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Sarah Speaks For Herself

Jan
30
2006

As you might expect, “Sarah,” the young mother-to-be whose work I highlighted here last weekend, wasn’t too happy to see the ways in which Josh Trevino responded to her essay. So she’s written in at some length. I’m not going to post her entire note. This is a controversial topic that we, as writers, as readers, and as people who are interested in the issues of the day, will visit again and again. We can take small steps in considering large issues.
So here, after the jump, is an edited version of her response to Josh Trevino who I think – speaking here as a pro-choice advocate – was rather callous in labeling her a “killer.” That remains Josh’s perspective and he has told me he intends to respond to me and Sarah a bit later.


Suffice it to say that Sarah gives as good as she gets.

Mr. Trevino delights in skimming across logical arguments, brushing them off with a quick and tidy declaration that, because the end result is, in his opinion, immoral, none of them can have any merit. He skips right on past any valid argument against the father’s responsibility (humorously while at the same time lamenting the fact that women no longer have large families) or the schools’ failure to adequately educate students. Would that we all lived in such an orderly black and white world and that we all had such powerful abilities of selective vision. Yet the real world at large offers us no such tidy distinctions.
There has only ever been one argument against abortion: that it is morally wrong. Of course, this argument is wholly contingent upon the determination of whether or not that which is aborted is actually a human. Should the person receiving the abortion not believe it to be human life, then that argument becomes instantly null and void, holding no more power of persuasion over that person than the Holy Spirit does over an atheist.

Sarah took more immediate umbrage at Josh’s description of her willingness to undergo a medical procedure that might have reduced the number of children she would eventually bear as a result of in vitro fertilization. Hence his “killer” headline.

He claims “I ‘doubtless was quite ready to sacrifice the many in [my] own womb.’” Believe who you will: Me, the person living my life, or him, the person who’s never even met me.
He can have absolutely no understanding of the ordeals my husband and I went through for 3 years trying to get pregnant: The barrages of hormones, the shots, the invasive physical exams and the perpetual heartache that came like clockwork every month. He couldn’t know that I dearly loved and prepared for all of my prospective children before I ever knew I might not be able to have them or that I would sooner die myself than allow anything to happen to the little boy inside me now. He couldn’t have known that, could he? And yet he calls me “The Killer” anyway, a prototypical example of capricious and ignorant pro-life condemnation.

And she talks at length and with experience about the women she encounters in her day job, at a rural Michigan social services agency. Here, I think, Sarah makes her most powerful point and, in passing, gives us a view of rural America – and its grinding and increasing poverty – that takes the racial and class elements that often (but not always) underlie any conversation about abortion rights:

I do not “imagine” the ranks of impoverished women. I work with them every day. I work for a nonprofit organization, a women’s center, in a largely rural area of northern Michigan. Rural enough, in fact, that we service 5 counties, covering a total of well over 4,000 square miles with a population totaling less than 135,000 people. Believe me, they and their stories are very real both to me and to my coworkers. Among other things, we operate a shelter for victims of domestic and sexual abuse; programs to help women get an education and/or a job and a counseling center that helps people deal with problems including child abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse, depression, anxiety and anything else that may come up. Believe me when I say that these are very real people with very real problems…
Abortion is a necessary evil and, unfortunately, while helping safeguard the health and well-being for women such as myself, it unfortunately allows members of our society to escape the fair consequences of a night of unprotected sex. I have news for you: so do antibiotics, but there isn’t any push to make them illegal. A night of unprotected sex could arguably more easily result in the contraction of an STD than a pregnancy, many of which we treat with common antibiotics. And yet, we do not pull them from the market simply as an effort to discourage unsafe and possibly (gasp!) premarital sex. We recognize that there are uses beyond alleviating that unpleasant itching and burning sensation. Not only that, but we recognize that, if you don’t wish to take antibiotics, it is your free choice not to.
One final thought: If we determine that “life” begins at conception and therefore every fetus, every embryo and every blastocyst is a living being with rights, then we will have succeeded in eliminating the use of reproductive technology for people like my husband and I. Procedures like IVF will no longer be feasible because the process creates blastocysts, which would be considered right-bearing human life. Blastocysts that are not used and embryos that are not implanted are discarded, effectively constituting murder under the “life beings at conception” school of thought. Never mind the fact that the meeting of egg and sperm would never even have happened had it not been for a medical intervention that eventually ended up eliminating them and that the clump of cells will never have known the supposed loving domicile of the mother’s womb. What we will have succeeded in doing then is to simultaneously force people who do not want children to have them while not allowing people who do want them to have them. Who, exactly, wins here? I suppose it is the pro-lifers, who can finally get a good night’s sleep.

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