Friday, April 08, 2005

They're Not Sorry - What Now?

Some commentary is being tossed about at After Abortion reviewing the stories posted at I’m Not Sorry, testimonies of post-abortive women who claim they have no regrets, women whose stories remind me of my mother (see "Is There Something Missing in Me?. In the comments, rightly or wrongly (and I admit I am sensitive), I heard a tone that had kept me a stranger to the pro-life movement for decades. I heard people judging the reasons why the women who weren’t sorry had their abortions. The reasons came up short, of course. They are all flimsy excuses for killing: careers, financial resources, immaturity, lack of support from the baby’s father, etc. Many of these women don’t sound dire and desperate enough to have resorted to the ultimate solution: killing the expected problem-child. But why are we even looking for good reasons in the first place? There are no good reasons for an abortion. It is an inherently selfish and self-serving act because it eliminates a human being who would otherwise require our attention and care. It’s fruitless to search for good reasons, and even more pointless to state the obvious – their reasons aren’t good enough. But I hear the women being judged for their poor choices anyway, and my defenses go up. I think we can concede the point – it was a poor choice. Now what do we do with their flimsy reasons, particularly those of us who are pro-life Christians?

Well, let’s don’t judge the sinners. Remember “hate the sin, love the sinner?” From our perspective, other people’s lives look darned easy. But we are not called to pass judgment on the lives of others. We can judge their actions as being good or bad – the distinction is important. We cannot judge the person or the inner workings of a person’s mind (reasons). Only God can discern the righteousness of the soul. But apparently we still have to teach Christians how to treat post-abortive women. We have to remind church-going Christian people that the woman standing next to them might be post-abortive, and they should not treat her unkindly. Why? Shouldn’t we also remind our church-going Christians that the person standing next to them could be a liar, or a thief, or an adulterer, or a fornicator? Shouldn’t they already be aware that such a person might have been staring back at them in their mirrors that morning? “There but for the grace of God, go I.” No one is exempt from sin, but all sinners can be forgiven – even the baby killers such as I – if we repent. The woman who is not sorry is not a lower creature. She lacks enlightenment, all too often because the pain of facing our own ugliness is too great for her. Are we all standing so strongly on such high moral ground that we can look down on her weakness and berate her for it?

Better yet, let’s listen to what these women think were dire and sufficient reasons for abortion, and come up with solutions based on them. I see quite a few who were in abusive relationships. Pro-life people need to be vocal about protecting women from domestic violence, particularly since homicide is now the leading cause of death among pregnant women. So many of them were young when they made the choice. We need to support our crisis pregnancy centers. We need to support married couples, to keep families together and fathers in the household. Young girls who find love at home don’t seek it elsewhere. These aren’t all the answers, of course, but every abortion story is a roadmap that can tell us what these women needed in order to a) avoid pregnancy in the first place, or b) choose birth (often a lack of access to legal abortion would have sufficed). And each story tells us what these women now need in order to live with the truth of the choices they made, giving us directions to help them see that truth.

Lastly, as we listen to what is at times cold-blooded testimony of infanticide, words that can even make a pro-choicer wince, we have to remember there’s a human mouth on a human face speaking those words. We can’t see that face, but I have seen at least one of them. My mother held back the bitterest tears as she said she was not sorry. I think the most compassionate response is to listen as if the speaker is a woman who desires to justify her decision to have an abortion because she is unable to live with her choice if it was unjust. I hear in many of the stories a woman who suffers more than other post-abortive women, but in such silence that she cannot even hear it herself. I hear many of them say they are sorry about something – sorry for getting pregnant; sorry the father was such a bastard; sorry she didn’t have the resources or the time to have a child at that moment; she is often sorry, but to admit she is sorry for the abortion itself, she has to admit to the sin, and such a sin it is: to kill one’s own helpless and innocent child.

The post-abortive woman (sorry or not), like all sinners, needs our compassion and, if we are true Christians, our prayers. If she seems obstinately unrepentant, it is entirely possible, and perhaps likely, that she is in a cold, dark void, crying out for someone to please help her deny the truth, tell her it was all right, and that she’s not really a bad person after all. The pro-choice movement stands ready with arms wide open to embrace her. The pro-life movement has not been there for women like me in the past, and still some seem to resist help from the post-abortive ("Be Gentle with the Wounded Soul"). It’s time for that to change. If you work in the pro-life movement and your hands are clean, God bless you. Now let's help those whose hands are not clean. Let's try to bring them gently out of the void and the darkness with compassion and love. They are not our enemies, no matter how loudly they insist “No, I wasn’t wrong, and I’m not sorry!” They are our sisters, and if they are not as enlightened as they should be, we have to reach out to them – out, not down. If we start picking apart a woman’s reasons for choosing abortion, we automatically put her in a defensive position from which she will be unable to hear us. If we lead her to the true nature of the act of abortion instead, helping her see that her child was a human being entitled to his life, his own life to make worth living, then she will also be brought to the truth that there were no valid reasons to justify the taking of that life.


At 8:23 AM, Blogger Emily said...

I love this post.

At 9:40 PM, Blogger GrannyGrump said...

Well expressed, but we have to look at what needs to be done:

1. We DO need to expose the lie that abortion being legal is only protecting desperate women from "back alley butchers." And women who abort for patently shallow reasons often reach the prochoice citizen in a way nothing else seems to.

2. We DO need to show that the way to healing is through REPENTANCE, not denial.

3. We DO need to show that it's a shallow, selfish attitude, and not a desperate situation, that most often is the reason women climb on the abortion table. Maybe it's not HER shallow, selfish attitude. Maybe it's her "SO" who's being selfish.

Sigh. It's not easy.

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Laura L. Hollis, JD said...

Hi, Julie:
Wonderful post. I have often thought, too, that much of the righteous anger the pro-life movement feels is directed at abortion providers and apologists -- but that post-abortive women assume they are the targets, too. Even when they are viewed as victims.

At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blah blah blah blah.

No, they're not sorry. I suppose that that bothers you. Perhaps because you're weak and incapable of being compassionate.

It is God's job to judge, your little "legal distinction" is nothing more than your pathetic attempt to side-step the real message of "hate the sin, love the sinner" and replace it with a justification for your lack of compassion and understanding.

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have my abortion over 15 years ago - I am not sorry about it.
You should not judge, as only GOD, the holy one, the true Lord above, should judge us.

I do not judge you. In fact, I do not even KNOW you!!

But hold your judgemental quotes for the pearly gates - ol' Peter will show you where to go.

At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been married for 3 years. 2 years ago I had an abortion. Not only am I not sorry, I'm thankful everyday I was able to have a choice! A say about what I want to do with the inside of my own body. If it happens within my skin it has nothing to do with you. Pro lifers who want to control women like me are the sick ones. I am also not intrested in your god. Heres a clue, not everybody is. And about calling me a victim, I would have felt like a victim if I would have been forced to go through with a pregnancy I in no way wanted. Antoher clue, pro choicers KNOW the Z/E/F is human. Stop saying that we think it's not human it makes you seem like an fool.

At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're basically saying "they're evil terrible people who have committed a terrible sin, but we shouldn't judge them." What did you JUST DO?? Only God can decide what is sin-worthy, you can only assume. I know you're not so arrogant as to assume you know everything there is to what God thinks is moral. So why don't you leave it to him to judge.

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Naaman said...

Anon, you will regret your actions one day. And every day that you remain in denial will just increase the pain when it inevitably arrives. For your sake, I hope that you will see the truth sooner than later.

Read Julie's post again. She knows what it's like to be where you are. So does Emily, and many other post-abortive women. I'm not post-abortive (or a woman), but I have my own past with abortion. Nobody here is condemning or attacking you. They're trying to warn you, because they've been there, done that, and it hurt them.

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

{{Em}} Thanks!

Granny, thank you for writing this: "We DO need to show that the way to healing is through REPENTANCE, not denial." One line, and you captured something I've been struggling to express.

Laura, thank you for your comment. Yes, I often feel personally attacked by the anger, righteous or otherwise, in the pro-life movement. Guilt makes me defensive. And obviously, it's not at all hard to feel attacked by the pro-choicers, either. ;) I do not understand why I am criticized for being judgmental in an article where I ask folks not to judge P.A. women....I can only assume some didn't bother to read my post, or, sadly, they are so lost in the void that they cannot comprehend it.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger jpe said...

"Better yet, let’s listen to what these women think were dire and sufficient reasons for abortion, and come up with solutions based on them."

How about a strong social safety net? There are plenty of people that abort out of money fears (very justifiable fears); some safety net would most likely reduce the # of abortions almost immediately.

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having an abortion is so personal, private and painful that no two women on earth are going to feel the same emotions. I understand what you're saying, but it's dangerous to tell women that they SHOULD feel bad for what they've done and that you're "enlightened" because you regret your actions.

At 6:37 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

Anon, I don't feel enlightened, and don't see in this post where I claim to be. I also don't hear myself saying women should or have to feel bad about their abortions: many do not.

Do I sound enlightened to you because I have expressed regrets? Why do you suppose that is, since these actual words aren't in my article? It puzzles me that, in a post where I attempt to defend those women who cannot tell the pro-lifers they are sorry, I have been most criticized for being judgmental. It would be kind of you to show me the words that provoke these feelings.

Thank you for your comment. You are right, of course - abortion is deeply personal, private, and painful, but that doesn't mean we post-abortive women don't share the same feelings - of course we CAN find many, many women who feel the same way we do.

This is very important, and I do hope you revisit your comment to read my reply - we don't have to feel alone or isolated with our emotions because we are not - it is possible to identify shared human experiences, and relate to each other - not only is it possible, it is necessary.

I hope to "see" you again.

At 7:35 PM, Blogger pravoslavna said...

"Antoher clue, pro choicers KNOW the Z/E/F is human. Stop saying that we think it's not human it makes you seem like an fool."
However, I see that you and they refuse to call (it) a baby. I was very young when I had my abortion (18) and had it been illegal I would be a mother to that child because my family follows the law and it wouldn't have occurred to them to allow an abortion. I am much older, hopefully wiser and more compassionate to what life can throw at us. The key word is life, it is just life and new life is part of it. I pray that women truly wake up and realize that we control how society is driven. We are 51% of the population, stronger than men in many ways and able to bring forth new life. Pregnancy is not a disease and there is nothing wrong with us. Women have been sold a bill of goods.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Maschil said...

Where in the Bible does it say "hate the sin and love the sinner?" What is sent to hell? The sin or the sinner? So obviously someone hates the sinner.

Why do you believe that rational decisions such as careers, financial resources, immaturity, lack of support from the baby’s father, etc...are but flimsy excuses? They are but flimsy to you perhaps but very real to others.

Of course having an abortion is a selfish and self-serving act. I believe selfishness can be a very positive motivator in life. To some degree it's why I choose to get up, take a shower, eat, and complete all the other daily responsibilities in my life.

Perhaps it's why you choose to write in this blog. At the very root it could be motivated by selfishness.

In my case the poor choices took place long before the abortion. I am not sorry, I am grateful I had the right to choose.

I am sorry you struggle with your choice and I am glad you are finding ways to deal with guilt. Keep it up. I enjoy reading your blog even though I disagree with you.

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

Hello, Maschil -

Thanks for the compliment about my blog - I'm so glad you enjoy reading it and took the time to write. You must be an even-tempered person; if I had my druthers, I would always avoid reading things I disagree with on the subject of abortion, so you're well ahead of me. And you've given me a reason to think today, which I needed. It's funny/odd on this post how many people think I am being judgmental when I'm trying to argue against being that way. I have reread it; there must be something lacking in my ability to communicate this message; I'm going to write a long reply to you because I have some small hope that I might have changed enough since my original writing to express myself better.

The word I used for abortion's reasons, "flimsy," was a bad choice. I meant to convey that these reasons, compared to human lives, mother and child, have little value. But I didn't do that very well.

I agree with you that selfishness is an instrinsic part of human nature. At its most basic, the desire to keep breathing and living every day is self-motivated. But I was trying to approach this from the perspective of Christians, and the Scriptures do say there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's fellow man, which implies, to me, that we have to try to rise above our basic nature - something that only the grace of God can help us do.

I've looked in the Bible this morning, and can't find the exact phrase I used, "hate the sin, love the sinner." It may be a paraphrase - but I believe the message is there - see if you hear it, too, in Romans, Chapters 9 and 10, where Paul exhorts us to love one another, even in sin, as Christ does. Here also is an explanation of how God doesn't hate us and send us to hell out of hatred - we have free will to do that for ourselves, and that's exactly what happens. Elsewhere in the Bible, we're told God's desire is that we are all saved; but He gives us this darned free will to turn against Him if we choose; otherwise, we would be slaves or automatons, and He prefers we love Him freely, because we want to. It's mysterious to me, and I'm no great theologian, as you can tell. Also, in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospels, Christ also tells us we have to love one another, even when they sin against us - in Luke, that would be Chapter 6, lines 20 and forward. Forgive my use of the Scriptures - I really should leave that to people who study them more thoroughly.

And you're dead right about my blogging having some selfish motivation. I am no saint! ;) As you noted with great insight, I'm trying to deal with a load of guilt; I think of this as a way to atone, perhaps to heal, and yes, that's for my own selfish purposes - thankfully, I'm told God doesn't frown on our doing some self-serving things - we're not required to hurt ourselves with neglect (in fact, we are supposed to love ourselves, too, enough not to be self-abusive).

But outside of my selfish motives, I hope this becomes something greater than me in the long run, if that makes sense - not because I've done anything great, but because someone more eloquent, more intelligent, etc., might find an idea in here to run with that might do some good for other people - and if that happens, it will be God's will, in spite of me, and not because of me. I also hope, and have heard from, other women who feel the same way I do who find some comfort because they are not alone; no one talks about abortion. I also hoped in this particular post to stop people in the pro-life movement who have never had an abortion from saying, "I could never have done that," because that's a load of hooey that only hurts those of us who have had abortions - and they never know who among them have had them. I've met so many pro-life volunteer women who still keep their abortions secret, because they are afraid of being judged harshly by other people. Part of their fear stems from hearing things like that.

Maybe I've grown a little since originally writing this post, and have said it a little better here, so people won't continue to misunderstand that I am completely against passing judgment on others even as I can say that this or that action was bad or sinful. If I can't define sinful acts, I can't avoid them, so there must be some way we recognize them, right? The problem is when we equate the sin with the sinner - we are ALL sinners. And Scripture says we have to love one another - ALL of us. Consequently, we are called to love sinners.

And lastly, it's my opinion that guilt is a useful emotion, because it internally tells us when we have violated our moral compasses. Shame, however, is absolutely useless, and self-destructive, because it means we are placing too much value on the judgment of other people, and, contrary to the Christian sense of things, not enough value on the judgment of God. Women who have aborted should not be made to live in shame, which is a loveless condition. Again, we have all sinned in some way; I've heard the "I'm Not Sorry" women treated harshly for what they feel; that's not Christian, is it? We are supposed to speak in a way that edifies others, building them up; there are too many people out there speaking for the pro-life movement whose words are intended to tear other people down, instead, and many of them claim to be Christian.

I'm really glad you commented. I needed to revisit this subject; and I am always grateful for the opportunity to have a civil and thoughtful conversation about abortion, so thank you for that chance.

At 11:27 PM, Blogger Vargas said...

This was a good post. Unfortunately it would seem that some, in their rage didn't take the time to actually read it.

As for the anonymous poster who said that it is dangerous to tell women that they should feel guilty about killing their unborn children - I'm sorry but what's dangerous is when we as a society become so desensitized to the value of human life that we don't shame people for taking the lives of others. When we can take life and rationalize it as if it's a just a choice.

At 5:58 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

Thank you, Vargas, for your kind comment about this article. It's one that stirred up a lot of defensiveness, or rage, as you noted.

I do agree with the commenter who said we are on dangerous ground in trying to induce guilt in women who are fighting against it or refusing to feel it, or to show that they feel it. There is an inherent danger in trying to shame individual people because it does call on us to judge them in a way that does not lead them to Light, Mercy, or forgiveness, for themselves or the many others involved in their abortions.

Now, as a society, we have the right to define morality, whether we do that because we follow a higher power and use those precepts as our baseline, or whether we aspire to do the greatest good for humanity (killing the next generation is counter-evolutionary, so it always amuses me in a dark way to hear the evolutionists support abortion when that very theory says that the current generation's highest goal is survival of the species, which means protecting the young and procreating). So, yes, we can and should define abortion as it is, the taking of human life. But shaming people who abort is not the route. We need to change our society's laws, which at this point allow abortions to be performed legally. I am not claiming to be able to do that, though. All I want to do is reach out to post-abortive women and help them in whatever way they need.

If you'll read my most current post, you'll see that I think the best way to help those who have sinned is not to shame them for sin, but to first bring them to the knowledge of mercy and salvation in spite of their sins. Then they will find enlightenment, and then they will have to deal with their guilt and regret - but not before us, but before God Himself, who, it has been rightly said here even in rage, is the only One who has the right of judgment over us all.

Our society has become desensitized to all kinds of violence, not just abortion. Physical violence, psychological violence - watch any reality TV program and you can see how we hurt others for the sake of our own entertainment, continuing to push the envelope toward greater and greater violence against the minds and bodies of others. Sure, the participants are willing, but how are they to know that they should not participate in it when all they see is how it is sanctioned by our society? The same "rule" applies to abortion; therefore, there are many roads to take, and wounds to heal, before we will ever be a society that values life above everything else.

A wonderful source of these ideas, expressed more clearly than I can ever say, can be found in the writings of those who support the consistent life ethic. Dr. Rachel MacNair is one with such eloquence, and such peace in her heart. I encourage anyone who reads here to find her writings, and work, and listen carefully.

In all cases, we need to treat each other with respect, compassion, and with peace, and with the humility that says, "there but for the grace of God, go I."

Thanks again for listening.

At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, I do not judge you either. People from both pro life and pro choice judge and not judge. We just don't happen to judge, right?;)

Oh, and as for pravoslavana, I agree. Abortion was legal when I saw the lines, but I was really young, younger than 18, didn't even have my driver's license yet, and was simply broke. I just did not arrange for an abortion because I didn't have a means to. It was too much trouble.


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