I am a Christian, pro-life feminist. Concerning the charged topic of abortion, I don't expect everyone to think or believe the same way I do. I disagree with the prevailing feminist assertion that "any abortion is a legitimate abortion because any choice a woman makes concerning her own body is a legitimate one." But I realize I'm an anomalous "conservative feminist" and try to keep my mind open to understand where others are coming from when more liberal feminism conflicts with my conservatism.
So recently a post from a feminist blog about abortion led me down a comment thread that... surprised me. The topic was de-stigmatizing open discussion of one's abortion(s) based on the statistic that 1 in 3 American women will have an abortion in their reproductive lifetime. The post observed that some women regret it and others don't, but regardless of your stance on the morality of abortion, as an inherently invasive procedure that can have lasting physical and emotional repercussions, women should have an outlet to discuss their experiences in a therapeutic way without all the shame and vitriol surrounding the topic currently.
As a feminist, I can agree with that sentiment. It has nothing to do with putting my stamp of approval on abortion, but everything to do with letting those who need to heal, heal. In a purely feminist sense, women who have an abortion face all kinds of societal flack while it's rare that such judgment is hurled toward the men involved. But especially in a Christian sense, I know there are those who feel beyond the fellowship of others because of such an experience that feels off-limits to discuss, even in terms of regret.
So I read the comments and took them with a grain of salt. I thought I knew what to expect, but then came the curve ball comments that surprised me. Not because there were so many women describing their own experiences with abortion (though that didn't make my day), but because of one of the ways that a several women framed it.
First, at least three women described their situations as terminating a pregnancy earlier, but now being married with one or more children. One woman's sentiment was that she is open with her children about her past abortion, because that way they can know that she really wanted them and loves them and planned them intentionally. She wrote:
Yes, I have talked openly about my abortion - and about what a positive experience it was. I also like to make the point that my children will always know that they weren't an "accident" although they weren't planned. I chose to continue my pregnancies because I wanted them.
Others, evidently, agreed with this line of thought, giving it 33 "thumbs up." Another mother wrote that she and her husband almost decided to have an abortion, but didn't-- and later provided this story to her daughter as a means of showing the daughter how giving her life was a conscious choice, even though other options were considered. It was meant as a testament to how much the daughter was loved and wanted. Other readers also seemed to appreciate this woman's thoughts.
Only one other person had a similar reaction to my own:
Oh dear God. "Thanks for not killing me, Mom!" You're going to hear those words and get the warm and fuzzies?...which got got zero thumbs up.
Though I consider myself part of the pro-life/pro-child camp, I'm not going to sling mud at anyone who's made a heart-rending choice like abortion. It's not my place. That said, I was thinking the same thing as the unpopular reader directly above-- it sounds off to want your current kids to feel *extra* loved based on the fact that you didn't abort them. So the children you do birth will be buoyed up knowing that there were other embryos/fetuses that didn't make the cut? Erm, no. I felt icky reading that.
It's one thing to desire a society in which women who have had an abortion can discuss their difficult and painful experiences without a host of people lining up to judge and condemn them. That's entirely different from desiring a society in which abortion should be considered so common that we celebrate children who are chosen (and expect them to celebrate, too), because it reflects the ultimate empowerment of women as keepers of their own bodies and lives. That's a philosophical approach to "progressive thinking," conscientious child-bearing, and womanhood that disturbs me.
And the fact that there were so many virtual head nods and only one other incredulous voice... Evidently I'm a feminist misfit.