Taking a stand on abortion not so easy

As you probably know, I’m Catholic. A recent Sunday was dubbed Respect for Life Sunday at our church. The readings and sermon were all about honoring life from conception to natural death. That means no abortion, capital punishment or euthanasia. In the afternoon, parishioners were invited to stand in front of the church holding anti-abortion signs. Abortion is murder, etc. They do this every year. I have never joined the line in front of the church. I considered it this year, but then I got an invitation to lunch and did that instead.
I’m a little uncomfortable standing in front of my community with a sign. I don’t know why. It can’t be any worse than the year I sat at the NOW booth at the county fair handing out gay rights buttons and condoms. Not that I don’t think condoms are a good thing, but the Catholic Church is also anti birth control, and I work for the church as a paid music minister.
I do think abortion is bad. I wouldn’t do it or encourage anyone else to do it. But I would never vote against a candidate just because he or she was pro-choice. It ought to be a deal-breaker, but it’s not. Usually I agree with everything else pro-choice candidates stand for.
What does this have to do with being childless by marriage? I was amazed by the number of women I interviewed who had had abortions. We don’t talk about abortion much in our society except at church, where we all supposedly agree. Although legal, it’s still mostly a secret. Many of the interviewees for my Childless by Marriage book were forced into it by either their parents or the man in their lives. In many cases, they aborted their only chance to have a child. Also in many cases, they had never told anyone about it.
I used to think a fetus was just a clump of cells, not a baby. If I got rid of it soon enough, that would be much better than being accidentally pregnant and unmarried. But now I have seen and heard too much to believe that anymore. As the sign on Highway 20 near where I live says, “If you’re pregnant, it’s a baby.”
Reading the various posts and blogs about having or not having babies, I see so much hate from the childfree crowd. For them, pregnancy is a disaster to be aborted. But babies are life, not just inconveniences. Women who give birth are not just ignorant breeders; they’re doing what God designed them to do. I know a lot of people disagree with this. Maybe you do, too, but that’s how I feel about it.
I think next year I will stand out in front of my church with a sign. Maybe.
How has abortion fit into your childless story? Please share.

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14 thoughts on “Taking a stand on abortion not so easy

  1. This is a big shame. I was a fan of your blog until now. If you seriously think that holding a sign in front of people§s face telling them what they can or cannot do with their bodies will make you a better person, then you shuold gp a head and do it, just to realise how absurd this is. And if this is nt clear enough for you yet, then no “maybe” in a post can save you. And there is certainly no place in this heaven that you seem to believe for people who think like you.

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  2. Two of my friends have had abortions, because of the men they were with at the time. Both of them look back now and are grateful that they haven't had to stay forever linked with hurtful men.

    Yet, I can't help wonder how one of them is truly feeling now. She is 43, aborted her pregnancy when she was 38, and will probably never have children now. She is in a happy relationship now, and says if it happens, it happens.

    For me, she had her abortion, when my husband and I were going through fertility treatments (which she didn't know about at the time). It was hard to hear about it, but there was absolutely no judgement. She did what she felt was right for her and I had to support her with that.

    As for my opinion on it – I just don't know. I would never have an abortion and I knew that about myself right from my 20's. I just couldn't do it to a new life.

    However, there are just too many factors involved to form a solid opinion, and you can argue that a life is lost whatever way you go. The life of the child aborted or perhaps the life of the mother who chooses to keep it. Because when the mother's life is affected badly, that can in turn badly affect the whole life of the child she birthed.

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  3. Hi Sue, I didn't realize you were catholic, another thing we have in common.

    The abortion subject is a sensitive one especially in my area of the country and since I have never been pregnant I try not to think about it. As a young adult in NY I was adamantly pro choice but as I have gotten older I really am not sure what side of the issue I stand on – I wonder if my changed views have to do with the influence of living in the “bible belt”? Personally I would not have an abortion but I wonder who am I to tell another woman what to do with her body/child, but, of course, it is against the law to murder born children so I understand the pro life proponents are protecting the unborn, who can't speak for themselves. My mother aborted her third pregnancy because she refused to bring another child into the home with my abusive father and I find it interesting that to this day says she is ok with her decision.

    I admire you for being comfortable enough with your stance to publicly support your opinions. I have a difficult time taking my opinions public on most things as I don't like to get into a debate and sometimes think I am too middle of the road.

    I had a dream last night that I was pregnant, ugh, that hasn't happened in a long time. I am 43 and still menstruating but my husband is 56 with three grown children, expecting his first grandchild in January, money is tight for us since my biological clock kicked in and I think it would be unwise to take on additional debt for artificial means to bring a child into the world – my husband had a vasectomy so we were going to do a reversal at one point although chances of it resulting in a pregnancy are slim at least I feel like I would have put it in God's hands if we “tried”. My husband is willing to have the vasectomy reversed but I am still ambivalent which is a theme throughout my life.

    I tell myself I will get through this not having kids thing as long as I have my husband and if something happens to him while I am still healthy I will foster/adopt so that is my way of rationalizing the situation for now but I wonder if in 20 years I will regret that I let $10,000 of debt stand in the way of helping this be a possibility? I guess I won't know until it is too late.

    Thank you for your blog, helps to know I'm not alone.

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  4. Ladies, thank you for your comments. I apologize for the delay in getting them online. I am involved in a family emergency and can't get online very often right now.
    Now, Anonymous, thanks for speaking out. I'm sorry I disappointed you, but I get it. I don't believe that holding up a sign will change anyone's mind or get me into heaven. I just feel like such a wuss for not having the courage to do it.
    Annie and Debbie, thank you so much for sharing your comments. As I said in my post, abortion is a touchy subject. Let's just talk about it honestly, even if we disagree.

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  5. Pressed publish too early in previous comment.

    As a mid-forties childless women I'm so glad I never had the need to have an abortion earlier in life. It must, in most cases I'd have thought, add such an extra element of sadness to being involuntary childless. The closest I came to being pregnant was having two embryos put back during an round of IVF. They never implanted though. I sometimes, though rarely, think of how they would have turned out as children and adults if they had.

    I am still pro-choice though as I believe a woman has to be able to choose if she can go through with a pregnancy and birth. I do agree though that sometimes abortion can be seen as a “quick fix” to make a “problem” go away, often by partners or other family members.

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  6. It is a tricky subject, Anon. I think I'm still pro-choice because I know that women in many difficult situations will abort their babies. Keeping it legal offers a way to do it safely. But it's a difficult situation for everyone involved and often leaves lasting emotional scars.

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  7. To the Anonymous who posted on October 22, what an incredibly rude post. I guess you are “pro-choice”. Most of them are incredibly rude about someone daring to hold pro-life beliefs. Makes you wonder how they have the nerve to still call themselves “pro-choice”.

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  8. Anon, she was just speaking her mind. This subject is so touchy. But you've got to wonder why one side is called pro-life and the other is pro-choice, instead of anti-life or anti-choice.
    There's enough anger out there. What we have in common here is childlessness, however we got there.

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  9. I had an abortion at age 27. It saddens me now that I am trying to get pregnant with my beloved husband going through multiple ivfs, but it was undeniably the right choice for me – and I would also argue, for the child. I don't regret it. I certainly believe that abortion needs to be available to women to allow them control over their own circumstances – and those of their unborn children.

    When I choose abortion, I was living on $6,000/year from disability payments due to major PTSD and fibromyalgia (which often correlates with childhood abuse, the reason for the PTSD). I had always been strict about using condoms with boyfriends, but in the case of this particular boyfriend, condoms broke repeatedly (no idea why), and I got pregnant. He was working a couple of hourly PT jobs, and though he was kind and loving to me, he had his own issues and a fear of commitment. We were not in good shape to have a child.

    Later with lots of hard work, my PTSD and fibromyalgia went into remission. I went back to school, and graduated with a college degree. I moved. I started a professional job. I continued therapy for PTSD. I met my husband. We are financially and emotionally stable. We would make good parents. I turned my life around, as they say.

    I would have had an extremely difficult time had I had a child at 27. I would have relied on government assistance not only for myself but also for the child. I would have been a bad mother simply because I was too sick to care for a child. I would not have had the support I deserved from my partner. It's unlikely I would have gone back to school, recovered from the PTSD & fibromyalgia, moved to a better place, met a wonderful man, had many lovely and healing experiences. Most regrettably, that child would have inherited the trauma of my childhood simply by being born to me at that time of my life.

    I actually am grateful for the experience of being pregnant. I suffered tremendous abuse as a child and was even pregnant by rape at age 13, a circumstance which ended through a forced miscarriage. I was terrified to get pregnant later in life. Then, my pregnancy at age 27 felt wonderful and natural. It was healing to be pregnant. I wondered if I would feel badly about the abortion, perhaps later (& fyi, I was raised Catholic), but I have always felt gratitude to the universe – yes, to my God – for the experience.

    No doubt an adamant pro-lifer would say that I could have carried the baby to term and given it up for adoption. I think that underestimates how unstable my life was at that time. I was barely able to take care of myself. Spending nine months pregnant would have been very difficult. Besides that, I don't believe that abortion is an absolute wrong (though it's certainly not nothing). I made my decision, and I have never regretted it. Not one second.

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  10. Mary, Thank you so much for sharing your story. There really are no black and white answers about abortion. Everything situation is different. I hope you and your husband succeed with your baby-making quest.

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  11. Sue, I appreciate you posting my comment, though clearly my beliefs are different than yours and most of your readers. I think women need to talk about abortion. I saw a comment on your blog from a woman who self-identified as someone who would never have an abortion *and* doesn't know anyone who would. That is unlikely, but with her vocal condemnation of women who choose abortion a relative, friend or acquaintance is unlikely to share their experience of their own abortion with her. I don't talk much about my abortion either though I'm fine with it, because I don't want to deal with the projected shame coming from the kind of people who stand outside abortion clinics with sanctimonious signs. Abortion is an ethical issue that needs to be debated in our society; women don't need to be shamed when they choose it.

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  12. Just one more comment, in case I was misunderstood. I have no issue with you holding a sign that makes your position on abortion clear. That's free speech. When it's done in front of an abortion clinic, I feel that the intention is to shame women choosing abortion. A decision to hold the sign in front of your church is more complicated since in that case your choice of context does claim moral (perhaps Godly) authority in your answer to the issue. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I wouldn't call it sanctimonious.

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