Same job, different uniform.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Looking for Hope in All the Wrong Places

I've been struggling about how to write this post. We don't shy away from much at girlfriday but there is the possibility of either talking something to death or being misconstrued as indifferent or unfeeling.

With the possible exception of gay marriage, no single political issue seems to strike as powerful a chord with the American people as abortion. It is here that we make a not-so earth-shattering discovery: something important is at stake. As one thoughtful feminist writer put it, "If an adult female were a brick chimney and a human embryo an infestation of insects, nobody would have a problem with abortion. Bring in the exterminator, scrub it out, and have done with it."

It is hard to imagine that many take abortion more seriously, or personally, than the employees of crisis pregnancy centers and abortion clinics respectively. I am inclined to believe that employees of both understand the tremendous burden that an unplanned pregnancy brings to bear on a modern woman. I choose to believe that employees in both clinics are largely compassionate individuals who really believe they have the best interests of the client at heart.

And while compassion in any degree is rarely misguided, it can be misapplied. We may feel compassion for an abused, neglected child who grows up to be a child abuser, but we can hardly condone his actions. There is not any hope or joy or glory to be found in the act of abuse. The hope and joy lie in the possibility of his redemption; in forgiveness by his victims; in contrition; in rehabilitation.

That is why we can unequivocally oppose abortion and those who resort to calling it the compassionate choice, at the same time expressing compassion for women who are either contemplating or have already had an abortion.

A very troubling blog called Abortion Clinic Days can be found here. In it, the authors share anecdotes (anonymously of course) from (various? single?) abortion clinics. One of the writers describes the blog as a place where they "have done a few rants but mostly we have told stories. Our work is mostly stories and the power of hearing them." There is little doubt these writers feel a powerful connection to their patients.

Confronted with these emotionally-charged stories, pity is easy to come by. But the women's stories risk our forgetting what is really going on. Telling their stories doesn't change the fact of the abortion procedure.

Richard John Neuhaus wrote, just today in fact, that, "There is a greater tolerance for evil if it is perpetrated with a long face, furrowed brow, and the requisite wringing of hands." (I commend this very brief article at First Things to you--scroll down.)

This is the story of one patient, as told at Abortion Clinic Days, reprinted in its entirety.
    folks who read these entries can't help but think of the sadness that the women are experiencing as they come for their abortions. it's true. abortion is often sad. but what the readers are missing is that abortion is also a vote for the future. so there is often an air of optimism at the same time in counseling sessions. a woman that i spoke with today talked about how she knew she had to sacrifice the child within her so that her other two children could live. that sounds rather drastic, but is it how many women view their choice. this particular woman, i'll call her shamika, has had a very tough life. at birth she went to live with her grandparents because her mom was, as she put it, "a crackhead". shamika lived there until grandma died and then her mother came to get her at age 13. life suddenly got worse. i will spare you the details, but trust me when i say that she had to leave and live on her own, boarding with whoever would have her. luckily she managed to get a GED while also having her own two kids.

    shamika's goal right now is to get certified in the field she is studying because then she will be able to support her kids, something that no one in her family has ever been able to do. her own experiences have led her to believe that "everyone has a hard life" since that is all she knows. no one has a smooth, easy life in her world. she loves her kids and feels that because she remembers grandma's love for her, she knows what love is and conveying that feeling to her kids is what she lives for. she said, "let's face it. i do not want to have an abortion. but who is going to adopt a black child? i do not want my child living in foster homes and having who knows what done to it." she said that those who have lived in foster care know how awful it can be. and so, she told me, she decided to sacrifice the never born child so that her other two kids can live. her presentation of her story was very stark, but she said that no one who hasn't lived her life can judge her.
[Side Note: In addition to the thousands of women like my mother who love children and would have loved and protected any number of them, most states have "safe harbour" legislation that legally protect a woman who abandons her child at a hospital. It is tragic and frankly, almost impossible to believe, that some women are convinced abortion is their only option.]

    shamika confided that she felt a great war going on inside her, the war between her head and her heart. she said that her heart was begging for the baby to be born, but her her head told her that she and her kids could end up homeless since their lives are very precarious. now, it's true that this is a very sad story. but, if you were there with her in that counseling room, you would have also seen that she is an optimist. she believes that things will be better when she completes her program and gets her job. she is very determined and very dedicated to her goal, that of creating a better life for her kids. her partner has actually been with her since she was 14, more than a third of her life, but she says she cannot depend on him. the only thing that keeps him there is his love of the girls and despite the fact that he is not the greatest partner, he is a great dad. allowing him to stay is a part of what she has chosen so that her girls will have all the possible love they can get.

    so shamika talked of how she was talking to god, hoping that he would understand that she lived her life not for herself, but for her girls, and that her sacrifice of their sibling would allow the three of them to stay together, to keep working toward their goals. i left the session filled with the same hope for her future that she had. she made me believe that she will be able to move her life forward, one day at a time.lou
Let this story disabuse anyone of the notion that women are uninformed about the nature of the procedure. Of her own free will this patient acknowledged that an abortion was the sacrifice, the offering up, the death, of one of her own children. No reasonable adult can deny this.

This is called infanticide and America has sanctioned it. And worse than sanctioning it, we have sullied the virtues of compassion and hope by misapplying them. This is the mark of a true evil: when it is praised. What is worse than terrorism? Believing that its ends are noble. What is more deplorable than slavery? Believing that slaves are the rightful benefit to members of a democratic society.

We ought to be optimists, of a sort. Hope is a great virtue! But looking for it in the act of abortion is like digging for Supernovas in a slough.

Where can we find it? In the lives of the parents of this autistic boy and his peers is one place. You can find it in the courage of foster families and adoptive parents.

Hope is offered to women wrongly convinced that abortion is their only option. There is hope for rape victims who need so much more than solutions; there is even hope for their attackers.

And finally, there is hope for women and their partners who have already made the terrible choice. I hope you read it on the pages of this blog. You won't find it at an abortion clinic.

SHARE THIS: Facebook | Stumble It! | | DiggIt! | Technorati