Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why I stopped reading pro-life newsletters

All who visit this blog regularly know how strongly I feel about the pro-life cause. I get updates from pro-life websites and blogs, subscribe to pro-life newsletters, usually don't remain silent when a discussion arises, and sometimes write about pro-life matters here.

As soon as I was old enough to understand what abortion truly means, I was horrified by this gruesome procedure. I couldn't and wouldn't take it as anything but the destruction of human life, of motherhood, of compassion, of everything one should hold dear. This was true even before I became religious, and it makes perfect sense to me that every human being can only be appalled and repulsed by the very thought of killing a child. But of course, my religious beliefs only strengthened my convictions on this matter.

As someone who was born despite her father's wishes, I soon realized that the pretty phrase "every child should be a wanted child" actually means the following: it's alright to label a child "unwanted" - whether it refers to circumstances such as the mother's young age, unwed status, or poverty, or to "abnormalities" found in the child prior to birth, or to simply not having a spare bedroom - and it's alright to kill such an "unwanted" child by pulling him out of the mother's womb limb by limb, and go on like nothing happened.

Like I said, I always felt strongly about this. But now that I'm carrying a precious child myself, in the safe haven of my womb, I lack words to describe how much more painfully I feel for every poor mother who was convinced, coerced and pressured to forgo the joy of giving life and replace it with an empty pit of despair - most often, feeling that she has no other choice.

Before, the horror was bone-chilling; now, it's nearly impossible to bear. I burst out crying when I read my pro-life newsletters. I feel each story so deeply that I dwell on it for days - and there are just so many, too many, to encompass in my mind.

That's when I decided I need to put some limits to this. I still read and participate in discussions about the general concept, but as soon as it becomes too personal or too graphic, I can't bear it and I'm out. Especially as I'm in danger of someone unexpectedly supplying a link to graphic images, not thinking they might be seen by sensitive pregnant women or new mothers.

So, I took a break from reading pro-life newsletters. For my emotional health and for the sake of my unborn child, I feel I cannot do otherwise right now.


Anonymous said...

how much more painfully I feel for every poor mother who was convinced, coerced and pressured . . .

I wouldn't assume that women who abort are angels who have been victimized by mean men or overbearing feminists. (Indeed, coercing someone into an abortion is one of the unfeminist acts I can think of. Pro-choice means the woman's CHOICE must be respected, including the choice to bear a child.) Most women who abort have made a free choice. The moral responsibility for the decision to abort lies with the woman herself.

-- Pendragon

Mrs. Anna T said...


I'm on the same page with you that the women involved are, of course, responsible. But I know for a fact many have the situation presented to them in a way that makes them believe they have "no choice". A woman seeking an abortion often feels as though she's trying to get out of a trap - a description of great emotional distress. Those who influence her at such moments are responsible as well.

Marianne said...

Mrs. Anna,

Once again, a thought-provoking post. I completely understand. I work in law enforcement and when I was 8 months pregnant, I went to a meeting during which an horrific crime was discussed (with photos, as well), involving a 9 months pregnant woman and the baby in her womb. Unfortunately, I was unable to get up and leave the room. The pictures and victims still haunt me, nearly a year later.

Pendragon --- I believe we should hold hearts of compassion to women who choose abortion (I don't use "choose" lightly, but could not think of another way to say it.). In America, our culture tells them that it's their right and often women are coerced, at least led, to have abortions. While I believe it's something I could *never* do, I believe we should open our hearts to those who make that choice. Quite often, they very much regret it and mourn that loss.

The Quiet Life said...

I so totally understand your position. Call me sensitive, but I myself have had to keep things like this at a distance. For my own sanity and peace. I am no good to my own children if I am an emotional basket case.

Gothelittle Rose said...

Pendragon, an estimated 30-60% of women believe they were forced to have an abortion, and 80% of them say they would not have had one if they had even a single supporter. The 30-60% include cases that vary from kidnapping to spousal abuse designed to induce miscarriage to facing loss of job and/or shelter unless they agree to go through with it.

Though not all women in that situation are 'angels victimized by men and feminists', I think there's a sufficient percentage to have cause for concern.

Anonymous said...

That's why I've never subscribed to them. Yes, we need to be aware and know about specific issues so we can pray for them but there needs to be a limit. I don't understand why they choose be so graphic sometimes, I'm extremely squeamish.

Lizzy F.

Kacie said...

I'm pregnant and I, too, am pro-life. I am avoiding anything that might be especially jarring at this time.

I think pro-life protesters should remember that when they march on the streets with graphic signs, they should remember all of the pregnant women and all of the mothers who have lost children.

It's a difficult site for many to see, but especially difficult for those women, I'd think.

Anonymous said...


Just to clarify: I am pro-choice. I absolutely empathize with and feel compassion for women who face unwanted pregnancy, regardless of the choice they make.

My comment was not intended to express a lack of compassion for women who make the choice to abort. Rather, it was intended to affirm that, by and large, these are women making rational decisions for their own well-being and/or their families. Women do not lose their moral decisionmaking ability just because they are pregnant and facing difficult circumstances.

-- Pendragon

Raquel said...

I have lurked her for some time, and I feel I must speak on this issue a bit. As someone who was pressured at one time to have an abortion and chose not to. Granted, I was no angel, or I would not have been in that position to begin with. The fact that I did have supporters swayed my decision and I am so glad that I made the decision I did. My son, though grown now, is very precious to me. As a consequence, I am very much pro-life. There are thousands of couples who are unable to have their own children. Much love, Raquel XO

Anonymous said...

Me too - when I became pregnant I found I really had to be careful about what I read and watched (no more news or Law & Order, for example). I think it's the flip side of the extreme joy of pregnancy - knowing suddenly how much you (or any other mother) really has to lose is terrifying - even thinking of it for a minute is heartbreaking. At sixteen months postpartum, my skin is not showing any signs of regaining it's original thickness either - it's a fundamental change, and probably a huge part of why women are in some ways the "weaker" sex - there are some things that just can't be calmly and logically viewed or considered, because now you're empathizing with every other mother and child on the planet. It's also part of what will make you a wonderful and compassionate mother.

Bethany Hudson said...

I remember feeling this way when I became pregnant with Sophia. What was once abhorrent became utterly terrible. I agree with you about abortion, Anna--it's even bigger and more attrocious than ending a single, innocent life. It is destroying our entire society's concept of human life and dignity. As Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, "The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing between."

Anonymous said...

You are a mother now, Anna, and your heart will never be the same. For the rest of your life, you will feel all these kinds of things much more deeply than you ever knew before. :)

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

I have always avoided such publications and actually do not go to any pro-life websites as a rile since going through multiple pregnancy losses, as the pictures seem to appear without warning sometime.

Sadly I cannot avoid the people on the streets who feel it necessary to force their sick pictures on myself, my child, and the numerous others in the area. Several times I have asked them to get away from me, stating that need to get away from my child, but they still flash their pictures our way. We live in a very liberal area and politics are *everywhere* but I have NEVER been approached by a leftist protester when I have been with Peapod. Funny that they can have enough respect to leave us alone yet those care claim to care about the dignity of human life do not. :o( I'm pretty sure you read my post on the subject awhile back, Anna. Oh how I wish my husband's experience had been an isolated incident.

Anonymous said...


I couldn't read some of that stuff while PG either, or right after my babies were born either. I tend to stay away from upsetting stuff at those times, and I think you're doing the right thing.

I unfortunately know several women who have had abortions. Most of them have felt for various reasons like they had no other choice. A cousin, who wanted to keep her baby, was told by her boyfriend she HAD to have an abortion or he would leave her (she was only 18 at the time, he was older). After the abortion, he left her anyway. That was 28 years ago, and she's had 2 children since, but she is STILL emotionally scarred by her decision. It's really, really sad.

I don't know any women who have had an abortion who have escaped without much emotional distress.

On a much happier note -- congratuations to you and hubby on a little girl! How precious!


Luvs2BMommy said...

Dear Anna,

You feel it that way because God is working on your heart and moulding you into a Mother :)

I was the same way with both my pregnancies. I stayed away from ANYTHING that upset me. It felt safe for my babies.

Many Blessings :)

Candylei said...

You are blessed with a heart, mind and body with emotions. It is such a beautiful thing. We don't like sadness much, but sometimes reading about others actions helps us to have a bigger heart. Maybe we don't understand them or their actions, but boy are we going to protect our own kids!

Analytical Adam said...

The only thing I must add here is that there are cases where the father wants the child and the mother does not and sadly there is nothing the father can do about it and we should feel for men that lose children they wanted because of women who listen to everybody else except their husband and we should be angry at women that don't want to listen to the husband and/or the father of the child. If the case was reversed you may not be here but it is sad the men have little they can do about it. THat is one of the issues as well as fathers have absolutely no say in this which is VERY WRONG. I understand the women is bearing the child but the torah clearly differes from pagen religons that only give rights to mothers because they bear the child. This applies to when women ask questions to Rabbi's some Rabbi's don't really care what the husband thinks and it is wrong.

I do agree that some women are not told all the facts and sometimes coerced but it is sad that many men and women have been taught very little sense of morality (althoguh they may keep some ritual observance) that if someone told them to do it they wouldn't question it.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Adam, you raise an important point: yes, there are instances when the father wants the child, but cannot do anything about it. I believe it's a serious violation of the father's rights.

Anonymous said...

Adam does raise an interesting point. Most women who are considering abortion DO consult with the husband or boyfriend. But ultimately, I think the decision has to be the woman's because SHE is the one who must go through the very difficult and debilitating process and health risks of pregnancy, and the great pain of childbirth. It would be a serious violation of HER rights if the husband or boyfriend or government could force her to do so against her will.

Folks like Adam will often turn around and argue that fathers should then be able to opt out of child support. This ignores the fact that the right to abortion is based on the right to control what happens to your own body. Paying child support is not the same or equivalent to as undergoing pregnancy and childbirth. Also, neither the man OR the woman gets to opt out of child support. If a woman is forced to bear a child, she also MUST provide support for that child.

-- Pendragon

Gothelittle Rose said...

Pendragon, though a pregnant woman does not entirely lose all moral bearing when she becomes pregnant, neither is she completely and fully rational. This isn't meant to scoff... a pregnant woman, especially in the first trimester, is handling an incredible flow of hormones that is changing her body in incredible ways.

Just as we might hesitate to label fully rational all the decisions of a person who has just started taking a powerful mood-altering medication, we might hesitate to use the same term to apply to pregnancy. Of course, people vary...

...But I, fully and entirely pro-life, in my first trimester with a greatly desired and planned pregnancy, with full support and love of husband and family, found thoughts of abortion intruding both times. I know myself, and I have perhaps a greater disconnect between logic and emotions than many people. I know those thoughts and feelings were not ME. How many other women, how many other people, make that distinction?

Lily said...

I agree, I am a staunch pro-life supporter and witness. Since I was old enough to understand, and forced to face the issue head on by a friend who asked me to accompany her to her abortion, I have spoken out. I do what I can to educate, I have protested, said Rosaries in front of abortion clinics, walked in peaceful demonstrations (walk for life) but I have yet to view the infamous abortion videos, become very distressed at photos, and always have. It doesn't surprise me to hear you feel this way. It is okay to avoid some of the propaganda, the type you cannot handle. Ever since having children I've not been able to handle any stories, movies, news reports etc about children being harmed through crimes or injustice. It makes a mother's heart ache. God bless you.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Pendragon, as you and I well know, it's impossible to take a pregnant woman and make her - puff! - un-pregnant. The baby is here, and will come out of her womb - whether alive, or dead and dismembered by the horrible procedure of abortion. The risks of abortion far outweigh those of normal, healthy, routine pregnancy and childbirth.

If a woman feels she cannot raise her child, there are many wonderful childless couples with empty arms and open hearts, who long to hold and raise a baby. Here in Israel we have so many families willing to adopt that people wait for years or go abroad to adopt babies.

Gothelittle Rose said...

Pregnancy is not a "debilitating process". Sure, it throws you for a loop in the first trimester and tires you out in your last, and then there are a few hours (in most civilized countries, less than a full day) of labor and then it's done. By the time a year passes, you're back to tricks, even if you breastfeed! Even extra annoyances that some women go through (for me it's sciatica, for my mother it was gestational diabetes with her last) vanish like mist as soon as delivery occurs.

It's not that hard to catch or do something that results in months of recovery time. Very, very few of these things approaches the recovery level post-pregnancy. Before arguing the 'debilitating' side, try having a metal pin put in your hip. Even that often doesn't result in permanent disability.

Why do so many people refer to pregnancy as if it were a disease, a terribly tragedy that no woman should have to undergo? It's natural! We've lost sight of 'natural' between city streets and climate-controlled buildings, where the sight of meat neatly displayed in shrink-wrapped packages grosses people out and an apple isn't an apple until it's sprayed with pesticide and waxed on the surface. Pregnancy is natural, and it is neither possible nor healthy to isolate ourselves from nature fully and permanently.

As life changes go, pregnancy is very much on the low-risk side, especially in this society. After all, what are we afraid of? Sagging body parts? That's going to happen anyways. Mild incontinence? That's going to happen anyways! Pregnancy even drops the risk of many diseases and conditions that ARE "debilitating" as an extra benefit.

So no, I'm not even at the level of challenging the assertion that it's utterly fair to let women keep or kill their babies as they please without giving the fathers the slightest choice, whether it be financial ruin or witnessing the death of their own children. No, first I challenge the assertion that a normal pregnancy and childbirth is sufficiently "debilitating" to merit this level of concern.

Anonymous said...

You are right to want to stay informed, but clearly an overload of information of this kind can harm you....robbing you of the joy you should feel in your own circumstances, making you nervous & tired, etc. You have nothing to feel guilty about, Anna, for choosing a more soothing path for your mind & heart right now.


Anonymous said...

I don't quite understand Adam's logic. If the father should have the right to insist his unborn child be born, then it follows he should have the right to insist it be aborted? I'm sure that's not what Adam meant, but it's the next logical step.

I believe in equal rights for men and women. But we operate in different biological realities, and in some spheres have different rights. When it comes to fertility, women have more of a say because they are those who will bear the brunt of the burden. I don't consider pregnancy debilitating, but as someone who's had 5 babies, I can tell you it is no picnic, and yes, can change your body forever.

For the record, I am against most abortions, or at least those done when the fetus and mother are both healthy in mind and body. I would not want to see abortion outlawed though; it would not solve the problem. I think more education about birth control and more enlightened (and not brimming-hellfire-scary) dialogue about alternatives could drastically reduce the number of abortions. In Israel, there is an organization that counsels women considering abortions and provides those in need with all the baby stuff they need (crib,etc)....we need more like that.

PS....women remain logical human beings throughout pregnancy!! Soon we will have people telling us we can't make decisions because hormones affect us during pregnancy, or even during our monthly period. Men are affected by hormones all the time (I will not expand there) and yet are still considered rational beings.

Coffee Catholic said...

I'm the same way Anna. I stopped reading so many pro-life things a few years ago ~ it was all giving me nightmares!

Kristy Howard said...

I remember, after the birth of our first baby, sitting and rocking our tiny little angel... and crying simply at the THOUGHT of someone aborting a precious baby. Don't apologize for what you're feeling right now... embrace that protective nature of motherhood. ~Kristy

Ahuva said...

"In Israel, there is an organization that counsels women considering abortions and provides those in need with all the baby stuff they need (crib,etc)"

I saw a flier for this organization over shabbos. I really wish more people promoted organizations like this. Honey is so much better than a stick! If we want fewer abortions, we need to work on providing people with happier alternatives-- such as that one which provides emotional as well as financial support. Threatening doctors and outlawing abortions doesn't do anyone any good.