Saturday, February 23, 2008

Adoption and Abortion

While I don't consider myself a part of the pro-life movement, for all my liberalism, I am indeed "pro-life". (I hate the terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life", but such is the discourse.) This position is informed by the fact that I was adopted as an infant, and so was potentially a prime candidate for abortion. I am very grateful things turned out the way they did, because I like the life I have.

I mention this because every Tuesday night, Dartmouth’s Edgerton Episcopal Campus Ministry holds a "Theology on Tap" discussion at a local restaurant, and this week’s topic was abortion. It was a respectful conversation, even though of the 16 participants, only about three were avowedly and openly pro-life. Only one comment offended me the entire evening, but surprisingly, it came from a dear friend. When I mentioned my adoption in order to admit any bias, this friend replied that if I had indeed been aborted, I wouldn’t known or cared about the life I was missing, so my point was "not valid." I was very offended by my friend's remarks, and very angry. It was, however, the second time I had heard that argument. I have two replies.

First of all, I find it very rude to dismiss someone's central views as "not valid." Disagree with them if you will or even respectfully argue about their relevance, but do not suggest that they are in no way valid. This is especially true if the argument you are being so flippant towards defines who the other person is at their core. My adoption is a central part of my identity, and it informs much of who I am – NEVER dismiss it, no matter what the subject. That is highly personal and deeply offensive. Second of all, I think my friend was just plain wrong, and possibly misunderstood my remarks. I was not talking about what I would have thought had my birth been prevented, but about what I do think in the here and now. I am slowly becoming aware of who I am and what I stand for; I revel in this world’s beauty; I am deeply appreciative of the people I know and the opportunities presented to me. When I speak about my adoption as it relates to abortion, I am not saying I would have been angry if not allowed these experiences in the first place. I am saying that I am grateful that I do have them, and that that appreciation for life is enhanced by the fact that it almost didn't happen. My adoption makes me more aware of existence in general.

There are many things related to abortion that I could write about, and we went over some of them Tuesday night. I could talk about when life begins, compassion towards mothers, the importance of a respectful discourse, or a hundred other things, but abortion in and of itself is not the point of this post. My friend's comment was personal. She is an absolutely wonderful person, and I know she didn't mean anything by it, but it still hurt. Since this wasn’t the first time I'd heard the sentiment, I felt compelled to write about it.


Kendra said...

I believe this is the first time I've ever commented on one of your blog posts, although I've browsed through it a few times and have found we hold a lot of similar views. I actually cut and pasted your morning prayer (the one from Beliefnet?) the other day, I liked it so much, and after converting all the thee's and thou's, have begun incorporating it into my morning devotions. So, thank you for that.
As to the subject at hand, I too feel fairly strongly on the abortion issue, though perhaps not as rabidly as many of our fellow "pro-lifers" (I too hate the terminology). In fact, I don't know if you've ever heard of 40 Days for Life, but it's a nationwide vigil held twice or three times a year, and I have the opportunity to do my part this time around, as Spokane is finally participating. The one little abortion clinic, the Planned Parenthood on Indiana, has had a 24-7 rotating vigil since Feb 6, continuing until March 16. This is going on simultaneously in 58 other cities, and the results have been amazing, truly. In some places, abortion rates have dropped up to 70-some%; more often, like in my case, we just stand around and shiver, praying, singing, handing out literature to those interested in alternatives. It's incredible how many people just stop out of curiosity, then end up telling how their lives have been touched negatively by abortion in the past, or how they want some info for a friend undecided up to that point. Sometimes we watch couples pull up, sit and argue in the car, then after repeated looks over at us, end up leaving again. Either way, I feel as though I'm doing something, you know?
I read your not so very narcissistic post regarding your blogroll, and your desire to have it reciprocated in some of our blogs as well. I will certainly put you on there, if I ever get around to putting a blogroll on Soul Doubt... I really do like what you have to say, T.T.
Sorry such a long, rambling post, but I tend to do that after a long day. G'night!

The New Arch Druid's take on the news said...

I have a different take on the issue. And no, I do not object to being pro-choice. The mother who had you and gave you up for adoption made a choice. We'll now set that aside.

Kendra, most anti-abortionists have never read their bibles through before they rally at that little clinic on Indiana in Spokane trying to shame away women who come to that clinic for medical needs that don't all have to do with abortions. And that a percentage of the abortions themselves aren't solely "on demand." Wayward could have been miscarried. The woman rushing to the clinic to receive medical assistance for a miscarriage, would those "pro-lifers" try to shame her or block her from getting emergency medical treatment? Would they add to her guilt in the process of having that miscarriage by telling her she is "killing her child?" The miscarriage has already killed her child, now she needs medical treatment. Would they "pray for her soul" because she did have a natural abortion?

My mother once informed me that she miscarried between the birth of my oldest brother and my second brother. Had she not miscarried, perhaps I would have been born 1 of 3 sons instead of 1 of 2 daughters.

The thing is, the Gods intend that children will be born and select the families the children will be born to. No abortion becomes an insurmountable obstacle to a child ultimately being born. So, I wasn't born one of her sons, but I was born, as a daughter. Found in the bible, there is a season for everything. A time to be born and a time to die. I am not a Christian, and that is one very profound statement that to date, no anti-abortionist cares to live by.

Otherwise, I have no problem with Wayward enjoying his life. Glad he is so able to appreciate it. Not all of us had it so good.

Nathan Empsall said...

Druid, abortion is a touchy topic that requires a respectful tone, and you've held to that. Thank you.

I've never really seen miscarriage as a factor in the abortion discussion. (A woman getting assistance for a miscarriage is a different issue, but that reflects on Planned Parenthood, not on abortion, and I'm discussing the procedure, not the place.) If embryos are human life and abortion is death - and that's a big if, but to undestand the specifics of pro-life positions it must be presupposed - then abortion is killing and miscarriage is accidental death. We do not excuse murder at gunpoint in society because "he might have been hit by a bus tomorrow anyway," and those who would see embryos and fetsuses as human life would draw a similar parallel between the purposeful death and the accidental death. A "natural abortion" is the equivalent of "natural causes." However, while I don't know much about "40 Days for Life" and won't speak to it specifically, I do agree with your general point about abortion protests and the guilt we put on the mothers. That I don't support, and it's one reason I don't consider myself a part of the pro-life movement.

Kendra, sorry not to reply earlier. Thank you for your comment, it was so kind! I had a lengthier reply but lost it. :(