What We Can Learn About Abortion from Women Who Choose Life
Abortion is common in our society. So many people see it only as simple medical procedure that quickly ends a pregnancy. The dominant cultural narrative suggests that (almost) no one experiences any negative physical or mental after effects, and that the pre-born are non-human commodities until their parents decide differently. If a woman is in a difficult situation, she is expected to have an abortion. This deeply influences the way women and their partners behave when they experience an unanticipated pregnancy. These factors work together to pressure women into making decisions they wouldn’t even consider if it wasn’t so widely available and socially supported. We want to share some stories with you about how that looks in actual women’s lives.
“I was 22 years old and I had been dating my boyfriend for just about 4 years. We had both recently graduated from University when I got the surprise of my life. I had missed my period for several days and finally decided to take a pregnancy test. My jaw was on the floor when it was positive…I was pregnant. I was completely terrified as neither he or I had secure jobs. I had just finished a job and wasn’t working at all, just waiting to hear back from an interview. And my boyfriend was working, but the job was ending in a couple of weeks. How on Earth could we have a baby without reliable income? How was I going to tell him this news when I knew it wasn’t at all what he wanted? I was extremely overwhelmed but decided to tell him that evening when he got home from work. He didn’t take the news well and thought we should end the pregnancy. At this point in my life, I didn’t have a strong stance against abortion, but I knew I wouldn’t want to ever have one. But I felt so scared and worried about my future. Abortion seemed to be what he thought was best. I booked an appointment and I cried and cried, asking the baby to leave my body before then. They were very dark and difficult days. I kept revisiting the idea of keeping the baby with my boyfriend. He was hesitant as, I knew, he was just as afraid as I was. One night, maybe a week after we had found out, I asked him if even a small part of him wanted this baby. He looked at me and said yes. My heart leapt for joy. I decided to tell my Mom about the pregnancy. She was happy at the news and told me not to worry, she would help me every step of the way. I cancelled the appointment for an abortion and I began to plan a new life than the one I had been imagining before the pregnancy test. Within a few days my boyfriend got a new job and I heard back from my interview and I got the job. My saying ever since is that “babies bring good luck” and I really think they do! My boyfriend and I decided that we would get married before the baby came. We had talked extensively about getting married since we had been dating so long. We began wedding preparations and had a truly lovely wedding. My baby was born on a beautiful August day and the incredible blessing of being a mother changed me forever. I have now been married to my husband for almost 23 years and we have 6 amazing children. My first baby is 22 and she is a tall, beautiful, smart, hard working young woman. I cannot imagine if she had not been born. Her life was meant to be and I would, without a doubt, do it all again in a heartbeat!
Pam’s experience started like the experience of many we come across at The Back Porch: an unanticipated pregnancy, fear, panic, a partner or family member pushing for an abortion, and a woman who feels like she has no other option. We’re glad that Pam and her future husband saw the value of their child, but many others don’t. There may be people in your life in a situation like this. We want to remind everyone that the conversations they have, especially around the subject of pregnancy or parenthood, can be a tool for promoting life. We can fight the culture of death, the culture that makes abortion seem like a quick and easy solution. Make sure that the people in your life know that you love and support them, so that if they experience an unanticipated pregnancy, the first thing they think of is all of that support, not abortion. From working with women like Pam almost daily, we’ve discovered the power of this support. When moms understand that they are loved and valued, it is much easier for them to connect with and see the immeasurable worth of their preborn children.
As an organization that believes all humans are immeasurably valuable, stories like this, where mothers who receive a prenatal diagnosis of a disability then have to sit through trusted doctors and specialists, and well-meaning friends and family, suggesting abortion, seems unthinkable. The next testimony was written by a woman who valued her children from the start, but had to deal with an ableist society who didn’t.
“All three of my children have autism and other disabilities. When my second son was in utero, they found that he would have some problems after birth. My doctor told me because of these complications, I’d have to make the decision about whether or not to abort. I didn't understand why I would need to end my pregnancy just because my baby wasn't going to be perfect. Nobody is perfect. We weren't made to be perfect. We were made to love. God didn't give my husband and me our children because we're special or because we're strong. He gave them to us because He knew we would love them. In a world where being different has challenges, they need love. And that's exactly what we give them.
It’s strange and terrible to us that any time a child doesn’t fit within the norm, ending their lives is normalized and even expected. Make sure to demonstrate patience, love, and understanding with and promote the celebration of people with different abilities. This, along with offering your support to these parents, is another way we can help change the culture.
We should be striving to live in a world where everyone has an experience like Ali’s:
When I first discovered I was pregnant, I got very excited. I had always known that I wanted to be a mother. But I was also a little nervous. I hadn’t yet graduated university, and I didn’t know how this would affect my life going forward. My first ultrasound was scheduled a few weeks later. And when the day came, I was in awe of the tiny, beautiful baby growing inside of me - I could even see the heartbeat! It’s completely remarkable that I was once that same child within my own mother’s womb. I still don’t have everything figured out, but I’ve realized that’s a part of life. It may take me a little longer to graduate, but that’s okay. Every day, I grow more and more excited to finally meet my beautiful baby girl!
Yes, there was nervousness and fear about how a baby would affect life for Ali as she was a student, but abortion wasn’t even something suggested to Ali, she had the support and love that we spoke of above.
That’s what we want for all women, for all parents who’ve entered this time in their lives. That’s what we’re fighting for. To save parents from abortion becoming the first thing on their mind if their situation is complicated or difficult, let’s keep working to make abortion unthinkable!
"… I would like to send a special blessing to women who are expecting a child and, in particular, to those who find themselves in difficult circumstances. To all of them I say: A child conceived is always an invitation to live and hope". H. H. John Paul II, Sunday 25th March 2001)