Abortion is legal for the time being, as repugnant as many people find that legal reality to be. People can sit around and try to think up all the awful reasons that a woman might have an abortion – fine. It all amounts to believing that a woman – somewhere, at some time – will choose to have an abortion for the wrong reason. That risk – that a woman may have an abortion of the wrong reason – is one society must bear if it chooses to keep abortion legal. Period. There is no way to finesse this. There is no effective way to prove motivation or intent for a having an abortion and it would to my mind be a waste of time to try to enforce for it.
There is no risk-free proposition. If we permit people to have particular liberties, they will to some extent be used in a way that most people find immoral, disagreeable, repugnant, etc. That is reality. Nothing is risk-free. Not voting, not gun ownership, not home ownership, not pornography, not political speech, not freedom of the press. None of it is risk free of bad behavior, bad outcomes, bad motivation, etc.
I find this topic very, very upsetting. I had an abortion. I am 42. I am the mother of two beautiful girls. I terminated a pregnancy at 12 weeks of a child I wanted to have between my two girls. The baby had significant chromosomal abnormalities, which meant:
1) she had a 50% chance of surviving birth; 2) if she survived birth, she had a 10% chance of making it to her 1st birthday and 3) for however long she survived, she would need skilled nursing facility care because her poor body and brain would be extremely atypical and her needs would be so great.
She would never improve, she would only live until her malformed organs couldn’t work anymore. All I ever saw for her was a life of certain suffering and pain that would end in an early death. I acted in a way to keep her from suffering and to protect my older daughter from the experience of having a sibling who dies. I did what I believed to be best for the child I was carrying and for the child I already had. That I had the legal option of ending this pregnancy, and hopefully avoiding needless suffering of my children, is a risk that must be borne in a context in which abortion is legal.
I am sure there are many people who would find my decision to be the wrong one – perhaps just as wrong as gender selective abortion, or a vacation abortion, or whatever awful reason some woman somewhere may have had for ending a pregnancy. The point is, if the state permits abortion, it has to permit it in fairly broad contexts. And if we start to go down this road of, "well, it can’t be for this reason or this reason," who becomes the arbiter of all of those impermissible or repugnant reasons and where does that list stop? I’ll tell you where it stops. It stops only when all abortion is illegal and when my choice would have been illegal.
I am not glad to have had an abortion. I do not celebrate it. I am grateful to have legally and safely avoided the further pain I believed I was inflicting on the baby and my older daughter. I still wonder what God will say about my decision. I still mark the date of when I made my choice and what would have been her birthday. And I am deeply grateful for the second beautiful daughter we have been given. I may have done wrong. And if I have, I will answer for that when I meet my Maker.