I hope that by the end of this post I have caused a little contemplation on both sides of the debate. Over and over again all I see is violence and defensiveness when this debate comes up. The intelligent and compassionate conversation is drowned out by the voices spitting shame and anger from both sides.
I drive past the hospital and on a fairly regular basis there is a small parade of people walking the street with anti-abortion signs. I see billboards on the highway and tons of posts on facebook and other social media sites. It is everywhere. Some are simply portraying a desire to stop abortion, but some are unbelievably graphic, shame and guilt-inducing, as is the one found at the URL below.
I have a few questions for you. As you stand there in total angry judgement, do you think about the woman who was forced to have an abortion when she was a teenager? Have you thought about the trauma you may be causing without any opportunity at all to bring healing? Have you thought about the current teenage girl or the young woman who has been told she will have to move out if she doesn't end her pregnancy? Have you considered those who have already made this choice, or had the choice made for them, and the depression and guilt you could be causing? This is bullying. Period.
I was a pregnant teenager. It was terrifying and humiliating in a way you can not possibly understand until you walk the hallways of your high school and hear, "slut" whispered behind your back. It's incredibly hard to wake up every morning, and choose to enter that place. But you do it knowing that finishing high school will make a huge difference to how the statistics of your life play out now that you have put yourself into this position. Living in a small town with the physical evidence of your wild teenage choices out there for all to see and judge is no cake walk. Telling people (parents, teachers, pastors, friends), "I'm pregnant" makes your mouth instantly dry.
I am so grateful that I was in a committed relationship that evolved into marriage and more children. I am in awe of my parents whose response was to hug me and care for me through that time. I am so glad they allowed me to make the decisions about how my pregnancy would proceed including allowing me to get married at seventeen. I am exceedingly aware that my experience is not a common one and that the statistics for pregnant teenagers are dismal in regards to poverty in particular.
My last thought on this point is to incite you to please consider the method of your message. What if you are standing there with your picket sign and a woman walks up to you and says you have changed her mind, but her boyfriend/husband/parents don't want the baby? What if she will be homeless because you have convinced her not to have an abortion? Will you let her stay in your spare bedroom? Will you befriend her as she embarks on the difficult journey of single-parenting? Will you help her recover from the heartache of giving her baby away if she chooses adoption? Or will you stand there with your sign and say, "good luck to you!" If you can't answer these questions, put your picket sign down. If you refuse to answer these questions, shame on you!
In John 8:1-11. a woman that was caught in adultery was brought before Jesus. He protects her, he shames the men carrying stones to throw at her and, after he has rescued and protected her, after he has kept her safe and refused to condemn her, only after all of that, does he say, "go and sin no more."
Alright, now to the other side of the debate. Shame on you too! You are just as guilty of giving misinformation and causing harm when you claim to be saving lives. I direct your attention to the URL below.
Consider a scenario where a woman is told false information about what her baby looks like and then post-decision, a decision she can not reverse, she realizes that, yes, at 23 weeks a fetus certainly does look like a person. She also realizes that many premature babies born at a similar gestational age are able to survive with the help of awesome medical services? Do you think that may cause some trauma? Or if she is one of those rare cases and is unable to get pregnant or maintain a pregnancy post-abortion, do you think that might affect her overall sense of well-being?
Also, for fear of re-opening the debate, things like this are still happening, "MP Rod Bruinooge introduced a private member’s bill, C-510, that would have made it a criminal offence to coerce a woman into having an abortion. The legislation was defeated on December 15, 2010."
~ cited from arbortionlaws.ca
What?! Of course that should be criminal! If you are pro-choice you should be protecting choice!
If you are pro-choice, you should be battling for the entire truth to be told to women about their fetus' development and all the possible side-effects, both physically and psychologically, of abortion. Choice is only really choice when it is informed.
If you are pro-choice, you should be battling in the legislation for it to be completely and utterly impossible to coerce any woman into an abortion, via any tactic. You should be making sure that decisions aren't being made because of external relational pressures. Choice is only really choice when you feel like you have options.
To both of you, please stop. Please engage in a conversation that is about health and honesty and healing. Please engage in a conversation of real protection. Please stop making desperate women the victims of your arrogant and stubborn refusal to see each other as intelligent people who may have good motives at the core of your misguided battle. Please.
Again, I am grateful that my parents would not have pressured me into keeping my baby, adoption, or abortion. I am grateful that, inspite of probably going against their better judgment, they even let me choose to be married way too young. However, if they had pressured me in any direction, I don't know what I would have done or felt forced to do. If my husband had been a different man, if I was left without any support, I truly hope that I would not have been left to make choices based on guilt, shame or fear.
I am not neutral in this conversation, but I refuse to stand on one side of the battlefield until the damage the battlefield is causing is addressed. We have some things in common. We are interested in health and human rights. We want women to make informed choices and experience healing and wholeness. We want to prevent poverty and abuse. We have so many of the same motives and goals! Let's talk.