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* * *In an article in the American Medical News (Diane M Gianelli, “Abortion Providers Share Inner Conflicts,” American Medical News, July 12, 1993), a counselor at a Dallas abortion clinic talked about how she deals with the stress of doing her job. In her own words:
This may sound like repression: however, it does work for me. When I find myself identifying with the fetus, and I think the larger it gets, that’s normal… then I think it’s okay to consciously decide to remind ourselves to identify with the woman. The external criteria of viability really isn’t what it’s about. It’s an unwanted pregnancy and that’s the bottom line.This clinic worker is struggling with her conscience. Deep down, I suspect that she knows that the “fetuses” her clinic aborts are actually babies. You don’t “identify with” tissue, products of conception, or collections of cells. You identify with human beings. This clinic worker is struggling to silence her conscience, which tells her that these babies are more than just tissue or uterine growths. They are people. As the developing child grows bigger and begins to look more and more like a newborn, it becomes harder and harder to deny his or her humanity. This forces the clinic worker to rationalize what she is involved in. In order to cope, she blocks out the reality of the child and focuses only on the woman as her patient, making the woman her only concern.
Pro-choice arguments almost always focus solely on the woman involved in the pregnancy. The baby is completely disregarded.
The pro-life movement, on the other hand, is at its best when pro-lifers are concerned about both the child and the mother. Groups like Silent No More and countless postabortion support groups and organizations exist to help women cope with their past abortions. Crisis pregnancy centers, which outnumber abortion clinics, help women through their pregnancies and try to meet their needs. More and more, it’s becoming clear that women are physically and psychologically harmed by abortion. In opposing abortion, pro-lifers are not simply helping the baby – they are helping the mother as well. It is important that we do not deny that there are two people involved in each pregnancy – the woman, and her unborn baby. Both are important. Both require our support and compassion.
Focusing on only one person at the expense of the other should never be a tactic of the pro-life movement. It is important that we never allow ourselves to see only the baby and disregard the woman who also needs our help and support. It is of course the baby whose life is at stake – but the woman obviously has a pivotal role and should never be forgotten.
Pro-lifers are here to support both people involved in the pregnancy. We don’t exclude either one from our help and care.