Wanted: Pro-Lifers Who Babysit

This article first appeared in “Geez” magazine (Spring 2013 issue). I’m now posting it here for those of you who haven’t seen the original publication. 

I’m walking through the University of Toronto when I come across the pro-life exhibit. A wave of nausea rises in my throat as I glance at the usual blown-up images of bloody fetuses. I tell the organizer that I once faced the decision to have an abortion or keep a baby and it’s not as simple as it seems. What I don’t say to these idealistic female students, likely virginal Christians, is that no matter how graphic a photo is, it can never compare to the horror of becoming pregnant with a child you’re not ready for. The feeling of suffocating panic, paralyzing fear, depression and sadness far outweighs any distaste for blood.

I got pregnant in my third year of university with a guy I’d been dating for a few months. Though I was pro-life for years, abortion became a quick solution to a scary alternative. Coming from a conservative Mennonite family (who didn’t like the idea of boyfriends, let alone premarital sex), employed as a church secretary and still in school, there was no room for a baby in my life. My boyfriend and I were struggling. I was in debt. There were no spots in the university daycare. I’d have to drop out of school, move in with my parents. If a 10-minute procedure could return my life to a familiar path instead of condemning me to a life I dreaded, why wouldn’t I choose that?

I booked a counselling appointment at the Morgentaler clinic, where the counsellor latched on to our Christian backgrounds and set out to prove that abortion isn’t condemned in the Bible. She talked forcefully, as if believing that once we clarified the misunderstanding between us and God, I wouldn’t hesitate to hop onto the surgical bed. When I turned down her offer to perform the abortion immediately, she said, “Maybe you’ll end up going out on a limb and keeping it.” Her comment shook me up. Without knowing it, she’d said the one thing no one had said yet. It was a challenge, yet strangely comforting.

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I chose to keep the baby, but it was the toughest time of my life. I battled depression, lost friends, sacrificed a lifestyle I loved. My boyfriend lost his mother, who couldn’t deal with “the shame he’d brought on the family.” When our son was born, I raised him as a single parent during the week, with his dad coming on weekends to help. That baby ended up being the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, along with falling back in love with his father and having another child.

My view on abortion has changed drastically since understanding the terror and bravery that goes into making such a decision. A woman who has an abortion doesn’t do it because she wants to, but because she feels she has to. Pro-lifer enthusiasts would do better to fight for the sanctity of life that already exists. Why not offer tangible help such as babysitting, tuition money or hot meals for single mothers? Since it’s utterly impossible to know what each woman faces and, frankly, it’s not your business, please leave the women alone to decide what to do with their own uteruses.

Katherine Martinko is a stay-at-home mom who lives in rural Ontario and maintains her sanity by writing. After a rocky introduction to parenthood, she’s happy to say everything worked out well, though she doesn’t recommend this route for starting a family. She blogs at feistyredhair.wordpress.com and writes a regular column for Parentables.com.

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7 thoughts on “Wanted: Pro-Lifers Who Babysit

  1. Thanks for this, Im sure you are aware of the situation in Ireland at the moment, if not,take a moment to google the Savita case. I live in London now, which is lucky, because if I lived in Ireland and became pregnant; my options would be extremely limited.

  2. Beautifully said.
    But….

    I have been involved in this issue for 20 years and I have found quite a bit of common ground between pro-lifers and pro-choicers…
    These being a few of them….

    Abortion as a form of birth control.
    (Multiple abortions 8,9,10 for example)
    Late term abortions.
    Abortions on fetuses that is not their preferred sex.
    Abortions on children that are disabled.(trisomy disorders such as Down syndrome)
    Abortions and multiples.(eg.pregnant with triplets through invitro and aborting one or two to gain the desired number of children)
    Inducing labor and delivering a child just before the point if viability and allowing the child to die( some states have a ‘born alive infant protection act but many do not- the fact that an act such as this exists shows a very dark underbelly if the abortion world most if our society choose not look at)
    Almost all pro choice women that I have discussed this issue agree with some of the above …..
    Why are we not properly educating our women on the nature of our bodies and how they work?
    On the deepest most engrained level of our anatomy is the genetic programming to procreate … A genetic domino effect that influences every aspect of our biological lives… To cell reproduction hormone synthesis and balance to the cascade of processes that enable a multitude if highly complex events to occurr in order for us to do something as simple as ovulate.
    I am a woman and I love it. I refuse to deny my nature in a vain attemp to be seen a ‘equal’ to a man.
    I would love to see women embrace their womanhood and celebrate it while teaching their daughters to do the same.
    … To fully embrace birth control and all it’s effects and methods of use,honestly and openly.
    …. To teach them about female sexuality and to celebrate it … that they can learn and reject the objectification and abuse of their bodies by men.
    … Haven’t we come far enough as women that we can embrace our double X chromosomes instead of longing for the Y ?
    ….as a pro life woman I don’t want abortion to be illegal… rather I want women to NOT WANT to have an abortion….
    I realize that’s a tall order but there is a lot we can actually do today to make it happen in the tomorrow….

    /end rant. 🙂

    1. I agree 100% with you. Thanks for bringing up those many darker aspects of the abortion debate that don’t get discussed as openly as they should. Abortion is far from ideal. (There’s a reason I didn’t go through with it!) And you’re absolutely correct that women shouldn’t want them, or rather, shouldn’t need them because they’re using the alternative options out there. This article was a much-edited version of my original post, most of which you can see here: https://feistyredhair.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/all-because-of-an-absurdly-simplistic-pro-life-exhibit-at-my-university/. In it, I talk about how the adoption process needs to open up and become more transparent and less intimidating for young girls, so that abortion isn’t seen as the only ticket to freedom. Support networks are key, because, frankly, there isn’t much out there — or at least there wasn’t on my university campus when I was in that situation. Anyways, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate it what you’ve added to this debate 🙂

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