Abortion: Agony and New Life

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"Trust women"
—Dr. George Tiller, obstetrician/gynecologist, 1941–2009

Two realities about abortion: first a woman faces an overwhelming stress, so talks with a friend, counselor, physician, pastor, or is reading this. Second, as a Christian I know that Christ suffers with her as Christ supports her in her working through her decision — recognizing feelings about life, about your future, of what you want to be and do.

Abortion decisions are based on your personal feelings about moral beliefs. Since there is no consensus or agreement about the morality of abortion, you decide for yourself — with helpful friends. Each of us decides about abortion in particular situations. Abortion and planning parenthood are your personal decisions.

Some who opposed abortion in principle changed when feeling the pressure of a pregnancy that could be devastating.

When I think life begins
Our oldest child's personality and nature are interwoven with being a red head. Did “life” begin at conception or with the red-head great-great-aunt that affected so much of his —"carrot-top" — personality and social experience? Many of us have traits that go back generations through DNA and are deeply interwoven in who we become. Is life a continuum? Over 50% of conceptions end with miscarriages — most the woman doesn’t realize she had one. How could life begin at conception?

I believe the self begins when taking that first breath and cry at being cut-off from a cozy well-fed environment. The Greek word for birth is genesis — the beginning of creation. Habits of eating, exercise, proper drink, and not smoking affect the fetus. But I believe the personality and the person begin with that first breath as the newborn reaches out for acceptance, trust, love, expressed in caresses, care, and words. Your life began at birth!

Religion and abortion
The Bible is not against abortion! Exodus 21 says if someone strikes a woman so her fetus is stillborn, no one is guilty of murder! If the woman is injured, that is a crime! The Christian church throughout its history has been for and against abortion. Major world religions support the right to contraception and abortion as Daniel C. Maguire shows in Sacred Choices. The history of abortion is interesting. The Bible and church history do not say what the anti-abortionists claim.

Children who are not wanted, not loved feel that deep inside! Legalizing abortion reduced crime, because unwanted children often commit anti-social, criminal acts. See the book The Worst of Times by Patricia Miller about pre-Roe abortions, abortion widows, abortion orphans. To legislate that a woman cannot have an abortion, or limit her, violates her first amendment right to her own religious, moral feelings and decisions — distrusts women!

See the results of laws that deny abortion in testimony by Secretary of State Clinton.

Life itself
"When does life begin?" is not the question, but when do you feel that you as a person with self-awareness began? Respect for life has many meanings and implications. What is the balance between concern for the life of a woman and the life of a fetus?

Who is pro-life?
To those who call themselves "pro-life" I ask: how do you compare an embryo in its first weeks to the woman who will either give her all to the developing fetus or neglect it? An embryo the first weeks fits inside the O on a penny! I consider that I am pro life, because I treasure the life of the woman who can do so much to birth a new life when she is ready to respect and parent a growing child.

Let women speak
The majority of women having abortions in the U.S. are mothers who feel they cannot adequately care for another child. An insightful, probing book is Abortion: My Choice, God's Grace edited by Anne Eggebroten. Dozens of women share their feelings, and as a Christian I warmly recommend it. In a film entitled "I Had an Abortion" eleven women, ages 21 to 85, tell their personal, moving abortion experiences. One's abortion was before Roe v. Wade, as was the abortion of the first woman I counseled as a pastor.

This I believe
I believe it is essential that abortions be as safe as medical science can make them, be as non invasive as possible, including medications like Mifepristone under physician care. But I want abortions to be infrequent because safe and effective birth control is widely available and understood. Sex education in schools must be medically accurate and thorough. I want people to passionately share my beliefs:

  • women are people whom we must respect as independent, responsible, colleagues,
  • children must get non-punitive parenting to develop trust and love, acceptance and appreciation, and
  • birth control is healthy, moral, and essential.

To every woman who wants to birth and parent their child we must provide full prenatal medical care and support in parenting.

Post abortion trauma?
Post abortion psychological trauma is claimed by some anti-abortionists. Careful studies show that post abortion trauma is rare, and usually it is the result of pre-existing problems. A woman who had an abortion pre-Roe, very alone, wrote, "The most painful aspect … was that I was never allowed to talk about the abortion — how I felt … no one would hear my pain or my questions." Those who after an abortion feel any unease should see a therapist or supportive pastor. Postpartum depression is frequent — the Houston woman who drowned her five young children, the Carolina woman who drowned her two — but most women find healthy outcomes from postpartum depression. Some religious people try to make those who had an abortion feel guilty. Whatever feelings you have there are counselors and pastors who are not judgmental but listen, encourage, and help you work through questions.

Conclusion
If a woman decides to continue a pregnancy, thinking that is her best choice, then let her give all she has to nourish the evolving fetus. Women facing unwanted pregnancies feel sorrow, anger, wanting to live. When a pregnancy is not celebrated, when it is feared, unwanted, when it is not nourished and medically prepared for, then a woman must make her own decision. If she chooses an abortion, physicians must be available who will administer Mifepristone or clinics that will perform safe abortions, and her medical insurance must pay the costs.

Hopefully she talks with her physician and others who have accurate information and whom she trusts. "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" are not medical facilities, their staff are committed against any abortion, and they give faulty information. Austin, Texas, and other cities require these centers to have signs warning they do not provide birth control information or abortions.

Is Christ pro-choice?
At the beginning I said Christ suffers with those deciding about abortion because I think Christ now lives to bring liberty. Christ suffers as much as a woman deciding whether to have an abortion, because Christ treasures the full life of the woman just as much as the tiny zygote just beginning to develop.

My prayer
May pregnancies become times of expectation and celebration between two partners who can hardly wait for the new life to be in their hands.

Healthy sexuality
For many sex is the only free recreation, and many do not know how to prevent disease or pregnancy. Some teen girls want a baby for varied reasons. Other teens have come to ambitions that require more education or training, so they want to learn careful sex practices to work on those results. I think we need to accept sexuality as a good part of life and how to make it healthy.

Since I have listened to and counseled women with problem pregnancies, I welcome your thoughts and feelings: comments or questions.

Click for thoughts about abortion policies and laws.

 

Copyright © 2008, 2010 John F. Yeaman