That’s the word that I have decided best describes my move to a pro-life way of thinking.
Up until about 10 years ago I genuinely believed abortion was OK, particularly given specific circumstances such as rape and that the procedure was performed within the boundaries of a certain point in gestation, such as around 12 weeks.
I had no idea.
So what changed my mind?
A lot of things, really…most of them facts gleaned from getting up close and personal with women who have made or considered making this life-altering choice.
As a woman I was conscious of the reality that anyone who had to make a decision about an unplanned pregnancy was obviously in a serious predicament and in all likelihood experiencing real inner conflict and emotional stress. The challenges for women facing an unplanned pregnancy are broad and not to be regarded lightly. They are never simply short-term challenges, and the emotional and psychological implications can go on to haunt them for the rest of their lives.
And, obviously, the outcome of a woman’s decision is significant for their as-yet unborn child as well.
The first thing that challenged my view that abortion was OK was the truth about life in the womb. The ‘traditional’ arguments are rapidly diminishing due to advancements in science. Without going into a medical explanation of what each stage of gestation is called and why, science has shown that a foetus is a life at a much earlier stage of development than previously thought.
I began to ask myself, why should something (or someone) be terminated or have fewer rights than another because of its stage of development? Some would argue it should be allowable up to a certain point – and not after say 24 weeks – suggesting perhaps that at 24 weeks a foetus is a real life.
OK…but what was it at 22 weeks? A toaster? A cheeseburger? A brick?
Following this line of thought that it’s a development issue, should toddlers have more rights than newborns??
The logic seemed to puzzle me.
Others have suggested it’s only a ‘potential life’, dependent on its mother. I’m not really sure what a ‘potential life’ is, but if ‘it’ has a heartbeat, its own DNA, developing organs and brain waves, I would suggest that he or she is most certainly a life.
Maybe it’s the fact that he or she is dependent on their mother (another person) that makes their rights invalid or negotiable? Yikes! If that’s the case, then what should I do with my great uncle who is on dialysis and, having suffered a stroke, is incapable of functioning without the full support of my aunt?
Have I forgotten the mother in all this??? Definitely not. More than anything I, as a woman and as a mother, am passionate about the woman – the mother. I had thought that abortion was a quick, simple, affordable ‘alternative’ for women slightly more involved than a tooth removal. I was so wrong!
On my ‘journey’, I have come to believe that without any consideration for the unborn, abortion is about the most destructive force on earth on both womanhood and the female body. In all the longitudinal studies I have read on post-abortion trauma, and through my own experiences with post-abortive women, I am yet to meet a woman who has not experienced some adverse affects of her decision to terminate the life of her unborn child. I have personally witnessed, and there are numerous studies to support the existence of, a raft of issues that accompany abortion: relationship breakdowns, trust issues, replacement pregnancies, guilt, shame, self-harm, nightmares, depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction and even suicide attempts. Often someone functioning seemingly fine suddenly exhibits self-destructive habits that can be linked back to their abortion.
I’ve heard it said before that ‘Women deserve better than abortion’. Surely the alternatives to abortion can’t be worse than the long list of potential after-effects?
I have learned to always ask ‘Why?’ Why do women think this is the best option for them? Why does abortion feel like their only option? Maybe the answer to these IS the answer to the bigger question.
Maybe society or the government or community organisations or the church or even you and I could be the answer for a woman wanting to terminate her pregnancy because she needs help with her ‘Why’?
Maybe if she knew she was going to be supported by friends, family, colleagues, team mates and employers, termination wouldn’t be her first choice.
Or possibly, it’s our view on motherhood that needs to shift?
Perhaps the answer lies in easier accessible childcare, better contraceptive information, more information on life in the womb, more support from community organisations, more acceptance, more government assistance, greater flexibility in the workforce, more affordable housing. Could it be that the reasons WHY women want to terminate their pregnancy are THE issues, not the pregnancy itself?
If true freedom is within us, abortion does nothing to liberate women or offer true freedom and even less so the unborn.
Therefore, yes, my journey of thought and discovery has led me to a place where I am most assuredly pro-all-things-life…living life to the full, embracing life in all its stages and forms, giving life, and enabling every man, woman and child – unborn and born – to live their very best life.
Jennifer Gurry is the Executive Director and Founder of Diamond Pregnancy Support.