Since I’ve talked about sex, why don’t I just go all the way and talk about abortion? Maybe next, I’ll write about the death penalty!
I read a really well written article by an abortion provider today, and although I realize that most of the people who should read it won’t (because we evangelicals don’t like any rhetoric but our own, and will put our fingers in our ears and lalalalalala at you pleasantly–because that is Tongues for “Die you hell spawn abomination!” not really. Most evangelicals aren’t praying for you to die. They are just praying for God to allow Satan to have his way with you, until you submit to God’s will. Which, if you think about it, is a little bit like your commanding officer allowing you to butt rape prisoners until they tell you what you want to know. Oh my word, I’ve turned into a liberal.) I feel like it is important enough to share.
I worked for a ministry where part of your contractual obligation was a promise to abstain from pre- or extra-marital sex. I’m a by-the-book kind of girl (even though I was misdiagnosed with a spirit of rebellion because I wore short pants and sang Motley Crue songs in the office. What? Home, Sweet Home is an awesome song!) so I felt like if I signed that contract, I should be willing to suffer the consequences of breaking it. I don’t hold that against the ministry at all.
I held up my end of the bargain while I worked there, then I quit working there, met the man I would later marry, and I decided I was absolutely finished with abstinence. Because I needed sustaining with apples and raisins, being weak with love.
I started working for the ministry again, signed the paperwork again, and really did strive to maintain my contractual celibacy, but gave up because B just smiling at me can do awesome and powerful things (I did quit teaching the Singles group when I gave up the fight, because I couldn’t advocate something I wasn’t doing.) Then I spent every fifth week of the month panicking. I spent a whole lot of time worrying and wondering what I was going to do, and a whole lot of time peeing on sticks. I just knew I was pregnant and I would get fired. I would get fired, and I would be shunned. I would be looked down upon as that dirty girl, and that was going to be the end of that. Oh, I also wouldn’t have insurance, or be able to afford medical care, and I could just forget about asking for a donation from the Love Fund, because that was only for the clean.
Likely, if you are of the mindset, you are thinking that either I should have kept my panties on, or if I wasn’t going to do that, I should just have been ready and willing, and delighted to have a baby (because no one should ever have sex unless they want a baby), or I should just have been ready to accept a baby as punishment for not keeping my panties on–because that’s what we are told to think.
We are so, so, so sorry that the woman in question is about to face what appears to be an insurmountable blockade to her future, but she should have thought of that beforehand. And two wrongs don’t make a right. You don’t get to kill a baby just because you screwed up. I know the rhetoric. Oh! And there are thousands of women who are aching to have babies, so you should consider yourself fortunate to have working parts, and should be willing to carry your baby to term and bless one of those women with the fruit of your labor–and in some way, that will redeem you from the sin of pre-marital sex. I really hate that one. It’s like telling your kids to clean their plates because there are children starving in China. It is very Handmaid’s Tale.
Every menstrual cycle was like a miraculous reprieve, but every fifth week, I wondered if I could have an abortion. To save my career, to save my finances, to save my reputation, to save my friendships, could I have an abortion? I never had to find out, but I know a few girls there who did. I was reminded of that when I read this:
“I was with the doctor I train with doing the initial steps of an intake — an ultrasound to date the pregnancy and a full history.The patient says to the doctor, “I should not be here today. I agree with the people out there.” Gestures out window to street. The people at the bus stop???? “The people who are protesting. I think what you are doing is wrong. I think you should be killed.” Oh. Whoaaaa!
So I told my patient what I truly believe, which is: “I’m so sorry that you feel that way because feeling that way has got to make this an even harder decision than it already is. I imagine it must really feel awful to think that you have to do something that goes against your own beliefs.” (Secret inspiration: my own feelings about the situation!) “I know there is no way you’re going to go home feeling you did the absolute right thing no matter what happens today. We are not going to do any procedure until you are absolutely certain that this is what you want. I do not want you to have an abortion. The only that I want you to do is the thing that is most right for you, whether it’s continuing this pregnancy and becoming a parent, or adoption, or abortion.” Then we brought her with her boyfriend to the counselor who talked with them for hours about the spectrum of resources available for not just abortion but adoption and parenting. At my clinic, we joke that we turn away more patients than the protestors do. And although she did end up terminating the pregnancy, the procedure went well, there were no complications, and she told the staff we had been the “most supportive!” I personally thanked her and told her it was an honor to be there for her and still get teary when I think about it.” –Dolores P.
I never had to make that choice, but I thank God (yeah, the same one–the same one who used to command Israel to kill all the women and children in a village, dashing babies to the ground from city walls and all that–that God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Same one.) that the choice was available to me.
Believe me, I understand the evangelical argument. I do. I think it is heartbreaking that not every pregnancy is wanted, because I know how fantastic it is when you’re happy about it. But I also know how agonizing it is when you think your entire livelihood and life are coming to an end because a condom broke. And since I got happily pregnant while I was taking birth control pills, I know a little bit about ineffective birth control. I speak on behalf of all Statistics when I tell you that my then-doctor told me that for some women, that particular pill just “primes their pump.” Maybe information he should have given me in advance? How many women have been in that situation? How many without a great husband, who was also happy to be a parent? How many without the great insurance we had? Or jobs?
I am so distressed by the proposed legislation against womens’ reproductive rights. I am distressed that lawmakers are listening to the testimonies of fetuses. I am distressed that a state nearly passed legislation that would protect those who would murder abortion providers. I am distressed that we are so lacking in compassion, as a nation, that we elect men and women to Congress who would force women into dangerous situations to serve their own agenda.
It would be so nice if I could tell you that I would never have an abortion. I like to believe that I would never have an abortion. I like to think that had I become pregnant after being date-raped when I was 20, I would have been able to face the resulting nine months and new human being, but I don’t know. I like to think that had I become pregnant while working at the ministry, I would have had the courage to quit my job, lose my insurance and medical care, lose my apartment and my car (because no job means no paying for things), and just trust God and the government to take care of the situation–wow, not only have I become liberal, I have become even more sarcastic than before. That last bit was awfully facetious. Let me try again.
I do believe that life begins at conception, and I like to think I would honor that. My heart aches that abortion is ever necessary (and don’t tell me it isn’t ever necessary, because there are always two lives in the balance, not just one.) But I have never been faced with that decision, or the myriad of factors that play into bringing a life into this world, so I can’t tell you what I would do. All I can tell you is that I am desperately thankful that I have a choice, and I am desperately hopeful that women in this nation always will.