By Anne Zapf
When I became pregnant with my third child, Tristan, I wondered whether I was really prepared for another child. I had just become somewhat independent of the full time responsibility of toddlers. Joe was 4 years old, and Joy at 7 was boss, friend, playmate, and Mommy #2. Another baby meant two more years of diapers and full time motherhood. But the mothering urge in me was still very strong. After the initial shock, Matthew and I accepted the responsibility involved in adding another child to our lives.
Two years later, I again suspected that I might be pregnant. Raising and home schooling three children had turned out to be MUCH more work than raising two. My temper was shorter and my nerves were more fragile. Abortion burned in my mind. Never mind my much admired friend with five kids. All I knew was that I did not want another child. Fortunately, my menstrual flow started and I was saved from one of the most difficult decisions a woman ever has to make.
I am a firm believer in preventing unwanted pregnancy rather than aborting it. Unfortunately, birth control devices are far from safe or effective. I use a diaphragm, but just to be on the safe side Matthew withdraws before he ejaculates.
I appreciate his participation in this part of our relationship. I know that he will support my decision should one of his little guys slip through the barriers. He has faithfully supported this family and I know I can count on him. That’s why, no matter how much I may want to end a pregnancy, I probably wouldn’t do it. It would not be right for me, because I am part of a “we.” We are very careful because we do not want to raise another child. We don’t want to kill it and we don’t want to put it up for adoption either, (although as I get older, I’m 47 (as of the writing of this article), bearing another child seems not only foolish but cruel to the “unborn child.”)
Matthew and I are a “we,” but many of the women who are faced with this difficult decision are really alone. A good friend of mine came to the Church burdened with guilt and grief about her recent ordeal. She had been careless. A childless, sexually active woman in her late thirties tends to think she won’t get pregnant. The man she had been living with didn’t want to raise a family with her and had told her so many times. When he heard she was pregnant, there was no question for him. Terminate it.
Men, being physically unaffected by pregnancy, find it easier to rationalize and dismiss the burdens inherent in pregnancy and abortion. A woman, though, is intimately affected. Her body changes from the instant the fertilized egg adheres to her womb. After an initial attempt to expel the invader, her body turns all its energies into giving this new being life.
Pregnancy sets women apart from men. A pregnant woman is no longer “just one of the guys.” When all conditions are right, pregnancy and childbirth are the most sacred and psychedelic experiences a human can have.
Many women who choose to have an abortion experience a distressing conflict between their sexual/reproductive drive and their social, economic, and personal needs.
The father of this new life has a responsibility to support the woman who carries his child. If she decides on an abortion, he must help her through her grief and suffering. He must remember that this is his child, and bury it with compassion. My friend found great comfort in performing a ritual burial for herchild. She used the time while she was waiting for the abortion to make a gift for it. She selected a quiet place in the woods and buried the object as part of the funeral ceremony. This personal weaving of her energy into the handmade object and its burial was spiritually helpful for her.
There is a funeral service, in Japanese Buddhism, for the “water baby”. Like any other human being that passes into the One, it is given a name and identified as an individual. With this ceremony, the woman is in touch with life and death as they pass through her, and she finds that such basic changes are relative waves on the great ocean of true nature, “which is not born and does not pass away.”
Abortion is a hard and horrible thing, but so are war, starvation, and murder. Life is a hard and horrible thing for many individuals. When we decide to bring life onto this Earth, we must commit ourselves to that life, to give it the best that we can muster.
Giving a child up for adoption, though painful and difficult, gives the child a chance at life. There are plenty of women who want children but have been unable to conceive. Had Rev. Trujillo’s 14-year-old mother had an abortion instead of putting him up for adoption, he would not be here, and you probably wouldn’t be reading this newsletter.
My friends. Please choose partners who you respect and admire and with whom you would want to raise a family. Careless, unthinking sex leads to pain and suffering. Should you find yourself with an unwanted pregnancy, please examine all your options very carefully.
The father should recognize his part in the creation of this new life and support the woman who has his child. He could provide financial and spiritual support for her whether she decides to keep the child or give the child up for adoption. If abortion is chosen, he could participate in the naming, sacrifice and burial of his child with all the love and grief that one would feel for the death of a beloved relative.
Our part is not to judge or harass a woman considering abortion, but to support her and inform her about possible alternatives, and if the decision to abort is made, there should be no blame, but rather the acknowledgement that sadness pervades the universe for that bit of life that will be lost.
May peace, love and forgiveness fill your hearts.