Friday, February 11, 2005

Was It Something I Said?

“Part of personal responsibility is to be able to move beyond the guilt, because feeling guilty is also a form of self-pity. That may be an armchair psychologist point of view, but I stand by it. If I end up regretting this decision, which I probably won't, then I will deal with it and do what I need to do, personally, to move beyond it. But I won't actively seek out other women and say, look at me -- I was once like you. If you don't want to be like me one day, then you should stop what you're doing!

“Awakening,” is what she calls herself. She is a graduate student who recently found herself pregnant by the love of her life, a man so important to her she watches him as he sleeps and wonders if there are words to describe what he means to her. Yet, he apparently doesn’t mean enough to her for her to want to guarantee that his qualities live on in perpetuity. She has aborted his child.

Awakening’s pre-abortion writing was picked up by After Abortion, and as a result, she was inundated with e-mails from some in the pro-life blog community. I was one of those. I don’t recall exactly what I wrote, except to encourage her to read post-abortion testimony of women who had regrets, and foolishly, I pointed out the breast cancer risk as if the threat of cancer “some day” would be enough to change her behavior today. As a smoker, I should know better than that. I admit I was reaching.

I could not and did not promise her immediate regret for her decision. As she points out, that would be presumptuous of me: “That's a bit condescending, in my opinion: to believe that what applies to you will apply to others without exception.”

I admit I have a habit of doing that. Because I have only my experiences in this life to go by, I tend to predict that other people who share similar experiences will have similar emotions as a result. Should we be expected to learn from the history of other people? But I could not help but notice that she didn’t seem to mind the effort to instruct her when the “teacher” was someone telling her what she wanted to hear to justify her decision: “Planned Parenthood's Report on post-abortion psychological effects. Very helpful.” (But please don’t read this without reading about the studies that show conflicting results here.)

Yes, the next time I am up in the air about an important decision, I think I will go to the source that has the most to gain financially by that decision in order to get advice. There I will certainly find an honest attempt to give me the truth, because they don’t really want my money. They want me to be happy. People who send me advice when they have nothing to gain from it personally cannot possibly have my best interests at heart.

Oh, that’s right. There is a religious agenda. “There is too strong of a religion of guilt in this country.” I keep forgetting that, probably because I don’t have one. Yes, I am a religious person, but I don’t expect it from anyone else and did not ask her to consider it. I don’t believe abortion is unnatural and unsafe because the Catholic Church tells me to think that way, or even because the Bible says so. I believe abortion is unnatural and unsafe because of that darned personal experience again. Rats. I keep finding myself falling back on this weak position.

“I got angry. I'm still angry. There are strangers out there who are trying to project their feelings of guilt and shame upon me -- people who don't even know my past or present circumstances other than what I've revealed. What do they know? That I'm pregnant, that it was unplanned, that my partner and I have decided it to be for the best that we postpone parenthood for another while yet.”

She’s right. I don’t know her, which I explained in my email, and I apologized to her for the imposition. It’s just that I was once pregnant, and it was unplanned. The father was 17, and I was 16, and we just weren’t ready to be parents yet. But why would that make me think we had anything in common?

“Why would anyone want to do that to themselves? Why would anyone want to view themselves as so powerless over their own fates?”

Good question. Why would I want to view myself as powerless over my own fate? Hmm. I don’t. I am completely responsible for where I am today. I was hoping she would make a different choice with the power she has over her life because, oops, there I go again, thinking that she and I might share some of the same feelings. So while I am condescending to her level already, I may as well suggest that some day she will learn, as I did, that there is nothing that can make us feel more helpless than living every day with the consequences of our irrevocable choices.

”Make peace with your own demons, but do not hoist them unto others. They are yours and yours alone to suffer and -- most importantly -- to conquer.”

Well, at least she knows there will be demons to conquer, but she does not understand that we know they are not our demons being foisted upon her, but her own personal demons, of her making, and of her own choosing. Not yet, anyway. Now she has some personal experience of her own, we shall sadly see.


At 4:20 PM, Blogger Wandering Pilgrim said...

I imagine you tried to talk to her about reconsidering for the same reasons that any adult tries to talk to a younger person when the adult sees that the teenager is throwing him or herself right at the same oncoming trains the adult was damaged by earlier. It's the impulse to save someone else from suffering what you have suffered, and a normal human response, I think. ((Julie))

I read that blog too, a while ago, and I was really hoping she'd reconsider...

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Annie said...

Demi, I too wrote her. Said many of the same things she's railing against and getting her so angry about.

She is rationalizing and intellectualizing a lot of things. One example: blaming our experience on "religion of guilt" which as I've said to others applied to the Catholic Church I grew up in, but doesn't apply to how children oare taught that faith today and not for at least the past 13 years. To say that "If you don't want to be like me one day, then you should stop what you're doing! Why would anyone want to do that to themselves?" does not sound too much different than what I got and still get "If you didn't want to regret, then you shouldn't have had the abortion." "Don't want abortion? Don't have one!"

If I'd KNOWN what I'd have been "doing to myself," I would not have done it.

Julie, excellent point, which I pointed out to her also in my email: she'll accept advice from a group which exists predominantly to make money off doing abortions, but she'll dismiss our advice as the ramblings of women who "hoist our demons on others" and don't deserve respect because we "say we're so powerless over their own fates."

To remove the email link, is just one more way she's putting her head in the sand.

At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Michelle K. said...

Julie, would you (any other post-abortive woman can chime in here) have listened to someone who tried to talk you out of an abortion? I'm curious if you think it would have made a difference then.

At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Nancy said...

Since the main ingredient in my decision to abort my baby was fear of being incapable, I like to think that if one person had expressed confidence that I could handle having a baby at that moment, I would have changed my mind. Awakening, though, seems unquestionably convinced that we are telling her lies and the others are giving her truth. I do not think a woman sharing her regrets would have changed her mind. I emailed her also, but did not write of my regrets. In thinking on it now I wish I would have mentioned Jilly's website for her so that if she hits the wall soon she would at least have a resource she might seek out.
It took me nineteen years of silence to come deal with my abortion and it only happened then because of God's gift of the deep, unconditional love of a friend. I believe only God can change hearts, and our responsibility is to love.

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Michelle K. said...

Thanks for your reply Julie.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Ann Marie said...

I can honestly tell you if one person said to me, "You don't have to do this...Let me help you" I would never of aborted my child...

I know myself well enough to have listened to someone...I believe many women want someone to talk to them...many babies are saved outside of the abortion clinics...

We simply cannot stop trying...we must always try...

At 5:03 PM, Blogger GrannyGrump said...

All I did was send her a link to an embryology web site (VERY scientific, not the least bit associated with prolifers) so she could check for herself about the size, which seemed so important to her. Interestingly, she didn't seem to have gone there or if she did, to absorb it. Instead, she posts a link to a site on reading ultrasounds and how to measure the yolk sac and embryo. That was where she got her "information" on what the ultrasound saw.

She reminds me of "Charlene" in Scott Peck's book, "People of the Lie." Just ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME, but it's a FRIGHTENED ME ME ME ME ME ME so afraid of finding out that the world really doesn't have room for God and for her, too. Only this woman can't believe that there's room in the universe for her baby and her, too.

At 5:43 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

Hello, Michelle. Thx for your question. I am glad to see other P.A. women answering, too.

I did not want to go through with my abortion. At 16, I needed big help: someone to shelter me through pregnancy, and talk sense into the people around me and over me who wanted the abortion: my parents, the child's father, and his parents, too.

My mother, who was the principal agent in my decision, was suffering from her own abortion. If she had heard from women who knew abortion had hurt them, it might have opened her eyes, because I don't know that she connected it to her own problems.

Yes, without question, someone could have intervened, and my abortion would have been prevented.

At 5:55 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

To comment further on Awakening: if she had no ambivalence about her decision, why did she blog about it publicly? She wanted something validated. She protests, but she left an email link open with an invitation to write to her (although she wouldn't write back). She had been to pro-life sites, so had no reason to believe she wouldn't hear our opinions. And she did.

It seems to me that she is protesting too much.

IMHO, I have a feeling the decision to abort was coming from those closest to her. So she went along with it in spite of herself, and now she is attacking those who wanted her to make a different choice because she is afraid we are right. You'll notice she has at least one paragraph where she says she will have to deal with her own suffering.

I knew having an abortion would hurt me, too, but I felt as my mom intended - that I would get through it and over it. I could never have been prepared for being thoroughly broken in half. She isn't either.

This young woman is in for a rude awakening, if you'll pardon the lousy pun.


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