Carrie O'Hara

The pouting and ponderings of a single 30 something year old

An Unwanted Gift: why I don’t understand the place of religion in the abortion debate November 18, 2012

Filed under: Abortion,Politics,Women — carrieohara @ 2:12 pm

It’s hard to imagine a more personal choice than the one a woman makes to terminate a pregnancy; and it’s nearly impossible to find an issue that so divides social opinion. I’m absolutely pro-choice: I believe life begins not at conception but at that undetermined moment when a foetus would be able to exist outside the lifeblood of it’s mother. At this point this little, tiny person should have the same human rights afforded/ imagined for us all. I believe the right to terminate a pregnancy is one that should be available to every woman. She and she alone has the right to determine what happens to her body.

The thing I find most objectionable and infuriating in the complexities of the abortion debate is the suggestion that every baby is ‘ a gift from God’.
This suggests that the foetus created as a result of a violent rape, of incest, of the mere drunken encounter is part of God’s master plan. Are these occurrences too, covered by that most infuriating of religious placations: a result of free will and the ‘sinful, fallible nature of humankind.’?

I fail to see how every baby is God’s miracle if it’s creation was a product of ‘sinful’ acts and/or free will. What does this theory suggest about the endless women and couples who want a baby, would make for loving and nurturing parents but can’t conceive? Has their sinful behaviour pissed the Almighty off so irrevocably that they don’t deserve his precious gift? What does that say about the all forgiving God?

What about those women and girls who’s pregnancies are totally unplanned? Those who’s contraception has failed them, or who took a chance in not using contraception?
Is an unwanted child the payment for poor judgement and bad luck?

As a single 33 year old woman who has wanted a baby since she was old enough to hold a doll where’s God’s gift to me? That the father of my child hasn’t found me or me him is this too God’s plan? Am I to see this as punishment for some terrible wrong? God working in mysterious ways? Or is it not my right to question the ways of the Almighty?

If God is in control of who gets pregnant and who doesn’t, there is something seriously amiss with his selection procedure.

I think people who adopt are amazing: I think to open your home and your hearts to the children who need them the most is a truly admirable thing…
but the system is broken. There is a cruel irony in the almost insurmountable hurdles that exist for prospective adoptive parents and the number of women and girls who find themselves pregnant without wanting to be.
And the darkest, most real part of me worries about the psychological damage done to the child whose most important psychological and emotional link has been severed.

I teach unwanted children and see how psychologically and emotionally damaged they are. I teach kids so truly fucked up by the care system that only that objectionable expletive will do. I teach school aged mothers who are juggling exams, motherhood and part time jobs with such grace and fortitude that they amaze me. They have made a choice to keep their baby and make it work. I don’t get to judge if a trip to a Liverpool abortion clinic would have been a better option.

The number of women who come from Ireland North and South to go to mainland UK for a termination is staggering. Northern Irish and Irish law doesn’t in fact protect the life of the ‘unborn child’ but makes a horrendous choice for a woman all the more difficult

I don’t have the medical or the scientific knowledge: or enough of the facts of the Savita case in Dublin to know if her life would have been saved to by terminating her pregnancy: I know that if in fact that was the case: a system of laws killed her. I don’t understand why the life of an unborn child is more valuable than the life of its Mother: anti- choice legislation continues to make this determination. I don’t understand why those extremists that threaten and take the lives of abortion performing doctors can tag themselves pro-life. And I don’t understand why anyone would force an unwanted child upon a mother: and a society struggling to provide for itself.

I’m not a Dawkinsesque naysayer. If anything I envy those who have the clarity of religious belief to answer that question: where’s God when it hurts?
And I envy those who have the security of faith to answer, ‘ I don’t know but I still believe.’

Being pro- choice doesn’t mean I’m pro-abortion: it means I want termination to be an option for those women who need it. What I want is for governments to stop hiding behind religious doctrine.

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6 Responses to “An Unwanted Gift: why I don’t understand the place of religion in the abortion debate”

  1. debbierea Says:

    This needs a comment, but I’m not sure what to say.I agree with most of it and I love you.

    I’m not sure what I disagree with, perhaps it’s just that I’m back in the “I don’t know but I still believe’ camp and some of your language makes me nervous. I think all babies are gifts. Out of broken, horrible life experiences, beautiful gifts can come. But it is not my right to dictate that raped women, for example, need to accept that ‘gift’.

    We have talked about this before and you know you have changed my views on it.

    The way I see it: you are allowed to question the ways of Almighty. It is unjust. The system is broken. It’s shit.

    • carrieohara Says:

      I avoided writing this (and too many blogs) for too long). It is such a personal issue. It’s easy for me to rage against religion as I don’t carry it’s baggage or I’m guessing the power of it’s hope beneath my metaphorical wings.
      Instead I get to blame something I don’t believe in for all the sorrow in the world. Go figure.

      I’ve watched pregnancies bloom, held brand new babies in my arms and ached in awe at the ‘miracle’ I’ve seen there.
      I think the miracle of birth is a triumph of womanhood. And I perhaps should have tempered my vitriolic blog with such acknowledgements.

  2. debbierea Says:

    Honesty is rarely vitriol. That is not how I read it. Write more, please….

  3. Jonny Gibson Says:

    it’s an interesting question, as to why the religious have strong views on it. there is the uncharitable view, which I mayswell posit 🙂 why the heck not. Throughout the millennia the power of faith and religion comes from dealing with the scary unknowns of humanitarian. Control is assigned to the deity, everything from bringing the rains and making the crops grow, to looking after family when unseen. To, as you say, the ‘gift from god’ – perfect sense in a world with little or know knowledge of how this weird magic thing called child birth happens. So every attempt to intervene and control things which the faithful deem to be the arena of their deity is inappropriate and trespassing on their turf. ditto evolution/creationism. it’s fair enough to consider a baby a miracle or a gift from god if you don’t know any better. was baby Hitler a gift from god?.* (*i like to take all arguments to the ridiculous, just so i know where it is)

  4. Jonny Gibson Says:

    it’s informative that the catholic church also oppose contraceptive, and , i think IVF.

  5. Sheila Says:

    Carrie, I agree with so much of what you say. I certainly question the Almighty all the time and I know I’m in good company because Jesus questioned him too. I think, however, that we get angry with God because we think he’s a “super-me” instead of some-one whose perspective is totally different from mine. I find it hard to see abortion as a black and white issue. There are times when it is imperative that it is carried out. On the other hand, I look at a scan of my unborn grandson, just forming in his mother’s womb and I find I cannot say: “That is not yet Paul”.


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