Is Abortion a Tragedy?

I recently read a post about abortion written by progressive Christian Patheos blogger James McGrath. In it he said the following:

So what is my view? I consider abortion a tragedy at any stage. But I do not consider it equally tragic indifferent of the stage at which it occurs. And I therefore consider it appropriate that the woman who is pregnant be the one to decide whether ending the pregnancy as early as possible is more or less tragic than the possible impact of not doing so. I do not think that anyone actually desires to have an abortion, unless it is as an option weighed against alternatives that they find to be more tragic, whether it be the likelihood of having to drop out of school and thus be unable to care for oneself, much less the child, or the serious possibility that the mother may die resulting the loss of both lives.

McGrath, then, argues that abortion is always a tragedy, but that women choose abortion when that choice is less tragic than the alternative. McGrath’s post actually made me think of another recent post by the anonymous OB who will be soon traveling to Wichita, Kansas, to replace the late Dr. Tiller.

Why, then? Why do this work? One answer is, because I love it. It’s not tasteful, these days, to admit taking joy in abortion. We’re supposed to regard it as a necessary evil at best, a minor tragedy. But there’s nothing I love more than being able to take the hand of a desperate woman and say to her, yes, I can help you. There’s nothing more rewarding to me than the palpable relief and thankfulness when I tell a woman that she’s no longer pregnant. With a five minute office procedure, I can help someone take back her life. I am incredibly excited and blessed to be able to do this work for women who would otherwise have no choice.

This abortion provider straight out says she does not consider abortion a tragedy. Instead, she sees abortion as a way to help desperate women take their lives back.

My view? Abortion isn’t a tragedy. The unwanted pregnancy that threatens to completely upturn a life, or the wanted pregnancy blighted by fetal abnormality or maternal health condition, that is the tragedy. For many women, then, abortion is the way out of a tragic situation. This is why the most common emotion women feel following an abortion is relief. The abortion itself is not a tragedy. In fact, the abortion itself is usually a blessing, a grace, and a gift.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Nothing

    Couldn’t possibly agree more.

  • Yamikuronue

    Can’t it be both? I mean, surely abortion of a wanted pregnancy due to medical complications is a tragedy. I think my view is that abortion is an event, and how that’s viewed depends on the individual circumstances that led up to it. For some people, it’s the lesser of two evils. For others, it’s a blessing. For others, it could be both at once. Human emotion rarely falls into absolute categories on topics this complex. A wedding could be tragic, a death of a loved one could be a relief, depending on circumstances.

    • Rachel

      Yamikuronue – I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve had friends and family members who have had to have abortions, and there is sadness and relief both. I think the blessing and the gift is that there are people who will provide abortions to women in need, while the abortion itself is in many circumstances a necessity: neither good nor evil, but is.

      • Libby Anne

        ^ This was my point. In the case of a wanted pregnancy with medical complications, it’s not the abortion itself that is the tragedy, it’s what has made an abortion necessary that is the tragedy – i.e., the situation is tragic, rather than the abortion itself being the thing that is tragic.

        I wholeheartedly agree on not assuming that every abortive woman’s situation is the same or emotions are the same, though.

      • luckyducky

        It took me a while to come that conclusion but yes, sometimes (often? I don’t know) it is tragic to be in the situation where you are choosing abortion… but it is the situation that is tragic, not the procedure.

        It would be like saying that calling the fire department to put out the fire is tragic. The firefighters may cause some damage in the process of putting out the fire but ultimately they do more good than harm, usually much, much more. It is the fire, if anything, that is tragic [NB: not all fires are "tragic," sometimes they are merely minor incidents that cause a little disruption].

        To stretch the analogy to breaking: all things being equal, we’d all rather not have to call the fire department but we’re glad they are there because we will always face the risk of fire no matter how careful we are.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Yeah, but he’s not saying “an individual abortion can be a tragedy” which is undoubtedly true. He is saying “Abortion is a tragedy” which is a very different statement. And, in my opinion, it’s a very silly and illogical way that pro-choicers try to coddle anti-abortioners–this whole rhetoric of “abortion is a tragic choice,” “abortion is the most difficult choice a woman will ever have to make” etc.

      Why should abortion be innately tragic? The only reason an abortion could possibly be tragic in every situation is if it really were the death of an innocent person. Because the only thing that all abortions have in common is that the pregnancy is terminated, the life of the embryo is ended. If you say that abortion is ALWAYS tragic, you have to accept the premise that terminating a pregnancy, ending that life is inherently tragic. Most pro-choicers do NOT accept that premise. So the “abortion is always tragic” trope is just inconsistent. If we really were to accept that abortion is the death of an innocent person, than there is pretty much NO situation that would be more tragic than that and we’ve had to be anti-abortion. Terminating a pregnancy in and of itself is either morally acceptable or it is not. All these people in the mushy middle, thinking that all their talk of tragedy and “won’t you please pity teh poor wimminz” is going to mean a damn thing to the anti-abortion crowd need to get off the fence.

  • Catcat

    I had an abortion and “… palpable relief and thankfulness when I tell a woman that she’s no longer pregnant” is exactly right. The relief was almost indescribable.

  • Lynn

    I used to view it as a tragedy, too, or at least “a sad thing.” Until I had my own pregnancy scare and realized that my body and my life were my own and that I should have the choice to decide what to do with it. I’ve realized that my romantic notions of unborn life was entirely influenced by the culture around me, and I was only able to burst that illusion when I was forced to face reality. A lot of people never have to face it.

  • James F. McGrath

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. When I wrote what I did, I was hoping that I would get feedback.

    • Libby Anne

      No problem! I did genuinely enjoy your piece, and I’m glad it’s a topic you’re willing to write about.

  • orakio

    Remember, too, that it’s not just the woman who’s quality of life can be helped along by that abortion.

    My younger brother was born with a serious heart defect – while surgical proceedures exist now, they were invented months after his death. It took him three days of pain and terror to die, drowning in the open air, as his lungs and heart couldn’t work together to draw breath. In his entire life, he knew nothing else. That was his… our… tragedy. It would have been far more merciful for him to have died before he was even born.

    • Sheila Crosby

      Oh Orakio, that’s so very sad.
      Yes, it sounds as though it would have been better for him to die before he was ever concious.

  • jose

    Abortion is a tragedy when the woman wanted to have a child but can’t for whatever reason. For unwanted pregnancies, abortion is more than welcome. It’s only logical.

  • sara maimon

    Jose, I agree very strongly.
    Many, many abortions are actually pregnancies that are wanted, or at least there are strong feelings on both pro and con sides, which do not cancel each other out.
    Libby once quoted a statistic that 75 percent of women cite financial reasons as strongly influencing their decision to have an abortion. That’s 75% worth of wanted pregnancies right there.
    I think both Libby’s and James McGrath’s posts seem to come accross as categorically stating an absolute truth for everybody. Abortion is absolutely tragic. or Abortion is not tragic! It’s just the situation that’s tragic! I’m not saying thats what you meant but thats what it sounds like.
    The emotional significance of the potential life varies very strongly, and as such, the experience of loss will vary as much. But for most women that I have encountered, an embryo even an early one, is far more significant than another piece of tissue. An abortion isn’t just erasing the mistake of getting pregnant. It’s an entirely new situation.

    The most common reaction to abortion that I have seen is grief. And I’m talking immediate, anesthesia recovery room reaction. My stint there was rather brief and I’m not saying it reflects what happens any were else, but it does reflected my own experience as well. I was also told before my abortion that the most common reaction was relief and would have been completely unprepared for the tidal wave of bone crushing grief, had I not pre- experienced it in a dream a couple of days beforehand.

    Acknowledging that this is a reality for many women, does not mean we do not support a woman’s right to choose in any way whatsoever.

    • Libby Anne

      I hadn’t thought about when the pregnancy is perfectly healthy and the woman wants to keep it but can’t for financial reasons. Thanks for pointing that out!

      • luckyducky

        Honestly, I am surprised it is not higher. The only time I would think finances aren’t part of the considerations are for the life of the mother, fatal fetal anomaly, or a woman who does not want children.

        And I think it would be naive to think that financial considerations don’t figure very much into whether a pregnancy is wanted or not…

        I am all for improving choices by expanding and improving services for infants and young children, expanding support for low income families, expanding access to healthcare improving family leave policies, and generally making working more family-friendly of the other financial/career aspects of having a child. However, I still think that it is the situation — where a woman looks at her financial/career situation and makes the decision that she cannot bring an otherwise wanted child into her life — not the procedure — that is tragic if anything is.

      • Anat

        luckyducky, there are women who want children sometime, but not at the moment. The reason for that is not necessarily financial. They may think they are too young to have a child, or want to be at least at a certain stage in their education or career path, or complete some other plan first. Or perhaps the new pregnancy is too soon after a previous one and they want to be able to dedicate more time and energy to the existing baby.

        Myself, I had a serious pregnancy scare during college. If I had turned out to have been pregnant I would have had an abortion. I wouldn’t have considered it a tragedy, just something that needed to be done.

    • Michael Busch

      >>Libby once quoted a statistic that 75 percent of women cite financial reasons as strongly influencing their decision to have an abortion. That’s 75% worth of wanted pregnancies right there.<<

      Beg pardon, but your math is wrong. That 75% figure is not exclusive. Many of the women who cite financial reasons for not wanting to be pregnant also cite other reasons. If financial concerns were not a factor, they would still want an abortion ('strongly influencing' is not the same as 'the only factor involved'). You might be able to disentangle the fraction of abortions that take place strictly for financial reasons by comparing abortion rates in the US with rates in countries with better social support systems, but there are likely too many confounding variables to get a meaningful result.

      As you say, none of this should play into the discussion of making abortions available.

      • Michael Busch

        I correct myself: none of this should play into the discussion of making abortions _legally_ available.

    • luckyducky

      Anat, of course. The decision to have or not have a child is usually complex. My inartfully made points were:
      (1) Outside of life-or-death (or terminal) or decisions to never have children, availability of resources now or in the future is nearly always part of the consideration — even or especially when considering education, career, and child spacing (my #2 came along much sooner than we were planning on and had a big impact on our familial financial decisions).
      (2) Most of these issues are interrelated and hard if not impossible to disentangle — my desire to not need to make the financial and other accommodations a 3rd child would require is a big part of my not wanting a 3rd child. I am a mother and know what it entails and am sure I would love that child and that child could do wonderful things. I might even say “if I didn’t have to worry about paying for childcare and the effect that the hormones have on me, I would have a baby right now,” but I do have to worry about those things and because I do, I don’t really want a baby right now.
      (3) Not every situation in which a woman choose abortion is tragic. However, if there is tragedy that is associated with the decision to have an abortion for financial considerations, it is that a woman finds herself so lacking in support that she wants to be a mother but feels like can’t/shouldn’t.

  • Danielle

    I completely agree. I love your quote from that that OB. He/she reminds me of my new doctor, a compassionate, older male OB. After I had the ultrasound where I found out that I was losing my 3rd pregnancy in a row, he sat down with me and patiently talked me through my choices and I ended up deciding on a d&c. If the situation were different and I happened to need the same procedure for some reason, but had a still alive embryo/fetus, I would expect the same level of care and empathy from a good health care provider.
    Every now and then I get the question, “Now that you are a mom and know all about the miracle of life, don’t you hate abortion?” Absolutely not – after 4 pregnancies (1 term and 3 miscarriages) I have so much more respect for physicians/other providers who offer safe and compassionate abortion services.

    • Basketcase

      As a pregnant woman, going through all that related bollocks and stress, I can say with complete confidence that no woman should EVER have to go through this if she doesn’t want to, or cant see herself successfully raising that child at the end of the pregnancy but would be unwilling / unable to give it up (I know in my local society, adopting children out seems to be even more frowned upon than abortion).
      I was always pro-choice, but now I am even more adamantly so.

  • pagansister

    Having 3 family members chose to terminate a pregnancy, none were sorry afterward. None of them decided on a whim—the decision was well thought out and difficult. All were done very early. There are many reasons why women either choose to continue a pregnancy or chose to terminate. IMO, women should always have the access to a clean, safe termination should they find it necessary. (for whatever reason). No, an abortion is not always a tragedy.

  • Lara

    Hey, so this comment has nothing to do with this abortion post, but I just read this article and immediately thought, “I would love to see Libby Anne take this on.” It’s about gender roles and sex, and is a total misunderstanding of the science behind the study (and who thought up a study like this anyway?!). Anyway, if you’re interested:

  • J-Rex

    Being young, poor, and not sure if I ever want kids, abortion for me would not at all be a tragedy. My boyfriend and I already know what our decision would be and I would have an abortion as soon as possible to minimize any suffering to the embryo/fetus. I would be disappointed if it was my own error that caused the pregnancy. I would be frustrated to spend that much money. I would be angry every time my family would talk about how terrible abortion is, knowing they would think I had murdered a human being if they ever knew. But more than anything, I would feel relieved.
    I guess no matter what the person’s situation is, there will always be negative emotions involved, partially because the ideal is to not get pregnant in the first place. But tragedy isn’t really applicable to all situations. It’s frustrating that whenever you debate abortions, you always find yourself feeling like you have to say “It’s horrible” or “It’s tragic” or “I personally would never get one” to constantly reassure the other person that you’re on the “good” side.

    • Basketcase

      I used to believe that “I wouldn’t get one”. Even though I totally supported any other womans right to have one.
      Being currently pregnant with a wanted baby has changed my mind on that statement. I honestly dont think I can do this again, as I have had a fairly horrid time, and would be sorely tempted to have an abortion if I fell pregnant again.

  • BabyRaptor

    My abortion wasn’t a tragedy. It was a terrifying process; first finding out that somehow, despite our being so damn careful I’d gotten pregnant anyway, then having to rush to come up with the money to fund it, then having to face jack-ass protesters screaming at me and having to do most of this alone, as my fiance lives on the other side of the country…

    The abortion itself was the easy and relieving part.

  • Norm

    When you have had children only then can you appriciate the truth of what it was you actually have done.All the rationalizing in the world wont block out the thought of “I wonder who it was that I aborted,and what would they be like now”.You will be thinking how old they would be ,were they a boy or girl,was it really necessary,would i have coped really.Its too late for 55million American children so far.How long until people believe the scientific evidence of what is actually being aborted….real people…your children.

    • BabyRaptor

      This is a lie. I’ve already had one child, and that was what lead me OUT OF the bullshit you’re spouting. I became firmly pr0-choice, and stopped believing the crap the pro-forced birth crowd peddles because of what I learned about pregnancy while carrying my son. Also, it’s been almost a year since my abortion. I’ve not once regretted it, or thought of the “person” (sarcastic airquotes) that the tissue I aborted would be, according to you.

      You’re male. You will NEVER face the choices we’re discussing here. So kindly keep your lies, falsehoods and shaming to yourself. The only woman you have any right to speak to about this stuff is the woman you knocked up.

      But hopefully before you do open your mouth again, you’ll take a good long look at the facts, and how they compare to the bullshit you’re spouting now. And if you choose to continue believing the bullshit anyway, hopefully you’ll at least have developed the decency to keep it to yourself. You have no right to shame anyone, nor do you have any right to be trying to force others to live by your view. The fact that you think it’s a child doesn’t matter.

      Be a decent human being. Either come to reality or at least shut the hell up. Nobody is murdering children, and you’re just showing yourself for the uneducated jerk you are by trying to shame us for your delusions.

      • Norm

        Blah blah blah, science proves your the one in denial and full of BS

      • phantomreader42

        And when he says “science”, Norm means “The voices in my head”.

      • Christine

        There is no way for anyone who has been a part of a planned pregnancy to, without being a hypocrite, be pro-life. it is impossible to rationalize the large number of spontaneous abortions you will be a part of making happen with the idea that every life from conception is fully human and in need of the same protections. (I acknowledge that my change of heart here may be hypocrisy, to make intentionally getting pregnant a not-evil thing.)

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Science doesn’t prove personhood. That’s not how science works. Science can present us with the data necessary to make a philosophical decision about whether or not the embryo or fetus is a person. Not everyone presented with that data is going to make the same decision as you, Norm. Learn what science is, please.

      • Norm

        Personhood is simply a term thought up to justify abortion by with holding it from an individual who does not meet your criteria.To answer the question whether a person at any stage of life qualify s as a human being,wait a few weeks,time will answer your question.

      • Anat

        No Norm, if you wait long enough you may indeed end up with a person, but this does not mean there was a person at the time the question was asked. Also, questions of personhood are actually more significant for end-of-life questions, because these situations cannot be solved based on some other overriding criterion (infringing on the rights of a definite person by the possible person).

        I was not a person before I was born. At some later point I became a person. If I live long enough to develop severe dementia or if I lose many of my faculties as a result of injury I will stop being a person.

        These questions are something I need to think about because I am at risk for stroke and for Alzheimer’s Disease.

        See When is a person? by James Park.

        Personhood is also a term that interests the AI community as well as those interested in the potential rights of intelligent non-human animals.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Yes, what Anat said about personhood re: end of life issues, AI research and non-human animals. (For example, there is a debate about whether or not ceteceans should be considered non-human persons.) Personhood has also been a concept used to define the rights of groups who have historically (or currently…) been denied personhood, such as American slaves and, um, women. All told, the concept of personhood is invoked far more often to support the personhood of some group than to deny it. Looks like science isn’t the only thing you could stand to learn a thing or two about, Norm.

    • J-Rex

      Totally agree. That’s why I have unprotected sex whenever I can find the time because it’s important to make sure every child has a chance. Every time I have a period, I can’t help but wonder, “What would this child have been like if it existed? Would it have been a boy or a girl? Why didn’t I just give it a chance?”

      Sorry, but just because something has the potential for something else doesn’t mean that we have to allow that potential to be realized, especially when that comes at a great cost to someone who is an actual person, not just a potential person. So now you can drop the “What would it have been?” from your list of arguments and never use it again because you know it’s flawed, right? Right? Lol.

      • Kodie

        I think of it like ideas. We have ideas all the time. Some of them go right in the trash for whatever reason. It could be a bad idea from the get-go, no time, a better idea, or anything. I’m not an author, for example. You want to follow that everyone has stories they want to tell, but some people know they are not good at story-telling. They may jot down ideas, they may even file them in a drawer, like a wish – wish I had the skills, time, or decision skills to work this into a full story. But not every story is told, not every scrap of a pre-human is a story. We’re not sad to miss the stories that aren’t told. And the libraries and bookstores are plentiful with people who thought they could do it, stories they got as far as publishing, but the stories might as well have stayed in the notebook. Well, that’s freedom of speech for you. The author chose to pursue it, and we have those stories too.

        My point is, not everyone has to be an author. We seem to be pretty happy when we read a story that we never heard before that’s good, and revisit it, share it with others. We’re not crying about the beautiful stories no one ever wrote. Maybe some people are crying to themselves that they don’t have the time or talent to someday write the next great American novel (if that’s even a thing anymore), but we still fail to be curious about it until it’s out on the shelves.

    • phantomreader42

      Norm, LibbyAnne has had at least two children, and has mentioned them many, many times. Were you too stupid and lazy to check before vomiting forth another moronic fetus-fetishist talking point, or were you knowingly and deliberately lying?

    • pagansister

      Norm, there is a very simple response to your anti-choice/pro-life rant——don’t have one. Just keep that propaganda to yourself, as it is simply NOT YOUR JOB to pitch the line used to try and make a woman feel guilty doing what she feels necessary.

      • Norm

        Sorry i didnt realise when there is something posted MY JOB is to just agree so you all feel right and happy.:(

    • Mogg

      Ah, Norm, I see your complete inability to understand the basics of a discussion hasn’t prevented you from popping up on another blog.

  • Marta L.

    This is a really fascinating discussion. I don’t really believe you’re a human, a person with moral worth, from the moment of conception on – but still I find myself uncomfortable with the idea that there’s nothing morally negative about an abortion. There’s a loss of potential there, and so if an abortion is good it’s good in spite of that loss, I think.

    Of course not all losses are the same. There’s a world of difference between the just-fertilized zygote and a third-trimester fetus who has to be aborted because of health concerns. And I can imagine all sorts of situations where the negative aspects of an abortion is far outweighed by the other parts of the situation. And I think the vast majority of women, they do have good reasons – an abortion is not something you have when there are other good options for your situation. (Not that they need to justify their decision to anyone other than their own conscience.)

    So I wouldn’t go so far as to call every abortion a tragedy; that suggests there’s something wrong on balance about the situation. It’s also hyperbolic, which doesn’t help in a situation like this. And I think the situation itself can be so tough, the abortion may also bring about a sense of relief, because it’s a release from a bad situation. That can be almost refreshing. (If you believe Plato, it’s why we have this urge to laugh after seeing someone else’s misfortune, like with the football-in-groin videos that were a staple of America’s Funniest Home Videos.) But I do believe there’s an element of badness here, something that can’t be ignored even if it’s overwhelmed by other concerns.

    • Marta L.

      In light of some of the comments above, I feel compelled to make something clear: I’m a woman, but I’ve never been pregnant. I don’t know what the stress of that, or the relief of ending the pregnancy, feels like firsthand – I’ve never experienced it. So I didn’t want my comments to come across as me judging women who have actually been in that position. It’s an experience I simply haven’t ever known. So when I talk about abortion, I’m definitely speaking in the abstract. :-) But I do hope my thoughts are still helpful in thinking about this kind of situation to some degree, even with that limitation.

      • Basketcase

        You make valid points, I especially like:
        “There’s a loss of potential there, and so if an abortion is good it’s good in spite of that loss, I think.”
        Of course, a miscarriage is also a “loss of potential”, and I have friends who have been down both sides of the path with that being fine and dandy, or being terribly upset. (The terribly upset ones also tend to be the most vocal about being upset to hear that someone they know has had an abortion).
        Not every woman finds their abortion to be a relief. It is not always a good thing. For many it is. The problem is that the “pro-life” camp attach themselves to the women who find it upsetting, and use their narrative to try and shame those for whom the result is relief, and those for whom it WOULD be a relief, if not for the shaming before the event.

      • Marta L.

        I agree completely about the pro-choice movement co-opting some women’s experience and acting like this should be every woman’s reaction. which is obviously not okay. While I have some moral concerns about abortion, and don’t suspect I’d have one if I was in that position (though really, I can’t be sure until that’s me), I also have major problems with the pro-life movement. It’s possible to have concerns about abortion and not be pro-life; I’m actually very pro-choice because I think whether or not to have an abortion is still the potential mother’s choice. I guess it just makes me uncomfortable when I hear talk from the opposite extreme, that there’s no harm in an abortion. I think the truth in this situation lies somewhere in the middle: that there is a certain loss or harm in abortion but that it is often dwarfed by the even greater loss of not having an abortion. It also shouldn’t need to be repeated, but in case it does: I trust individual women to be the one to make this choice. Yet another way that I am different from the political pro-life movement in America these days.

        (P.s: I’m replying to my own comment because I can’t seem to reply to Basketcase – this is really in reply to her comment.)

      • Kodie

        I’m becoming more comfortable with promotion of the idea, or support of the idea, that abortion is no biggie. The main reason it is a biggie, I think, is from the haunting guilt and shame that that’s what one truly wants, that comes from a pro-life side. Another reason is the lingering effect that many women do want to be mothers, just not this time around, not now. Just like girls are raised to look forward to their wedding day, the “achievement” of becoming a mother is just as powerful in our culture. That doesn’t need to be true either. Mothers are glorified, and yes, they do a lot of work, but that makes people who don’t want to be mothers, just now or ever, feel like shit even though it’s their choice. Having sex and being ok with it is still shamed, and we are overcoming it. But actively seeking an abortion is still built up to be some monumental failure to be a woman the right way.

        People should be less worked up about it at least in the first trimester. They should not be made to wait, they should not have to worry they’ll change their mind or regret it, and they should not be made to feel guilty for their true feelings on the matter. No one’s judgment should be clouded by doubt in the mystique of motherhood and life. I’m not saying everyone should just do it, it’s wonderful! But that’s what they are saying about becoming a mother – and I know a number of you are moms and are rewarded by the experience. No one really, in this debate, puts the difficulties of parenting up front so women can reject the status well before it’s a more difficult decision becoming more complicated. It’s supposed to be a wonderful, beautiful thing. The cost of parenting can be the rest of the foreseeable future vs. no cost. People are supposed to feel guilty for avoiding the cost, and why should they.

        Why do men (not all men) run from responsibility? Because they aren’t pregnant. $$ they don’t want to spend. A lifetime of things they don’t invite to take them over. The visceral reaction to a man who doesn’t want a pregnancy to affect his life is immediate. They know what that extra blue line means, immediately. It’s not an anguishing decision for him. We’re only now holding men financially on the hook for that if it turns out she chooses not to get an abortion. I am not saying this, again, about every man. We do call this kind of man a bad man too, if he doesn’t pay, but he doesn’t care. Nobody is saying he’ll love being a father though, he’ll love to be a father, he just has to get the experience to cherish it. The very first impulse is the expense and the lifelong imprisonment of parenthood and he knows immediately whether it were up to him what he would choose. Why does a woman have to be more protective or nurturing or such qualities to necessitate abortion being a more difficult decision for her? Why must every woman be saddled with grief and loss?

        If people use their birth control like the whole rest of their life depends on it, are purposely avoiding pregnancy, then why should finding oneself pregnant be any different and go get an abortion? Because the controversy has made it into a big deal, and the woman should feel punished to think about what she’s doing, overthink it, shall never trivialize it, or celebrate control over her destiny? The anti-abortion side has told every woman they will regret it, so they feel like they should, the after-effects make one feel even guilty that they don’t feel guilty. The whole thing is warped.

        The other end of the problem I have seen is that anti-abortioners will suggest women who get abortions trivialize them and use abortion serially as a form of birth control. The least little doubt and struggle a woman has to make up her own mind what to do is seized upon as a sign that she really doesn’t want to get an abortion. So should women walk into the clinic like it’s a convenience store, or are women supposed to gravely face the abortion clinic as she has pondered and deliberated upon it seriously and concluded that though it is not her choice it is only necessary? I don’t know how to put that correctly, but it sound like a trap.

      • Anonymouse

        @Basketcase “The terribly upset ones also tend to be the most vocal about being upset to hear that someone they know has had an abortion”. Crazy people are crazy. When my husband and I decided to start a family, we didn’t announce our intention to anyone; we just went about it. However, fairly quickly it became apparent that we were expecting, and one member of our social circle had a meltdown because how dare we casually get pregnant when she had had several miscarriages? Crazy woman didn’t get that the world does not revolve around her and decisions one couple might make in their marriage were *not* made around her.

  • Rebecca

    Thanks for this! This has been bothering me bout the attitudes of the few other pro-choicers around me, my liberal Christian friends who believe that abortion should be legal but only because women would still abortions anyway and this way they would be at least safer. Abortion, though, is still considered in their eyes a tragedy. Even for me. I don’t plan to ever get pregnant as I have a genetic terminal disease I inherited from my father and any offspring of mine would have a %50 chance of inheriting the disease, and there is no way I’d allow MY child to grow up like I affected by the illness like my brother and sister and I did. I wouldn’t be able to care for it and no way would I EVER let my crazy family get their hands on my baby and so it would most likely grow up in the foster system, most likely never adopted and especially not if it has the gene as no one wants a sick baby. THAT would be the tragedy, allowing that to happen! Why not terminate when it is still an embryo and has no sense of awareness, no emotions, no ability to cry or feel pain. THAT would be the humane and responsible thing to do. But “That would break my heart” said another of my close Christian friends. But why? How could that be any worse than carrying the baby to term knowing all the while first hand it would go through? THAT’ would be the tragedy!

  • Sophie

    I had a miscarriage when I was 21, I was about 11 weeks pregnant. For a long time I did do the what ifs, and it was heart-breaking. And whilst I was pro-choice, those thoughts did colour how I viewed abortion. A couple of years ago I would have said that abortion was a tragedy. Last year I forgot the anniversary of my miscarriage, it was weeks later that I remembered that the date had passed. And when I did remember I felt relief. I have stopped the what ifs, I have stopped the romanticising of a fetus that was not viable. Now when I read pro-life propaganda I get angry, rather than feel guilt. Now I would say that the only time abortion is a tragedy is when women die because they are denied one.

    • sara maimon

      sophie my point is that no one person can speak to how tragic or untragic something is for other women

      • sara maimon

        I’m afraid many women who have undergone abortion simply do not have a voice in the abortion debate. If they speak to their true experiences they will be used and by anti choicers to ban abortion and declare women such as themselves criminal. But pro-choicers, at least on this forum seem to discount their voice and say no, abortion MUST be ho hum…. (its just the fact that you are in school or whatever that’s tragic!… huh????). A woman who does regret or have mixed feelings about an abortion has no where to go because she’ll either be discounted or have her words turned against her.
        It’s time to stop letting the pro-life agenda control our responses. If its necessary to deny some women’s experience than something is wrong with the message. The message is that women have full human autonomy over their bodies, period.

      • Kodie

        I don’t discount their experience, but I also try to think where it’s coming from. They are allowed to have regrets or guilt, but I just wish they didn’t have it, just like women should not have to feel guilty herself that someone raped her, or just like women should not feel guilty or impure for liking sex and having it with multiple partners. If women have the kind of control they need to have the life they want on the timetable they choose, like taking birth control – you know you don’t want to get pregnant, so that is useful. A forethought about avoiding a lifetime obligation, and an afterthought should be able to come just as easily. What is really lost here, think about it. After the line turns blue, a woman has an ethical dilemma? Must she?

        I would welcome the day there’s no obligatory guilt or shame piled onto a woman for having an abortion. A weighty decision of some kind? Yes, we all have decisions we find difficult to make, and sometimes they do not turn out as we had hoped and have feelings we’d like to go back and choose the other thing. The thing with not getting an abortion is that the further you go in pregnancy, the more you can’t choose the other thing either. That’s more life than a zygote. You can get another zygote next month if you change your mind.

      • Sophie

        I did not say that individual women can’t have their own feelings about their abortion, I am aware that some women are fine afterwards and that other women experience a profound sense of loss. I was talking about abortion as a procedure not as an individual experience.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Sara, I don’t know where you are getting the idea that we’re all saying that abortion MUST be ho-hum. What we’re saying is that it CAN be ho-hum. You say that no one can speak for how tragic or untragic an abortion is for a woman. But that’s exactly what this guy Libby is quoting is doing–he is saying that abortion is CATEGORICALLY tragic. And we are saying that that’s not true, that abortion is tragic for some women, it is ho-hum for others, and sometimes something in between. If there is extra focus on the women for whom it is ho-hum,that is perhaps because it is very taboo for a woman to have a casual attitude towards an abortion. Those are the voices you’re REALLY not hearing because society sees women who DON’T feel conflicted about abortion as cold-hearted monsters. The compromise that many in the pro-choice movement have tried to strike with the anti-abortion movement is that abortion can be legal and acceptable but ONLY if a lot of anguish and second-guessing comes with it. It’s as if you have to perform grief, whether or NOT you feel it, because that’s what proves you’re a moral person despite having an abortion. Well, I think that’s BS and so do many others here. THAT’s what we’re saying.

        For some women, abortion is a tragedy or at least sad. For many other women, however, it is not and they’re not under any obligation to act like it is to gain others’ approval of their choice.

  • damianarose

    I think it is both. I have had an abortion and it was an emotional depressing horrible experience for me….But it had to be done. Sometimes abortion is just the best option, tragedy or not. I am just thankful it is an option.

  • newenglandsun

    “My view? Abortion isn’t a tragedy. The unwanted pregnancy that threatens to completely upturn a life, or the wanted pregnancy blighted by fetal abnormality or maternal health condition,that is the tragedy.”

    I think that the living quality for pregnant women in general should be improved. In other words, this isn’t an issue of feminism so much as it is an issue of human rights. If we acknowledge that sex does have the consequence of reproduction, then why is a woman even having consensual sex in the first place? It’s like saying that drinking and driving isn’t going to lead to a car accident. Now cases of fetal abnormality and maternal health condition actually end up making it a real tragedy. I can’t just dismiss as a non-tragedy looking at it this way.

  • Eddie Buchanan

    You sexist men need to mind your own business. Women have a right to kill their babies if they might interfere with their lifestyle. Furthermore, abortion should be safe and legal up to at least 6 years of age. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

    • Guest

      aww what a cute little boy

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