Thursday, September 07, 2006

Abortion and the taboos of talking honestly

We're all for honesty ... except in certain areas.

A hesitation to be completely honest is not always for nefarious, puritanical or "politically correct" reasons. Sometimes, we hold back on complete honesty in discussion because we're afraid that our honesty can be used against "our side," whatever it is. Allow that there may be a gray area, and the other side might grab it and say, "See, this proves our point."

Or, we might hesitate to be honest because we feel that it somehow takes away from a legitimate issue.

Or we might hesitate because we worry that putting our honest thoughts out there might overshadow our deeper message.

What's been on my mind is abortion.

I am very much pro-choice, because I am only one person and I know that I have not experienced everything, good or bad, that life has to offer. I haven't been a pregnant 15 year old. I haven't become pregnant through abuse. I haven't ever felt that getting pregnant was the absolute worst thing that could happen to me. And I have never received the news that "we're sorry. Your unborn child has a rare birth defect. He will never have a good life."

So how the heck can I say that no woman should be allowed to make that choice?

Happily, I have never had to make that choice. Twice, we worried that might have to. Both our second child and fourth had preliminary prenatal tests that indicated there might be a problem. But with both, more extensive testing said everything was fine.

In our heads, we felt we knew what we would do. Neither of us wanted to make a child be born with profound difficulties.

And we had Little Warrior, number 4. For 6 months, everything was great. Month 7, she was diagnosed with cancer.

Even in the very worst of the maelstrom, we were able to say that the only thing worse would have been if she had never been born. Even if her little life had ended right then, we knew without the tiniest shadow of doubt that those 6 months were worth it.

So, here's the rub:

Knowing what we know now, if they had told us while I was pregnant that she was carrying cancer cells, would we have continued the pregnancy?

Knowing what we know now ... oh, absolutely. Completely. No question.

But ...

If we did NOT know what we know now ... if we had not gone through the experience and realized that even 6 months is worth it, would we have continued the pregnancy?

I don't know. We don't know.

And that's the honest truth.


kitsunekaze said...

That was something we (husbandguy and I) thought of, too. If we had known babyguy was going to have leukemia, would we have aborted the pregnancy. I had an 'anomaly' in one of my prenatal tests with him, so we had an extra-special ultrasound done, which would show us if he had an open spinal cord defect or not.

he was fine, so no need to end the pregnancy.

This sounds weird, but one of the things I was thinking when he was diagnosed was "at least it's curable." Anacephaly is forever. There's no cure. Babyguy, Little Warrior, all the kids with cancer... it's something that either ends their life (nope, not thinking 'bout that, nope nope nope) or they eventually get over, and move on to a more-or-less normal life.

So if they had told me, I would have known to look for it earlier, but I would have also known that he would eventually get through it and come out the other side.

Even after dealing with all that we dealt with, husbandguy and I think we would have aborted if the birth defect was big enough... but you're right, there is a new perspective on the situation.

take care.


Berrysmom said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. I worked for Planned Parenthood for 6 years before going into the UU ministry, and as the years at PP went by, I became more and more distressed by the absolutism on both sides of the Choice Issue.

I, too, am fervently pro-choice, but I also believe in nuance and gray. And I think we do a disservice to women having abortions if we just blow them off, saying "It's just a clump of cells, not a baby; it's cool." One can still choose to have an abortion--for all the "right" reasons--and grieve and feel sad about the loss.

It was the unwillingness of PP to acknowledge the real loss and grief that upset me the most. Yet I felt I must continue to work for choice, and I still do...

Thanks for your honesty.