I turned in my primary election ballot this morning. Folks can still request an advance ballot until tomorrow, or they can vote early at the courthouse for another week. Election day is August 2. For those who might be confused about the amendment issue on the ballot, I think it boils down to whether you trust the legislature to protect the health and future of everyone, or just the unborn? In other words, what would you want for a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim? As I think about my own innocent grandchildren, ages from 1 to 12, the answer is clear to me. A child at that age should not be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.
Nobody I know is “pro-abortion”. We are, however, pro-choice. Abortion is an option that is tragic, but it is not a simple, right-or-wrong, black-or-white issue. We must keep legal abortion available as an option for women–and girls–in crisis pregnancies.
Before you write me off as a “Baby Killer,” let me assure you I am not. I hate to see anyone or anything hurting. All my life I have befriended the friendless, rescued turtles crossing highways, and taken steps to avoid hurting most other living things for as long as I can remember. (Exceptions: mosquitoes, ticks, and flies.) It is preposterous to think I could choose to end the life of my own unborn child. It’s simply not within the realm of possibilities.
But this is not a simple thing. It’s not a “one-size-fits-all” issue. It is not “one solution for every situation.”
There is not a person on earth who can anticipate all the different factors facing a mother who is considering abortion. Each situation is unique and must be considered individually by those involved—the distressed mother, her family, and the medical team. The rest of us have no right to interfere or to judge.
I come to this realization through a sequence of events unique to my own life. And I wonder, how many of those so quick to condemn other women facing dismal choices know what it’s like to lose a baby?
I do. I lost two. Not through abortion, but through natural deaths. They were both stillborn. The babes would both be 39 and 40 now and not a day goes by that I don’t miss them. They were very much loved and wanted, but it was not to be. I do believe God loves them too and I find comfort thinking they entered his benevolent care the moment of their deaths. We can’t forget what lies beyond.
How many women quick to condemn others for a difficult decision have ever been offered the option of ending a problem pregnancy through abortion? I have. Twice.
After the first baby’s death, the best my medical team had to offer was frequent sonograms during two subsequent pregnancies. They would then recommend an abortion should things start to go wrong.
I declined. Note again: I DECLINED. I couldn’t have opted for an abortion on either one. Instead, I chose not to have any sonograms at all. If something was to happen, I didn’t want to know it.
I am grateful to this day, however, that I was offered the choice. The decision was ultimately mine to make, and nobody else’s. My choice was to cherish every moment I had with my children, for as much time as we had together.
I lost the second baby too. But the third pregnancy, six years later, left me with a precious girl who now has two healthy girls of her own.
I wonder other things about those outspoken critics of pro-choice folks. How many of them have felt the knife-twist of agony to hear that an un-named teenage girl has chosen an abortion for her child rather than allow you to adopt the infant? I have. And I grieved anew for another baby lost. (But I still support her right to choose.)
How many critics have opened their homes to raise a child brought into the world by others? I have. The adoption and the parenting of my daughter proved to be one of the most challenging decisions of my life.
How many have opened their homes, offering shelter to young women wrestling with an unwanted pregnancy? Instead of condemning the unknown young woman who chose abortion over adoption, I became an advocate for girls in crisis situations, offering my home to house them until delivery. I hoped that my actions helped reassure those women that their unborn child would be treasured in an adoptive family.
How many have experienced conversations with a woman who, after hearing my story of loss and adoption, tearfully confessed to ending an unexpected pregnancy years previously. She agonized over her decision and felt a need to apologize to me, an adoptive mom. I offered her my shoulder to cry on and my compassion.
There is nothing simple about this issue. I’ve never encountered a child as young as age 10 who had to confront the question. I have heard, though, that there were recently three 11-year-olds in my state whose parents sought to end their pregnancies. It should be an individual choice, not something politicians can dictate.
I’m glad I was offered a choice. I chose life for my children. It was God who had other plans for some of them.
With the temperature of our planet climbing beyond the point of no return, there is much more to be concerned with now. I choose life again—life for all of us, born and unborn, children, youth, adults and the aging, people on every continent and island nation, the threatened species on our beautiful and diverse planet.
Preserve individual choice with compassionate support for distressed mothers and let’s move forward. We have a lot of work to do. I am not a baby-killer. I don’t want to be a planet-killer either.