Skip to main content

Update: I've changed the title in response to comments. My thoughts basED on personal friendships led to an overgeneralization. I've also edited the section below. I've also changed the last section to address both mental health and the discriminatory effect anti-abortion laws have on poor women.

First of all, a few baseline notes:
1. I have a Y chromosome. I understand that this doesn't give me any power to tell a woman what to do.
2. I am not necessarily pro-choice. I am "it's a woman's choice."
3. I call myself a Christian, albeit an imperfect and broken one.

The reason why I'm writing this diary is that a friend of our family had an abortion last week. This has really raised questions on my stances, my faith, and the entire issue.

I want to try to sort them out.

The background of our friend isn't pretty: pregnant at 16, pregnant again at 24. She had both of those kids, both girls. The relationships with the fathers didn't last except for remaining acrimony with the younger daughter's father. Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, chronic unemployment or underemployment have played a factor. Mental health (arguably bipolarity, with which I'm somewhat familiar through my wife) is an issue. When confronted, she will turn to physical violence to block out emotional pain.

Her current husband (in a legal sense) got her to marry him because he was afraid of being in the men's only wing of the rehab facility they were going to. His story is still one of drug abuse, attempts to come clean, and relapses. He has a drug dealing enabler that keeps him supplied with either meth or weed. Weed chills him out. Meth makes him abusive.

This is not a healthy situation for either of them. She has been keeping clean for at least 3 months now--made it through rehab, is living each day as it comes. She's in NA. She has a sponsor. No, she's not an angel, but she's trying to make a living for herself and the younger daughter who lives with her.

During the time she and her husband actually lived together, there were numerous fights. No cops were called, mostly due to it involving both parties.

Like I said, it's a messy situation. When she got pregnant, it became a much larger issue.

She made a decision that she couldn't live with her husband anymore. It just wasn't going to work out, especially if he continually relapsed. This led to the question of whether to have an abortion. She came to stay with us from Tuesday of last week to Sunday, so she was with us throughout this process.

I firmly believe that no one, even those of us who are pro-choice, want more abortions to occur. Sometimes that is the feeling that comes across from the other side. There's already this tremendous amount of shame built up in the getting pregnant in the first place, especially under awful circumstances, but to continue to drive that point home with accusations of "baby killer" doesn't contribute to any feeling like a woman is still a decent human being.

Our friend wavered back and forth on getting the procedure done. We live in Texas, so of course the draconian waiting periods, ultrasound, and counseling had to occur. She struggled with whether to terminate the pregnancy, largely because of shame.

I'm sad that some of this shame came from a misunderstanding of God. Would God forgive her? Would God have her had this pregnancy in the first place if it weren't meant to be?

My view on that is that humans have free will to make moral choices, but God is always there to forgive, simply because God wants all things reconciled to Him.

Sidenote: I beg of atheists to not disparage faith in comments. We all believe in something, even if it's just ourselves and that we'll eventually be worm food.

Eventually, after two postponements, she had the procedure done.

I still don't know whether it's "right" or "wrong" or whatever. What I do know is to show love to those who are hurting. What I think isn't as important as her pain. There may be future mental costs to her from this: flashbacks, remembrances, anniversaries of the date, and since they haven't happened yet, I don't quite know how to handle them.

What worries me most (and yes, this is handwringing a bit) is that in Rick Perry's Texas, trying to obtain an abortion, even by legal means, is still a painful process that discriminates against the poor. Women have to pay for those ultrasounds (unless they want to go to a pro-life coercion center masquerading as a family planning place), and the imaginary spectre of Planned Parenthood has drastically scaled their efforts here. Also, there's the underlying mental issues and how they affect the poor. There aren't that many resources for mental health for women near the poverty line. Trying to find mental health providers who accept Medicaid is a difficult process, and even if she gets an appointment, it's going to cost her in lost work opportunity, lost wages, and lost time. And our state government really doesn't seem to care.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I was going to tip you for your nuanced (17+ / 0-)

    understanding of the problems with Texas and abortion, but your title is inflammatory and when I got to the end and you lost me, totally.

    It sounds to me like your friend made the right choice for herself and her family, and for a lot of women that leads to peace and mental harmony, not "future mental costs".

    I am an athiest who respects your religion, but that's a very ignorant statement put forth by the right wing religionists.

    I've had an abortion, and I would do it again if I needed to.  I have NO regrets, no lingering doubs, absolutely no shred of "future mental costs."

    I know I'm not alone.  If it's the right choice for you and your family, the only feeling that usually comes afterwards is relief.

    I'm not saying no one ever regrets having an abortion, but this concept of mental anguish over abortion seems to be ginned up by the Christian Right.

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 09:11:49 AM PST

  •  So, did writing it out help? I can't think of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    much else to include that you haven't looked at, nor any questions you've asked that have simple answers. I don't know if I would want to put any right or wrong labels on any of it.

    Having choices available, when it's possible, is important. What any single person does with those choices can be fearful, painful, empowering, and a host of other adjectives running the gamut of emotional response. Helping to handle those responses, when we can, is important. Being a good person isn't, much of the time, a comfortable thing.

    It sounds as though you've made a thoughtful decision.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 09:19:19 AM PST

  •  Expectations of long-term mental problems (8+ / 0-)

    from abortions are generally greatly overstated:

    mental effects of abortions

    In general no difference has been found between effects of induced abortions and going through with birth.

    If there is a strong religious belief that abortion is a terrible thing, this might not be true.  The problem to the extent that there is one, seems to be of the sort that "i'll feel terrible about this because I should feel terrible about this."

    If the decision is to abort, the woman and her family and friends should not beat themselves up over it.

    "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

    by LookingUp on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 09:20:48 AM PST

  •  Just so you know (6+ / 0-)

    "pro choice" is actually synonymous with "it's a woman's choice." The two concepts are identical.

    There can be mental health implications to any major life decision. It's not talked about very much, but deciding to give birth to a child and raise it, or give it up for adoption, can also engender complicated and troublesome emotions. However, in the case of abortion, there's not another person's mental health issues to worry about. A child born into the situation you describe would not have had a really good chance at an emotionally healthy and loving home life....and adoption might not have provided those things, either. There are some good people who adopt, but there are also some people who shouldn't even be keeping pets, unfortunately. The adoption process doesn't always weed out those sorts.

  •  wow, just wow. (0+ / 0-)
    I'm sad that some of this shame came from a misunderstanding of God. Would God forgive her? Would God have her had this pregnancy in the first place if it weren't meant to be?
    I hardly know where to start.
    First- why should "God" have to forgive her???

    That presupposes not only a god, but makes the assumption that HE disapproves of abortion, a notion for which there is no evidence even your BIBLE.  

    Second- Would God have had her have this pregnancy in the first place if it "weren't meant to be"???  Huh?  I thought you believed in free will.    GOd "had her have this pregnancy"???  One could equally argue "Why would God have had her have this abortion, if it weren't meant to be?

    Do you really believe that the children dying in horrible pain from cancer were what "was meant to be" by your god?  That hundreds of thousands of people drowing in a tsunami was "meant to be" by your god?  That millions dying in religious wars over the centuries was "meant to be" by your god?  What a nasty fellow he must be.

    If you start from the position (unsupported by scripture or by church dogma until very recently) that your god hates abortion, and that he decides who gets pregnant  and who does not, then you can come to the conclusion that God is punishing those people who get pregnant (since he could easily not make them pregnant) and is setting himself up to be displeased when they avail themselves of a procedure, which he allowed (or meant ) them to invent which relieves them of that pregnancy.  So he "means them" to fail him and then to forgive them.

    as I said, wow, just wow.

    As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

    by BPARTR on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 09:36:34 AM PST

  •  I think you correctly note the cause of potential (6+ / 0-)

    mental issues related to abortion -

    but to continue to drive that point home with accusations of "baby killer" doesn't contribute to any feeling like a woman is still a decent human being.

    Our friend wavered back and forth on getting the procedure done. We live in Texas, so of course the draconian waiting periods, ultrasound, and counseling had to occur. She struggled with whether to terminate the pregnancy, largely because of shame.

    A) she's shamed by other people, including the government that is supposed to be interested in her welfare, and

    B) she's shamed by her religious teachings.

    Eliminate the urge to 'shame' people who have abortions and you will eliminate almost all of any potential 'lingering mental effects' in relation to a legal medical procedure that is almost always carefully considered by those who are forced to make that choice, in terms of how it will affect not only themselves, but also any other children and society at large, since the costs to society of unwanted children is far greater than the cost of an abortion.

  •  I don't care how many abortions occur (6+ / 0-)
    I firmly believe that no one, even those of us who are pro-choice, want more abortions to occur. Sometimes that is the feeling that comes across from the other side. There's already this tremendous amount of shame built up in the getting pregnant in the first place,
    If there are more, if there are less, who cares? This shouldn't be a public discussion at all, but between a woman and her doctor. Do we worry about the number of vasectomies men have every year? Do we count every Viagra prescription that goes out of a pharmacy? Why should we care?
    The shame comes from idiotic religionists who think being pregnant and not being married is something to be ashamed of. Do people condemn men for not using birth control and getting women pregnant?
    The whole basis of the forced birthers' objections to abortion springs from religion, so don't think it's not going to be talked about.

    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

    by skohayes on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 10:01:11 AM PST

    •  Good points (0+ / 0-)

      But religion creeps into politics, and the issue of abortion is oftentimes the single social issue that can influence a person's vote. And religion has been patriarchal.

      Personally, I'm a fan of disorganized religion. Not bigger buildings but bigger hearts.

    •  Wow, that's a pretty insensitive comment. (0+ / 0-)

      I believe ALL abortions come with a certain amount of trauma, no matter at what stage of the pregnancy, no matter what the beliefs of the woman.  Not to mention the costs of the procedure, direct and indirect.  Comparing an abortion to a vasectomy or Viagra prescription is pretty far-fetched as well.  Surely the fewer abortions the better, yes?   I sincerely hope you do not really believe your subject line, that you were just being rhetorical?

      •  I've had an abortion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BachFan

        Trust me, it was painful, but traumatic? The biggest feeling I had was relief. I've accompanied some friends to have an abortion and have talked with lots of women who had abortions and my experience is quite normal.
        Yes, fewer abortions would be nice, but it's more important that all women have access to an abortion if they want one. Just like every man has access to a vasectomy if they want one. We shouldn't need special clinics- if a woman wants an abortion, she should be able to go to her gyn/ob or her local hospital and have one.
        It's a medical procedure. It should be treated as such.

        Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

        by skohayes on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 12:49:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I mostly agree with you. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skohayes

          I wasn't thinking only of PTSD kind of trauma, I meant it to include the physical, clinical, assault-to-the-body kind of trauma, which you apparently did experience. Absolutely, women should have access to safe, legal abortions when they need them, but prevention of unwanted pregnancy in the first place, IMHO, is the higher imperative.

          •  I'm sorry, (0+ / 0-)

            but it wasn't an "assault" and certainly no more painful than heavy cramping.
            And access to contraception is important and also in jeopardy. These forced birthers aren't going to stop until they make sex outside of marriage punishable by jail time.

            Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

            by skohayes on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 03:35:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  im ashamed too (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight

    To be ashamed of getting pregnant would be like being ashamed of taking a poop. It's a natural thing that happens. Only an asshole would impose that shame on someone. It happens, sadly. I genuinely don't think Repubs care about abortion. It's a wedge and distraction. Very destructive also.

    If I said anything that offended anyone, you probably deserved it.

    by Mokislab on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 10:15:31 AM PST

  •  As a christian I can understand, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LookingUp

    but there is a fine line between right and wrong in a lot of things (for all of us to make in our choices). Because everything we do in life is about choices (wither you believe in god or not), I believe that life is about the choices we make in our lifetime, although there will be somethings out of our control.

    I for one believe that abortion is a choice that a woman must make for herself, and it is the way that others treat her (after making her choice), that will cause the mental trauma for her.
    The writer doesn't mention how her family treated this decision to have an abortion, and it is how she is treated by love-ones that will make all the differences in her life going forward. When a woman has the support of her family behind her, she will be able to handle the choice (she makes) much better than when they turn against her, but that will always be the true wither it's about abortion or some other matter.
    •  The woman's family is pretty much non-existent (0+ / 0-)

      Father lives in New York, has little connection. Mother is not the greatest person in the world. Brother is currently homeless and addicted to heroin. None of them know about this.

      Essentially, it's friends like my wife and I who are her surrogate family.

  •  You've done the right thing by helping her (0+ / 0-)

    so far.

    Good on you; and buena suerte para todos.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 12:12:02 PM PST

  •  Lilith. org (0+ / 0-)

      This organization in Texas may be a resource.   It may not help this particular woman, but certainly worth giving them a call to see if they can direct this woman to some professional / knowledgeable counselling.

    English: 1.877.659.4304 Spanish: 1.877.355.1461

     

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site