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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Pro-lifers who have abortions.

Abortion clinic workers are familiar with the fact that many women who come into their clinics are pro-life, or were raised in active pro-life families. See here for one such example.

At the time of my abortion, I was pro-choice and even pro-abortion, as was my family. When I say I was pro-abortion, I mean that I thought abortion was often a good choice, and did not see the fetus as a developing baby.

I mistakenly believed that pretty much everyone who chose abortion had beliefs similar to mine--as in the bumpersticker, "Don't like abortion? Don't have one."

It surprised me, when I got involved in post-abortion ministry, to hear stories from many women who were pro-life and had abortions, or who were raised in active pro-life families and had abortions (and were often themselves pro-life).

Many pro-life families mistakenly believe that by being pro-life--talking about it, teaching about it, perhaps being politically or socially active in the pro-life movement--they will therefore successfully inoculate their children against ever having an abortion.

This is really not at all true.

I recently spoke with a woman in her sixties. Her six children are in their thirties. During the decade that they were pre-pubescent, adolescent, and then sexually mature, she was active in the pro-life movement. She prayed in front of an abortion clinic once a week, and most of her children joined her there occasionally. She has learned over the years that at least four of her children have had abortions (or have had partners who have had abortions). Another woman I work with in ministry comes from a family of well-known (just in my state) pro-life activists. Thinking back over all the people I've met in this ministry, I can think right now of three others whose families were not just pro-life but very outspokenly pro-life. These daughters nevertheless ended up choosing abortion.

So, I've decided to write over the next few weeks about how it is that children from activist pro-life families can grow up to have abortions, and how it is that pro-life women can end up having an abortion.

Abortion clinic workers mistakenly believe that what is going on with such women is that prior to their own crisis pregnancy, they were perhaps narrow-minded, judgmental or unimaginative about how one ends up being pregnant or about what it might feel like to have an unwanted pregnancy or to relinguish a baby for adoption. From this perspective, once a woman experiences this for herself, she sometimes realizes that all her earlier opinions about pregnancy and abortion were light-minded piffle or that her earlier self was a judgmental snob, and through the experience of a crisis pregnancy followed by abortion comes to understand some deeper truths about life and reality. She will forever after be less quick to judge others, more deeply compassionate about how truly painful life can be, and well aware of how important reproductive choice is.

In this view, children from pro-life families become converts to the abortion way of life once they experience an unwanted pregnancy and realize that living with an unwanted pregnancy is actually much, much harder than they had previously realized.

In this occasional series, I'll be talking about what I think is right and what I think is wrong with this view held by many abortion clinic workers and reproducive rights activists. This will be by way of helping parents who are actively pro-life come to understand that promoting pro-life ideas to their children is only one (rather small) piece of the puzzle in terms of helping their children avoid abortion once they are sexually active.

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