Musings On Abortion

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I just read about a women’s clinic in Oakland, California, closing after 36 years of service. It’s being forced to, not because of anti-abortion protests, but because of slow and now frozen reimbursements for patient care. In fact, it’s facing bankruptcy. I don’t know the statistics on abortion clinics (not that this clinic only did abortions) around the U.S., but I know they’re declining. I don’t know how I feel about that exactly, because I really don’t like the idea of abortion. However, I don’t feel it’s right to take away any woman’s right to have one if she so chooses.

To some extent I see abortion as another form of birth control. People try to equate it with infanticide, but that’s ludicrous: it’s not the same thing as killing a child who is already living outside of its mother’s womb. How far are you going to take it? Ban any form of birth control that might conceivably prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg? That fertilized egg is not a baby. And we have no idea how many fertilized eggs are flushed out of a woman’s system over her lifetime naturally. It happens.

What some people aren’t willing to do is experience the discomfort of holding mutually exclusive points of view. I can believe that all life is sacred, even that a embryo is a form of life, and still, however reluctantly, support a woman’s right to decide whether or not she’s going to go through with a pregnancy. She’s the one who has to live with her decision, for or against. Not me. I don’t think it’s out of line to provide comprehensive counseling when a woman has to make that decision, but neither do I think that such counseling should be forced upon her.

If this was a world where every child was cared for, no matter what its mother’s marital or economic status, then I would say, let’s try to encourage the women to carry their pregnancies to term. If there were such things as universal health care for children, free or reduced meals, housing and child care, fully enforced child support payments, flexible work schedules for mothers and access to advanced educational options for both the women and the children, then what excuses would a woman have for not having her baby? Other than her own emotional and physical limitations, that is. There is that. And there’s really no way around that. If a woman believes that she can’t handle becoming a mother, then is it right to force her to become one? Even giving a child up for adoption might be more than some women can handle. (I know I wouldn’t have the emotional fortitude to do so.)

So, even though I feel uncomfortable with the idea of abortion, I feel more convicted about the sanctity of a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body. So I must live with this dichotomy.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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