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.