Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Justifying abortion

Posted in abortion, Christianity by Kathy on February 17, 2008

When I was in college, one of my teachers related the story of a former friend of his who in college was extremely active in the pro-life movement. She volunteered at the crisis pregnancy center, organized marches, handed out brochures outside the local abortion clinic….. and then she got pregnant unexpectedly and unmarried, so she had an abortion. She still remained pro-life, but justified her abortion by saying she had too much good to do, and having a baby would stop all of that good.

In another discussion, I happened across a blog in which the author justified her abortion because her baby was diagnosed prenatally has having a lethal birth defect. She said that she never expected to have an abortion–she was a “good little girl” who was a virgin when she got married, and thought that abortion was a non-issue in her life, because she had no reason to have an abortion. Until she was told that her baby could not live after birth. Then she said that she just could not bear the thought of continuing the pregnancy, knowing the baby was as good as dead, knowing the baby would die either before, during, or right after the birth.

But are these justified?

To justify is to “declare right.” These women (and I’m sure there are countless others) would say that abortion in general, or abortion in theory is wrong, but that their abortions were right. Perhaps they may have changed their minds and are now among those who say that abortion is not wrong. There are many women who will spout the line that abortions should be legal, and that abortion is right…. for other women. I’ve read a couple of blogs recently that said that. One young woman took her blog down after her abortion (or perhaps it was a miscarriage–it wasn’t clear), but in a post she said that she while she was grappling with the decision to have an abortion for medical reasons, she still considered abortion to be good, but she felt like she was a murderer in contemplating having one. She (and others) wouldn’t go so far as to say that abortion should be wrong (although this particular woman felt horribly guilty about planning an abortion, which shows that she truly considered it to be wrong),  but that it was wrong for them.

Although the two women mentioned at the top of the post justified their abortions to themselves, does that make them right? No. One way to determine that is to look at the consequences of not having an abortion. Had the college student not had an abortion, she would have gone through pregnancy and birth, and could have given her child up for adoption. Her life would not have been put on hold. She could have continued to do good. Perhaps some of her activities may have needed to have been curtailed for the last couple of months due to her personal comfort level. Had she given the baby up for adoption, she probably wouldn’t have even had to curtail her schooling at all. (My first year in college, one of my classmates had a baby and was back in school a couple of days later. She did not give him up for adoption, but was raising the baby herself. If she could do that, this other girl could have too.) The second woman found it “impossible” to continue her pregnancy with the knowledge that her baby would just die. But what if there were no legal abortion in her case? What if the only safe abortion for women to undergo was a first-trimester abortion; and for her to have had an abortion would have been to risk her life just so that she didn’t have to continue carrying her baby? Would she have found it tolerable then? Would it have been so intolerable to carry a lethally deformed baby to term, if there was  a high likelihood of her dying as well? If it were illegal, would she have attempted to procure an illegal abortion, just so she wouldn’t have to continue her pregnancy? What if she didn’t have an abortion at all? Well, she would have given birth to a baby that might have died. (I say “might have” because the prenatal diagnosis may have been wrong.) I don’t minimize the emotional hardship that she would have had to have endured, but many women have done the same thing. What makes her so special? What made her feel like she could escape that trial? She claimed to be a Christian, but that is not my understanding of true Christianity, to take the easy but immoral way out of a dilemma. She murdered her child to have “peace of mind” for a few months. That is not right.

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