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.

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