiting a woman’s freedom in a manner that they think is but slightly inconvenient, but acceptable.
    It is not acceptable, nor does it reflect any great sensitivity on anyone’s part—it demonstrates a willingness to consider interfering in another person life. Such folks ought to try to appropriately deal in and with their own human frailties

  17. I'd been planning a post about abortion but it looks like you've beaten me to it! Cheeky monkey! 🙂

  18. My thought on it: when the offspring is no longer parasitic–the law terms this to be the point of viability. In addition, if there is a life to be lost, the woman or one that loves her should make the decision in compliance with her wishes.

  19. Your emphasis on providing a supportive safe environment for women who find themselves facing what is a difficult decision is admirable… I think this is what leans me towards what is generally labelled 'pro-choice'. For like you say, whether abortion is legal or not its still going to happen. Whether regarded as right or wrong the fact is that the ability for abortions to be performed means that merely saying that its wrong and condemning anyone who chooses this option doesn't at all deal with the issue. Every case is different and whether its for better or for worse its the woman's choice in the end. Indeed, I think its not a choice that should be taken lightly, but nonetheless, removing the right for some women to pursue this option I feel would be ethically irresponsible. For instance, I know someone who due to medical issues could face a real chance of dying if she ever went through another pregnancy, should she find herself pregnant (and she is not irresponsible!) should she not have a choice over whether she risks her own life for another child? How do we decide on which life is more important, and how do we tell her that its not her decision to make? It is after all her life, and its her body. The care of the people involved, I believe, is what matters first. Nice post 🙂

  20. That's a good point. Ultimately, it is the woman's choice whether it is legal or not. Just remembered another interesting film on the subject – Vera Drake.

  21. Not much to add, really (to your post, too many comments to read). Abortion is every woman's right, but it's an extremely bad substitute for common sense/contraceptives.

  22. I think the Christian right is misguided in its attacks on (a) abortion and (b) homosexuality. A lot of ink is spilt on the abortion issue, but these same people make no effort to lobby for appropriate living conditions, education, and opportunities for the children already born. They rave against homosexuality, yet fail to realize that an even greater threat to marriage is the 50% (by some statistics anyway) divorce rate. It seems to be a little disingenuous to focus on such "hot button" issues and ignore the circumstances that create them, i.e., poverty, teen pregnancy, social pressures, and inborn predeliction. I prefer to live the two Commandments Jesus taught: Love God, Love Your Neighbor — and let God take care of the rest.

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