Giving Women a “Choice” is Callous, Not Compassionate

I had planned to write a nice, sappy little post today about all the things I love and miss about my ugly-as-sin home state, Texas, but that’s going to have to wait until tomorrow. Just about an hour ago I received a series of comments on my post from Sunday regarding my position on abortion, and I feel compelled to state my position unequivocally.

Please understand that this is not a post inviting dialogue. I will leave comments open, of course, and you can feel free to tell me what you think. I welcome all comments, always. But I’m not going to hash this out in the combox. It’s not because I’m afraid to lose or being “close-minded”, but because that’s simply not what my blog is for. If that’s what you want, please go see the gracious, lovely, patient and thoughtful Leila. I also don’t actually have time to have a comment-box battle over abortion, seeing as how I’m in the middle of raising some kids, starting a jewelry business, and attempting to keep my house from being overtaken by filthy laundry.

Choice said the following:

Actually, what a woman “in crisis” needs is support, and the chance to decide for herself what course of action is best for her. She needs nonjudgemental information, and a safe place to go regardless of what decision she makes. Being forced to have a child may have been a great thing for you, but it may not be so for other women. Some women’s greatest goal in life is not to be “barefoot and pregnant,” at least not until they’re ready and willing to do so. Please, don’t be so close-minded as to think that the path you took is the right path for everyone. Life is about all of us finding the path that’s best for us. 

First, I’m going to address the personal insults, then move on to the actual issue at hand. In fact, I am neither a close-minded nor judgmental person, and neither was my greatest goal in life to be barefoot and pregnant. If you, Choice, had actually bothered to read any of my other posts instead of letting your own pre-conceived notions of who I am and what I think color your comments, you would quickly have realized that the struggle to come to terms with being a stay-at-home mother is one of the defining issues that I write about. I had never wanted children, had never wanted marriage, and had always seen myself as a career-minded, career-destined individual. The trajectory my life was on changed rapidly, and it’s taken me many years to accept that where I am is God’s will for me.

Now, of course what a woman in crisis needs is support. But telling a woman in crisis that having an abortion will kill her child and will leave her with deep, dark and abiding scars is not being judgmental, it’s being honest. I do not care what belief system you ascribe to, or if you reject all of them; regardless, you should be aware that abortion is a terrible thing for all involved. In fact, you seem to admit this in your later comment when you say, “I think abortion is an awful, terrible, painful thing and I wish it didn’t exist. I wish the world was perfect and no one ever found themselves in a situation where they were unwillingly pregnant.” I can’t understand why, if you’ll admit that abortion is awful, terrible and painful, you would think that that choice should be given to women as an option? Why, when a woman is in a place of crisis, should she be offered yet another choice that will push her further into despair? Isn’t it so much more compassionate to say, we will support you and your child? We will give you a safe place to live, counseling, medical services, and if, in the end, you simply cannot cope with the prospect of motherhood, we will find your child a loving, stable home and continue to help you to deal with that pain? (By the way, I happen to agree with you that a woman should have a safe place to go regardless of her choice. Women who have had abortions are in terrible pain and need love, support and counseling.)

I don’t think the path I took is the best path for everyone. I had many advantages other women don’t. Sienna’s father is a man’s man, who stepped up and married me, who supported me in every way, and who has been a remarkable husband and father. Both our families were supportive (not of our terrible choices, but of our marriage and journey into parenthood) and continue to be so.

Some women find themselves without these supports. Some women find that they cannot physically care for a child, or they cannot emotionally cope with abandonment (by the father) and the presence of the child. Some find that, in fact, they cannot resist the siren call of addiction and thereby would put their child in danger. For all these women, adoption is a wonderful option, one in which a baby is not killed and the mother is not left with the haunting knowledge that she killed her child, but rather the assurance that her child is safe, cared for, and loved.

But when you present a woman in crisis, or any woman, for that matter, with the option of abortion, you are not being compassionate. You are not being open-minded, or tolerant, or respectful of her beliefs, or any other meaningless catch-phrase the pro-choice crowd likes to toss around.

Make no mistake about this: there is nothing compassionate in presenting a woman in crisis with the option of abortion. All you are doing is handing her the proverbial ten feet of rope and watching coldly as she hangs herself with it.

  • JoAnna

    Calah, thank you for this follow-up. You are exactly right.Choice,"You are intolerant to the idea that abortion MAY be the best choice for a particular woman."In the same vein, you are intolerant to the idea that abortion is NEVER the best choice for a particular woman, and especially not for the child or children involved.Your friend may think she doesn't regret her abortion, but often the psychological repercussions of abortion manifest in ways that you, as an outsider, can't see, and/or take years if not decades to manifest. Just ask the women at Silent No More.You said, "To force her into a decision she does not want to make (having a child) could, as you say, 'push her into despair'…"Again, if you read the stories of post-abortive women vs. those who chose life (and then chose either to raise the child or chose adoption), you will find that the VAST majority of post-abortive women are the ones who were pushed into despair, not the ones who chose life. In the end, if a mother chooses life, a child gets to live and some good comes out of the situation. Not so with abortion.Also, you avoided this question of Calah's: "I can't understand why, if you'll admit that abortion is awful, terrible and painful, you would think that that choice should be given to women as an option?" Do you routinely advocate for things that are "awful, terrible, and painful"? Seems rather masochistic to me.

  • J M Yaceczko

    Is it really intolerant to believe that murder is wrong – that murder of innocent little babies (see that tiny foot up there?) is wrong? It is defense of the life of a child, a child with no voice of her own, no choice of her own, though she was made with her very own body and soul.

  • Lady of the Lakes

    Well said Calah

  • Choice

    My apologies for missing out on responding to this. Once more I will repeat that I do not advocate for abortion. I would never encourage a woman to get an abortion, unless she wanted to make that decision. I would never tell a woman who is planning to carry a child to term that abortion would be a better option. As for the adjectives I used, let's take them one by one:Painful – Of course, any major life decision can be painful to make. The fact that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is a painful one does not mean it's the wrong decision. In fact, it simply shows the gravity with which the woman regards that situation and the seriousness with which she undertakes that decision.Terrible – A women being unintentionally and unwantedly pregnant is undoubtedly terrible. It's a situation that would ideally not exist. But it happens. It's terrible that it happens, but it happens. And for some women, abortion is the right decision.Awful – Not giving a fetus a chance at life is awful. It's painful and terrible. But being forced to undertake a life that you do not want is awful too. It is each woman's burden to determine what priorities outweigh the others for her. She and her partner undertook the act that made that fetus possible, and if they do not want to carry that child full-term, that is their choice.As far as your opinions on how women feel post-abortion, your viewpoint is at best misguided by the testimonials you are exposed to, and at worst completely misinformed and delusional. Since the United States Census does not include a question regarding a woman's feelings about choosing or not choosing to terminate a pregnancy, neither of us can actually say which instance brings more regret or remorse. So arguing that point is moot. Also, do not be so condescending to think that you know how my friend has responded or will respond to her choice. You do not have such powers of deduction.And yes, I am PROUDLY intolerant of anyone forcing their beliefs on other people and telling others how to live their lives. That is one thing I am proud to denounce.

  • Tiffany

    Choice- Two things: 1. You said, "Secondly, I don't think right and wrong are absolute. Right and wrong lie in the interpretations of human beings, along with what our society and/or religion may tell us."Do you really, truly believe this? Would you say that murder or slavery is ever okay or could be justified depending upon our societal structure?2. If someone genuinely believes that abortion is wrong, destructive, and pain-inflicting, why would that person tolerate it? That would not make sense. It would be illogical to tolerate something one believes to be so terrible.

  • Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble

    Calah, so beautiful. Thank you. I've mentioned a few times on my own blog (thank you for the sweet mention, BTW) that liberalism seems so cold to me. If ever there is an example of that, it's in the abortion debate. There is no love found in the comment directly above mine, for example. It is cold. How can there not be room at the table for all members of the human family? When did we shut out any obligation, caring or sacrifice for the weakest among us? When did that become optional? What have women become? Sorry, but I have never understood why liberals are held up as the "compassionate" ones. I never tire of this quote, and it fits here:"The Church is intolerant in principle because she believes; she is tolerant in practice because she loves. The enemies of the Church are tolerant in principle because they do not believe; they are intolerant in practice because they do not love." — Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OPFor anyone interested, especially Choice, there is a discussion of this very issue between me and a college student, at the end of this post: again, Calah, for your beautiful heart.

  • Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble

    ** Note, it's not the comment directly above mine, but Choice's comment at 3:46 that has no love in it. Sorry, Tiffany hit post before I did, ha ha!!

  • Choice

    I'm going to end my contributions to the conversation here, both because I am beginning to feel personally insulted (while I've attempted to keep this debate about the issue, and not degenerate to personal attacks, you, Leila, have chosen not to take the higher road by accusing me of being loveless, cold, and intolerant in practice.) and because we are simply reiterating our respective viewpoints without making any difference to each other.I am a compassionate, loving, and conscientious person who happens to view abortion differently than you do. That does not make me cold, it does not make me heartless, and it does not make me wrong. It makes me different, and thank goodness I have the freedom to act according to my principles and you have the freedom to act according to yours.My overall point is that we are each entitled to our beliefs. While I am choosing to live my beliefs and allow others to live theirs, you all are insisting that other's beliefs are wrong and that they must admit that and convert to your viewpoints. For the sake of common decency, I hope that one day you will decide that others are just as entitled to their opinions as you are. My comment as to the lack of black and white of right and wrong does not imply that there IS no right and wrong, but that right and wrong are different to each person depending on how they define their morality. Mine does not come from a man in Rome or an ancient book, it comes from my thinking mind and what I feel to be right. And there is no less justification for that belief system than your belief in an organized religion.There are plenty of people in this world who don't believe in your religion and don't see eye to eye with you. The very tenets of your religion tell you to forgive and accept your fellow human beings, and yet you funnel so much energy into spewing your self-righteous vitriol toward their decisions.Bottom line: you make your decisions, and I'll make mine.

  • Louise

    Beautifully written, Calah.

  • Calah

    Sorry for my absence all day. First, I want to say to Choice that I am really sorry, I have no idea what is happening with blogger. The reason I assumed all your comments had posted is because I got all the email notifications, but only a few posted. I got the last notification you wrote (the one about animals) and went to the blogger portal thinking it was somehow trapped in a spam filter but it wasn't, and it's showing up as published there, so I have no idea why it's not showing up here. If you want, I can copy and post it for you? I'm really sorry. I've never had issues like this with Blogger before. As far as the conversation goes, thanks to everyone for your comments. Choice, I don't want you leaving here feeling maligned and insulted. You're a lone voice surrounded by lots of women who share similar convictions, so I would assume by now that you're feeling rather weary and defensive. I agree that our differences will not be resolved in a combox, and we will probably just end up getting angrier and angrier by continuing the discussion. I just truly beg you to see one thing. I get where you're coming from, really I do. I understand that you think everyone should have the freedom to pursue the good as they understand it. I also believe in that end, provided that it doesn't hurt the innocents. I don't think anyone here is "spewing vitriol", really. You are frustrated and angry with us because you believe that we want to take away other's free will. But please understand that we're not pushing an agenda. We're frustrated and angry because we believe that innocent babies are being slaughtered by the millions. That isn't an exaggeration, either. Just check out the latest figures on abortions done in this country.Don't you think that if you believed as firmly as we do that children were being slaughtered, you would be frustrated and angry as well? I do understand why you are upset. Please try to see that we aren't trying to oppress anyone, and we are upset for reasons just as compelling as yours. I think that's the only sort of common ground we'll be able to come to on this. At any rate, I want you to know that I'm grateful for your comments and for hanging in this long.