Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Abortion and regret

Fascinating article here on the reality that regret "can cut both ways" when it comes to abortion. Delia Lloyd warns us not to forget that abortion isn't the only thing that can cause regret. She describes the personal story of her friend having a child to a man she did not really love, marrying the man, divorcing the man, and ending up as "a divorced, barely functioning single mother who suffers from severe depression."

Her point is this:
I'm writing because... we've gotten to a point where it's no longer OK to talk about abortion as a relief when the circumstances just aren't right for raising a child. For just as Mary Curtis rightly points out that poor kids and kids with single parents -- the ones society often labels "unwanted" because they weren't aborted -- are, in fact, often loved, it is equally the case that middle-class professionals do not always make the best parents.

What should we pro-lifers say to this? We do need to be careful, but I do think it is actually a sign of progress that "it's no longer OK to talk about abortion as a relief when the circumstances just aren't right for raising a child." The words "no longer" are significant. At one time pro-choice rhetoric had such a powerful grip on public sentiment that we were willing to view abortion is just another layer of contraception. The truth is, it's not OK to talk about abortion the way Lloyd wants to, because abortion isn't like that. Abortion is violence against human beings. Without denying that there are real problems for women--even middle class women--nevertheless we need to consistently maintain that violence is not a solution to these problems.

Lloyd herself seems conflicted:
Should she have been using birth control? Absolutely.

Should she have considered adoption? Probably.

Would she be better off without her kid? I'm not willing to go that far. But I will say that the question doesn't have an obvious answer when considered strictly from the point of view of her own mental health.

There is real pain in these words. Questions like these don't have obvious answers in this life, because this world is not the way it should be. It doesn't all come down to personal responsibility, and it doesn't all come down to societal factors. Rather, it is a crushing combination of the two that makes even the most beautiful gift--a newborn child--into a terrible burden.

If you were to ask me whether a woman should ever have to carry this terrible burden, I would say no. And if you were to ask me whether a woman should have the right to an abortion so she wouldn't have to carry this burden, I would say no. And if you then tell me I can't have it both ways, then I will simply point out that is the sign of the world's curse--this is why the world needs redemption.

What can we do practically? First, we can't flippantly dismiss these words:
In short, I'm sure there are many women who've had abortions that they regret.

But ... I'm also sure that there are many women who regret having had children they're incapable of raising.

That's an uncomfortable truth. But that doesn't make it any less true.
But we can deal with these words. We don't have to wallow in despair and pretend that the only answer is more access to abortion. The answers come through compassion. Volunteer pregnancy centers are by no means perfect, but they prove that people are willing to contribute to life-affirming solutions. Perhaps there are far better solutions possible, but we first have to devote some resources to those solutions, which means diverting resources away from abortions.

The message that must be constantly repeated, with as much compassion as possible, is that abortion doesn't solve any problems. Lloyd's heartrendingly honest words are a solemn reminder that the world wants abortion because it feels like the only practical solution to unplanned pregnancy. If we are going to save human lives, we have to offer something better.

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