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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Now that it's time to plunge in, I'm a little skittish about offering a series of observations on how it can happen that those who are pro-life nevertheless end up having abortions.

Women have abortions who deeply believe that in the act of abortion, they are intentionally destroying an innocent life. Young women from families who teach that the act of abortion is the intentional destruction of innocent life end up having abortions. Some (but not all) of these young women suppress their earlier convictions about what abortion is at this point, but often come back to it later in life.

This is not, I'm afraid, going to be a very systematic series. Please bear with me, and feel free to throw in your two cents.

My first observation is about families that don't recover.

When I am getting to know a woman who is and was pro-life, and is seeking to figure out how she ended up in an abortion clinic, family histories gradually emerge. One aspect of the family history that comes through sometimes is a familial sense of fatigue and failure.

The implicit message this daughter learned growing up is that "when bad things happen, this family does not recover".

How would a daughter absorb this message?

It could be that the parent's marriage is not satisfying, and the parents individually and collectively feel a sense of hopelessness about this. The marriage sinks into torpor, or uglinesses. Grace seems to be absent.

It could be that some tragedies or unfortunate events befell the family when the daughter was growing up, and the family projects a sense of never having recovered from this tragedy. (The tragedy could be an illness of an older sibling, a divorce, sexual molestation somewhere in the family, bankruptcy, and many other unfortunate or tragic events.)

Sometimes when I hear about a family like this, the family sounds like a once-grand mansion that has gradually sunk into disrepair and unkemptness, with broken windows, weeds in the garden, and so on.

In a family like this, there is often a sense of a before and an after. There's a time when things felt golden in the family (at least relatively speaking) and after a specific event or series of events happened, things became gray and the golden age is a distant painful memory.

With this family background, a daughter is more vulnerable to abortion regardless of prior and ongoing beliefs about the fetus being a baby because any crisis brings with it the tremendous fear that this (the unplanned, crisis pregnancy) will be another crisis that will cause her family to sink further into unrecoverable disrepair.

The unspoken thought--a reflection of the earlier patterns set up in the family--is "in times of crisis, my family goes downhill and never comes back up."

Because of the profound sense of loss and abandonment this daughter may carry from the downward slide of her family in reaction to earlier crises, she may unconsciously but very strongly believe that this pregnancy will trigger another downward slide and simultaneously be unwilling to be the agent of this feared decline.

Thus, an abortion may appear to be a sacrifice she needs to make for the sake of not triggering further decline in a family that seems to not know how to recover.

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