Abortion is an issue that both societies and individuals deal with. Societies make laws to regulate abortion, contraception and voluntary (and involuntary) sterilization. How much governments and religious organizations play in these matters changes over time. Individuals, on the other hand, face these choices consistently in their own, very personal lives.
Thank you, Gia Berged, (Optic, Aug. 30) for responding to my letter about abortion. I was reminded of a friend’s experience. Loretta worked as a nurse in a big-city women’s health clinic. Her work included interviewing women who came for abortion.
As she greeted a mother and her pregnant, daughter, 14, Loretta took a good look at the mother’s face and later asked, “Do I know you? Haven’t you been outside this clinic protesting?” The mother looked down for a moment and then straightened up, “My daughter’s not a slut,” she loudly replied. Think about this. That woman acknowledges that she had been an abortion protester. But as a parent, she is now helping her daughter and defending her daughter’s choice.
In their personal circumstances, her new position is justified. Is this “situational morality” or is it that she now sees this crisis pregnancy from a new point of view? Now it’s personal.
But wait: Isn’t she also saying that every other mother’s daughter who chooses abortion is a slut?
In my conversations with anti-choice advocates, I find they think “slut” is the right word. They frequently say things like “you play, you pay.” They believe that women or girls who get into a crisis pregnancy must be having a good time and need to be punished. But the majority of women having an abortion are already mothers. These women need to make a decision considering their whole family.
National Institute of Health can verify that 60 percent of women who have abortions are already mothers. Many anti-choice advocates believe promiscuity or sexual pleasure needs to be punished. But have men ever been punished for their promiscuity or sexual pleasure? Men who are responsible for girls/women having a crisis pregnancy, are they held accountable? Not in America.
Other cultures teach boys and men to be responsible in sex education classes and those societies expect adult men to behave in a sexually responsible way. America could be a leader in reducing the need for abortion. We should take actions like good sex education. Instead we teach “abstinence only” that has proven (through research) to be a miserable failure. We also believe that boys will be boys (and men, men). Their behavior is hard-wired.
No black-and-white answer exists to the abortion question. We see this from the anti-choice mother who changes when her 14-year-old daughter gets pregnant. It’s now hit home.
America is a free country and people have choices to make which are difficult and fraught with moral concerns. But we are best served by supporting the individual in her own particular circumstances to find the decision that serves her and her family best. Laws and religious dogma only drag this whole circumstance underground.
Readers, what do you think? Is a woman too emotional, too stupid or too immoral to make a personal decision about her own family life and her own body? Or can we do what might be difficult but is morally right: trust women.