*DISCLAIMER* Im not writing this to make anyone’s blood boil. The two experiences I am about to share simply have had a huge affect on my soul, because I’m due in 4 weeks and my belly is the size of a basketball.
Several weeks ago, I was waiting for my pre-natal check up and a stranger in the waiting room, came and sat by me and asked about my beliefs on abortion. Random. It took my mind back to a class in high school, where I ended up being in an argument about abortion.
It was one of those ‘citizenship’ classes, meant to expand your view on the world. Imagine it, a bunch of awkward 16-17 year olds being forced to discuss whether abortion is ok or not, and why. Now, I don’t remember if no one else there had the courage to voice their opinion, or whether the teacher knew I opposed abortion except for health reasons or rape, and picked me to speak against one of the most volatile guys there. All I remember is that my 17yr old stand point was “I’m a Christian, and I believe in the sanctity of life. God’s way is abstinence before marriage and my understanding is that after marriage the only appropriate times for abortions are if the mother’s life is endangered or if it’s a rape.” My opponent’s stand point was “I have a cousin with Down Syndrome and I think it would have been better he had never been born, because of how hard it has been for him and my family to have a good life.”
Now remember this was penultimate year of high school- or as we say in England, Sixth Form. Neither of us were scholars or qualified with anything more than our wits. Both of us passionate and stubborn. Both of us justified in our understanding. Our classmates not daring to side with either of us, likely for fear of being labelled ‘radical’ or ‘extreme’. I knew for a fact I was one of 3 confirmed virgins in the room (maybe there were more but come on, who admits that when you’re 17). So, I knew that not many were into the whole ‘abstinence’ thing, and maybe they all agreed with my opponent. Who knows.
We battled it out for what seemed like forever. Definitely one of the longest hours of my life. And, it was definitely a time I thanked God for my brown skin because no one could see I was blushing like crazy. I remember that my opponent asked me a very piercing question “so if you get pregnant, and you find out your kid has Down syndrome, you’re telling me you wouldn’t consider an abortion?” I remember his blue-green eyes, glaring at me, filled with anger and pain. “No. I don’t think I would.” I replied as calmly as I could. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” He retorted, and started saying something about ‘religious brainwashing’. And that’s all I remember about the vocal part of the debate. Besides that, the two of us pretty much avoided each other for the rest of our time at Sixth Form. The thing I remember the most vividly from that day is the feeling of fear- fear of having to stand alone. The feeling of being judged and labelled as “a blind Jesus follower”. The sudden dislike for my teacher, for making me be the one to debate the pro-life stand point- he was a bubbly sociologist with a lisp- he knew about my beliefs, but would occasionally check in and ask whether my ‘church was a cult’ or whether I was sure I was a Christian. (I would usually invite him to church with me when he said such things to see for himself, or remind him that the name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints so we definitely are Christians.)
Back to the present, now I’m older and wiser, I have 4 very close friends who struggle or have struggled with infertility. I have 2 very dear friends who are parents to children with disabilities. And, closer to home, our new next door neighbors are parents to a set of autistic twin boys. I see glimpses of their woes, and my heart breaks with them when they tell me about their hard day with the children, or being the only ones in their friendship circle without children. My heart soars when I sense their love for their current or future family. I admire their relentless efforts and hope. Part of me wishes that this older pregnant me could teleport back to that classroom 8 years ago, and report all of this back to that angry boy, to tell him my answer would still be no to an abortion if I were having a Down Syndrome baby. And, simply try give him some peace, if not to merely honor everything his family must have been doing, for that Down Syndrome Cousin, whom he so fervently wished had never been born.
Back to the waiting room- the woman I conversed with started to share her story, and asked me about my feelings on abortion, We both found tears coming to our eyes. I looked tenderly at my own child. I felt my 33 week fetus kick in my belly. She told me that she had had an abortion once, and that she still carries guilt from that decision 10 years ago. She told me she felt strongly that the baby she conceived should have been given up for adoption, but her boyfriend at the time bullied her into an abortion. She then told me about how the baby she is pregnant with now (she was 10 weeks pregnant) could have a disability, because on her partner’s side there are siblings with disabilities such as Aspergers and Down Syndrome. She then boldly stated that even if that’s the case, she feels a great sense of peace. That even if the baby is born with one of those issues, they have committed to love and raise that child in joy and happiness, because her and her partner believe that “everyone should have the chance to live.”
What a moving concept- that everyone should have the chance to live! Not just be born, or exist, but to live the life they choose and deserve.
I rose slowly as my name was called to go in, taking in one last look at this remarkable lady. Abortion is still a very private and personal decision. And if you are all for it, that’s totally fine. It’s presence and memory torments many on both sides. And, it’s hard to know that there will never be a unanimous conclusion. But, there is one thing that lady in the waiting room had about life, especially for those with disabilities, that the boy in my Sixth Form class did not, and that was hope.
Do you have family or friends with disabilities? Have you ever felt ridiculed about your personal stance on abortion, whether you are pro life or pro choice?