A long time ago — long, long before I ever entered the Crucible, never mind getting Beyond it — I had an abortion.
In fact, I had two of them.
Now, before you leap to any conclusions here … I wasn’t raped (at least, not then). My life wasn’t in danger. I don’t actually know whether the fetus was in any danger or not. I wasn’t particularly young and I wasn’t even unmarried at the time (for the record, I have never been impregnated by a man I wasn’t married to and I’ve only been married once).
I had those abortions very simply because I found myself pregnant with a baby I wasn’t ready for yet.
It was not in the least bit difficult a decision for me to make. I didn’t agonize over it at all. In fact, I didn’t lose an instant of sleep over it. I don’t ordinarily talk about them much because I’m not into being deliberately offensive and besides, it’s really not anybody’s business. On the other hand, I’m not going to pretend, for the sake of some pro-lifer’s sensibilities, that those abortions were hard for me to choose. They weren’t.
I bring this up because of something I read recently (and I don’t remember where, or I’d provide a link) about how the pro-choice movement has allowed the pro-life movement to define the terms of the discussion. I guess because people who are pro-life have a tendency to portray anybody who has a sufficiently callous attitude toward a fetus as some sort of a monster. So now, the pro-choice side talks about how much better it would be to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place so that women won’t have to make the gut-wrenching decision to have an abortion — “the most difficult decision she will ever have to make.”
Most women who get abortions have no trouble at all making that decision. They make it, they carry it out, and then they are ready to walk away from it and get on with their lives. No sweat, no stress and all the better if the would-be Dad helps to pick up the tab. Those women don’t jump up and down and yell about it because (a) it isn’t a big deal to them and (b) they really have moved on. I am one of those women.
So you can ask me how I can live with myself, baby murderer and all that I am, if you like. I can even answer that question.
You see, I was an unwanted baby. It is a terrible thing to be born, unasked, into this world and find yourself immediately rejected by everyone around you, all the people who are supposed to protect you and love you and teach you what you need to know to grow into a healthy adult. It would be difficult for me to describe to you how crushing and crippling that feeling is, and what a superhuman effort is required to overcome it. Many, perhaps most, people who come into the world like that never do overcome it. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
That’s one of the problems I’ve always had with pro-life sentiment. They say that every baby conceived has a right to life but they don’t seem to give a rat’s ass what kind of life it is or what happens to that baby once it’s born. To me, that just seems needlessly cruel.
As I often say, perspective is everything.
Then, too, I don’t believe that abortions deny anybody their right to life because I don’t believe abortions kill souls. They just kill cells. If that spirit is meant to live a life, then it will infuse some other collection of cells and live there instead. From everything I’ve heard them say about their god, I would not imagine he would manage things so badly as to decide to give a soul life and then let us unmake that decision. I mean, yeah, we are supposed to have free will but I’ve never heard that said free will meant we get to tell him what to do.
I hope you can see from all this that I don’t actually find it at all difficult to live with myself, in spite of the abortions I’ve had. And, in case you would feel better if I redressed the balance, console yourself with the reflection that I have had twice as many babies as I’ve had abortions. Even better, I have been a much better mother to the four of them than I would have been if I’d been forced to give birth to babies I didn’t want at a time in my life when I wasn’t ready to have babies at all.
Well, if you weren’t ready for babies, then you shouldn’t have been having sex, I hear you say. And there are two things I can say in response to that. First, I was married at the time, as I said, and therefore had a legal obligation to have sex with my husband. (Yes, fans, at least in New York, you are required by law to have sex with your spouse at least once a year and failure to do so is grounds for divorce.)
Secondly, and far more importantly, my sex life is nobody’s business but mine. If, as I have always suspected, the pro-life position is merely an impulse on the part of a passel of self-righteous busybodies to punish women for enjoying unsanctioned (by their moral code) sex … well, then, I expect you can imagine what I would have to say about that, can’t you?