Friday, March 24, 2006

Dear Zelda

In response to my last post, Zelda writes:

I don't have a problem with gays raising children because they're gay, but because the parenting qualities inherent to members of the opposite sex are absent from those children's lives. But if it is a choice between aborting children and having gay couples raise them, I think the whole argument becomes moot.

As for the pictures of aborted babies, I am truly sorry you are traumatized. And I'm sorry for all the other women who thought they were left without an option. It will never be the case as long as there is anything I can do about it.

I don't know that those pictures help women who are considering abortion, but they do help reinforce the humanity of those babies to the population at large. And it is the population at large who will decide whether they want that blood on their hands. I hate that they add to your trauma almost as much as I hate the fact that they exist. But people have to know. From young men who might get their girlfriends pregnant, to parents who might force their daughters to have abortions. Everyone has to know what abortion is, and so many are completely oblivious.


This is a thoughtful comment. It merits a thoughtful response, which I hope I can provide.

I am struggling to understand Catholic Charities, and how Pope Benedict's remarks regarding parenting by homosexual couples translate into action by denying them the opportunity to shelter the homeless (I haven't been able to read his remarks in full, just the snippets reported by the media). Are orphanages, group homes, and foster care more desirable? Are we so without hope and faith that we don't believe people can overcome a difficult and problematic upbringing? Do we deny sinners the opportunity to parent because they remain obstinate in sin? (If so, then none of us is qualified to raise a child.)

As to images of our shredded children, I understand fully that some people are made aware of the reality of abortion when they see them. Your point that the general population will decide the issue is also well taken. Unfortunately, the statistics show that a large segment of this general population is post-abortive (over 40% of all women in this nation of reproductive age); further, at least one in four of these will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder to some extent. And the numbers are still underestimated. With the more frequent use of chemical abortions, many more women will have the experience of seeing their dead children, and if they found this traumatizing at the time, images of same will surely trigger a traumatic response. We have the capacity to understand the phenomenon of trauma reenactment, but we ignore the facts, and the suffering, and the consequences, which too often include repeated abortions.

More importantly, though, we need to consider the population that is aborting. Nearly one in two of the women who will seek an abortion today have already had one or more. These images are often displayed near the doors of abortion clinics. While the population in general may decide the legality of abortion, it is these women who will determine whether individual acts take place, nearly four thousand of them each day. In using potential triggers for a traumatic response, activists are ignoring, hurting, and likely alienating half of their target market.

The justification for using these images is that those who display them hear from people whose hearts and minds have been changed by them. First, they aren't likely to hear from those who have been traumatized instead. Second, this is a denial of faith, which requires us to act as God wills without giving any thought to human respect or regard, or even verification that what we do is working. People who claim to be of faith must work on that faith alone.

The impact on society in general must also be taken into consideration. We have been bombarded with images of violence in the media, especially in the last four decades. All of the experts agree that we become desensitized to violence by exposure to it; it is the basic argument against violence in films and video games. Photos of dead babies might provoke a desire to become actively pro-life in some; in others, these images become part of the general scene of violence and their significance is lost. I remember the popularity of "Dead Baby" jokes from the late seventies and early eighties all too well. They were symptomatic of gallows humor, and most likely an attempt to deny the horror before our eyes. Our society has not become less violent, but more so. Are we changing hearts and minds or are we desensitizing a nation already exposed to too much imaginary but realistic blood and gore by the entertainment industry, and the very real blood and gore that accompanies acts of war and terrorism?

Additionally, I question the desirability of the response provoked by the images in those who don't know what abortion is. If honest, these people who say they learn the truth in this manner will admit that the emotions they engender are anger, hatred, and a desire for retribution. Is this the response we want? Does it make it more difficult for these individuals to consider the plight of women seeking abortion with compassion and sympathy, or does it perpetuate their anger that anyone would consider such an atrocity? And how will these negative emotions come into play in the future, which I hope will be free of legalized abortion, when we must learn to live side by side with people who have committed atrocities? I believe it will make reconciliation more problematic; without recourse to forgiveness by society, those who commit atrocities become intractable in their position. We cannot win them over in a manner that ignores their need for mercy.

And lastly, is there another way to show the humanity of the unborn child that does not generally incite a negative response? Yes. We have the technology to show the living child in the womb, in 3-D images that show an unmistakably human and living form. We have abortion survivors who will live their entire lives with undeniable evidence that at one time, their mothers sought their deaths. We have the abortionists' descriptions of what it is like to perform an abortion on an unborn child. A narrative engages the thinking part of our brains, while images are processed with other sensory input by that center of the brain which engages when the fight/flight/freeze (traumatic) response is provoked. Images of dead babies will provoke a defensive response; images of living children generally do not, although there will still be a segment of the post-abortion population who find all baby images aversive. There is a better way, and if we would only try it, we might learn it is more successful.

Thank you, Zelda, for your compassionate comment and your resolve to assist women and children in need.

11 Comments:

At 7:36 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 7:45 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

Susan, I replied to you in more detail via email, which I won't reproduce here out of respect for my loved ones who struggle with homosexuality and their privacy.

Thank you again for this comment. I am hoping to be enlightened; but while I fully understand the disorder sin causes in our lives, I am yet unconvinced that God cannot help us overcome these obstacles (which can occur even when we're raised by heterosexuals), and I still believe that loving and caring for those in need are ways He will use to reach us.

From an article posted on AOL yesterday, I read this, which adds to my confusion:

"'Laws and policies that preclude adoption by gay or lesbian parents disadvantage the tens of thousands of children mired in the foster care system who need permanent, loving homes,' the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute says in the report to be issued Friday.

It advises agencies and officials to make firm statements in support of such adoptions, forsaking a 'don't ask, don't tell' approach which prompts some gays to feel their chances of adopting hinge on being discreet about their sexual orientation.

And further:

"The Donaldson study, written by Illinois State University adoption expert Jeanne Howard, acknowledges that research on gay parenting remains relatively scant.

'Still, virtually every valid study reaches the same conclusion: The children of gays and lesbians adjust positively and their families function well,' the report says.

The report was funded by the Gill Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign, both active in gay-rights causes. The Donaldson Institute's executive director, Adam Pertman, said the financial sponsorship did not influence the report's findings.

It concluded by suggesting that gay parents could play a major role in reducing the backlog of more than 110,000 children in foster care awaiting adoption."

If anyone wants the article in its entirety and can't Google the information, email me. I won't post a link because AOL articles don't tend to last.

 
At 5:26 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger achromic said...

I know that people will not understand this ...... but after my two abortions I met a lesbin couple who were seeking to adopt.... they were good kind people ...... they said that if keeping my child out of the hands of my abuser met them living in another country they would do that.... for my child.... I suddenly knew that I would NEVER have to face another abortion...... this couple was willing to do whatever it took above and beyond what I felt I could ask a straight couple to do. I wish I had met them before I had my abortions.... I still do. They offered me something that others couldn't/wouldn't. I do not say that ALL gay couples are the same or could make someone feel safe as this couple made me feel safe, however I feel to this day if I were to get preg. it would be to the gay communty I would turn. I have promised myself to never have another abortion.... but I could place a child to a good same sex couple..... and despite what the catholic's say.... the stats show that more sexual abuse is done by straight men then gay..... and I believe my spouse would actually support me in this.

 
At 12:28 PM, Blogger achromic said...

er so the fact that gays are willing and do take "hard" cases makes them unsuitalbe for babies?? I think not. Out here we allow gays to adopt and they DO take on a LOT of the hardest cases which in my mind means they are MORE suitable for adopting any child related to me.

 
At 5:01 AM, Blogger sunnyday said...

Hi Julie,

It's a good thing your blog link is provided in quite a number of blogs and I came across one of them (Real Choice).

Did I tell you that I work for Pro-Life Philippines now? I started in January and it is wonderful. I remember us having similar reactions to photos of aborted babies, and was reminded of it as I read your latest post here. In our office there are flyers containing such images, and near the main door is a small collage which includes yet another image of an aborted baby. I still feel the same way and what I do is just not look at those images. I know I'll be desensitized eventually and I don't want that to happen. And you're right -- it is a picture of violence and who wants that? Even though I know that many people have been jolted into the reality of abortion being a horrific thing after seeing such pictures, for myself I still prefer to look away. My convictions about the sanctity of human life from conception won't be stronger anyway; nothing can change my mind that abortion is murder and that there is always hope for a baby's life to turn out wonderfully despite seemingly hopeless beginnings.

Keep writing because I know many are helped through what you write. =)

Take care.

Oh btw, my LIVE AND LET THEM LIVE blog got wiped out temporarily, and though it's back up again, I've been concentrating more on my other blog -- THIS IS NOT A JOB FOR SUPERHEROES, which is at http://notjustforsuperheroes.blogspot.com

Drop by sometime =)

Sunny

 
At 5:38 AM, Blogger sunnyday said...

Hi again, Julie. I read your story just now and feel guilty about what I wrote in my earlier comment.

You know, for Pro-Life Month (which was February) we had 4 post-abortive women fly in from the US and Canada, and one of them related similar experiences to what you wrote in your story. The alcohol abuse, the promiscuity, the self-hatred, she did drugs along the way and attempted suicide at least twice. Before meeting these women I didn't have any idea that abortion inflicted so much pain and suffering on women.

Slowly I am getting to understand more the women who come to us for counseling -- some of them after they had already had the abortion. They are so damaged and I'm so grateful for our counselors for being there to help them.

As I read your story, I couldn't help but feel for you. Judging from some of your comments, I can see that you believe that there is always hope. And since people experience healing at differing stages of their lives, I believe you will experience it eventually.

The women who came to the Philippines last month are Denise Mountenay, Molly White, Luana Stoltenberg and Karen Bodle. I was most touched by Denise's and Luana's stories of despair and healing.

Hope all is well with you. =)

Sunny

 
At 6:52 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

Achro, thank you for sharing your personal experience! You make an excellent point - in all cases, it seems most important to me to see how the individuals who want to adopt are coping, no matter what their flaws are.

Susan graciously asked me to delete her comments.

 
At 7:04 AM, Blogger Silent Rain Drops said...

Sunny Day! How are you? I'm glad you're back, and will bookmark your blog right away.

Thank you for sharing your insights, perspective and your experience with women who have aborted. Thank you also for being one of those who sees the pain and suffering, and for wanting to help us as well as our unborn children.

May God bless you and your work in the Phillipines!

 
At 8:55 PM, Blogger j2 said...

Hi Julie,

Sorry to not stay on topic but...It is good to see you back! :)

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger achromic said...

Happy Easter! I wanted to drop in and say hi! I hope you are doing well and that you are just busy and not sad. Miss you!

 

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