“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”
Good girls don’t get abortions. Good girls don’t have sex with anyone other than their husbands, so there is never any need to abort. Right? Abortions are murder. Abortions are selfish and ungodly.
These thoughts flooded my mind since I could understand pregnancy and politics as a child. I was a good church girl. I remember standing in my friend’s kitchen baking cookies when I still hadn’t kissed any boy yet. I told her I didn’t understand how women couldn’t have more self-control. “I will have no trouble waiting until marriage to have sex,” I spouted confidently. In my mind, this would prevent any possibility of wanting an abortion.
Of course, I didn’t wait until I was married. But I never got pregnant. Then I got married and never got pregnant. Then I got divorced and still didn’t get pregnant. But in the midst of all these difficult life shifts, I started learning more about the complexity of pregnancy.
I had a clearer picture that not all pregnant women were choosing to have sex. Sex wasn’t just something happy married lovey-dovey people did. Rape and incest were not only real; they were common. Terrifyingly common. Pregnancy doesn’t just stem from lovemaking, it sometimes stems from violence.
Then my naive mind began expanding to see how pregnancy could impact women’s lives in negative ways. Health problems for mother or fetus. Then finances. What if a woman couldn’t even afford to feed herself? What if she had no way of providing a life for a baby? It was all quite complicated. Pro-life? Whose life? The mom’s life? The unborn fetus’s future life or current life?
I still held on to my pro-life stance, but I had respect for the fact that nothing about getting pregnant was black and white.
Then my boobs got sore. I was peeing every hour. I was on The Pill, but at one point throughout the month my second method of birth control failed. I knew pregnancy was possible. This was a Sunday; my period would not arrive until Wednesday morning. As it did every single month. Until it didn’t. I woke up that Wednesday morning to clean panties and a panic attack.
Let me explain. I have thousands of dollars of student loan debt, and I am close to finally graduating. Years of hard work and financial sacrifice brought me to this moment: embarking on a wild career as a traveling freelancer and blogger. My life was my own, and I was on the brink of grasping every wild thing I had ever dreamed of. But all my plans included being baby-free.
The first thing I asked myself was: “What are you going to do, Taylor?” I completely surprised myself. I let my mind go through the whole scenario both ways. What would my life look like if I had a baby right now? What would my life look like if I had an abortion right now?
You know what each conclusion was? Complicated. It was messy and ugly and confusing and complex.
Then, late into that Wednesday, I went to the bathroom and was greeted by blessed assurance. I wasn’t pregnant. Instantaneous relief.
I am not doctor, theologian, philosopher, scientist or politician. They’ve all been arguing over abortion for years, ceaselessly and without agreement. What counts as life and when does it actually begin? Nobody can agree. Can we be a society that doesn’t abort but still uses the death penalty? Nobody can agree. Is quality of life a factor? Nobody can agree.
If people much smarter than me can’t agree, I really don’t have a voice in the matter. A 24-year-old English major cannot tell anybody to be pro-life or pro-choice with any real authority. So I’m not going to. If you made peace with your viewpoint, hold on it.
But I can suggest that more understanding and grace can be given to women no matter where they land on the spectrum of pro-life/pro-choice. Why? Because it is so painfully complicated. It is not black and white. There are shades of right and wrong in each decision, as well as worry and fear.
So if you find a woman who had an abortion, give her grace, accept her, love her, treat her the same as everybody else. If you find a woman who didn’t have an abortion, give her grace, accept her, love her, treat her the same as everybody else.
And don’t be so high and mighty. You might hold convictions with pride and believe you’d never waver. But I’ve known pro-choice women who couldn’t manage to get an abortion. And I know pro-life women who have had abortions. And I intimately know a woman who didn’t know what the hell to do one Wednesday morning.
It is so very easy to point fingers at ‘people.’ But it is so very hard to be an actual, individual person with issues and circumstances that nobody else can ever deeply know. As the band Everlast famously sings: “God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes. ‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose. Then you really might know what it’s like.” I may not have had to ‘walk a mile in her shoes.’ But on that Wednesday, I gained a whole bunch of compassion for those who do.
Let’s be kind and gentle. Life is complex. And it’s a hard battle.