This article is about a book that came out in the late 1960’s which was to educate women on human reproduction. It brings up a couple of thoughts for me. First, I do not consider birth control and abortion to be the same thing. There are those who do believe that based on their religious beliefs. If you wish, as an individual, not to use birth control that is your personal choice.
I do not share that opinion. I do not believe, as the Monte Python sketch exclaims, that “every sperm is sacred”. My basis for this is simple biology really. Sperm is produced constantly and builds up. The extra is reclaimed by the body, some comes out at urination, and sometimes during sleep and there’s nothing in these situations a man can do about it. The same is true, of course, of a woman’s egg. Once a month she gets rid of an egg.
Egg and sperm, by themselves, are just unique cells belonging to the individual. It’s not until they join that something interesting happens. Combined, they become a new human being with its own DNA and growth processes, though joined to the mother it is still biologically independent of her as a unique being. Because of this I see laws relating to birth control (which used to exist and still do in some countries) as being illegitimate and any use of this as a means to argue hypocrisy false. Birth control and abortion are not similar.
That leads me to the second thought on this, “Requests for the Handbook were soon after followed by phone calls and letters from women desperate for abortions.” The use of the word “desperate” is highly important to me here. Desperate – that’s a powerful word that highlights a powerful way of feeling – desperation has got to be one of the most powerful human emotions, up there with frustration.
Abortion is an emotional issue but if we are to win the argument it can’t be.
I can get emotional about abortion. I see it as killing innocents and part of my personality, my make up as a male platypus is to protect those who cannot protect themselves. When they have to be protected from their own mother the emotion can be quite intense. This is no less true really of those who get abortions. One of the hallmarks of abortion activists is that they can never allow abortion to a human thing. The thing growing inside the mother must be just a bunch of cells. The courts have said that if it’s more than that then it has rights. So you see this all the time. But the women – even if it’s just deep down – know better. They know that what is inside of them is a baby.
That’s why they can be desperate when they become pregnant. They know that babies come with responsibility and are quite life-changing.
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and think of yourself as a teenage girl, or even a young college student. Someone who might not be in a relationship of any solidity with a man, not married, not even not married but not even dating. Thus are the effects of one night stands and the hook-up culture that exists on some university campuses.
We on the anti-abortion side of the issue rightfully and truthfully point out that it was her choice that got her into this circumstance. We say, make a different choice and you won’t get this result. That much is common sense. We know they know that, but they want to make that choice because – well – sex. But they don’t want to face the consequences of their choice. So oddly enough the pro-choice movement is designed to try the impossible. It is impossible to avoid the consequences of an action. Having an abortion doesn’t alter that, it simply changes the result from having a baby to all the emotional baggage associated with killing it.
Set all that truth aside for a moment. I acknowledge it is true and that the woman in question could have avoided all this quite easily. Not being her, we know that, but our knowing it doesn’t change the situation she finds herself in.
She is desperate.
Making abortion illegal will just increase that feeling of desperation but women are still going to engage in the behavior that leads to pregnancy. So here’s the thought this gives me as I ponder it. If we want abortion to be illegal (and we should) then we must take that desperation into account and stop being judgmental about the pregnancy.
Listen to this song, pay attention to the lyrics. Then we’ll come back to the topic.
The song is about a 17-year-old girl and her marching band boyfriend. She gets pregnant. In the song, they keep the child and raise it together with the support of their parents. I have to admit when I hear this song I get a little teary every time. You will too if you listen to it in the right frame of mind. Think about the people in the song, the kids, the friends, the family, the baby.
For the people in the song, abortion, isn’t an option. Not supporting “their sweet Caroline” isn’t an option. They love her, they love the life that grows inside. The song sings of the young father, “With Caroline and a baby son, at 17 your life’s begun”. Part of fixing the abortion problem in America, indeed the world, is to teach a few principles.
Don’t allow any baby to be unwanted.
That’s the first thing I think needs corrected in all this and the fix is cultural, societal. We must begin to believe and understand that there’s no such thing as an unwanted child. We use that term when the mother doesn’t want the child but that doesn’t mean that no one at all wants the child. Of course I would love it if every mother wanted every child conceived. Then none of this would be an issue. It’s sad that when it comes to babies we have to take the attitude that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” but children are a treasure and we simply need to find the person who values them. The principles of capitalism need to prevail. If I were in a dishonest argument with someone on this issue they would read that and start chanting that I want to allow the buying and selling of babies. That would be dishonest of them. When I say the principles of capitalism should prevail I mean just that, the principles. At its core capitalism is about value. If the mother doesn’t value the baby then find the person that does.
This means adoption. Right now adoption is an available option but it’s not an easy one. For the mother it means carrying to term, going through the entire process of pushing the child out, and the attendant pain, and then giving it away to someone else. At that point she has a lot invested in the child and suddenly it has a greater value. This makes adoption a very difficult choice for a new mother to make.
Adoption is legally complex. I understand why. There are bad people in the world and we don’t want these babies to end up in the hands of such as that. Still, the process could be easier. We spend tax payer money right now on abortion. I would rather see all that money (and more) go to adoption services. I would even support a National Bureau of Adoption Placement. As against government agencies as I am I think that is one we are lacking that we should have. The purpose of government is to protect our rights. I argue that a government agency like the fictional NBAP is a legitimate function of government in that it protects these children. Take $10 or 15 billion from military spending (which is a drop in the bucket) and focus it on providing adoption services that have no cost beyond the tax money collected. Connect it with local agencies for follow-up services so that the children can’t get lost in a federal system. Local and federal working together to protect children.
Pregnancy isn’t evil.
That’s the other issue I see here. America is still rather conservative when you get down to the grass-roots of it. Some parents aren’t like those in the song above, they reject their own offspring who become pregnant and send them packing. This is both religious and cultural. Even non-religious parents work hard to teach their children to make wise choices. When they don’t it feels like a personal failure and an affront.
In the world’s major religions chastity is vitally important. Violating it is one of the greater sins. This can bring shame on the family. Why didn’t they teach their children right? For a variety of reasons I personally support chastity.
I have a saying, something I use frequently, “It is, what it is”. There are other ways of saying it, “let the past be the past” for example or even the line from the AA serenity prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
For me, “it is what it is” is my way of acknowledging that I cannot change what has happened. If you are a parent and your child is pregnant, accept that it has happened. Killing your grandchild isn’t going to change that. That’s the thing about perfection, one fracture and perfection is gone. No matter what you do the thing still happened. You can work to make it right, but you can never make it un-happen.
For some people they connect the sin of being unchaste or the sin of not listening to the teachings of thoughtful parents with the pregnancy itself. They see it as a constant reminder of how it happened. Feminists see a father giving away his daughter at a wedding, or asking his blessing to marry, as a vestige of the controlling patriarchy – and in olden days it might have been – but in modern times it is a ritual that helps the father let go of his little girl. When she becomes pregnant outside of marriage he is suddenly faced with uncomfortable facts having had no preparation for them. She’s not a married woman, she’s still his little girl. That emotion can sometimes wrongfully be transferred to the pregnancy.
Mothers, and grandparents would do well to make the conscious effort to separate the pregnancy from the act that precipitated it.
The baby didn’t’ do anything wrong.
That’s the thing people need to remind themselves of. No matter what the mother did, knew or should have known, the baby has nothing at all to do with that. It didn’t choose to be conceived out-of-wedlock or at a time in the mother’s life when a baby was inconvenient. It cannot choose to be not born. It is life. It will grown. It will mature, it will come out. The only way for the mother to stop that natural process, the process of life, is to kill it. What has it done to deserve death? Exist. It’s mere existence has condemned it to death.
The mother is desperate and afraid.
In all this I go back to the fact that the mother is desperate and afraid. It doesn’t matter if she’s in the situation of her own doing. Okay, fine, she’s to blame. It isn’t our right to punish her for that anymore than it is her right to punish the baby for it. Instead, I submit that as a culture we do everything we can to help her not be desperate and afraid. If we are to say (and we should) that abortion isn’t an option then let us provide her with as many other options as we possibly can and make those other options blissfully easy and simple for her to take advantage of. If the role of government is to protect rights and we pay taxes to help government do that, then paying for abortion should be illegal, but paying for adoption and support should be something we expect from our government. If this nationwide support system were in place – and I don’t know exactly what it would look like – then women would no longer be desperate because they would know just how to manage.