Their Bad Mother

Their Bad Mother

Let’s Bring Compassion Into The Abortion Debate

posted by Catherine Connors

I don’t expect everyone to agree about abortion. I find it
difficult enough, as someone who is emphatically pro-choice but deeply ambivalent about her own experience,
to come to any clear terms (beyond believing that women’s freedom of
choice must remain a paramount concern) on the issue myself. So when I
write about abortion, I’m not doing so to convert anyone to my way of
thinking, if I could even figure out what that way of thinking is. I’m
doing it to advance, in whatever limited way that I can, the cause of
compassion, compassion toward the women who face these decisions and
make these decisions and live with these decisions and who need
compassion, badly.

Let me stop you right there – you who are about to protest (yes, I see you) – you don’t need to remind me of the
argument that, when we’re talking about abortion, there’s another life
form deserving of compassion. I’m aware of that argument, and I have some sympathy for it. But I’m not interested, at the moment, in
debating the relative weights of deserved compassion here. I’m
interested in talking about the need for compassion toward and care of
women who do terminate pregnancies, and would argue strenuously
against any argument that holds that compassion and care should be
denied to those women. There is no hope for any civil and constructive
discussion on this issue so long as we deny that abortion is, for most
women, a difficult thing and so long as those women are denied any
measure of sympathy. You can disapprove of abortion, I think, and still
hold a woman’s hand as she makes her way through it, or at least
support that woman’s need to have her hand held and hair stroked and be
treated with gentleness and kindness. My own mother did this. It has made all the difference. All the difference.

I wrote, last week, about this need for compassion – and what some women are doing to address it – over at BlogHer.
There’s a tiny but important movement of caregivers working toward
bringing compassion to women undergoing terminations of pregnancies,
and I argue in the post that it’s a potentially very powerful movement,
inasmuch as it broadens our understanding of reproductive care (perhaps
we should have doulas for women going through miscarriages and
hysterectomies and other reproductive tragedies and challenges, no?)
and encourages us to recognize and acknowledge that abortions are not
pedicures and that the women who undergo them need support and care and
and – compassion. It’s tremendous, I think. It brings sympathy to the table in this discussion. That’s important, I think, no matter where you stand.

Anyway. You can read it at BlogHer. I’d love it if you would. Just, you know, be gentle and civil and respectful. Because civil, respectful, gentle discourse is always good, no matter what. Someone should maybe have told Bob Marshall that.

Comments read comments(14)
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posted February 23, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Lully, Lullay, thou little tiny child.
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay thou little tiny child
Bye, bye, lully, lullay
O sisters, too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor Youngling for whom we sing
Bye, bye lully, lullay
Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.
Then woe is me, poor child, for thee,
And ever mourn and say;
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye lully, lullay.

Jesus wept.

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posted February 23, 2010 at 9:03 pm

What a well written post. No matter what a person’s opinion on the subject of abortion, the women deserve compassion and understanding during that time, and after. The few women I know who made the hard decision to terminate a pregnancy never regreted the decision. For them it was necessary. Personally, I am pro-choice, but like I hope most women (and maybe the men) wish there was never a need.

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posted February 23, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Just read the BlogHer article. That was powerful. Good job.

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Bruce Roemmelt

posted February 24, 2010 at 9:31 am

You can send a message by donating $13 to the Prince William Democrats in our continuing effort to change our representation in Richmond. We will not give up!
Bob Marshall is an embarrassment to Prince William and Virginia. Please donate $13 to the the PW Dems to help us unseat this anti everything person.

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posted February 24, 2010 at 9:57 am

I look at the wonderful picture of you with your beautiful son and think that you will never hold his older brother or sister lovingly in your arms like that. It is hard not to have compassion for you.
It is hard to HAVE compassion for those that disseminate the lie that it is not a child, it’s just a bunch of cells. It is hard to have compassion for those that commit the atrocious act.
Jesus offers forgiveness for those who truly repent. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” (Written by John Newton who participated in the horrific slave trade.)

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Appalachian Prof

posted February 25, 2010 at 7:27 pm

It is pro-life people who are most involved in giving post-abortive mothers care and compassion. They understand the stakes involved, the selfish pressures brought to bear on the woman by those around her who refuse to support her, and leave her no choice (you said that freedom of choice must be paramount, after all), and they GET just how that woman’s body has been violated in the most traumatic, disruptive, atrocious and unnatural manner. And they help her understand and process that event of bodily violation, of being taken advantage of by the unscrupulous and the ideological, instead of minimizing her trauma and refusing to acknowledge it. So yes, what you’re calling for is something they’ve been doing all along, though many refuse to see it. Life is too short to live in this sort of denial.

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Gail Coleman

posted February 26, 2010 at 8:11 am

I have to agree with Appalachian Prof, who speaks of the fear that drives women to abortion “choices” that aren’t really choices. The lack of support for those experiencing unintended pregnancy is just amazing. I am pro-choice and I think there are too few real choices. I have never had the feeling I had no choice but to abort. I have 3 beautiful sons, one I had at age 42, quite unintended! The support I received from friends and even strangers was miraculous! But way too many women don’t experience that and feel very alienated.All of us as Christians should be doing more for these women, not just evngelicals.

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posted February 26, 2010 at 8:15 pm

What is it that your Holy Book says about judging others? That was an arrogant post….you have NO idea what goes into making a very hard decision..especially if you are Male. If indeed you’re a woman…than … be glad you’ve never had circumstances that forced you to make a horrible but necessary decision. Somehow I think you missed the entire point of the article.

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posted February 26, 2010 at 8:17 pm

correction: ….You have NO idea what goes into making THAT very hard decision….especially if you are male.

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posted March 1, 2010 at 3:46 pm

You apparently have no idea what the good book says. It says to remove the plank before removing the mote in another’s eye. It does not say don’t remove the mote. Motes in the eye hurt. Similarly we are to judge people but not hypocritically lest we fall for the latest cultural fad.
“Necessary decision”? Or what? One’s career might suffer?

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posted March 7, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I am against abortion believing it is a child, not just a bunch of cells. However, you notice I do not identify myself as pro-life as I think many of those so identified are so intolerant that it becomes a misnomer. I do not identify myself as anti-abortion because I believe these people are just as intolerant. I would never have an abortion but I can understand those who do. I believe it is a personal choice and should remain a choice. My heart goes out to all faced with pregnancy fraught with difficulties whether emotional, physical, financial, social or familial.

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posted March 10, 2010 at 3:44 pm

AFT: Unless you have been faced with the decision, don’t spout the ones you think you know. Career? No. Rape ring any bells, incest, not able to feed a child/another child, health problems, drugs, malformed fetus etc. and many others you probably couldn’t relate to. So don’t feed me the Bible quotes. No woman easily makes that decision. The article above is about compassion for those who do have a termination. Apparently you aren’t able to have that feeling. I thought that was supposed to be part of Christianity…oh well. The Christians I know (being a former Christian myself) (family and friends) have that quality.

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