Sunday, July 6, 2014

New York Times: Abortion Is A Terrible, Traumatic Event, And It Must Remain Legal

There is a really interesting editorial in the Opinion Section of the New York Times.  It is an intensely personal piece written by a woman who had an abortion 20 years ago.  She had become pregnant as the result of an affair with a married man.  She had always been very supportive of abortion rights, and she actually planned to film her abortion and show what a good option this is.

As she writes, she was in for a rude awakening.

You can read the article HERE.   Below is the text of her opinion piece.

I Couldn’t Turn My Abortion Into Art

I’d had only one serious boyfriend by this time and recently had been asked for the first time, “Can I buy you a drink?” by a man. (He was an actor in a film I’d worked on the summer before; he asked everybody that question, but still it felt like progress.) Somehow, by that tender age, I had convinced myself that I should take what I could get. So I took the married sound mixer. I had just turned 22 and I had the self-esteem of a squashed toad. This may explain why I was having an affair with a married 36-year-old sound mixer whom I’d met on a film shoot a couple of months earlier.
And then, a few months later, I rolled out of bed at an unreasonably early hour and vomited.
This didn’t seem as big a problem to me as it might have for other young women. This was the mid-1990s. Reared on protest marches, I had a NOW poster affixed to my bedroom wall. I was an unwavering believer in the fierce rhetoric of pro-choice. And now: a poster child.
In addition, in college I had essentially majored in experimental feminist video. I could make art out of anything.
I called my boss — a pretty, perpetually single 35-year-old art director — and confided my situation. She gave me the name of a clinic on Park Avenue. “Whatever you do, don’t go alone,” she said. 
I called. I made an appointment for the next day and checked the price: $350 — slightly more than a week’s pay.
The money intimidated me but the mission didn’t. Not only was this the right I’d marched for, it was an opportunity. It could provide material for the kinds of film I’d voraciously consumed in college, in which women transformed their most traumatic experiences into emotionally stirring and awareness-raising images: Margie Strosser’s “Rape Stories” or “The Body Beautiful” by Ngozi Onwurah, about a mother undergoing a radical mastectomy. An abortion today, a debut at Sundance tomorrow.
The next day was perfect movie material. A blizzard had hit New York City, shutting down the trains. I did something that I considered extravagant at that time: I called a car service. I added it to the mental tally, the bill I’d present to the married man when he returned from working on a film overseas.
I stuffed my Ricoh Hi8 video camera in my backpack, and I went alone.
The driver was Middle Eastern, from some hot and weather-less country, but he did a fair job of steering into the skids. He kept asking me why I was going out in such weather.
“I have to go to the doctor,” I kept telling him.
“Why? You don’t look sick.”
“I have to have a procedure.”
“What? What procedure?”
Finally, I told him. Why not? I was proud and un-conflicted. I was exercising my right. I was making a video.
He pulled over to the side of the road, right there on the Brooklyn Bridge — not only illegal but dangerous. “Please don’t kill the baby,” he said. “Please don’t kill the baby.”
“What are you doing?”
“Don’t kill the baby.” He wouldn’t move the car, though horns blared all around us.
“Keep driving! I have an appointment!” I shook his headrest. This was not part of the script.
“Please don’t kill the baby,” he said again, turning around to face me. He had beautiful big brown eyes — almost black. “I will take care of you and the baby. I work two jobs.”
“Drive,” I told him.
“You are going by yourself?” he asked.
I said, “Drive.”
He drove. The camera wasn’t on. I didn’t have any of it on tape.
At the clinic’s counter, the receptionist asked me what I’d come for. I said, “Um …”
“Termination of pregnancy?” she asked in her best would-you-like-fries-with-that voice. I nodded.
They gave me pamphlets, a paper gown and paper slippers. They sat me in a room filled with women, one of whom told me she’d been there eight times before. “They used to have terry cloth,” she said, lifting her toes in the paper slippers. It had never occurred to me that people had serial abortions, but it confirmed my expectations: abortion — safe, legal, no big deal.
Yet as I looked around the room, my expectations began to shift. This wasn’t the liberating environment I’d expected to enter. The uncomplicated message of those protests led me to think that legal abortion would be light. Lite. I wasn’t prepared for the saturnine cloudiness of the room, all those sad-looking women burying their faces in tabloid magazines.
The video camera stayed sleeping in my lap.
Nurses led me and 10 other women into a room where they talked to us about our anesthetic options — local or general — and had us sign forms. Everyone opted for general except for me. “I want local,” I said. I showed the woman from the clinic my video camera. “I want to be awake and I want to record it.” I said this with a now wavering smile.
She took me aside and informed me that I could not use my video camera in the operating room for legal reasons, and that they did not approve of local anesthesia.
“Why are you giving me the option, then?” I asked.
“We have to,” the woman said. For legal reasons.
My hands shook, the camera wobbling in my grasp. I was freezing inside my paper gown. I checked the “general” box on the form. I put the camera in my bag.
The first thing I thought when I awoke from the anesthesia was that I’d never be pregnant again, that I had just squandered my only chance at motherhood. I was sobbing — I had arisen from the depths of the medication this way — as they rolled me into the recovery room where the other women were lying, almost all of them with a friend or partner or relative to brush their hair back or offer them ice chips. I could not stop crying, big heaves and gulps of it. The nurse came over at first to soothe me and then to quiet me.
“You’re upsetting the other girls,” she said.
“It hurts.”
She sent the doctor over. “Sometimes we have to massage the womb,” he said, inserting his hand inside me and pressing. This did not stop the crying, but eventually it stopped the pain.
Or, at least, it stopped the physical pain. The begging cabdriver and the woman on her ninth abortion and the shocking suction in my womb: It was too traumatic for me to make art of. Or maybe it was just that I wasn’t a good enough artist to transform that level of trauma into something that others could learn from and use. I had been taught that a woman’s right to choose was the most important thing to fight for, but I hadn’t known what a brutal choice it was.
I took a car service home, too, where my brother and his girlfriend met me and we ordered in. “We would have gone with you,” they said, “if you’d asked.”
“I was going to make a video,” I said. Reacting to the way my hands still shook, they tended to me as if I’d just walked miles in that blizzard. I knew then I’d never be a filmmaker.
About motherhood, though, I was wrong. Fifteen years later, happily coupled with a wonderful man, I gave birth to my first daughter; I now have two. I don’t wish I had a 20-year-old. I didn’t want that baby, with that man. Abortion rights, yes, I’ll always support them, but even all these years later, I wish the motto wasn’t “Never again,” but “Avoid this if there’s any way you possibly can, even if it’s legal, because it’s awful.”
I wish that someone had alerted me to the harshness of the experience, acknowledged the layers of regret that built and fell away as the months and years passed. I want my daughters to have the option of safe and legal abortion, of course. I just don’t want them to have to use it.
This opinion piece clearly illustrates the cognitive dissonance that is necessary to hold to a pro abortion position.  As this writer tells us, having an abortion "is awful."  She has illustrated very clearly what a degrading and horrific experience it is to have an abortion.  Yes, she still wants her daughters to have the option of "choice", but she never wants them to use that option. The conflict in the mind of this woman must weigh on her every moment.

The fact that this piece is written some 20 years after the abortion shows that, as Msgr. Philip Reilly often says, having an abortion doesn't mean you're not a mother.  It means you are the mother of a dead baby.  Abortion is performed once, but it never ends in the life of the mother.

Please pray for the direct victims of abortion - the babies.  At the same time, realize that although these little martyrs died horrendous deaths, their suffering has ended.  But the suffering of the mothers and fathers of these babies will continue for a lifetime, and will actually be much greater than the pain experienced by their babies.  Pray that the parents of the babies will seek the forgiveness and mercy which they need and which can only found in Jesus Christ.

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