Legal abortion distorts our decisionmaking and weakens our ability to communicate our true wishes.
This past summer I attended National Right To Life’s annual convention in Dallas. One of the last speakers of the conference was a woman who told of her own experience of abortion.
She had had two abortions in her youth, one while she was still a teen and a second in her early twenties. She had told her story before, but not in a while, and she did not offer it now as a perfect neat package of lessons learned. She was not fully certain of the meaning of all that had happened to her. She was now the mother of grown children, and she was pro-life, but she was still coming to grips with the psychological and interpersonal reverberations that her abortions had had and continued to have in her own life and in the lives of her family. Her talk ended but it was clear that her story was actually not yet over. I admired her transparency and earnestness. Her courage was so thoroughgoing and uncompromised that one almost forgot it was there.
One part of her account was especially vivid and telling. When she conceived the second time, she wanted to keep the child. But she determined that rather than ask the father if he were willing to support her and the baby, she would announce an intention to abort and then see if he opposed, which she wanted him to do. But he misread her signals. Wanting to embrace his fatherhood but also full of feminist/pro-choice notions, he accepted her “decision” to abort at face value. And that was that. The two reluctant aborters walked straight into the clinic tragically unaware of each other’s true wishes.
It ought to go without saying that a man should be able to understand a woman better than that. And surely a crisis pregnancy is not the moment for a woman to employ a psychological test rather than speak her true heart, as best as she can speak it. But such miscommunications are never quite accidental. They are the predictable impact that legal abortion makes on human interactions in a crisis pregnancy. Legal abortion creates an artificial, contrived “choice” where no choice naturally exists. For the conception of a child presents itself to human consciousness as an accomplished fact–a fact which the human will cannot alter. But now legal abortion intervenes, tells us the fact can be undone, and gives us a choice that differs in kind from every other choice we have ever made. It is no wonder that men and women tragically mishandle this choice, failing to communicate their true feelings, even though legal abortion is supposed to encourage just that.
Quite apart from the wrong it does to the unborn, legal abortion will never produce the world of well reasoned, emotionally satisfying decisions its advocates have long promised. It is too unnatural. It only bogs us down in a phony decisionmaking process–to abort or not to abort–when our minds and wills should be directed to questions that we are by nature and by experience better equipped to handle: How can we help this child? this mother? this father?