A post by Will regarding a MamaPundit outburst brought up an old memory.
My experience with abortion, in a “firsthand” sense, stems around my aunt. She and my uncle were overjoyed the first time they found out she was pregnant, as was the rest of the family. I, my siblings, and my cousins were told (just as we had each time before) about how wonderful it was. We were about to get a new cousin. Somebody new to be around for Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ place, someone for me to (eventually) babysit for, someone to play with, someone to show our world to as they learned about theirs.
Unfortunately, my aunt then ran into a nightmare of a problem – 5 months in, doctors determined that my unborn cousin was either going to be stillborn or not going to live for more than a few days. Part of his brain had not formed, and he would have been born with an “open” (e.g. lacking partial bone structure) skull. (I’m sure Clancy could fill in more “medical” terminology but that’s how it was explained to us).
Between that, and the various hormonal complications the pregnancy was causing, it was determined to “terminate” (e.g. abort) my aunt’s pregnancy. From the perspective of my relatives, there was no doubt that this had ended a human life, but it was better to stop the pregnancy than to risk taking my aunt’s life as well. My stillborn cousin was baptized and buried in a small, private family funeral; I did not attend as most of us cousins were deemed “too young” to attend or fully understand the circumstances at the time.
For much of my family, the thought was that this was a heinous necessity. This was, to them, “the taking of a life.” The fact that my cousin would be born essentially already dead or “brain dead” and only kept alive with machinery didn’t matter to them – they wouldn’t have aborted a detected Down Syndrome baby, or missing a limb, or any other congenital condition. The single fact that made it acceptable and not a “sin” to them was the life of my aunt, who (had the pregnancy been carried to either “birth” or natural miscarriage) would have had to endure pain, suffering, possible internal organ damage, possibly even the loss of her ability to try again, and as an outside but not “insignificant” risk, perhaps even death. From my perspective, I can’t say that I was (or am today) as severe as they were on it, but I can understand where they were coming from.
I also have to wonder – how much of the ongoing abortion debate is medical, how much is pragmatic, how much religious, and how much the functional argument between those who want and cannot have, want and can have, and don’t want but do have, children? The difference between my aunt and uncle – who had been trying and trying to get pregnant – and someone who is “surprised” pregnant and doesn’t even know who the father is (or knows full well that the father will only be so in a “sperm donor” sense) may be a vast gulf to bridge indeed.
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