Monday, March 19, 2007

Comment on abortion2

"...what is it that really drives a woman,specifically, to an abortion? is it because she wants her life a certain way or needs it a certain way? that she wants the 'easier'/faster/ route out?"

This comment is saying that a woman who chooses abortion does so for reasons of cowardice. A woman who chooses abortion does so for reasons of formidable courage. More, I find it to be a choice that shows very clearly the high value you place on yourself.

It is contrary to the rules of society for a woman to value herself. Especially to the exclusion of all else, but after all if you don't value yourself, who will? Your children won't. I don't put my Mum first. She has put me first in her life for many years; but now, though she is very significant, she comes fourth or fifth down the list of important people in my life. New life is not kind to the life that went before it. It is immensely selfish.

I am reminded of a tale I read (unfortunately I cannot ascribe it, I can't recall who wrote it. My apologies for the plagiarism) of a gamekeeper or hunter. He found a mother bear who'd been caught in a trap for a few days. He remembered the terrified expression in her eyes. She was still alive. Her starving, frantic cubs had eaten half her side away.

I can imagine this very clearly. I can even tell you which bit they started with - her nipples. Babies will take what they need from you, no matter what. They're not here to care about your feelings, they're here to grow. A woman who's had trouble breastfeeding could tell you all about it - the baby will come to the breast for its milk no matter how sore you are, even if he or she comes away from a feed dripping blood like Dracula. Motherhood is too serious an undertaking to thrust on someone because of an accident. Responsible long term parenting is about taking care of yourself, first. I would compare the courage of a woman who has an abortion, to someone caught in a trap who chews off her leg to get away. All you can do is give lots of respect to that choice, and thank God it wasn't you.

What does it mean, to put yourself first? In Further Along the Road Less Travelled, Dr Scott Peck recounts an investigation the army conducted while he worked for them. They gathered together about 30 highly successful people, to study them and find out what qualities they shared. They chose people who were all round success stories - strong family lives, successful careers, rewarding jobs, popular with colleagues, active social lives. The exercise Dr Peck recounted was their reaction this question: Please List the 10 most important things in your life, in order of importance. There were hundreds of different answers to all but No. 1. The most important thing in all their lives was "Myself."

Not, "My relationship With God." Not, "My Family." Yet far from being selfish monsters, these people who had clearly sorted out what to value highest were thereby able to give a full measure of value to everything else in their lives, each factor in its place. Spirituality, love, health, finances, joy ...

Many women seem to have a gap where this item about loving themselves belongs. I have never yet met a woman who hasn't had an abortion who is able to really understand, to empathise about the choice to have one. Even women whom you'd think have had cause to really consider and study the mentality behind it. Abortion counsellors who let slip that they think it's intrinsically wrong. The actress who played Vera Drake, in that poignant film, involuntarily judging that strong, kind woman in an interview. There is always a veneer of the judgemental, especially among those who are more actively religious and therefore duty bound, you'd think, to be more humble and less uncharitable. One notes a tendency to skip the practice of that supremely difficult biblical sentence - "Judge not that Ye Not Be Judged." Empathy is hampered by the idea that It Could Never Happen to Me - Abortion Is Something That Is Only Done By Rackety, Lazy Women Who Deserve to be Punished Anyway.

This is the easy, knee jerk reaction, because of course evolutionally speaking it's terrible for the survival of the species to terminate a life that's jumped enough hurdles to begin at all. What is interesting is that it's women who have trouble understanding it (unless they've actually experienced it, an unnecessarily painful prerequisite to understanding any human behaviour). This reveals something quite poignant about female psychology. Now that I've really thought about it, I've realised that the people whom I've met who are the most easily able to understand the choice to abort, without blinking, are men. It seems obvious to a thinking man that it's a sane, sensible, obviously necessary thing to do to put yourself first. The thinking woman comes up against a significant block on that point.

Women! Learn to value yourselves! You are the most important thing in your life.

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At Monday, April 02, 2007 , Blogger Carmen said...

Dear Mama Wangari

I am contacting you regarding a blog survey I am conducting. I am a Ph.D. candidate in Mass Communication at Penn State and my dissertation project consists of a survey that looks at women bloggers’ perceived motivations for and effects of their blogging.

I am sending the survey to a number of bloggers, and I would like to invite you to participate in it as well. Participation should take approximately 15 minutes of your time. I would appreciate it tremendously if you would be willing to take the survey. If you decide to do so, please follow the link below:

I would be very happy to share the findings of my study with you once it is completed!

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Thank you in advance,


At Tuesday, November 13, 2007 , Blogger WendyB said...

You know what they say about "if men could get pregnant...."

At Monday, November 19, 2007 , Blogger Mama Wangari said...

... Abortion would be a sacrament! Yes, very true, it's such a big decision and people make it totally alone. It's a myth that parenthood is easy, or else that adoption is a reasonable fate. Punishing a woman and child for a lifetime ...


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