Friday, April 08, 2011

The Abortion Issue

This is a very personal blog that I put up on the huffington post today. It probably won't be approved until tomorrow. But I thought it needed to be said and so I've said it there and will say it here. For those who don't want to hear about the abortion issue on a personal level, just skip this one.

It's Friday, April 8. A government shutdown looms tonight if a budget can't be hammered out in the next 15 hours. At issue isn't budget cuts anymore it seems; at issue is abortion, primarily, and greenhouse gas regulation. The New York Times ran a wonderful editorial this morning pointing that out. The far right wing of the Republican party is demanding that to pass the budget it will have to include riders promising that Planned Parenthood will receive no federal financing, that the U.S. will not provide any aid to countries that might use some of those monies for abortions, and that the U.S. not provide any support for the United Nations Population Fund, which supports family planning services. Also, there is a rider that prohibits the EPA from regulating greenhouse gasses and another that prohibits any funding to health care reform. Oh, and then one more, according to the NY Times, that no monies be spent funding the new consumer protection bureau.
I've a mind to go off on each of these assaults on humanity, but I'll restrict myself to the abortion issue because that one is one I've been personally involved with. On numerous occasions.
When I was young, I lived with a beautiful woman. We lived together for a long time, about 10 years. During that time she got pregnant several times. Not because we were careless or didn't care about her body: she got pregnant on the pill, with condoms that broke, while using the diaphragm. We were a couple of Irish kids from large families and were both born to make a lot of babies. We were just built for it.
The problem was that we were not ready to raise them. At least I was not ready for a family. And if I had chosen, or if we had chosen, to let those spirits take on flesh, I would not have been a good father. I would have been a resentful father. I would have seen those spirits in flesh as humans and thought they held me back. So rather than make them suffer, she had abortions. Was it selfish? Yes. Should we simply have abstained from sex? Possibly. But try telling that to people in love at 20-25-30. Should I have simply been more mature and decided that my dreams, and her dreams too, were unimportant and should be sacrificed to the spirit we'd invited to her womb? Maybe, but I wasn't mature enough then, so that wasn't an option. Should I, we, have just had a bunch of babies and lived with it the way you live with a hand of cards you're dealt? No. That would not have been in those babies interest. I would have minimally been passively-aggressive, toward the woman I loved and toward the babies she bore.
In the end, after about 15 years together altogether, we broke up. She found a new man and had a beautiful family. Seven years after we broke up I fell in love, married, inherited--gleefully--two children from a previous marriage, and then my wife and I made our own beautiful baby.
Fatherhood didn't come easily: They boys were a handful and I found that I not only had a stern "dad voice" but that I used it more often than I should have. But I caught myself and tried to corral that. And I've been, I think, a good father, a good dad.
The reason was maturity. I just grew up a little by the time I was 42 and becoming a father.
Back to the abortions: We took them seriously. We knew we'd inadvertently invited a spirit who wanted to experience tactile sensations--have a body that could feel, taste, touch, hear, talk, make love, get ill, play sports--into the initial steps of having that body. It's a nine month transition and we stopped that transition from spirit to flesh with each abortion. And we cried over it, mourned some, and prayed that that spirit, those spirits, would find another home in which to grow a body, a home that would welcome them and be open to all that was entailed.
And when my own daughter was born, when the doctor had me pull her free and she opened her eyes while halfway out and in my hand and looked up at me and said "hep, hep"--which I swear sounded like "help, help"--I looked down at her and told her that it was too late. She couldn't go back in; she'd made her choice to go from spirit to flesh and that as long as she was here I would do all I could to make a place for her that was warm and full of love.
And I have. And my now-ex has as well.
If I, if the first woman I lived with and I had allowed those other spirits to take on a body, the reception would not have been as welcoming. And so while I wish I hadn't mistakenly invited those spirits into that beautiful woman's womb, setting them free to find a warmer reception was, in my opinion, the best thing to do for them.
Selfish? I'm sure. It was still the right thing to do. Giving spirit flesh is a wonderful job, but one best done with the right partner at the right time, I think.


Christi and Bill said...

Well said, sir.

Furthermore, taking away all funding--even criminalizing abortion--won't make it go away. It'll just make it dangerous for some very desparate women.

Rebecca Mendez said...

Very passionate blog.Great job!

Charlie and Betty said...

Beautifully written, beautiful thoughts, beautiful job. Thanks for this Peter, my sweet colleague.