Life with Coco and Gigi... and Jack-Jack too!

Life as a Mom, A Homesteader, A Blogger and A Wife.

Where I come from

Some of you may not be following but one of previous posts (I bet you can guess which one if you really try) has created some controversy. I intended to provide people with a piece of legislature that I was unaware of until someone sent it to me but instead I have been all but attacked for my personal views, religious affiliations, weakness and lack of opinion. I am sure the commenters would disagree with the word attack but that's what it feels like.

So here is where I am coming from. For almost two years I worked as a counselor for inmates in two of Philadelphia's prisons. All were drug addicts, all were incarcerated for more than two years, all had a dual diagnosis of PTSD as a result of a rape or sexual assault. About 75% of these women were incarcerated for prostitution. I would venture to guess (I don't have my old records so I am basing this off of memory) that about 80% of those women had had abortions. Some as a result of a rape, some a pregnancy from a "client" and some other situations. And EVERY ONE of those women told me (unsolicited) that they gravely regret their decision. I was not permitted by law to push ask for an opinion or follow up about an abortion. It was my job to collect data on their history, which is the only reason I ever asked. So every one of these women brought up this issue on their own. I watched as one of my clients lay on the floor and sobbed for the children she had not brought to life. I saw how much this decision had impacted so many of them. I could not cry with them or tell them it would be okay. I had to sit like a stone wall and do my job. I know it sounds selfish since it was their pain but that burden will be with me forever.

I also had the unfortunate responsibility of going to the hospital to meet woman who had just been raped. I spent hours and hours talking to family, clergy and myself about how to approach our practice of recommending the "morning after pill". Instead of just omitting that information I would have a nurse do what I could not morally do. I sat with an 11 year-old, her mother and her aunt... all had been raped. The little girl had been raped that day while the older generations had years before. The mother of the little girl was a product of her mothers rape. Neither regretted it and neither would have changed it. I cannot express how difficult it was to sit there and watch women (who had been raped only minutes or hours before) make a decision about a life that could have been conceived. I did not counselor one way or the other but I sat and watched their agony.

I know a woman who was told that if she continued her pregnancy she and her child would die. Both are alive. I know a woman who was "ordered" by their doctors to reduce a multiple pregnancy only to lose all of her babies.

I stood by and supported both of my sisters through pregnancies out of wed-lock. One a straight "A" high school student and the other who continues to struggle with pervasive mental illness. You can guess what both of their doctors recommended.

I met a woman at the IVF clinic I went to who had had an abortion for medical reasons (I don't know the specifics we were just talking in the waiting room when she started to spill her guts) and because of it could not have children. I know that is rare but obviously it happens.

I am a mother who was called irresponsible for not "terminating" her child because of her likely outcome. I sat and had to look doctor after doctor in the eye as they told me "reducing" Abby would be the "best option" for everyone, even after we told them abortion was NOT an option.

So I don't base my decision on abortion based on statistics, facts, my churches beliefs or what my family taught me. I formed my opinions out of my own personal experiences. My decision stems from the pain I have seen in women's eyes when they talk about the baby they could have had. I formed my decision as I have lived and experienced. Many of you talk about your opinions on abortion but have not sat along someone who is going through the experience. I don't sit and act as if anyone who has had an abortion is going to hell. I just don't believe it is our right to make a decision about life or death. You can argue that life has not begun but when I saw my daughters hearts beating on that monitor they were alive.

So go ahead and call me weak or uninteresting or on my soapbox. That is your right. I never meant this to turn into a huge controversy. Perhaps controversy is good. Maybe I can open someone's eyes... I doubt it but maybe.

So, anyway, comment away.

10 comments:

Jay 3:18 PM  

Thank you for your words of truth and emotion. Its hard putting yourself out there, and yet the one who seemed to bash you the most remained anonymous, interesting ;)

Blessings

Danielle 3:20 PM  

Wow. I can't imagine the things you went through! You are entitled to your opinion and you should feel free to express it on YOUR blog. Of course there are going to be those who disagree (I am one of them) and I know your goal was not to change minds. I commend you for speaking your mind.

Jan 6:31 PM  

I almost never comment on blogs, but had to say, I'm really glad you shared your experiences, Kristen. I agree it's hard to put things out there like that. Good for you.
*returns to never commenting on blogs. :)

MrsSpock 7:52 PM  

I don't think any of the comments, including my own, were bashing you. I think if you post about such a controversial topic, you should expect some disagreement.

To give some perspective, after I stopped BF my son because of excruciating pain (what I now know were vasospasms), I had women leave messages saying I was a child abuser, if I couldn't take the pain I didn't deserve my child, and God was punishing me for doing infertility treatments. WAY harsh.

I had similar reactions to having had a life-saving c-section.

I, too, was a social worker for years, working with severely mentally ill and homeless women, some of them prostitutes. Many had had abortions, but not all of them regretted it. I, too, have a sister with a severe mental illness who had an abortion. I offered to adopt the child. She chose instead to abort at 5weeks gestation. She has zero regrets. She can't go off her meds without serious consequences. I, too, have ahd a friend call me from the ER of a Catholic hospital in the middle of the night after being raped. She, a Catholic, wanted the morning after pill, and they wouldn't offer it or tell her where to get it. They never called a SANE nurse. They had no idea how to take a rape-kit. Have you read Cecily's blog? She lost twin boys to preeclampsia. 22 weeks gestation. One boy had died already. She was nearing death herself. And her life was saved by a D & E.

I also know women, like you did, who regretted their decision, because it wasn't a true free choice, but something they felt forced into by other people or circumstances.

I am sorry anyone ever tried to pressure you to do something your gut told you was wrong. Or inferred that your daughter's life didn't have value because she could have a disability. Isn't it possible, though, for another woman to think you don't think her life has value because you'd prefer to ban their taking a morning-after pill after they have been raped?

There are plenty of folks who consider IVF to be the equivalent to abortion (including my 2 uncles who are priests). I don't agree at all, but I am curious as to what your take on it is?

Kristen 8:18 PM  

Mrs Spock - The catholic church has a mixed stance on IVF and infertility treatments. My church sees it as a blessing and a miracle (part of the reason I feel like I belong there) while others see it as being tantamount to adultery and/or abortion. My feeling is that I am not the type of person to follow any one religion hook, line & sinker. Churches are a man made thing and are inherently flawed. Therefore I believe it is up to an individual to figure things out for themselves not because their church told them so. I do what I think would be right in the eyes of God, not my priest. At least that is the stance I take.

And to clarify a couple things, I never said I think the morning after pill should be banned. Nor did I say that this should not be offered as an option. It is something I struggle with coming to terms with personally. And finally, nothing you said was in the least bit "bashing". What a few others said I found unkind. Maybe it's the lack of sleep, the sick kids, the house buying or the general day to day issues but some of it was unkind, not accusing me of child abuse, but unnecessary nonetheless. I welcome differing opinions and expected that but I didn't expect my "lack of opinion" to come under fire.

Anyway, keep em coming.

Kristen 8:39 PM  

Also wanted to add that one of the major issues the catholic church has with IVF is the consequences of unused embryos. Those of you who know about the process of IVF know that in many cases people are left with frozen embryos. Sometimes they will have more totsicles than they will ever use. My clinic gives us the option (should we have embryos we will not use) of discarding them (which is what the church feels is like abortion, and I agree), use them for scientific testing (again, something I don't agree with) or put them up from embryo adoption (my personal choice).

Just wanted to put that out there.

Anonymous 10:05 PM  

Kristen, your post was not soapboxey--it was honest and came from a very personal place in your heart--that is pretty obvious. Thanks for bringing up the topic for discussion.

All women who have passionate feelings about abortion do because of personal experiences. An abortion saved my life, and I do not regret it. My husband, parents, and sister are glad that the procedure was available and the doctors willing to save my life using the procedure. I mourned the loss of the child that I had wanted but not the embryo that was lost.

Abortion should be legal...so should fertility treatments and elective surgery and clothing for cats and so on. Our freedom as a society depends on our ability to stomach the things that we find distasteful in the name of personal rights for all. I personally find divorce repugnant and selfish amongst people with kids...but I don't want any restrictions put on it. And I don't WANT women getting abortions. I just want people to act better and more selfless across the board.

Also realize that we define our criminals by defining our crimes--if abortion were made illegal, how do you think that would play out legally and health wise?

And can we please finally admit that young people have sex and get them some freakin birth control already!?

I comment anonymously because I can--thanks for the choice!

Kristen 10:20 PM  

Very well put Anon!

I'm with you on the BC for the younger generations. We can preach abstinence but let's make sure we have a Plan B as well.

MrsSpock 6:45 PM  

My husband and I actually came to the same conclusions regarding frozen embryos if we ever got to IVF. Use 'em or donate. It just doesn't feel OK to us to hope so much for a child, only to discard a possible. Though I wouldn't deny another woman the right to do so. Now, if it was just frozen sperm- myeh. I think every man on the planet is guilty of that one at one time or another...

Kristen 8:34 PM  

Mrs Spock - LOL! I think you are very right about that. :D

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Over 8 years we have struggled through 3 IUI's, 6 rounds of IVF, several RE's, hundreds of appointments and the loss of three little angels. Now we find ourselves the proud parents of two perfect little girls and a wonderful little boy!!

Both of our girls struggle with some disabilities but that won't keep us down. Each day has it's own brand of insanity but we love it. Most days I am more monkey wrangler than mother but I do the best I can. Todays goal - getting to tomorrow.

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