Uncomfortable Read

First off, I’d like to apologize for taking such a long break.  The July 4th holiday really set me behind and I’m just now catching up in regards to school, household maintenance, ect…

I have a serious topic to talk about today.  I’m going to apologize here and now if anything said below is offensive in any way.  This is PURELY my opinion and a reaction to something I was reading on another blog, and not meant to come across as preachy or in any way as instruction for how others should think or live their lives.

Now that that’s said, I recently read a blog entry written by a woman who had gotten an abortion several months ago.  It took me two tries to read it all the way through, and I was struck by her tone in several places of the article.

I have a hard time defining my standpoint on abortion.  On an entirely personal level, I find that I have a hard time even considering the termination of a life that is growing inside of me.  Especially since losing my brother, the thought of ending a life I carry inside of my own body seems simply impossible.  HOWEVER, the fact that I can make a choice is extremely important.  I view a woman’s ability to choose whether or not to carry a baby to full-term as an inherent and important right.  That is a choice for her and her partner to make, completely independent of my thoughts and opinions.

There is a young woman I know who terminated her pregnancy.  She’s a good friend of mine, but knowing that she ended that life is a little difficult for me.  I have tried to understand why it’s such a hard concept for me to confront, and ended up down a moral rabbit-hole.  With so many ways to prevent conception in the first place, I find it even harder to reconcile myself to the thought of terminating an unwanted pregnancy.  However, I am aware that no form of birth control is perfect, and that there are people that are not ready or do not want to be a parent at all.  And though I instinctively find myself somewhat opposed to the idea, I don’t think that I have a right to decide what any other woman does with her body.  I don’t think that anyone has a right to tell a woman what she does with her body, beyond reasonable concerns for physical health.

So while I had a hard time with this article, it wasn’t because the woman had chosen to have an abortion.  What struck me so deeply was simply the way she talked about it.  From the beginning, it was breezy: a discussion of blame for the pregnancy, and admission that she sometimes went a couple weeks without being on birth control while waiting for a new prescription.  That she had forgotten to take the Plan B pill in time.  It was so very matter of fact…all these barriers to a pregnancy she and her at-the-time boyfriend breezed past, leaving her to decide ( alone, she didn’t tell him she was pregnant ) to terminate it.

She moves on to describe walking into the clinic, and she discusses the picketers outside.  She acknowledges their right to assemble and protest, and then tears them down in a cool and highly cynical fashion.  She utterly denounces their overly emotional response, and while I understand why she feels they should go home and mind their own business…I found the way she talked about them extremely disturbing as well.  Her cold and snobbish dismissal, the way she ridiculed their beliefs, was difficult for me.  They hold the belief that she was about to end a life as deeply as she holds the belief that she has the right to choose what is best for her, but though they have just as much of a right to their beliefs as she does, she calls them names like “fetus crusaders” in her narrative.

The article goes on to talk very briefly about the process of checking into the clinic and the steps there.  She talks about how non-judgmental the staff was, but also how disillusioned they are.  She called the process “an abortion assembly line, just waiting until the conveyer belt takes you to the vacuum room.”  That statement itself, with both its gruesome imagery and the almost clincal matter-of-factness, struck me as rather brutal.  And not just for me as a reader: maybe for the first time, reading that, did I understand how punishing the writer found this process as well.

I’m not trying to tear this woman down.  Her decision and her view about that decision are completely valid.  They baffle me a little, but they are 100% valid.  The article is certainly brave, and very unapologetic honest.  However, I found the rhetoric to be so cynical that it hurt to read it.  In a part where she describes a Pro-Life speaker ( this particular woman was a late-term abortion that was born alive and the doctor saved her ), she wonders if the woman appreciates the irony that her mother didn’t chose life but did “write her meal ticket.”

Perhaps this brutal outlook is how she’s armored herself in her approach to life.  I don’t know her personally.  What I do know is that reading it, I felt as though her outlook on life was sarcastic and in some ways, mean.  It hurt to read, not because of the subject matter, but because it represented ( to me, anyway ) how easily we tear down each others’ beliefs, and how punishing we can be to ourselves as well.  It came off as a very one-sided, “my way is the only way that makes sense,” kind of argument that I find so arrogant: her only argument was that everyone else was on a silly crusade, and that everyone else over generalized the arguments both for and against.

What was even harder to read was her thought process while she waited.  She admits to it being a day of self-loathing, and is equally brutally honest about herself and her view point as she was about the views of others.

It ends with her reflecting that she wished it was more of a mani, pedi, abortion experience and that the doctor said she had a tight vagina and that she hoped he told all girls that so they wouldn’t think they were worn and blown out.

Maybe I’m wrong to find that article so…very sad.  Sad, not because of the abortion parts, but because of how hard this outlook is.  How cold and lonely.  Perhaps it was just in these moments that she felt this way, and I could certainly understand that.  But there was a high-handedness, a sarcasm and defensiveness, that was in a small way crushing to read and think about.  Perhaps grieving a close member of my family has made it hard to think about the termination of life at all.  But I certainly hope that we are not so bleak and petty a society as that article seemed to suggest.

My Thank You

I was fortunate enough to be featured on WordPress.com’s Freshly Pressed site for a blog entry I wrote a few days ago called Thinking About Grief.  The response I’ve received from that has been overwhelming.  So many people have commented on that entry, reaching out with their own stories and thoughts about grief.  It has been a very moving experience to read through people’s stories, well-wishes, and personal thoughts and experiences with loss and grieving.

To say that I have been and am moved would be an understatement.

I want to say thank you to all the people who viewed the entry, to all the people that referred it to others who might be experiencing something similar, and to all the people who commented with their thoughts and personal stories.  There was a lot of bravery there in that comments section, and a lot of people taking a moment to wish the grievers well, and to give them hope.

My grief counselor told me that writing a journal or a blog could be a very therapudic and healing exercise.  It took me two years to be brave enough to follow that advice.  She was more right than I could have ever guessed.

People are amazing, more than willing to reach out from across the world in order to share a little of the human experience with each other.  To show kindness across thousands of miles, through many timezones and beyond many political borders.  I have more than seen evidence of that these past few days, and it has brought me a lot of comfort and joy.

So from me, a very heartfelt thank you.

I’ll sign off here with the words of comedian Patton Oswalt after the Boston Marathon bombings, because he says it far better than I could:

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