Monday, January 21, 2008

Getting Used to the Idea

I still shudder sometimes when I hear people using the word "mommy" to describe the future me. The word mommy makes me think of other older people with kids in highschool or something. It doesn't seem right yet to think of myself as a soon to be mommy. Maybe I just have to get used to the word as a modifier of me- like I had to get used to being called a "teen" when I turned 13, I hated that word! I bet it will all change when I have a baby in my arms, but for me, the concept feels weird.

I remember when it seemed weird to refer to "the baby" when talking about the creature growing inside me. It was weird just talking/thinking about actually having a baby and being a parent. The idea was too new and so foreign to me. Now I'm so used to talking about "the baby" and hearing other people talk about "the baby." It isn't even born yet it already has an identity in this world. I just wish I knew the gender so I could stop calling the baby "it." :)

Warning: the rest of this post is a rant (a respectful one) on my own views on abortion. I don't mean to offend ANYONE, I just want to talk out my views to myself on my own blog (I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to do this).

One way in which I stand out from all of my lawschool friends is that I am pro-life. (Makes it very hard for me to support a democratic candidate for 2008- but I've decided to do it anyway because you can't chose a president over just one issue). I have lived among a sea of pro-choice friends for years though and I truly understand why they feel the way they do. Sometimes law has to be based upon practicality in being carried out and its affect on society. Although I disagree with pro-choice decisions of the Supreme Court, they make sense to me from a rational stand point. It seems to be a good way to balance interests and freedom. Sometimes I feel so swayed by the practicality of pro-choiceness (I know, not a word) that I almost forget that I am pro-life. Then I quickly remember that, wait, the thing isn't just a lump of tissues (well technically it is), but it's actually a life of its own.

Being pregnant has solidified my pro-life views. I know I would feel different in other circumstances- ex: being single, not wanting a baby, not having support, rape. But I think wanting to terminate a life is just a reaction made out of fear. Fear of not having enough money, or time, or not being ready, or not having hope that you can get through it (for rape, I am willing to make a concession even though I still would think a life has been lost). When I heard the baby's heartbeat at six weeks -- the actual baby, of course, had only been in existence for four weeks-- I was amazed. How can this not be considered a life? I know there are many arguments for this, such as: the baby can't live on it's own, it's not viable yet and there is still a chance of miscarriage, etc. While I understand these arguments, I will never be able to accept them. It's more than just a gut reaction to hearing a heart beat, and it's more than thinking life is precious at any stage and in any form, and for me it's not connected with any religious views because I am currently apathetic or in disillusionment regarding the idea of God. It's more than just reading the books showing what a fetus looks like each step of the way (yeah, starts out like a sea monkey but quickly takes a somewhat human form) or books on how meticulously a fetus grows and how the female body reacts to it- which by the way, is a very intricate and amazingly complex process, it's hard to believe it happens at all!

For me, it also comes down to the general indignation of accepting that humans are capable of killing their own kind and not just anyone of their kind, but one of their own future children. It pains me to see people who have endless love and respect for animals and pets of all kinds (we all love our animals- I know, I have two cats) but who could care less about other people on this planet. A fetus/baby is an living organism created from the genetic material of two people, it's something amazing that we create. But it's also a separate being. It's not for either parent to own or control, it has some level of autonomy. I personally can see the resemblence of the "tissue" to a human as early as seven/eight weeks old (maybe I have a great imagination)- how can we end the life of something that is so much like us? It seems to defy any sort of loyalty to innocent humanity.

Perhaps one in five pregnancies do end in miscarriage, but usually the life ends on its own because of a genetic mutation or other defect. I do not take this statistic as justification for ending a seemingly healthy life. Yes, it wouldn't survive on it's own. But neither do babies, they need someone to care for them and feed them. It's just a baby in a more vulnerable state and that is why we have a greater duty to protect it.

Prolifers and Prochoicers can dance around the issue of when life begins for the rest of time. By defining when it begins in different ways, each side can rationally and logically justify its view on the subject. Personally, I will always know where I stand on when life begins- because I think I'm a glass half full kind of person. I am more willing to risk accepting that a life has begun earlier rather than waiting until the baby is in the clear and completely viable. However, I do respect the views of my peers because I find those views to be persusive and rational and I can logically see why people would want a society which allows abortion, even if I don't.


CM said...

It's always nice to hear a respectful discussion about abortion. Thanks.

It's interesting that you describe the pro-choice view as being based on practicality -- I haven't thought about it that way, but when it comes down to it I guess you're right (at least for me). If I simplify my pro-choice views enough, they can be boiled down to this: the mother matters, and no one can imagine all the different possible circumstances that the mother might be going through, so it doesn't make sense to have a blanket rule. You can make exceptions for rape, incest, etc., but you can't ever come up with a rule that fits everybody, and I think people should be able to make that difficult decision for themselves instead of having to appeal to an authority figure. (The "practicality" you were talking about might also be: women have always sought abortions, so we should make them safe. That sways me too, but not nearly as much.)

I understand what you're saying, though. It is pretty amazing to watch fetal development and to see how early they begin to look human. When you take a look at an ultrasound at only eight weeks and see the flicker of the baby's heartbeat, it's hard to deny that there is a life there. Still, I feel like the day after the fertilized egg implants, you can't call that a baby, and there must be some line... but when I try to think about it logically, if you're drawing a line, the only place it really makes sense to draw it is at implantation.

About a year ago I wrote a post about how, like you, pregnancy solidified my views on abortion.

Cee said...

wow, that's really interesting! thank you for sharing your post too!

newduck said...

Hmm, that's a pretty hot topic, and I admire you for discussing your views on your blog, whether or not they jive with mine. I should say, though, that I think calling a woman "mommy" infantilizes her. It seems like anything with "mommy" in front of it is automatically dismissed as unimportant (i.e., "mommy blog").

Proto Attorney said...

Being pregnant hasn't changed my views on abortion rights either. I still think everyone should get to decide what's right for them. Thus the choice.

If "pro-lifers" want to really "combat" abortion, then they should concentrate on giving women the resources to raise their children, and giving women the resources to avoid being pregnant in the first place if they don't want to be. Making abortion illegal won't stop abortions, it will only stop safe abortions, and regulated abortions. Sadly, the debate is always about the right or wrong of abortion, not how to actually address the problems women face.

Cee said...

I agree with you that we need to give women more resources in raising their children. I also agree that we should educate people/give them tools to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
I just think that once someone becomes pregnant-- stopping the baby from being born should not be an option. I know this wont stop abortions and that is why I understand the pro-choice view- because it is rational and practical when carried out.
thank you for your thoughts.

LL said...

As CM said, it is nice to hear a respectful discussion on abortion- especially one coming from a pro-life viewpoint that isn't purely based on religion or the Bible (just b/c I don't think those things should be why our governmental policy is what it is).

One aspect of the abortion debate that I never thought about until I was pregnant is the women who do want their babies, but find out during their pregnancy that the baby is not going to live- like hydrocephaly or something similar. That baby will be "alive" for those 9 months in the uterus, but it will not live once it is born. If I was that woman, an abortion would have to be an option. I could not emotionally handle feeling the baby move, watching it grow, and getting congratulations from other people, all the while knowing I wouldn't be taking him or her home from the hospital. This is a case that doesn't fit into the "except when the life of the mother is at risk" exception. It's a deeply personal, painful choice that I would be furious if a lawmaker took away from me. Just another facet of a complicated issue.

I also blogged about it when I was pregnant ( Thank you for sharing your perspective!

Cee said...

wow, i didn't even know that can happen! That would be awful!