Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Judgment versus compassion

[Today's post is by Heather, who is participating the Job Corp program.  Heather's own story of unplanned pregnancy can be heard here.]

I was riding in a cab with another student from Walmart back to the Job Corp Center where we stay. On the way back, we were talking the abortion that she had at the age of 13.  She herself had been born to a teen mother.  Her boyfriend bailed out at the last minute, so at five months she went to the local clinic and had an abortion.

I asked her a lot of questions.  "Did the doctors push you to get an abortion?  Did you get to see the baby on a sonogram?"  She said no, the abortionists did not push her to abort; if anything, they tried every possible way to influence her to keep the baby.  And yes, she saw her baby on the ultrasound screen!  She saw his face and his little body; she knew he was a boy.  I asked her, "How could you abort him after seeing and feeling him?"  It was a sonogram that had stopped me from aborting my own baby boy just a few years ago.

She was sad and said, "I didn't want to abort him.  But I was not going to bring another fatherless baby in this world.  I wouldn't do it.  I cried and I cried... they tried to convince me by the sonogram that I was too far along.  I could see his face; was this really what I wanted?  No, I didn't want to... but I felt I had to."

She was one of many pregnant teens in this country, faced with difficult challenges in an already difficult world.  What was I to say?  "You're a bad person for killing your unborn son halfway through your pregnancy"?  I couldn't say anything; I was speechless.

I like this girl.  She is cool and funny.  I don't judge her; how could I?  I could identify with her, because I was there during my own pregnancy.  I was almost four months and planning an abortion at my local center!  The difference is that I have my baby, and she doesn't. 

Many girls here get pregnant, go home and come back not pregnant, like it's no big deal.  
"What happened?" 
"Oh, I had an abortion... yeah, soooo..." 
And that's the end of the conversation. No big deal! 

It makes sense.  They're here for a certificate to land a good job to better their futures, same as me.  An unwanted pregnancy would mess everything up!  I hate abortion, but what do we do?  Who do we blame? These girls are not being forced to get pregnant, and they aren't forced to get abortions either-- although, as my friend's experience shows, they may feel like they have no other real options.  I'm sure these girls were not skipping with joy into the clinic to have an abortion like it was a hair or nail appointment, but rather entered the clinic with tears and anxiety.  I can't be mad at these young women.  But at the same time, I hate abortion and am tired of babies being killed!

I am lost in my own opinion on this.  They say it's a free country, and that means people have the right to do what they want within reason, so these girls are exercising that right.  Is abortion really just another personal choice people can make, like what religion they choose to believe, what person they will marry, and where they will live?  

I wish I could change the way things are.  I'm just one person out of 7 billion and the chances are not in my favor at the moment.  I want to change our society's view on sex, babies and motherhood.  Maybe one day it will change, but for now all I can do is hope!


Marauder said...

If this girl talks about her abortion again, I'd try saying, "I'm so sorry you went through all that." It's non-judgmental and it's true.

I wouldn't feel discouraged because you're one person out of 7 billion; think of all the influential people in your life and in history who "were just one person" out of billions. It may take more than one person to change society as a whole, but it can only take one person to save someone's life.

With the other girls at the Job Corps Center, do you ever know that they're pregnant before they have abortions, or is it just after the fact? Do they know about the situation you were in when you had your baby?

If any of them are considering an abortion and you know about it before they go through with it, tell them I promise to send them at least fifty bucks' worth of baby clothes. My e-mail address is Get in touch with me and tell me where to send it and I'll send it. I love buying stuff for other people's babies. :)

Anonymous said...

Here's a tip:

Recognize that there are special circumstances that permit the ending of human life, like when a person's quality of life will no longer be viable (they are a vegetable or comatose) When they are immediate threat to your own life. Or when they are not capable of cognition or suffering (they are a zygote).

There you go, now you can go on living without a need to force your own belief down other people's throats by advocating policies that will humiliate them and deny them the opportunity to make choices for themselves. Remember, this is a free country, not a country where you force people to stop doing the things you don't like.

Anonymous said...

A five month term fetus is far beyond the zygote stage, and yes it does suffer. It has a central nervous system that feels pain.

Anonymous said...

great! how about those zygotes? you know? the ones you're forcing to come to term with your complete abortion ban?

Didn't think that one through, boss.

Simon said...

One wonders if there were plenty of financial and community resources for single mother's, would they feel the need to fave the father around?

Anonymous said...

And lets ignore cases of rape, because apparently all pregnancies occur between consenting adults and the choice to have an abortion is purely the result of the lack of a strong nuclear family.

So i take it you'll be supporting Santorum?

Simon said...

Is that directed at me?

Anonymous said...

Were you the guy spouting santorum rhetoric?

I think you were.

Simon said...

"One wonders if there were plenty of financial and community resources for single mother's, would they feel the need to fave the father around?"
I'm a strongly left leaning so I doubt that. & since many progressives -even Pro-Choicers- would favour single mothers having plenty of resources we could actually have meaning discussion if you took the time and were less confrontational.

BTW my stance is contrarian to some Pro-Life stances & technically I'm not pro-Life anyway.

Robert Treat said...

The lady who created the Pro Life Pagans page is post-abortive. Her mom forced her to have an abortion as a teen, and it led to her having problems having kids for some 20 years. In one of life's "double-sucks" moments, her mom is now on dialysis and she's been having to fight hell and high water to get her decent care, and now her mom is having heart problems.

Anonymous said...

If you're not pro life, why are you adopting the rhetoric of a pro-life catholic fundamentalist presidential candidate on a blog that operates in lock step with the radical fundamentalist policies of Virginia republicans?

M said...

Excellent post, Heather. Very thoughtful.

Simon said...

Let’s cut out the cheap point scoring. If you are here with an open mind wanting to explore different views that doesn’t help meaningful discussion. If you are a troll don’t waste my time.

Secondly there's no rhetoric in my position I've done extensive research into the philosophy of the debate on par with many Philosophy Professors and actually go past what I consider flawed positions on both sides.

Next it's a fallacy to think even if I held a position similar to Santorum in some aspects that we hold similar ideological positions or in fact that this position is wrong just because he might be a nut job on others.

Lastly I might not agree 100% with everything posted here but I agree on certain themes pertaining to a consistent ethical treatment of healthy human offspring be they prenatal or postpartum.

IMO both sides are inconsistent on different aspects and for the majority it has become a socialised cultural identity issue with little critical thought. Apart from that situation, the pro philosophers have identity hopelessly messed up which makes progress even harder.

LN said...

Thank you for the compassionate post, Heather.

People, stop feeding the anonymous troll.

xalisae said...

No one's forcing them to come to term. They do that on their own if you don't kill them before it happens.

Anonymous said...

Tell us which of Rick Santorum's positions on sex and gender you agree with.

I think once we know more about what you actually believe, we can help you identify your beliefs in this discussion.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so you're saying that women don't have a choice in the matter. you support the state forcing people to carry pregnancies to term against their consent, and you support any method of duress, humiliation, isolation or shame that would achieve that goal.

I wonder what will happen to you if you get pregnant and decide that you don't want to carry it to term-- you will become the target of the oppressive policies you heretofore thought would apply to people other than you.

Don't say it will never happen. There are always exceptions. Even for blowhards like Rick Santorum.

Simon said...

Lets see I've np with gay sex,gay marriage, sex b4 marriage, teens having sex or casual sex. Basically no harm no foul attitude to sex. If you arent hurting anyone, butt out its none of your business.

Also I advocate a progressive attitude to safer sex; including non vaginal alternatives and frequect testing for STI's. There is near 100% safe sex, if you include the above.

BTW I'm not from the US and from what little Ive seen of Santorum, he's probably just another GOP conservative nutjob. Even so it would be a fallacy to think he is wrong on every view just because he is wrong on others.

Simon said...

I would allow abortions in rape cases due to bodily sovereignty – though grant there are other arguments against this but not the ones you would use-and some medical conditions.

In most cases I follow a consistent ethic of duty of care, for offspring created through voluntary sex whether postpartum or prenatal.

Consistent with other moral precepts that you are morally responsible for actions that harm or put other moral entities in a state of strong dependency.

Unlike most Pro-Choice who often talk about the lack personhood as a justification for abortion -with lack of moral value- and don’t allow infanticide before 18month.

Or talk about bodily sovereignty but don’t allow late term abortions, sex selection or who won’t allow the mother to take drugs or drink heavily. Seems one can take away bodily sovereignty and liberty if you are Pro-Choice but not Pro-Life.

No consistency there.

Compassion on Both Sides said...

To the person claiming that 5-month fetuses feel pain:

Per the latest studies, fetuses (and prematurely-born babies) begin differentiating pain from other tactile stimulation (e.g., gentle touch) around 35-37 weeks. That's close to the full 9 months. Before then, the nerve system begins to develop, but it is not fully connected in the brain, and the brain cannot tell a painful touch from a normal one.

To Heather: I appreciate your desire to change how society thinks of babies and motherhood (although I would question what it is about sex that you think society needs to change), but I sincerely hope you attempt to affect this change through writing and other peaceful forms of change, rather than forcing people like your friend to do what you want with laws and legal action.

I wonder: If you succeeded in making abortion illegal, and your friend was seeking one just now, would you call the cops on her?

I'm all for improving our support for mothers. In fact, I think society should provide free childcare so women can work and go to school more easily, and society should also make it difficult or impossible to fire a woman just because she's become pregnant. But I'm not a fan of making a woman's desperate choice illegal, especially considering the complete lack of support society will provide for her today.

DarkCougar555 said...

For your info, this blog already posted about it:

xalisae said...

Actually, I've been there, and done that. I didn't want to be pregnant with my first child, but I was, and I made my bed and laid in it for the required span of months. My discomfort and preferences were in no way, shape, or form comparable to my daughter's entire lifespan. So, I'm not asking anything of anyone else I wouldn't go through myself. But the hypocrite accusation is pretty cute.

Anonymous said...

Ah so you're choosing to force other women to make the same choice you made.

Is it really about the fetus? or is it about eliminating someone else's freedom? because by the sounds of it, you don't think you'll ever have an abortion so you're okay with condemning women who do. You want other women to be just as miserable as you. You want to deny other women the freedom of choice in what they'll do with their life. How terrible.