“But WHY did your mother have the abortion?” This question recently posed by an interviewer from Poland made me initially pause and later cringe. Over the course of a number of emails, this was the one part of my life, in all of its twists and turns, its miracle and blessings, which the interviewer kept going back to. I guess, in the realm of reporting, it’s an important question, but in my world, ‘why’ stopped being of central concern long ago. Sure, when I was 14 years old, I wanted, and even felt that I deserved, an answer to the question of why my biological mother had the late term abortion that was meant to end my life, but over the course of time, I’ve come to a sense of peace about not only why it happened but the reality that I will likely never know exactly why.
Even more so, the truth of the matter is that the ‘why’ doesn’t even matter. There is no reason that I could ever be given that would make my biological mother having the abortion be okay. I have nothing but love and compassion for my biological parents and their families and the countless other men and women in our world who are post-abortive. I understand the underlying dynamics of abortion, the seldom lack of real, informed choice in our world. I work every day to make the world a better place for all women, men and families, but there is no reason that I can be given that would make me suddenly say, “Oh, that makes sense. Aborting me for that reason is acceptable.”
Yet we live in a world that demands an answer to every question and in which plausible reasons for abortion are often raised. The “Big Four” as I call the exceptions to abortion often raised include: the life of the mother, cases of rape, incest, and fetal abnormality. When you come face to face with any of us who are actual abortion survivors, or those whose lives fit any of the above circumstances, are our lives any less different than anyone else’s? Should the circumstances surrounding our conception or births define our rights? It’s easy to believe in exceptions to abortion until you are that exception. It’s easy to believe in the right to choose until you are that choice.
What if the circumstance revolves around the child’s gender? Should the most intrinsic right, the right to life be granted or denied based on the gender of a child? Yes, most people think of China and the forced one-child policy when they think of gender-selective abortion, but what if the issue hits even closer to home? Just last week, Live Action’s newest undercover videos from inside Planned Parenthood were released, in which one proposed reason for having an abortion, the gender of the child, has brought the issue of gendercide to the forefront of the American consciousness. Whether we want to talk about it or not, the truth is that sex-selective abortions are now joining the ranks of the “Big Four” exceptions.
As I watched the first video when it was released on May 29th, I found myself sobbing at my desk. Even though I knew that it was an undercover operation by Live Action, to hear the woman’s words that she wanted to abort the child if they were a girl, and the rote response of the clinic worker suggesting how she could go about doing so, jarred a part of my soul. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, maybe it’s because I’m a Feminist, maybe it’s because I’m a mother, maybe it’s because I’m an abortion survivor, or maybe it’s because this video fleshed out for me what I already knew—that the real war on women, born and pre-born is in the womb, but I know that my soul has been stirred to fight harder than ever to protect the lives of women, regardless of their location, in the womb or out of it.
Am I surprised that PRENDA, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, didn’t pass the 2/3rds majority in the House last week, which would have banned sex selective abortions? No, I’m not surprised, considering the current political climate, but I would definitely say that I am saddened and disappointed by it. In a society that so loudly touts the need for rights, choice and equality, there remains a large population that remains unprotected and without right: the preborn. And for all the talk recently about the war on women, the truth of the matter is that the war on women begins in the womb and sets the tone for a continued war on women throughout our society. If it’s acceptable to end the life of a child simply because she is a female, how then do we stop the floodgates of abuse, violence, sex trafficking and the like? How do we draw the line in the sand to protect and respect women at one point in their lives when we fail to protect and respect women at their most vulnerable point: developing in the womb?
No, the “why” of my mother’s abortion may not matter, but with the very existence of sex-selective abortions, with the failure of members of the House to vote in favor of PRENDA, the greater question when it comes to abortion has now become “why not?” It’s been relatively simple for the past 39 years for abortion advocates to use exceptions to abortion to shape the rhetoric of right and choice. No one wants to see a woman’s life endangered, no one wants to see a victim of a crime such as rape or incest further victimized, no one wants to see a child struggle throughout their life with health issues and limitations. We know that abortion isn’t the solution to any of these issues or situations, but that is how the rhetoric has been shaped. What about sex-selective abortions? No one, I believe, wants to go on record to say that preborn girls don’t deserve to be protected, but if abortion proponents admit that the child is a girl, then they would be admitting that the child is a child, and thereby abortion ends the life of that child. Admitting that females deserve to be protected based on their gender would lead to a slippery slope indeed. So the issue is often sidestepped. The “Big Four” exceptions are focused on. Many in our world learn to simply not ask ‘why.’ But when we fail to ask ‘why,’ what we, ourselves, are doing, is allowing ‘why not’ to continue to run rampant in our world.
Although every life deserves to be protected and respected from the moment of conception, I believe that it’s important to continue to highlight circumstances such as sex-selective abortions. We must continue to ask questions and demand answers to why abortions are taking place and even being supported in our country and in our world. For if we don’t ask, I fear that “why not?” will remain a prevailing attitude.