Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Monday, August 13, 2012

This will be controversial, just warning you

This is about abortion.  If you're going to be upset, please stop now.

Here's the thing:  I'm pro-life and pro-choice.  I know that makes no sense, but at some point my totally pro-life self had to sit down and think about a lot of things when newly diagnosed with bipolar, one of them being that it was entirely possible for me to follow my symptoms down paths I normally wouldn't consider.  At the time I was taking 2 medications marked unsafe for use in pregnancy, maybe 3. They typically want you to be on birth control with those meds but birth control was a nightmarish experience of vomiting and mood swings, so I wasn't on any.  I had no idea then of what my episodes would look like and even now that I've shown little impulsivity that way I can't be sure that the next one would change.  Over time I came to realize that if something happened that resulted in pregnancy I would abort.  Not only am I still on meds that cause serious birth defects (more than 1), I know that I couldn't parent a child.  Yet the dream I held onto until I finally had to admit that I was bipolar (and that I'd promised myself long ago that this diagnosis would mean no children.  It's too genetic in my family and I won't pass it on).  So if you a pro-life and know you could (theoretically) have a child that you are not fit to raise the solution is to give the baby up for adoption.  Except how could I give a child with potentially serious birth defects up to the foster system and hopefully parents that may or may not be equipped to handle the baby?  I couldn't.  I know that even in my medically unable way that I'd try to parent this child and mess it up even more than my medications and genetics.  Because I am, at least, qualified to raise a child with disabilities.  So I finally realized that the truth is, if I did something stupid and wound up pregnant, I would abort.  (I guess that this really should be past tense; I've ovulated for the last time and simply never will be capable of pregnancy again.  Hysterectomy, the ultimate birth control.)

So realizing that made me realize that while I hate the idea of abortion and am absolutely opposed to it when a rational reason can't be given, I in fact am somewhat pro-choice.  I don't know where the line is, but I do believe there are times abortion is necessary.  In my mind there are many "rules" about when it could be done and the like, but there it is.

At the same time I am so much more comfortable with pro-life.  Most of you know that I knit hats for an organization that gives them as mementos to families who are carrying to term (aka carrying a baby to birth when there is little to no chance of survival).  I do not believe that when everything is equal that a baby's diagnosis with a disability means that baby should die.  (Oh yes, I made myself come to terms with what I feel abortion is, even with knowing I would have done it).  I didn't realize until today my connection to that organization is related to the idea that these babies are always disabled.

Disabled people aren't so readily accepted in our society.  Down syndrome, which is a relatively minor disability in the scheme of things, is so feared that nearly 90% of babies with a prenatal diagnosis are aborted.  When I fill out forms I often have to check "retired" which looks really weird for a 36 year old, but "disabled" rarely is an option.  There are people who would be furious to understand that Cleveland Clinic will be paying for my surgery from pre-op to follow-up.

Being disabled and trying to live on a tiny income is tricky.  This is the first month my mom hasn't helped me financially with daily living since February.  Even then she's making a huge difference by transferring my high interest credit card to a 0% APR and helping me make what amounts to a large payment each month.  IIn 15 months I will only have one small credit card payment per month and will have considerably more money to live on.  For anything not in my tiny budget I'm reliant on her help.  Soon I need new tires; she's buying them.  Christmas?  She'll give me money.  Hotel and travel for surgery?  Her.  It's awful, but right now I am financially dependent on her.  I know that my sister has already discussed extensively with my mom what will happen when my mom isn't here for me; I think they hope I'll move near my sister.  This is partly why my niece is being taught about my disability as a matter of fact thing.  Sometimes Aunt Jen wants to _________ but she can't.

I have read numerous carrying to term stories.  It helps me to know how to pray as I make each little hat.  Today I stumbled across a website for people who do not carry to term with grim diagnoses.  I decided to read their stories because I know they are in an impossible place.  I was starting to actually see this as a choice that had merit. I admit that 35 week abortions are horrible and in no way should that happen, and I read about it happening.   And then someone explained that they aborted their baby partly because they didn't want to have a burden for their other children.

And THAT makes me angry.  My disability didn't show up when I was a fetus.   But when I was diagnosed should my family have had the right to kill me because I would need help from them through my life?  It sounds silly that way, but that is apparently a big factor for some people.  And that is where abortion is certainly wrong.  Aborting on a "what if" and feelings that a baby would have no value in this world but would instead ruin the lives of it's siblings is part of the reason it is so hard to have a disability in this world.  This is why we as a society allow for stigma to be associated with disability, for disability to mean that without significant income from someone else financially surviving is difficult.  This is why I am uninsured despite the government determining I was too ill to function in any work capacity; they make you wait 2 years and 5 months from your "day of disability".  This is why people think less of me because I don't work, and make assumptions because I don't look disabled.

I don't know how to end this.  I'm just disturbed and my battery is going to die soon.  I do ask for respectful comments only; I'm edgy enough with surgery rapidly approaching.  But somewhere there are many bad ideas floating around this world.

Copyright 2006 www.masterofirony.blogspot.com

1 comment:

Michal Ann said...

Jen, I can't write much today but I want to comment that your post today is so clear and well-written.

You always have my respect. I certainly respect the thoughtful position you've taken. Very few of us are 100% pro-life or pro-choice, I think. You have a "self-defense" type arguement, "for the health of the mother" among other considerations.

On the opposite extreme is the slogan on a Washington State provided condom wrapper that I found in a park while playing with my little grandkids: "I (heart) pro-choice girls." CAN YOU IMAGINE?? That is so wrong on so many levels not to mention the fact that it's an advertisement that condoms aren't as "safe" as they're purported to be.

Well, that's it for today.

Love, Michal