Monday, August 6, 2007

Grieving with them: thoughts about mothers who lost their children to abortion

[Not for very young readers]

When we hear about a woman who had an abortion, it's very tempting to jump up, point an accusing finger and say: 'What a monster! How could she kill her own baby?!'

Not so fast, though. According to the book I am reading now, 'Making Abortion Rare', 70% of the women who have abortions think abortion is morally wrong. Am I saying it justifies them? No. But it can give us a hint about how a woman that 'decides' to have an abortion really feels: trapped. Scared. Guilty. This is how my mother probably felt when she was pregnant with me. Had she been younger, had it been easier for 'well-wishers' to influence her, I wouldn't be writing this right now.

Here are some thoughts that are possibly running through these women's heads, as they are waiting for their turn at the abortion clinic:
'I wish I could have this baby. Oh, how I wish I could have this baby. But I have no choice. Jack says he's not ready for this responsibility yet, he's threatening to leave me if I don't do this, and there's no way I can raise this baby on my own.'
'OK… this is my final year in college… I can't risk getting kicked out right now! I'm doing what's best for everyone… and I can always have another baby later, right? But then why do I feel so awful? Why am I so scared?'
'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. My parents are going to kick me out of the house if I refuse. Goodbye, my precious one. Please forgive me.'

By accusing these women when they talk about what they had been through and guilting them into silence ("You're in pain now? Serves you right! It was your own fault"), instead of grieving with them and acknowledging their loss – yes, they were responsible for it, but it doesn't make their dead child any less of a loss - we are basically making them stop talking about their feelings, deny them, and harden their hearts. We make them justify what they did. And then what are we causing? We are putting these women in an even higher risk group for abortion.

Did you know that a woman who had an abortion is much more likely to have another one? This is one of the reasons. If their pain isn't legitimate, they can't go through the process of mourning and step up to a higher level of understanding their emotions. They are trapped in a vicious cycle of death, sorrow, anger, guilt and fear. They are hurting. They are in desperate need of God's forgiveness, and they need our help, support, prayers, and fellowship, to get to the point when they can accept it.

26 comments:

Kaeus said...

i've been lurking on your blog for about a week now, but i just had to comment on this.

i have probably different views on abortion to you, but i agree with this post entirely.

nobody (nobody with half a brain that is. i have met some very unfeeling people) denies that a woman who has had a miscarriage will be upset, confused, angry, and in pain, but they either forget, dont realise, or deliberately ignore the fact that a woman who has had an abortion will most likely be feeling the exact same way, with guilt thrown in as well.

the more compassion we show, the more they are able to cope, and realise the enormity of what they have done.

Anna S said...

Kaeus,

Many women who had miscarriages also feel guilty ('had I done something wrong? Maybe if I took better care of myself this wouldn't have happened?), and it's so much, much, much more true about women who have had abortions.

Unfortunately, I met many absolutely heartless people who deny the pain of either miscarriage or abortion. One of them was my public health professor who claimed abortions have no adverse effect on women (OK better stop now, before steam starts coming out of my ears).

Buffy said...

I'm with you on the compassionate approach.

I think it is easy to judge these women but many of them have already got children that they love or go on to have children that they want and make good mothers. They are not totally heartless, most of them don't think there is an alternative.

Before we talk about punishing them perhaps we could think about how we might make it easier for those women to have made a different choice.

Anonymous said...

Also read:

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-mathewes-green012203.asp

Kelly said...

Wow, well said Anna. I agree with you that it seems like we think that abortion has no affect. Or because they've chose this it has no affect. I've known a few women, coworkers, who ended up chosing abortion. Most said they felt they had no other choice in their path. I like what Buffy said about, how to we should think of ways to make it easier for these women to have made a different choice.
In my experience my coworkers said they felt adoption would be best for the child but that they couldn't bear to give the child away so they chose abortion.
As a woman who would love to adopt a baby, I'm confused by this.
I've also done some research that there is still a stigma attached to adoption and "giving away your baby".
It's just all a shame that women who are considering abortions can't get the support they need and ones who've chosen abortions can't get the help afterward.
Kelly

king's_daughter said...

Great post, Anna. Before whenever I heard people argue that we should be more compassionate towards women who have had abortions, it always seemed like they were making exuses for these women, ignoring that the fact that, yes, what they did was wrong. I think you got the perfect balence of compassion while still reconizing that what they did was wrong. But, without always reminding them of it. Does that make any sense??

USAincognito said...

Excellent post, Anna!

Laura H said...

Amen! I have not met a person yet, who has gone through abortion, but I have heard of them, and the emotional pain they go through! I have often said,I would go into the clinic, and persuade them not to get the abortion if I promised to adopt the child, for my own. People have been known to do that, too! That is a way to save the Children!
Laura H

Anna S said...

Excellent link, Anonymous. I encourage everyone to read this!

Kelly, I really think that when we discuss abortions, we should stop viewing them as something that represents liberation and women's rights. Abortions are horrible. They hurt women. And the so-called 'choice', when an irresponsible 18-year-old boy pressures his 18-year-old girlfriend to have an abortion and moans about how he 'isn't ready for serious commitment' (obviously committing to abstinence was never an option...) - I'm sorry, but I think it should be made illegal.

And I really fail to understand how killing one's baby can be better than putting her up for adoption. So many people I know have waited for YEARS to adopt a healthy baby, and in the end traveled to China or Ukraine and adopted children from there. They had lots of love to give to those 'unwanted' children!

King's daughter,

We should hate the sin, but love the sinner! No contradiction here. :)

USA,

Thanks! This was inspired by the book 'Making Abortion Rare'.

Laura,

I know that if I were a childless married woman, I would love to adopt not one child, but many, and have a wonderful big family! Just like one of my cousins has. Maybe I already mentioned it. She married a widower with 3 adopted children, and she had 2 children herself from a previous (abusive) marriage. All those children, whose future looked gloomy, are now growing up in a big happy family with Mommy and Daddy!

Anna S said...

What an eye-opening article (the link above)

"Women were expected to do the sensible thing and save everyone else a lot of fuss and bother. Overnight, unplanned pregnancy became her private problem, a burden for her to bear alone."

GO women's rights and liberation! This is pretty much why it's so easy for fathers to abandon their children these days ('it's her fault she didn't take care of that in time!').

Anonymous said...

Another link regarding abortion statistics:

Reasons given for having abortions in the United States

http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/abreasons.html

It's a very large article but will help you get an idea of the circumstances under which women choose abortions. May be informative for you and other readers of this blog.

Anonymous said...

And a shocking news article from today regarding teenage pregnancy/abortions.

The girl of 18 who has had SIX abortions

It seems that abortion is being used as a form of ultimate birth control.

Anna S said...

Thank you for this interesting, informative article! Long one but worth checking out.

Anna S said...

I had a classmate who had several abortions, her first abortion was when she was 13. What a tragedy. I wonder where she is now.

Anna S said...

... and this is precisely why our compassion and support are so much, much needed.

Anonymous said...

It's so sad to think about, isn't it? I guess it is all too easy to assume we know the motive for abortion, every time. But the fear, anxiety, & despair some girls & women must feel...the sense of being trapped with no other way out...compassion is surely the better way to deal with their burden.

Brenda

Anna S said...

Brenda,

Without compassion, we can't call ourselves true believers!

Shelley said...

I had a friend who was forced to have a "theraputic" abortion when she was 14. Her mother told her if she didn't go through with it she would kick her out of the house and into a group home. My friend went through with it, but told me later she tried to back out during the procedure and they had to sedate her. After she came home her mother met her at the door with her bags packed and threw her out anyway. She ended up living with her boyfriend, married too young, had more children (nearly died in labour with the first due to a "physical abnormality" caused by the procedure) and divorced at 24. When I see Pro "choice" advocates I tell them my friend's story and how their "right to choose" obviously didn't apply to her. God bless you for seeing the other side of the story.
Shelley

Kaeus said...

yes, theres guilt attached to miscarriages as well, but i imagine its a different sort of guilt if that makes sense. rationally i KNOW there was nothing i could do to save my baby, but i still feel guilty, no matter how many people tell me i shouldnt.

a woman who's had an abortion doesnt have that. she knows exactly what she could have done to save the baby, and for me, that would make the pain that much worse too.

i dont understand how women can go and have so man abortions, but i also know a girl whos done it. i think we counted 7 before we were out of highschool. if someone had sat with her and told her the pain was real, and she wasnt stupid for feeling that way.. who knows what would ahve happened?

PandaBean said...

'I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. My parents are going to kick me out of the house if I refuse. Goodbye, my precious one. Please forgive me.'

This one made my eyes well up with tears. I call Amelia my precious one; I don't know what I would do if anything were to happen to her.

Kelly said...
"In my experience my coworkers said they felt adoption would be best for the child but that they couldn't bear to give the child away so they chose abortion.
As a woman who would love to adopt a baby, I'm confused by this.
I've also done some research that there is still a stigma attached to adoption and "giving away your baby"."

How is killing their child "better" than giving someone the opportunity to take care of them? I can only guess that it's because the baby remains nameless/faceless to them, wereas if they were to actually see the child, they could be afraid of bonding. Bonding could also occur during the pregnancy, so that could also make it difficult to let go, even if the agreement is to not allow the birth mother to see the child.

God have mercy on us all.

Anna S said...

Shelley,

I can imagine what so many, too many people would say if you said she should have had the baby at 14. 'What? Such a young girl?! Ruin her life?? You legalistic judgmental evil person!' - yet it is abortion that ruins life, not children.

PandaBean,

I think that the temptation to get an abortion comes from wanting to press the 'rewind' button. Sort of 'undo' the pregnancy. Only it never happens. Once you're pregnant, you're pregnant, and you have a child inside of you, who will come out of you, either alive, crying as she draws breath in her precious little lungs, or dead and mutilated by a heartless abortionist.

Anonymous said...

A related article regarding the increase in teenage pregnancies/abortion:

Meet the pre-teen beauty addicts

At nine, Bethany doesn't 'feel right' without fake tan. 11-year-old Belle waxes her legs. Karolina, 10, won't leave home without scent. Harmless fun? Or proof of the insidious sexualisation of our children?

-----

Well abortion not only hurts women, but can hurt men too. There have been rare cases where the man wanted the child and to have a family, and was even ready to raise the baby as a single father, but his girlfriend/wife chose abortion...(Like pro-choice feminists say : 'my body, my choice')

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PS: Great discussion on this blog. I don't usually comment on blogs but here I've contributed thrice already !

Anna S said...

Thanks for the link. Very disturbing. In my opinion, sexualization of very young girls, promiscuity, abortions, secular dating and easy-go divorce are all apples from the same tree: our society's reckless attitude towards sexuality and intimacy. It doens't hurt only women, of course. It hurts all of us.

Buffy said...

How can we sexualize our 10-year olds and then demonise peadophiles? If you send your pre-teen daughter out looking like a prostitute what sort of signal are you sending to all the men out there who already struggle with inappropriate feelings?

Anna S said...

Buffy, I remember a video I watched the other day (found it on 'Homeliving Helper'), in which the following was said: if you're dressed like a policeman, you can expect to be taken for a policeman. If you're dressed like a cheap woman, expect to be treated like one, too. And it's ten times more horrible when we're talking about teenagers and even pre-teen girls, who lack the common sense to evaluate the damage they are causing themselves.

Anonymous said...

I recall being in home-ec in high school, maybe 6 years ago, and overhearing several of the other students discussing among themselves their multiple abortions. Their reasons? In my school, pregnant girls and mothers were barred from being a cheerleader, majorette, member of the flagline, or taking part in the Homecoming pageant. These girls openly admitted to having abortions BECAUSE A BABY WOULD ERASE THEIR CHANCES OF BEING HOMECOMING QUEEN.

I agree heartily with your post, but I have such a hard time reconciling compassion with that sort of murderous nonchalance. It's a thing I have struggled with for a long time. I guess it doesn't help that my mother gave birth to me 2 months before her 15th birthday. I believe it is only the Godly influence of my grandparents that preserved my life. I know this colors my feelings on the matter, despite my efforts to restrain them.