I have to add my perspective because this issue has become one of great importance to me. I had to have an abortion for several reasons despite the fact that I desperately did not want to do so. I truly wanted to carry the pregnancy to term.
I'm not getting into the reasons. I've written about them before, and "pro-birth" people always want to argue with me about whether I am a murderer or not. Or when they are generous, whether or not I was just making a bad decision. I'm not here for that.
I want to raise a different matter. I just completed trauma treatment and the abortion experience was supposed to be my “index trauma” or the one I picked to work on. Instead, I picked one of the three rapes I experienced. I still question my decision. Because there was a foster care experience that I also considered making my index trauma. The abortion experience and the foster care experience are linked in my mind in terms of some of the issues I need to discuss.
In August 1981, my family became like the starving boy being ignored by the man. The U.S. government cut block grants effectively killing Aid to Dependent Children for Unemployed Parents, the program my parents were on.
Thankfully, we have free school lunches, so some people were not walking past. We could eat at some churches. But I was hungry enough to take food out of the garbage and eat it. This act was witnessed by at least one teacher, because the detail made it into the child neglect report about my parents that subsequently occurred on December 18, 1981.
They broke up our family, put us kids in two different foster homes, and paid the foster families more money than they had been paying my parents on AFDC. The kids were traumatized. My mentally ill parents were traumatized. But most importantly, I got a message from society. We could be made to suffer if conservatives felt we cost too much. The value of my life was to go hungry, terrified, and stigmatized.
As I got older, I learned about people and children less fortunate than me. Suffering incredibly painful lives, often ending in preventable deaths. My empathy for them was obviously great since I knew what it was like to be at the mercy of other people. I knew what it was like to have those people move to cut you off.
Christians and I suppose other religions endow the zygote and the embryo with a soul, one that appears upon conception. In their imagination, this soul can feel things before birth. That’s why pro-birth people never believe research studies showing pain is not felt until at least 20 weeks.
Furthermore, when I had an abortion, the seven-week embryo “with a soul” was seen as dying a tragic death, never getting to live a deserved life.
This entity had no feelings. It had no thoughts. It was partially created. I stopped its creation. In my belief system, there was no soul. The embryo does not “deserve” a life. You don’t earn your life somewhere and once you miss your chance, you didn’t work hard enough. This is a creation of the woman’s body. Without her cooperation, at risk to her life, it should not be forced to occur.
Life may be precious, but human beings show little evidence they truly believe that. Having a cult built around the pre-born is galling to those of us who have been at the mercy of our fellow human beings. Those of us with thoughts and feelings. Those of us who have had to eat from the garbage. Those of us who have seen the vulture over our shoulders.