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.

  • Tiffany

    Choice, I'm sorry that you felt hurt or attacked. If I contributed to that, in any way, it was not my intention, and I apologize. I do not think you are a bad person, and I don't think Leila thinks that either. As I'm sure you know, when one cares so deeply about an issue, it hurts when someone seems to be more careless with it.It's too bad that you must end your participation in this conversation. Although my religious beliefs support my viewpoint, I was interested in having a religion free discussion with you and building a case based on logic and reason. If you are interested in doing that, please address the problem involved in relative morality. Namely, if a person "feels" that murder and/or slavery could be acceptable and justifiable, and she defines her morality in this way, are we to accept that as okay? Is she entitled to act according to her own morality? Please understand that I am not trying to be provocative, I am trying to come to an understanding. If you believe that yes, she is entitled to enslave another person, depending on her beliefs (some residents in the deep south actually do believe this is okay), then we can't go any further. If you believe that no, slavery is never okay, then we have something in common.If you choose not to respond, that is okay. I wish you all the best.

  • Tiffany

    I didn't see Calah's comment before I posted mine. I'm happy to end the discussion as well. I agree with her post, and I also appreciate your comments and participation. It's easy to be surrounded by people that agree with you but much more difficult to represent an opposing view.

  • Living for the Lord in 2011

    I am an attorney (and mom of 6) and firmly believe that in 150 years abortion (and Roe v. Wade) will be viewed legally and morally as the same kind of atrocity that slavery (and the Dred Scott decision which allowed black people to be defined as "property" of whites) is viewed with today…think about it, the same reasoning and excuses are used…"well slavery is not pretty but we NEED it economically in the South""some slaves LIKE being slaves""some really wonderful people (like the Founding Fathers) own slaves""I wouldn't personally own slaves, but I am not going to tell someone else that they can't""don't tell me what to do with my property!"sub "body" for property and I dare you to tell me we are not using the same arguments here in 2011 as we were in 1860 to justify something most people of good will and conscience KNOW in their GUT is WRONG!!!On a personal note, my sis was coerced into an abortion at age 18 by her boyfriend and a "helpful" doc, she is still living with the psychological fallout today and would not wish it on anyone else…so if we agree that abortion causes pain and carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term causes pain, how about we choose the pain that leaves us with a LIVING baby instead of a DEAD one???

  • Tiffany

    Choice, I think my previous comment was deleted, but it made a point to apologize to you for any hurt I may have caused you. I did not, in any way, intend to be offensive to you, and I'm sorry that you felt attacked. I wish you all the best.

  • Leila @ Little Catholic Bubble

    Choice, I am sorry that you think I was spewing vitriol. I re-read what I wrote, and it actually just sounds like I am sad and weary. It was not meant to be "vitriol" (that would sound different in my book). If you do have love and compassion for the unborn, who are weak, voiceless and defenseless, then I apologize for saying that you don't. However, I don't see the compassion or love for the unborn in your words or your positions about abortion. You dismiss them as not worthy of protection, and that is what seems so cold and unloving to me. While I am choosing to live my beliefs and allow others to live theirs….I have to stop you there and point out that in fact you aren't "allowing others to live" — and that is the whole point. Please allow all human beings to live. It is the most basic right of all of us. And deep in our hearts we all know it is wrong to kill innocents.I do thank you and admire you for coming onto a blog where your opinion is in the minority. I appreciate it.

  • Lisa

    Thanks for this, Calah. Speaking as an adoptive mom in regular contact with my daughter's birthmother, I've had personal experience with the complexities that go into a woman's choice regarding unwanted pregnancy. There are layers upon layers upon layers of issues in any woman's life that complicate her ability to make an informed, unemotional decision. That is why it is so important that we recognize the need for one-on-one support of the women in our lives who might need our help. It is true that parenting is not always the best option. But neither is abortion…there is endless pain there. Adoption is imperfect at best, and there is always pain associated with it. But it is pain mixed with joy (as is much of life). In the midst of all the turmoil she continues to experience in her life, Olivia's birthmother continues to assert that giving birth and finding a good home for Olivia is the best decision she ever made. She enjoys watching Olivia grow into the beautiful, creative child that she is and knows that she is loved and safe.

  • priest’s wife

    Calah- I'm praying for you! What a story- and I hope all the drama in the com boxes isn't too much…when life gets crazy for me, I just hug the kids :)

  • Anonymous

    From personal experience, I believe you are wrong in stating that:"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."I have had two abortions in the past. And, I have a child now. Let me make this perfectly clear. I *do not* regret my decisions in the least. *You* may regret them for me, but *I* do not. I made my decisions clearly and with much support in whatever decision I was going to make. I do not feel that (shock, gasp!) I "killed my babies," nor any such thing as that. To say that every woman who has an abortion will have never ending emotional pain and scars is ludicrous. *Every* woman is different. What worked for you is not going to work for everyone, just as what worked for me doesn't work for everyone.Also, from personal experience, adoption has the potential to leave more severe and longer-pasting emotional scars than abortion. What really gets me in these debates is the fact that most (not all…) people who are against abortion are also for the death penalty. IMO, you are either pro-life or not. One of my favourite examples in a world without a choice: A woman gets pregnant. She has the baby. She then abuses said child that she didn't want in the first place. The child then grows up to be an emotionally and mentally scarred adult who then goes out and abuses others. Then, the now-adult does something horrible and gets the electric chair. What is better here? The woman just having the abortion or, is it better to let her have the baby, put the child through years of abuse, so the child can then grow up to do the same (and worse) to others? Anyone remeber back room abortions that not only aborted the baby but also the mother? Or is that acceptable because she was "murdering her child"? Women are still going to have abortions regardless of laws, regardless of religious beliefs. We've been doing so for thousands of years, and women will continue to do so. Why? Because for a lot of women…it *is* the right decision.The thing that a lot of people don't realize is that when a pregnant woman is offered help, it is for a very limited time. What happens after those resources run out? She's now left in a WORSE position than she was to begin with. IMO, if you want to give a woman a rope to hang herself with, take away her choice. That way, she can go get a back room abortion that will likely kill her, too. Do not think about the mother…..only "think of the children…"Please note: No statements made here were meant to be personal insults nor anything of the kind. Nor, do I advocate abortion for all women. That why it's called a choice. Just because it isn't your choice, do not take that choice from others. They didn't take your (or my) choice to keep children, do not take their (or my) choice to have an abortion.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, I'm kind of coming in from outside, and maybe the conversation is already over by this point, but I just find the criminalization of abortion to be a very disturbing idea. (I'm assuming here that since you want to illegalize abortion, you also want its illegality to be ENFORCED–that is, for both the doctors who perform abortions and the women who receive abortions to be tried and, if convicted, punished? Is that fair to say? If not, then some of what follows can be disregarded.) Anyways, this concept is deeply troubling to me because it allows the GOVERNMENT to have jurisdiction over my womb, which to me seems completely antithetical to the personal freedom that we enjoy as Americans. Honestly, in my view, illegalizing abortion is just as offensive as a government that sterilizes women without their consent, or forces them to get abortions (for instance, in the case of population surplus). It can never be a good thing for the government to intervene when it comes to the reproductive bodies of its citizens. No matter what form it takes, whenever a government (rather than the human beings involved!) dictates whether or not reproduction should occur, it is an infringement of our rights as human beings to decide how and if we want to reproduce. I think that a nightmare would ensue if we gave the government this much control over what happens in our bodies. Can you imagine having some bureaucrat sitting behind a desk to have more say over what happens in your womb than you do?!? Try reversing the situation, and having the bureaucrat tell you that you CAN'T have your baby, because the population is too high. Isn't the idea unfathomably horrible? But for me, it's an equally horrible idea to be forced to carry a fetus to term that you do not want inside of you. It's the same infringement of reproductive freedom.Again, it's a question of how much power you think that government should have over our bodies. Just keep in mind that if you think it should have enough legal power to mandate that a woman carry a fetus to term, there's no legal protection in place to stop it from telling her that she CAN'T.Dystopian stuff.

  • Anonymous

    From one Anonymous to another:The statement above is one I've made as well. Here's the thing: Calah's Catholic, and the Catholic Church is pretty unequivocally anti-death-penalty. Like it or not, the Catholic Church's stance on being pro-life is very consistent. It also calls for and provides post-natal care for women via organizations such as Birthright, and it commits itself to the poor in word and deed.I am happy to hear you weren't scarred by your experience. Certainly, everyone has a different response to their experiences and it is risky to claim everyone will have the same.Your "favorite example" is a strange one, however, although I understand the "logic." Let me give you an example: child is abused by parents, grows up in terrible pain, commits herself to ending child abuse and supporting women. That describes some awesome feminists I know. You know the statistics of sexual abuse? 1 in 4 women? So by your logic they should have been aborted? Or do you only mean boys? These sorts of "what if?" games are dangerous. The logic of the Catholic Church is love, support, life. The failures of the Church, and they are legion, are human failures to do the first two to the extent that we must. It is consistent in embracing life and giving everyone a chance, and in suggesting that it is foolish, risky, even inhumane to predict the outcomes of people's lives based on the circumstances of their parents. I say all of these things as a former vehement pro-choice advocate. I know how exhausting these arguments can be from BOTH sides, as Calah so kindly suggests above. I am glad to see the conversation continue to happen, but mostly what I see are painful gaps in my own former responses as a pro-choice advocate, as I see above. I hope nonetheless that we can continue to speak out of love and respect for one another.