Fonticulus Fides

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Continuing the Pro-Life Theme

So, yesterday evening, I had a conversation with my husband’s cousin, Kayla. She said she had been considering becoming Catholic (she was raised in fairly liberal Methodist congregations) because she loved the structure and “meaningfulness” of Mass. She’s been to plenty of them over the years. Her mom’s second husband was a terrific Catholic guy, a widower with four grown kids who was very devoted to the little country parish he attended. Kayla’s current roommate is Catholic and she’s been to Mass with her a few times, and with our family once or twice.

But, Kayla said, she could never become “anti-abortion.”

I was pro-choice myself, when I was Kayla’s age (21), so I nodded and then asked her why.

“It’s just that in certain instances, I think it should be allowed.”

“Like what?”

“Like a woman who has been raped.”

And so I gave Kayla my perspective on the issue of abortion for rape/incest victims. It’s not a terribly popular opinion. Even a lot of evangelical Christians and some Catholics who believe abortion is wrong allow for an exemption for rape/incest victims. I used to, too, but now I don’t. I told Kayla why last night, and now I’m going to blog it. Comments box is open, of course.

Abortion for Rape and Incest Victims

Rape and incest are terrible, horrible crimes. Nobody should have to suffer them, EVER. When a child is conceived in the process of the crime, the immediate thought is abortion, and on the surface, this seems to be a sympathetic solution. But the reality is, abortion complicates things for the rape/incest victim and gives them more burdens to struggle with.

One theory is that the child would be a “constant reminder” of the rape and that’s why the woman should be allowed to get an abortion. The trouble with that theory is that it shows a marked lack of understanding of what a rape/incest victim actually goes through. They are reminded of the crime every time they have sex in the beginning (certainly during the initial year, which would include the time frame of a pregnancy). If they are raped in a particular room at home, work, etc., they are reminded of the rape every time they go into the room. Certain sounds, certain odors, certain physical sensations will remind them of the rape.

Some women are more sensitive to these reminders, which can last a lifetime; others are able to overcome them with counseling, prayer, etc. But the point is aborting the child doesn’t save the woman from being reminded of her crime. It just gives her a second trauma to deal with, another set of “reminders” to overcome.

The second thought process I have encountered is, “Hasn’t she been through enough?” My answer to that is, “Exactly.” Rape and incest are terrible, horrible physical and emotional traumas. And yes, pregnancy and childbirth can be tremendous physical and emotional traumas. But so is abortion.

If the rape/incest victim turns up pregnant, she’s headed into a second physical and emotional trauma whether we like it or not. She does have a choice regarding which trauma she accepts. But consider this. If she chooses to bear the child, she has a chance to make something GOOD come from her rape. If she feels she can never love the child, she can give him/her up for adoption, giving a childless couple an opportunity to parent and giving the child him/herself the chance to grow up and make a positive difference in the world.

I want to note, too, that over the centuries (especially before abortion technology became available), there were rape victims who raised the children born of the crime and were able to love the child and experience something very good as well. Women in these modern times who have refused abortion to bear their children say that pregnancy and childbirth were not nearly as bad as they thought it would be, and the whole experience gave them a sense of empowerment, a sense of being able to take this evil, evil crime and turn it around to bring forth joy. On the flipside, if she chooses abortion, she still has physical/emotional trauma, but nothing good.

Some may argue that the duration of the physical/emotional trauma of abortion is shorter than that of pregnancy and childbirth. Possibly, but from where I sit, that’s a long shot. Women who have had abortions DO deal with secondary physical trauma quite frequently: they may suffer damaged cervixes, internal scarring and even permanent infertility. As for the emotional trauma, post-abortion syndrome is well documented. Anybody who has been through one trauma (the crime of rape or incest) is going to be less able to deal effectively with a second trauma, particularly if it comes close on the heels of the first, such as an abortion would.

Somebody once told me, “The child shouldn’t have to grow up knowing that his dad was a rapist.” I have two things to say to that. First, abortion isn’t the ONLY way you can keep a child from knowing that fact. Closed adoption is another option, if you’re really that determined to hide the information from the child. Second, while the information is terrible, it doesn’t mean the child shouldn’t know. Knowing that your parent committed a crime doesn’t mean you will commit the same crime, and it doesn’t necessarily mean such emotional turmoil that the child would be better off dead. Besides, the message, “You were conceived in a rape, but your birth mother thought that you still deserved a chance to live and a chance to make something good happen in this world,” can be both positive and powerful.

The final argument I have encountered in favor of abortion for rape/incest victims is that the woman “shouldn’t have to carry her attacker in her body.” Now, I completely understand the anger a woman would feel toward her attacker, and the disgust she would feel at him. However, the child is not the attacker.

I actually find this attitude more distasteful than “abortion for any reason at any time.” At least a person who is okay with abortion for any reason is consistent in saying that the unborn human is not worth saving. The pro-life people who allow for an exemption for rape/incest victims basically believe that the unborn human’s parenthood is a determining factor on whether or not their life is worth saving: is your dad a rapist? Sorry, then, we don’t consider you human, so we’re going to abort you.

Does any Christian really think that attitude is going to fly with the Lord? No way. It doesn’t matter if your dad was the worst criminal on the planet; there’s still hope for you and I don’t think anybody should snatch that hope away from you.

All this being said, I think society as a whole fails miserably when it comes to supporting the pregnant rape/incest victim. In most emergency rooms, a rape victim is immediately offered the “morning after pill” – which effectively forces the woman’s body to end her current menstrual cycle early with the intent to prevent implantation if a child is potentially conceived.

I have a couple of problems with that: first, fewer than 1% of rape victims conceive a child in the process of the crime, so that means most women wouldn’t need this “treatment” at all. And that in turn means that society is so against the idea of a rape victim bearing her attacker’s child, they’re willing to put all rape victims through a dramatic, frightening and painful hormonal treatment just to prevent the lives of a few babies.

Second, what if the woman was pregnant prior to the rape but didn’t know it yet? She’d then be aborting her husband/partner’s child, conceive in an act of love, not violence.

Thirdly, they are asking a woman who has just been through a horrible ordeal to make an immediate decision that may mean the life or death of another human being, without giving her time to even process what just happened to her, let alone begin to heal.

Even without the “morning after pill”, however, society is not supportive of rape/incest victims who are pregnant. There are no programs, no organizations, no support groups for these women. Their boyfriends/husbands, parents, siblings and friends often encourage abortion, not to mention doctors and other medical professionals. What these women need is 100% love, 100% encouragement, 100% support and 100% protection, but they’re not getting it.

I don’t think it’s ever enough to say, “Abortion is wrong.” Women seek abortions because they think they don’t have a choice – not because they do. have to work hard to give women everything they need so that they really don’t have to choose abortion.

There is a lady in my community, a widow who never had children of her own, named Lucy. She has a big house in one of the nicer, older areas of town, and for many years, she opened her home to women and teenager girls who were in crisis pregnancy situations. She would give them a home, take them to doctor appointments, help them shop for maternity clothing and layettes. She’d help the young ones with their homework and the older ones with job skills.

If the mother-to-be was choosing adoption, Lucy stood by them through that process. If she was choosing to parent, Lucy made sure they were developing good parenting skills as well as a network of supportive friends and family members to help cope after the baby was born. I don’t know how many children in Lincoln call her “Grandma Lucy” today, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the number was well into the hundreds.

From what I hear, Lucy is too ill to continue the work now, but I wish I could take her place. I wish our home was big enough to give dozens of these women a private room, and I wish we had money enough to give them whatever they needed to carry the baby to term. Then I would stand outside the abortion clinic every chance I could, holding a sign that read, “FREE housing, FREE clothing, FREE transportation and EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED so you can have your baby!” Wouldn’t that be fabulous!

We all need to do something to enable women to have the babies they think they can’t, whether those children are the result of careless sex, rape, incest or any other circumstance.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

As long as we're on the pro-life subject...

You might want to pop over to After Abortion for Emily's 4/25/05 take on what I would call a pea-brained attempt by two abortionists to make abortion more palatable to the women who are victimized by it.

The comments on Emily's essay take an interesting tagent regarding a common pro-life problem: they fail to recognize the fact that MOST women who seek abortions really are victims. Either they are being coerced into abortion by the baby's father, their parents, their circumstances (perceived or otherwise), or they have simply been bamboozled all their lives into believing that abortion is not murder, not a sin. There are really very few pregnant women who walk into an abortion clinic saying, "There's a baby in me and I want you to kill it" in a premeditated murder kind of way.

If you have trouble understanding the plight of these women who seek abortions, I recommend a book by Frederica Matthews-Greene called Real Choices. (If you ever get to hear her speak, please do so. You won't regret it!)


Preach it, Dawn!

If you haven't already, Dawn addresses Planned Parenthood's objection to using private funds to put ultrasound machines in crisis pregnancy centers.

Hat tip to the Summa Mamas -- thanks!


Friday, April 22, 2005

Protecting our children

While I appreciate the intent of this proposed legislation, I honestly don't think it does enough to protect children from sexual abusers. Why not fit them all with those nifty ankle bracelets, such as Martha Stewart is wearing? We've got, what 180,000 registered sex offenders roaming this country -- why not fit them with an ankle bracelet so we know where they are all the time? Rather than taking a chance that one of them will become transient and attack another child, I mean. I understand there is considerable expense in getting another 200,000 of those ankle bracelets, but I believe they would work in three ways: (1) they will prevent convicted pedophiles from "disappearing" like they do now, which the proposed letter-campaign can't do, (2) they will make the pedophiles feel like they are being constantly watched, and most will not strike if they are being watched, and (3) they would be a visual signal to parents and children.

What do you think? Would it help prevent repeat attacks?


Thanks be to God again!

...and to St. Agnes of Prague and St. Clare for praying my washing machine through another load of clothes. If I can just hang on for two weeks...


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Thanks be to God!

...and thanks to St. Agnes of Prague and St. Clare for the prayers. I got one load through the washing machine yesterday, no trouble! My husband's cousin was also a dear and took a load of dishcloths and bibs home with her to run for us.

Sooooo...what load of laundry should I attempt today? Whites, I guess. Just one load for today. I always feel guilty bothering saints with such trivia, but I really need their help to get by with this washer for a little while.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

St. Agnes of Prague, St. Clare -- pray for me!

My washing machine is broken. It thinks it's spinning out water, but it's not. The guy at the appliance center said it's like a transmission problem in your car, when the shifter says you've gone from PARK to REVERSE, but the car just stays parked. Well, it was a refurbished washer when we bought it six years ago, so I guess it's had a good run, since most washing machines are only built to give 10 years of service these days.

I managed to get two last loads through it on Sunday by turning the machine off, waiting several minutes, and then turning it on again. This took about double the time it would have taken to wash all the clothes in an old wringer-washer, but with my hands being so weak, it was easier for me to do.

My husband says I shouldn't take a chance and try to wash any more loads with this machine. But the laundry is piling up. You moms know what I mean -- if I don't do laundry every single day, I soon have a mountain of dirty clothes and linens staring at me. I just realized that Zooey only has one more school shirt but two more days of school this week. Lola's out of shorts. Edyn's out of short-sleeved shirts (not that she minds -- she's wearing her play dresses, which she likes better anyway), and she's about to run out of underwear, which any mom knows is an absolute tragedy for a newly toilet-trained toddler. And I'm out of cloth napkins, dish towels and bibs for the baby younger toddler.

The laundromat is not an option -- we're out of money until payday next Friday. Even the change bank is depleted to pennies, so I don't have the $1 per load. And we won't be able to buy a newer refurbished washer until my husband gets a freelance check that's due sometime in early May. Credit card is NOT an option -- our credit card was just sold to one of those national banks, which jacked up our interest rate TEN FULL POINTS simply because they now own our account. (We called and got the rate lowered, but we just went through this with another company before we switched banks, and every other month, they'd pull the same stunt.) There ought to be a law against this kind of usury, you know? Regardless though, we can't put anything on it unless it's a dire, dire, DIRE emergency. husband is working late tonight, and I'm just going to defy him and put at least one load in the washer, trying my little trick of shutting it off and waiting 5-10 minutes if it forgets to spin out. This time, though, I'm going into this begging my patronness, St. Agnes of Prague, and her mentor, St. Clare to pray for me, since they both look out for laundry-workers.

If you feel like praying for my laundry situation, too, I'd sure appreciate it.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Viva il Papa!

May God bless Pope Benedict XVI and help him guide the Church in Spirit and in truth.

Pretty darn exciting, I'll tell you what. I hope Zooey got to watch it all happen on the televisions at school.

The LORD has turned our mourning into dancing...


Monday, April 18, 2005

Praying for the Conclave

I haven't been Catholic long enough to know EXACTLY how to pray for the conclave, but I am satisfied with simply begging the Lord to speak to their hearts, the Holy Spirit to guide the vote, and the next successor to Peter to be a man of great faith, perseverance and leadership.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Proud Mommy Moment

I feel like dancing. I feel like turning cartwheels. I want to tell everybody I see on the street and shout it from the rooftop: "My child can read!"

Zooey's been sounding out words for a long, long time, but now he can actually READ. He can sit down with a book, read the words, comprehend the sentence, read aloud with expression and follow the storyline. He's a Real Reader now!

I'm so excited for him. My heart thrills at the idea of how many things he will learn and explore through books. How many stories will speak to his heart! How much fun he'll have! How relaxing it will be for him!

And -- selfish glee -- I'm thinking I might gain a few minutes a day now, not only because I won't always have to read to Zooey (I still will, of course, just not as often), but he can read to his sisters, too. So maybe I can start reading books that I want to read, not just Dr. Seuss, Lucy Cousins and Sandra Boynton.


Monday, April 04, 2005

May God Bless Pope John Paul II

We needed him while he still lived on earth. But I think we need him more in heaven, praying for us.


Friday, April 01, 2005

Praying for the Pope

I find myself unable to put any sentiment into words. So I am just laying my heart out before the Lord and begging Him to keep the Pope close to His Spirit.