Since the subject is floating around a bit, due to some liberal-style “tolerance” displayed by a magazine, I’ve been thinking about why exactly many pro-lifers do not support automatically punishing a woman who has had an abortion as strongly as they do the doctors who perform them. Not all abortions even require outside support, after all.
Since I can report from the “inside,” so to speak, I was trying to figure out how exactly it was different for a mother to kill her unborn child, as opposed to her born ones. I can sense that it is, which makes me want to eyeball it even closer in case there is something extremely wrong in my assumptions. (An aspect of forming one’s conscience, after all—check yourself, I mean.)
Look: it’s different the same way that someone after the death of a loved one is generally recognized to be vulnerable. If they do something foolish related to that, we recognize that they’re not responsible in the same way that they would usually be. If someone is manipulating them using that vulnerability, we tend to be…ah, quite upset about it. (There isn’t a family friendly phrasing that is also strong enough.)
Heck, there’s even legal recognition of passion as a mitigating factor.
An extremely complex physical state that we know makes the mother much more sensitive to physical threats, hyper-aware of risks and sensitive to social vulnerabilities, while at the same time being less able to do anything? The line about an animal chewing off its limb to escape a trap was well chosen, if not always well used.
I don’t know if it’s a matter where you’ve got to be there to “get” it or not, but the Virgin Mary is even more impressive when you consider that she knew how dang dangerous it was for her to have Christ– Saint Joseph could have chosen to leave her hanging, although we know that he was planning to protect her as best he could even when he thought she had done wrong, before the angel straightened him out. She had to recognize that risk, and accepted it anyways. That lady had guts.
The well known instability of marriage these days really does not help, for those who are actually married before the kid came to be. My mom made a lady cry at Shriner’s because, being mom, she looked directly at a little girl with a really bad cleft lip (after having been around kids where you couldn’t see what was wrong, usually heart conditions) and cooed at her like any other baby, something about how she didn’t have to guess why that darling was getting help. The lady explained that most people didn’t even look at the little girl, much less treat her normally, and that her husband had abandoned them because she’d refused to abort when the doctor saw the issue on the ultrasound. Digressing, because it matters: the little girl’s case was one that would take several surgeries, but was totally correctable– I know an adult man that just got married, mom telling this story is how we found out that he’d been born similarly. You could see a little scar on his lip but we’d all assumed he’d tripped as kid. And yet her father abandoned them both because her mother refused to kill that little girl.
So you’ve got a woman who is biologically primed to be skittish at best, no matter how secure her situation is she knows it is legally unstable, almost nobody tells her that she does have a reason to feel like things are out of control, and on top of that society in general is telling her that she should be able to do absolutely everything by herself and that if she can’t, she’s not fit to be a parent. (In some cases, telling her she’s not fit to be a woman.) I’ve even had supposedly pro-child people tell me that no-one should have more than two or three unless they’re very rich, because if one parent dies they remaining one can’t take care of them all without help. That is just… wow. I like having a lot of extra space for safety, but basically insisting that one parent should be superfluous as a matter of basic caution is overboard.
Now, I happen to think that there are cases where abortion rises to the level of deliberated choice typically shown in those who murder their much older children. Evil exists, and pregnancy isn’t a protection from it.
But you’re not being a hypocrite if you don’t insist on treating a woman in a known highly vulnerable mental state identically to one who is not.