Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Wanted Child: The Conversations

Okay, here goes the second entry in the Wanted Child Series, as I’m calling the entries regarding my pro-life views. Ready? I’m not sure I am quite yet either, but here I go…

I’m going to start with summaries of the conversations that had ignited my thoughts and research on abortion issues. For this entry, all of the names will not be nicknames at all but completely aliases to protect the identities as much as possible of the people with whom I’ve spoken. I make no judgments on any woman who has had an abortion; it’s not my place and it won’t change the past, but I want to be a voice for the unborn of today and of the future. After all, I was once unborn myself and I think I am a great idea! Um…I’m sticking to that. This will give more background on the way that I have gone about thinking on the issues.

Mandy’s Story
Mandy was a close friend of mine some years ago; we’ve since lost touch because our lives went in different directions with college and work and the like.

We were hanging out in her room one day. I don’t remember if there was something we were talking about that prompted her to tell me how she had told her family that she had had an abortion. I can’t think of what my reaction had been.

Mandy told me how her mother cried and how her father didn’t talk to her for a long time. She said that her brother slapped her and cried. I had a difficult time imagining her brother reacting that way because he’s really not a violent guy at all; I know this because he brought me into his family initially and that’s how I met Mandy.

I wish I had the presence of mind and the maturity then to tell Mandy, at the least, how much I cared about her; I still do. I still don’t know what the right reaction should have been or if there was one. I’m big on smiles and Mandy’s got a great smile, she’s brilliant, talented, funny, and the most loyal friend I know. It’s okay, it’s in the past, what does she want for today and tomorrow and is there a way that I can help her get there? As far as I can recall, that had been the first conversation I had with anyone regarding abortion and I was completely unprepared to say anything.

Mandy’s a few years younger than me. At the time that she told me this, I was in my early 20s already while Mandy was 17, I think. I think she would have been 15 or 16 when she had the abortion. I thought back to when I was 16, a virgin, not worrying about becoming pregnant or getting an STD or my parents finding out what I've been doing; all of those concerns were for someone else. I was worried about getting through history or being competitively annoyed that Stinky, who’s younger than me, got a better score on a national math test or something.

I can’t say with any certainty what I would’ve done if I had been 16 and pregnant. I’ve heard the way people talk about young ladies who have sex and worse yet if they get pregnant. I have relatives who have had children outside of marriage and I’ve seen people’s attitudes towards them, the good and the bad. And worse yet, to have my parents find out?

Finding out about Mandy brought the issues closer to home for me.

Jackie’s Question
Jackie was a friend I met in one of the practicum offices within which I had spent some time. In the midst of all of the older and married family coworkers, Jackie and I stood out as the young single new kids [Jackie had a boyfriend, but I’m saying single as in unmarried]. We were instant friends.

We were coming back from a girls’ day out, Jackie was driving. Again I can’t recall what the conversation was prior to Jackie asking what I thought about the issue of abortion. I tend to just answer questions at hand; I didn’t ask where the question was coming from, figuring that she’d tell me if she wanted to as we talked.

I said that I was against abortion. I wasn’t exactly sure whether or not it should be a political debate then. I said that I knew someone who had an abortion and it pained her family, it pained my friend, I thought I had seen it in her face and heard it in her voice. Jackie said she knew someone also. I said I had never been pregnant and she said the same for her.

I said that I wasn’t going to go to a clinic and scream at people, but if someone came to me with the problem of a pregnancy with which she didn’t know what to do, I would gently try to sway her towards having the baby. I would be with her and hold her hand when she went to learn about what her options are. Even if she went ahead with the abortion after all of that, I would still be a friend however I can because I am no judge. I can’t stop caring for someone just because of something they do, I am no judge. That doesn’t mean that I won’t speak out for what I believe to be wrong, but I very much realize that it’s often difficult to do right.

Jackie seemed to agree with what I had been saying. Next came the words that haunted me. Jackie said that she’s against abortion also, except in the case for the woman who became pregnant from a rape. I suppose I agreed with Jackie about the raped woman, for I feel for that woman, but I wasn’t completely sure what is right in that woman’s case. I couldn’t let it go and it led to more research on that particular issue.

Debbie’s Action
After all of that research, I came to my conclusions about the matter. Since no one in that time had come to seek my thoughts, and I had no personal use for my thoughts, I kept them to myself but God perfectly gives us what we need. In this case it meant that I not only had to own my decision regarding abortion but that I needed to be able to believe it to the point that I could argue on behalf of the pro-life position. To this, God put Debbie in my path.

About 3 months after the conversation with Jackie, I found myself in another practicum semester, this time near San Fran, and volunteering my weekends with Habitat for Humanity. During the Habitat work, I started to become friends with the good people there, one of them being Rocky. Well, to give a little context, because I got along so well with Rocky, she thought that I would get along well with her girlfriend also. Okay, I like a compliment whatever it is!

Later, Rocky invited me out with her and her friend who wasn’t her girlfriend, they would pick me up so I said sure. Debbie drove up with Rocky, I got in the car and we went back to Debbie’s place in the city. Rocky wanted to spend some time in the hot tub at Debbie’s apartment before it started to get too cold. We were in the hot tub, having a relaxing night. A couple walked by and the guy’s eyes lingered a little longer than his girlfriend liked, I think.

Debbie and I are getting to know each other, and I hadn’t said anything about my beliefs, when she brought up the fact that she’s had an abortion. I really don’t understand why people tell me these things. Anyways, maybe we had been talking politics, I don’t remember but I doubt it.

So Debbie, who’s much older than Rocky and I, starts to talk about how she had two children, I think it was, but that she was done after two. She said that her children were somewhat grown [teenagers or so] when she got pregnant again and had an abortion. At some point, I must’ve asked a question that let her know that I was a Christian or perhaps that I was pro-life because next thing I knew, I was in a debate…and I was unprepared.

Well, we got stuck on semantics a little because I had said that pro-choice is incorrectly labeled because it’s really pro-abortion. Debbie said no, pro-life is incorrect because it’s really anti-choice. Debbie went on with her views on life and I got the sense that I wasn’t meant to win this battle anyway. I let her talk on. Rocky was mostly quiet, asking a question or two somewhere.

Debbie said that I, meaning the pro-lifer, say that people who have abortions are going to be emotionally scarred afterwards, but she had no guilt at all. If she got pregnant again, she’d have another abortion, no regrets. She said that I had no right to tell any woman to keep the baby, that I wanted to keep women in the kitchen, taking care of their babies. I sat there thinking, hmmm, that’s interesting.

Debbie said all she had to say on the matter I suppose, or it was just getting late. I hadn’t taken anything said personally, how could I? Rocky took a quick dive into the pool. We changed back into dry clothes upstairs and headed out to grab a bite to eat. We went to a nearby vegetarian place. The three of us sat and ate with pleasant conversation. We even laughed about stuff. I had a good eggplant burger. Then they dropped me off back home.

I’m gonna pause here for now and return to my thoughts that developed from Debbie’s words that haunted me another time. As I said before, I’m alright with disagreements and Debbie brought up some interesting thoughts. And when I say that something haunted me, I mean that it stuck in my mind so well that I needed to reconcile it somehow; with this subject, I needed to research it for answers. If you’ve followed along this far, I hope you’ll come back when I talk about the matter again.

Thank you for your time.