Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I Am Either Ranting or Taking A Stand

So there was a Roman Catholic Priest, a Methodist minister, and a Jewish Rabbi, sitting around discussing at what point life actually begins. The Catholic priest says, "Life begins at conception." The Methodist minister says, "No, no, life begins at birth." The Rabbi disagrees with both and says, "No, my friends, life begins when all your kids have left home...and the dog dies."

It is funny, but it isn't. There have been so many posts in the last few days about the murder of Dr. Tiller, and then several posts in my reader about new babies or babies on their way as I write this, or babies just beginning to move lightly in their watery home, and it never fails to amaze me the variety of human experiences regarding conception and pregnancy. Each person feels how they feel; awe and amazement, fear and uncertainty, a feeling of being a sacred vessel or, conversely, an incubator. So many different things combine to dictate how a person feels about the beginning of life that it would be impossible to list them all, and futile as well.

What also never fails to amaze me is the fact that so many people believe that they have the right to tell someone else what does and does not constitute the beginning of life. Or what they should do/feel/think/choose in the event of a pregnancy. I have been actually thinking about this a lot recently, due to a couple of really nasty, deliberately hurtful comments on my Friday Fragments post about the fact that I chose adoption for a child at a particular point in my life, so it seems like to right time for me to post about the whole issue in general.

See, for me, life is sacred; at one point in my life, I had two choices: abortion or adoption. Because of my own personal beliefs, abortion at that time was not a reasonable option, so I chose adoption instead. When I posted that fragment about having made that choice, I was in no way criticizing adoption itself, just simply stating that in my experience, an open family adoption may not have been the best choice because of the fact that it changes the dynamics of family SO much. Would I go back and change it if I could? It's a moot point, because I can't. If I were in that position again? At my age? I would make a different choice; that's all.

The thing is, though, that I can only draw on my own experience. That's it. I know other women who have chosen abortion in similar circumstances and I cannot make any judgements. I can't tell you that I don't approve, nor can I say that any of these women made the wrong choice. Who the fuck am I to make that kind of call? I am not that person. I don't know what their lives were like when they made the decision to get an abortion, nor do I care. I just know that sometimes babies happen, no matter how hard you try not to get pregnant. I know that so many different things come into account when there is an unexpected pregnancy that for me, to cast stones or make some kind of a judgement based on the surface is presumptuous in the extreme. I remember one time I was talking to someone close to me, someone whose bed I shared nightly, about the fact that I had chosen adoption for a child, and some months later, during an argument, he said, "And this from a person who would throw their baby away like trash." All these many years later, that still hurts-because he knew nothing about me at that point in my life and knew (or cared) even less about why I made the choice I made. Therefore, who am I to say that someone else is wrong?

I know this, that we as women simply can't win in this arena. Taking out of the equation those who choose not to implement some sort of birth control and then abort every pregnancy, it is a catch-22. We get pregnant while being careful not to and suddenly we are sluts, single moms (sometimes) who can't keep their legs together and have no self-control. We choose abortion and we are murderers, we choose adoption and we are throwing kids out like trash. We keep the baby and sometimes end up marrying the father so are now known to have trapped some poor, innocent man into marriage. We don't end up marrying the father and we suddenly become one of "those" moms who have to go on welfare and bring down and entire nation by becoming a financial drain on the economy. In church we are told that the babies we keep are conceived in sin and therefore are marked at conception as somehow flawed, and if we choose abortion we certainly don't tell anyone-as if THAT makes it so much easier to handle an unexpected pregnancy. It just doesn't make any sense to me, and reaffirms my belief that no matter what we decide, we can't win.

Here is one of the questions that always pops up in my mind. Who, exactly, gets to decide whose life has more value? A 16 year old girl, one whose life is just beginning, or the child she might have based on a mistake? According to different religions, the baby's life is has far more value, and while I understand the Biblical concept of the sanctity of all life, I also don't think we live in that kind of a world. Give girls and their parents resources so their lives can continue to move forward in a positive direction and maybe I would agree that abortion in those cases is wrong. Until then, I have to say that I want my 16 year old daughter to have the best life possible, and having a baby at 16 does not make that possibility very likely. What about a woman who already has kids? Are those children and mama, the ones who are already alive and breathing and living, less important than a just conceived child? If maybe mom is already struggling and doing it alone and doing the best that she can, if the addition of one more child into the mix will push her over the edge and deprive not just her but her existing children of possibilities, why should she not be able to make the choice that best serves the needs of her entire family? I don't get that supposition, I really and truly don't.

There are just so many facets to this issue; we could talk about pregnancy as the result of rape or incest, or we could address the lack of options and/or education for young women when it comes to birth control (and again, thank you to George W. Bush for those fucking Abstinence Only Sex Education programs that don't address the reality that ohmygod people have SEX!). We could bandy about the issue of parental involvement and how sometimes kids are terrified to tell their parent (s) they are thinking about sex, and therefore are even more terrified to tell them that hey, guess what? We could argue to death the religious aspect of abortion vs adoption vs keeping a child, or we could look at study after study detailing the economic impact of any of the three. In doing so, we can ALL easily become confused and angry and upset, and end up killing one another over it. And all of the information in the world is not going to change the fact that we each make the best decision we can based on the information we have at any given point in time. And that decision is different for different people, and for different reasons.

I love my kids; the four I have, and the one I don't. I loved him when I found out I was pregnant with him, which is why I made the decision I did. I also loved the two children I already had, and knew that it would not be fair or right to ANY of us to bring another child into the mix. By the time I made the decision to adopt, I already had so many bitter and hurtful feelings toward the father of the baby that it would almost have been crime to bring the baby into that environment; I don't know that I would have been able to love him simply because he WAS. And I don't feel guilty, or ashamed, or embarrassed. I believe that had I made the decision to abort, it would have been for valid reasons as well, and who gets to say that those reasons, for any of us, are wrong?

So there you have it; Soapbox #765. Should I simply step down now, and hope that maybe just one person might have gotten some food for thought? Yes, I think so.


Mrs4444 said...

Can't win for losing, can we? I, for one, respect your decision. And there are a lot of adoptive moms out there who bless you for it.

April said...

I do like it! Very much. And I love you.

Mr Lady said...

I actually may steal this for blog nosh.

My problem is, as adamantly pro-choice as I am, I have a hard time feeling too sad about this guy. Anyone who does severely late term abortions is just not okay in my book. Some of the things this guy has done make me want to punch him. They make me feel like maybe he deserved it, and I hate that I can feel that.

Which was your point. It's a lose-lose arguement. I can only speak for my experiences too. I've had two, I have a clear conscience about it, but I'm Judgey McJudgepants about late term ones. Which makes me a hypocrite, I know.

I don't know what the answer is. No one does, I think.

Lynn said...

It's your decision to make and no one else has the right to judge. The world would be a whole lot better place if we all took care of our own business instead of pointing our fingers at other people.

Mnemosyne said...

I'm so glad you blogged about this. I agree with what you said, and you pretty much summed up all aspects of this loaded issue. I believe in choice, and that no one should tell a woman what to do with her body nor judge her for her decisions.

I love your rants Kori, and the one you left on my blog!

Ms. Moon said...

God and the law have no business in anyone's womb. That's the bottom line.
I admire you completely for doing what you did and there is no one in the world who should criticize you for that.
And you made a wonderful point- that as a woman, if you get pregnant when it's not the right time to have a baby, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't and it is not right for women to be the ones to suffer for something it takes two to create.

Crazee Juls said...

--Kudos to you. No one can make decisions for or about us. Bottom line--therefore "we" cannot question someone else's decisions, we all are just doing the best we can, with what we have at the time.
Loved this post. Well-said.

Dingo said...

What any woman or girl does with her womb is nobody's business. I don't even care why someone gets an abortion. It's their choice and it's very dangerous to start judging when it is and is not okay to have an abortion or give a child up for adoption.

I would also like to address the late term abortions Tiller performed, most (I don't say "all" because I don't know if that's accurate) were to terminate a pregnancy that endangered the life of the mother or severe fetal deformity or other issue. But abortion is abortion and if we believe women are in control of their bodies at what point do we say they are no longer in control? It gets right back to your priest, minister, and rabbi issue -- when does life begin. And I say that the mother's life, the person who is actually here and is already a sentient being trumps.

Regardless of how anyone feels about the issue or the reasons a woman sought an abortion it defies logic that someone pro-life, or really, anti-choice, would murder someone. That's pro-life? Yep, it's all about the babies but once they get here and become fully grown, oh well, we can kill 'em.

Whoa, okay, kinda got off on a rant there. I'll reign it in. It's just that "maybe he deserved it" pushed all my buttons.

*I can find a link to the many articles and statements written by and on behalf of the women Tiller helped if anyone wants them but they can easily be found by Google.

JT said...

I thought about just emailing this to you, but then, thought better of it. Words are meant to be heard by everyone.

I too have a brother/cousin. Which makes him my daughter's uncle/cousin. Which they like to giggle, makes us inbreds!

I was 5 when my mother had him, and she was in the process of going through an incredibly traumatic time in her life which precipitated the decision to send the both of us to an aunt to live with. There are many gory details, some of which still come up in family fights because there was definite wrong done in the name of love, but it falls to a year later, I moved back in with mom, my aunt adopted him.

That - in and of itself has caused battles down the road in all of our lives. The offer had been made to adopt me as well, and I thank whatever deity stepped in that day, it didn't happen. I very much have a strained relationship with that aunt, built mostly because we have never been able to understand where the other is coming from, and it has just made things uncomfortable. On the other hand, I love my brother dearly, and his 2 sisters that were brought in not to far down the road from his birth, but all around, it's just a slightly strange relationship.

Speaking from the standpoint of the sibling in that position, I can tell you, you did make the right choice. For whatever the reason may be, you put that child into a position of knowing that he would be well-loved and cared for. It doesn't make it easy, and it certainly skews the family dynamic, but any situation that brings adoption in to it, something that most people who haven't been there will never realize - Adoption is the greatest gift of love that any one person can ever offer. You love another child enough to give them a good chance, and somebody else loves that child enough to take them, and raise them as their own. Good job Kori, you done well!

Oh, and yes, I also say, don't adopt within the family. It really just makes things weird. :)

J'Ollie Primitives said...

....how is killing an abortionist justified if life is sanctified?

Excellent post, as always.

Dingo said...

And Kori, you made the best decision for you and your child -- although you don't need us to tell you that.

FreedomFirst said...

I really can't imagine why anyone would have a problem with adoption. They must be just self-righteous pricks who can't tolerate anyone doing anything they wouldn't do.

I wonder if any of them are Catholic? Because if so, I'd like to point out all the forced adoptions their church has been responsible for in the past, because their solution to the reality of teen pregnancy was to simply confiscate the poor girl's child, find an adoptive parent, and destroy any records that might indicate dear Miss 16 ever gave birth. She didn't even get a say. One of my husband's friends was adopted out by this cruel system. He will never know who his biological parents were.

Then there were the lime pits in the dungeons of the nunneries where they would throw the murdered infants of the unfortunate nuns impregnated by their confessors. Don't believe it? Look up Sister Charlotte.

Pro-life my ass. Changing your behaviour can't change your history, Church of Rome.

When my husband was born at a Catholic orphanage, to a single mom who had decided on adoption but changed her mind shortly before birth, the doctor had to throw the attending nun out of the room because she was so bent on having that baby adopted she kept screaming, "Gas her! Gas her! Don't let her see the baby!" What a wretch.

As for abortion, my personal position is that abortion is messing with God's creation. Since I believe He is in control of everything, I believe that abortion is a deliberate destruction of something He created. I disagree that the question is whose life is worth more. Every life is equally valuable, and maybe, can you imagine?! God knows something we don't when he allows that teenage girl to get pregnant. Maybe in His infinite wisdom, He has a special plan for that baby. I hate the attitude that a baby ruins people's lives. Children are a gift from the Lord.

That said, I don't feel I have a right to tell someone else they are evil for having had one. I would do everything possible to talk a person OUT of getting one, however. And my first argument would be - ADOPTION!

MindyMom said...

This is by far the best post I've read from you (and I have only been reading like a month or so). I share the passion in your conviction here and agree completley. Every situation is different and no one should be able to tell a woman what to do with her body - or judge her for whatever (tough) decision is made.

Anonymous said...

Everyone's already said it, but it's still true: well said.

Julie said...

Great post. I share your feelings on this. I don't think I would ever choose abortion for myself (I never say never), but I don't feel it's my place to decide whether other women can have abortions. Just as it's not my place to decide who can and cannot get married.

Shiona said...

This is a great post. So very true. There is no way to win.

justme said...

Great post Kori.

We (women) can't win, you are absolutely correct, which is just so assinine when you look at the fact that it takes two to make a baby in the first place.

Thanks for taking a stand.

Martin said...

All I'll say is, next cute one you pop out, I get first dibs.

Not paying postage though.

Rachael said...

I wasn't really reading a ton about the doctor's murder until I started reading about second and third term abortions. The problem to me is that it's not all black and white. There are women out there who are forced to make the most awful decision they ever face - continue a pregnancy with a baby who absolutely will not survive and may threaten their own life. There are not many places these women can go.

No matter what, I believe that abortion is a woman's own business. It's not for everyone. And yes, some people will abuse it. Just like welfare. That doesn't mean we should abolish it. People are ALWAYS going to misuse things. We just have to deal.

Great post.