Monday, September 2, 2013

The Post I Hope I Don't Regret Posting

This may be one of those posts that I write and never publish.  I feel compelled to write it though.  It's political in nature, but I don't really want to talk politics.  These are just my thoughts.  They are not meant to offend, but I don't think it's possible to have this conversation without offending someone.  But it's something I think about quite frequently and am baffled at the political divide I see within the birth community.

My freshman year of college, I saw a video of how a baby develops from conception and throughout pregnancy.  It was very detailed and apparently made a huge impact on me.

A few months after seeing that video, a girl in my dorm asked me to go with her to the health clinic to take a pregnancy test.  As it turns out, she was indeed pregnant.  As we walked out of the health clinic, I started talking about the video, telling her how her baby already had a heartbeat, etc.  She immediately shut me down, telling me she was going to drive to Lubbock and have an abortion.  I have thought about her many times over the years. She left school shortly after and I never saw her again.

Around the same time, I had a conversation with my dad about him wanting me to quit smoking. (I had been smoking since I was 12.)  I remember telling him that the only thing that would make me quit smoking was if I got pregnant. Knowing that all the organs form so early on -- knowing that is how we all started -- I knew I could not expose my baby to the effects of nicotine and all that comes from smoking.  I had also heard that babies born to moms who smoke have a lower birth weight and are often born early. Even at that young age and being a 2-pack-a-day smoker, I felt that it was because the baby wanted OUT OF THERE!  Fortunately, I never found myself pregnant, and ultimately, that is not why I quit smoking.

In fact, I didn't get pregnant till nearly my 1st anniversary, and I was 24 years old.  From the moment I found out I was pregnant each time, I thought of the baby growing inside my belly in nearly every decision I made. Granted, I was very happy to be pregnant each time.

What perplexes me the most with this topic is with birth workers and the natural birth community in general. You all know that I am an advocate for women to be able to choose their care provider, birth place, and how they give birth.  I've had people say to me, "What about cesarean?  What if the mom wants a cesarean and never experience a single contraction?" I admit that I don't like that.  I don't believe it's best for the baby, or the mom. Seems like talking through things is in order rather than having surgery. Maybe I am naive to think that it can be worked through.  But, yes, I realize I contradict myself on her right to choose here.  It's a conflict within my head and heart.

Typically, most birth workers/junkies seem to have an understanding of how a baby develops.  They usually like babies. Listening to them over the years, they usually refer to the "fetus" as a "baby".  We talk a lot about what is best for the baby during pregnancy, etc.

And yet, so many birth workers are rooting for women's right to choose to abort, even late in the pregnancy. Again, maybe I am naive, but it doesn't make sense to me to try to protect the baby, only to support or defend the right to abort.  It really does confuse me.  No matter what the mom's situation, there is a BABY in there.  Is abortion really a better option than helping her work through the situation or helping her place the baby for adoption?  It's only an immediate "fix" too.  There will be ramifications - physical, mental, and emotional.  Yes, they will affect her life, but her life will be affected either way.  Down the road, however, she will know that she gave life.  How can that be a worse choice?

I only know 3 women that have admitted to me that they've had an abortion.  In all of them, it has affected all of their lives for years, especially as they've started their families and have other children.  It's effected their relationships, 2 of which have ended in divorce.  The husbands said she could never get over the abortion.

If we really want to support women, why can't we support and help them -- and their babies -- in choices that allow all to live.  For me, I always go back to education.  I do believe that when people have information, they make different (and usually better) choices.  I simply wish we were fighting for the women AND the babies.


Rachael said...

THANK YOU for putting into words what goes through my head. I just don't understand. I don't get it at all. Thank you!

JoAnna Wahlund said...

Agree 100%! Abortion is a human rights issue, first and foremost. No human being's right to life should be dependent on subjective criteria (e.g., if s/he is "wanted" by his/her bio parents).

It's frustrating how so many abortion discussions are shut down by those who claim it's a solely religious issue. That's why I love sites like, which lays out the case against abortion with no religious arguments.

Mary said...

AMEN! I ignorantly ran across an "abortion doula" online once, not even knowing such a thing existed. I was too much in shock to respond to her intelligently, but what I should have said is that Autonomy is not the greatest thing. Autonomy is only good insofar as it is used to serve the common good. Good of mother, baby, and the larger community. With freedom comes responsibilty. We don't like that part of the equation. Yes, we have rights, but to what purpose? We don't have the right to do what we want just because we want it.

Sara said...

Totally agree. And I think that the rape card is played way too much. Most unplanned pregnancies are a result of poor choices or mistaking fertility awareness, etc. and even if a baby is a product of rape, it's not the baby's fault. And as you say, aborting a baby doesn't solve anything. It tends to create more issues. I know a woman who is vegan and pro-choice. WTH?!!!

Joyful Baby Planning said...

Well said! Couldn't agree more.

Melissa said...

Thank you for posting. As a Childbirth Educator I am there to help moms protect the Child and the Birth.

Dawn said...

I completely and totally agree with you. But the problem is many women WANT the abortion. And any step you take after they've made that decision is seen as trying to push or persuade her to do something against her will. The only way to change this is to change the way our culture views women, pregnancy, children,'s just too big. I can't imagine what would cause a person to want a late term abortion. But then they probably can't imagine thinking from my perspective either. As much as I hate it (and I do!) I have to tell myself that every individual has the right to make the choice they feel they can live with. She might be wrong about what she thought she could live with but it will always have been her choice. And then be ready to offer support afterward. It's really all we can do.

Sara said...

I've thought the same thing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

MelanieA said...

Yes, I think you are naive. Most late term abortions are due to horrible health situations of the baby. My sister had an abortion during her 6th month of pregnancy because they found out that the baby would not live, would not even survive the birth process. They made that choice so that they could get pregnant again as soon as possible. She is 38 and has been trying to have a baby for 5 years, and has had two miscarriages. I think it's sad that someone would presume to judge them before they have walked in their shoes.

Ritsumei said...

My mother was told that her 3rd baby couldn't survive to birth as well. Her doctor, knowing that she was against it, was so sure about the dire prospects for the baby that he still brought up abortion. My folks turned him down, and I'm glad they did. That "doomed" baby is my biggest little brother. He just finished his masters, and is expecting his second child. Thank goodness my parents chose life that day!!

Anne said...

You are all incredibly naive. I've taken care of women who would have died had they stayed pregnant. Women have died because of sepsis from chorio in pre-viable pregnancies. There are women who have medical conditions that carry up to a 50% chance of death from pregnancy. I've also taken care of women who have died in the postpartum period, who had been counseled to terminate the pregnancy and chose to continue. That was their choice, and it is also the choice of women with the same conditions who choice not to continue a pregnancy. As it is the choice of any woman to continue a pregnancy.

Marlene Dotterer said...

I agree that we need to offer more education and support for women if they want to have the baby, whether they put it up for adoption or not. If they keep the baby, they may need assistance for years, and we need to have that for them. Adoption leaves its own deep and lasting scars. I know that from personal experience.

But we absolutely cannot force a woman to use her body in a way she doesn't want. There are all kinds of reasons a woman may want to abort (or need to abort, even if it's the last thing in the world she wants to do). The best thing we can do for that woman is have abortion be legal, safe, and available, preferably without any hint of disdain. Woman who abort need understanding and support just as much as women who choose to carry to term. What they don't need is to have no say in their own lives.

I've always thought it's nonsense to try and "pretend" that it's not a baby in there. But that hasn't made me think abortion shouldn't be legal. Miscarriage happens all the time and we mourn when it does, or breathe a sigh of relief when it does. I did both at the same time when my sixth pregnancy miscarried in the 4th month. I already had five small children and a marriage that was falling to pieces. Yes, I mourned the baby, but you may never understand how relieved I was that the the baby died.

We are complex creatures and fully capable of complex feelings.

So yes, it's a baby. But it's a baby like any other that dies before term. We mourn the potential life the child would have had, but we move on.

The decision to abort is a brave one, not cowardly or lazy as some people think. Yes, some women are careless about birth control. But that's not every woman, and it's no reason to condemn them all or to keep abortion illegal and dangerous.

All anyone can do, is make the decision for themselves, and allow everyone else the same dignity.

Jennifer Valencia said...

Very well said! I especially like how you remind readers here that there will be ramifications for this immediate "fix"

Jenna said...

I had a tubal ligation because I very definitely did not want to be pregnant. The surgery failed (proven later via HSG). That means I got pregnant. I had a medical abortion at 6 weeks. No regrets at all.

jessi bridges said...

I've been meaning to comment on here for a while but just haven't had the chance. I just wanted to encourage you. Thank you for being brave here and writing on this topic.

You are not naive, you are exactly right. I recently wrote a post about how crunchy moms should be pro-life. The disconnect in this area is maddening and frustrating. A baby is a baby is a baby. A "right to choose" what to do with your body has nothing to do with what you can do with your baby. If a woman chooses a c-section, that's fine. It's her body. If she chooses abortion, she's choosing to end the life of a separate person, destroying someone else's body. Not her choice.

As far as the "medical reasons" go for abortion, they are rare. I don't see an argument for abortion on demand simply because some, and when I say some, I mean very very few, have medical conditions in which abortion should be an option. In fact, abortion never has to be an option. Instead, why can't we simply treat the woman for the medical issue? If the baby dies in the process that is sad and devastating but killing it makes no sense. I say, if a life or death issue arises, treat the one who is sick and save the one you can save.

Lastly, to Melanie: I sympathize with your sister. I do. It absolutely breaks my heart that she had to lose a child. I was in a similar situation 5 years ago. My daughter was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome and Hydrops at 17 weeks. I was told she would not survive. My perinatologist said to me "babies with this condition could live into the 3rd trimester" as if to say, you better abort her now. But that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Why prematurely kill a baby who is most likely not going to live? Why take on that guilt and responsibility if you don't have to? I could never live with myself if I had taken her life. I prayed day and night for her to be healed. In some cases, babies with grim prongosis DO live. So who are we to decide that they should die? A baby is still a baby whether you want that baby or not. Ending his/her life is never justifiable. Never.

jessi bridges said...

Read this article this morning and thought of this post. It's about how abortion is never medically necessary to save the life of the mother: