Saturday, September 12, 2015

My Thoughts on Abortion and Planned Parenthood

I haven't written much about abortion; if you run a search for the word on my blog, you'll find this to be true. I don't know why my hesitation but suspect it comes down to these considerations:

  • Despite carelessness, at times, I've never experienced unwanted pregnancy and therefore can't completely comprehend what it's like, let alone the various circumstances that might cause a woman to want to terminate pregnancy. I have the sense of "There but by the grace of God, go I."
  • I have experienced pregnancy. Five times, in fact. And while pregnancy was worth it, I suffered a great deal in getting my children here. I was very, very sick: nauseous, fatigued, faint. I was twice diagnosed with gestational diabetes and put on insulin shots. My fourth pregnancy ended in miscarriage, and I experienced depression and anxiety throughout my fifth. Pregnancy was, for me, a labor of love. I can't imagine enduring it without joyful expectancy for a baby.
  • Some of my loved ones have experienced abortion and have suffered for it both physically and emotionally. I feel nothing but compassion toward them. I read something recently (wish I could remember where but can't) about how abortion isn't a choice that pleases anyone. It's the choice of a person who feels she has no good options.
  • I know I don't have the appropriate arguments or responses for all the well-thought-out debate points of the pro-choice minded. I just don't. More than one million abortions are conducted every year in the United States, alone; if all unwanted babies were born, where would they go? I don't know that my husband and I are in the position or mindset to foster or adopt...or even open our home to a pregnant woman. Unwanted pregnancy is a complicated issue, to be sure.

Maybe I wouldn't be writing about abortion, now, if it weren't for the recent Planned Parenthood videos. I've watched some of them and read summaries of others, and one thing that stands out to me is the conversation around and treatment of fetuses/babies (particularly at 16-22 weeks of gestation) among Planned Parenthood employees when, in contrast, other fetuses/babies of the same gestational age are being documented and grieved. Recently, I came across an essay on photographer Liz Cook's blog: images of Hudson Barrett Williams, born/miscarried at 16 weeks of gestation, along with tender words about the experience from Cook and Hudson's parents.

How is it possible, I wonder, that the value (or type of value) placed upon a fetus/baby lies only in a person's perception of it? One woman wants what she carries in her womb; therefore, she assigns the highest of meanings to it. She does everything in her power to deliver it safely into the world. If she miscarries, she will grieve it and may have it photographed. If, in her womb, it dies at the hands of someone else, charges may be brought against that individual. Another woman doesn't want what she carries in her womb, so she has it aborted. Upon her consent, someone may assign value to it outside the realm of all emotion.

Emotion. I'm even now in the process of learning not to trust my emotions completely. I'm learning that there is truth outside of emotion, and I believe there is a consistent truth about fetuses/babies. I do not believe the truth changes depending upon the perception of those who carry them, let alone the perception of others.

Perhaps even among Christians we disagree, but when I read the words of David, I believe the Lord created David, also that--if the Lord created David--His hand was/is in creating everyone else, too.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body (Psalm 139:13-16a, NIV).

There are so many things I don't understand, and in fact, more than anything, I would like to understand how and why (if?) babies are assigned. Why is it that so many women experience unwanted pregnancies while so many others experience infertility and miscarriage? I don't ask the question with a shred of animosity in my heart: just sadness. I don't have all (any of?) the answers but--even in confusion and with compassion--can't slide to the left on this issue. I believe life begins at conception, that it is sacred, and that it should not be ended deliberately. I am pro-life.

Based upon the video footage, I would agree with those who maintain that Planned Parenthood has broken the law by 1) receiving more than reasonable payments for human fetal tissue...although this will be difficult to prove because of the subjectivity of the term "reasonable," 2) changing abortion procedures for the purposes of obtaining tissue, and 3) killing partially-delivered fetuses. I'm well aware that Planned Parenthood provides services other than abortion, also that they perform many/mostly legal abortions, but they should be held in some way accountable for breaking the law, and measures should be put in place to prohibit their breaking it in the future.

Meanwhile, I am hoping the Senate will pass 20-Week Abortion Ban later this month.

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