Chapter 22 » 22.55

Parents and children

Difficult decisions in pregnancy

I once read in a feminist philosopher’s work that only pacifists could logically be opposed to abortion since only they took an absolutist approach that it is always wrong to take life. But what if you are both a pacifist and one who believes that women should have a right to make choices about their own lives? Since we live in a society that both expects women to take responsibility for children and yet provides little financial or emotional support, how can we insist that a young woman takes on the burden of an unwanted child, or even the physical and emotional stress of bearing a child for adoption?

These could have remained theoretical questions. But life is not like that. A member of my family became pregnant and a decision had to be made quickly, within twenty-four hours. A baby was not intended, neither of the young people concerned had financial resources, a child would affect the establishment of at least one, if not two careers. I was the sole financial support of the family, so that I too could not care for a child.

It was clear to me then, it was clear to all of us, that an early abortion was the right answer. That does not mean that abortion itself is right, but that when human beings get into situations where every choice is wrong, then courageous and responsible decisions have to be made, and the consequences lived with.

I am still sure that in the circumstances the right choice was made. It was made by the person who had to live with the consequences, and it was made with family support. In a sense, an unborn child carried for all of us the costs of being a broken family in a broken world. But when I see and hold other peoples’ babies, there is in my heart a grief which I cannot share, since it is not my secret, for the grandchild I never had and shall never know.

Anonymous, 1990

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