an After abortion

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Monday, April 5, 2004

Earl at Times Against Humanity has weighed in with further thoughts on ultrasound technology and abortion. He also was kind enough to send me the following links to other blog discussion of ultrasound technology during pregnancy.

Alicia, the midwife at Fructus Ventris, notes her reservations on the use of ultrasound imaging.

Blogger Liberal Catholic writes about his wife's ultrasound in Baby Pat Doing Fine. Scroll down...waaaay the third entry.

She says that even though we planned this pregnancy and we want a child very badly, and she is happy to be having a baby, she does not think she could handle pregnancy alone. She says the sickness and the mood swings and the changes to her body feel almost overwhelming. She says that even though she has always been strongly pro-life, she is suddenly understanding why single women with unplanned pregnancies have abortions. She states that even though she knows it is immoral, without the support of a husband, she is not sure she could emotionally handle pregnancy as she is experiencing it.

She says she has been meditating on the cross a lot lately, and trying to remember that the crucifixion leads to new life. For her, pregnancy is feeling like a bit of a cross, and she's asking why God made it this way.

Of course, many single women carry their babies to term, and knowing my wife, I believe she would find the inner resources to carry a pregnancy to term if she were alone.

Nevertheless, though it is disturbing, it makes me think hard about the anti-abortion rhetoric we Catholic sometimes use. If a married, pro-life, frequent Mass attending Catholic nurse in a Catholic hospital finds herself feeling some empathy for women who have had abortions, how much compassion and mercy should we be showing to women who have had abortions?

If you read the links and the comments attached to them, you'll see that some people are surprised that ultrasound technology doesn't simply put an end to abortion. The idea is that any woman who saw her very small child on a sonogram would of course refuse to go through with an abortion.

Sonograms do deter some women from abortion. It's important to donate money to pro-life pregnancy resource centers so they can install ultrasound machines. It's important to pass laws requiring abortion clinics to make ultrasound imaging available to clients.

However, when you think about the context of a woman looking at a sonogram of her child in an abortion clinic, you can see why doing this doesn't automatically result in rejecting the abortion. There's a certain surreal quality about being shown a sonogram of your tiny infant by people who you know are fully prepared to abort it. If you know that the nurse conducting the ultrasound examination is prepared to destroy the small moving human-shaped object on the scdreen, doesn't that somehow suggest that even though it looks like a very small human, in some sense it couldn't be fully alive? If this thing you are both looking at is fully alive, then why is the nurse perfectly happy to participate in destroying it?

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