I came across this article not too long after the abortion doctor, George Tiller, was found shot to death by pro-life extremists. It's eye opening. It should help others to see that the abortion issue is not as black and white as many would like to think. The truth is that very little in this world is as black and white. I would almost dare say nothing is black and white. But I digress.
You can find the article here: Between a Woman and Her Doctor
My doctor turned around and faced me. She told me that because dilation and evacuation is rarely offered in my community, I could opt instead to chemically induce labor over several days and then deliver the little body at my local maternity ward. “It’s up to you,” she said.
I’d been through labor and delivery three times before, with great joy as well as pain, and the notion of going through that profound experience only to deliver a dead fetus (whose skin was already starting to slough off, whose skull might be collapsing) was horrifying.
I also did some research, spoke with friends who were obstetricians and gynecologists, and quickly learned this: Study after study shows D&Es are safer than labor and delivery. Women who had D&Es were far less likely to have bleeding requiring transfusion, infection requiring intravenous antibiotics, organ injuries requiring additional surgery or cervical laceration requiring repair and hospital readmission.
Not everyone who opts for an abortion or a procedure does so because he or she finds the baby an unwelcome and inconvenient interference in their lives. History suggests women opted for abortion because they had given birth/become pregnant so often they couldn't handle it anymore. Many don't understand what a pregnancy can do to a woman's body and mind. And if anyone would like to tell a married woman to abstain from sex, be my guest. I'm sure she and her husband will appreciate that.
Back in the day before birth control, women had babies galore. I can say from my own genealogical research that many of my forebears had up to twelve children, many whom died soon afterward. Does anyone have any idea what psychological and physical ramifications this had on these women? These families? I've suffered from one miscarriage and post-partum depression. I know only mildly what some women go through.
On a semi-related note, I wonder how many LDS women opt for larger families out of "obedience" or an actual longing for a larger family. I know I felt the pressure and know of at least one other woman who wondered if she was selfish for not wanting more children.
This isn't so much about a woman's choice as it is about other people (men especially) having so much say over what a woman does when they haven't spent even ten minutes in her shoes. This is about a woman's body. It's about her mind, too. Her life matters just as much as that baby's life. Not everyone who finds themselves in this situation finds themselves there because they "chose" to have sex. Many are married and as such, according to our Church, given the right to have sex. What of a situation like the one mentioned above when a woman is forced to undergo a more dangerous procedure because the safer has been deemed unconscionable?
I am not a proponent of abortion. I am a proponent of giving women the benefit of the doubt. Of allowing some people to make their own damning choices so other women, like the one mentioned above, can have the choice of what to do. A safer choice.
Allowing a choice for abortion does not mean you condone abortion. Just like teaching a child about safe sex is not a blessing to run out and screw everyone they see. It is saying "you have free agency: here is some information, use it wisely."
Out of Many: A History of the American People says this:
"The maintenance or achievement of a middle-class lifestyle required the joint efforts of husband and wife. More cooperation between them was called for than in the preindustrial, patriarchal family. The nature of the new, companionate marriage that evolved in response to the market revolution was reflected most clearly in decisions concerning children...
"When mutual efforts at birth control failed, married women often sought a surgical abortion, a new technique that was much more reliable than the folk remedies women had always shared among themselves...Some historians estimate that one out of every four pregnancies was aborted in the years from 1840 to 1860 (compared to one in six in 2000)"
"Accompanying the interest in family limitation was a redefinition of sexuality. Doctors generally recommended that sexual urges be controlled, but they believed that men would have much more difficulty exercising such control than women were uninterested in sex. Although it is always difficult to measure the extent to which the suggestions in advice books were applied in actual practice, it seems that many middle-class women accepted this new and limited definition of their sexuality because of the desire to limit the number of their pregnancies" (315)
Middle-class couples had fewer children because they didn't need the extra labor out in the fields. These were suburban families, so to speak.
Imagine being a woman and at God's mercy regarding your pregnancies. Indeed for a long time our church said limiting family was a sin, recalling with nostalgia the times before the pill. But birth control isn't so much about killing or curtailing babies as it is about sex, and men (hell, anyone) deciding what is best for a woman to go through.
Though the churchwide attitude has evolved now to shy away from condemning the use of birth control, this wasn't always the case. Elder Marion G. Romney in this Ensign article, Scriptures as They Relate to Family Stability, states,
With respect to birth control, President Joseph F. Smith said, in 1917:
"I regret, I think it is a crying evil, that there should exist a sentiment or a feeling among any members of the Church to curtail the birth of their children. I think that is a crime wherever it occurs, where husband and wife are in possession of health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity. I believe that where people undertake to curtail or prevent the birth of their children that they are going to reap disappointment by and by. I have no hesitancy in saying that I believe this is one of the greatest crimes of the world today, this evil practice.” (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 278–79.)
On these matters, the First Presidency has recently said:
“We have given careful consideration to the question of proposed laws on abortion and sterilization. We are opposed to any modification, expansion, or liberalization of laws on these vital subjects.' (Letter to stake presidents in the state of Washington, October 27, 1970.)"
Yet another example of when the Church has backpeddled. Changed. How can I trust what they say today is what they will stand by tomorrow? I thought we had a direct line to God.
Hello? Is this thing on?
Back then this wasn't considered a leader's opinion. It was considered doctrine. We follow the Prophet. Period.
While I’m grateful the rhetoric has changed within the church, as a woman who has three children and is done, I find it abhorrent that anyone who doesn't know me dares find any pedestal on which to stand on and tell me when and if it is time for me to stop having children. And I've had plenty of people suggest it is not. I've some choice words for them that I will refrain from using at the moment.
We don't know what these women are going through. Will some abuse the system? Yes. But we live in a society that assumes innocence until proven guilty. We believe in a God that judges our hearts, not as man judges (1 Samuel 16:7). We cannot sacrifice those who have valid reasons, acutely personal reasons, because others may decide to abuse the law.