Tuesday, April 11


Three years ago I got an email from my sister. My siblings and I rarely communicate so I knew that the email contained something big, and I was right. My sister was pregnant. She wasn't married, and had been sort of engaged to the father for a few years. I'm glad she emailed me, because my very first thought was, "Oh no! What will she do now?" It was no secret that most of my siblings didn't like her fiancé, and had been trying to talk my sister out of marrying him since they started dating. I didn't really like him either, but had been trying desperately to be nice to him and to convince the rest of my family to be nice to him too. I knew that if we were mean and gossip-y it would create an "us v. them" mentality in my sister's mind and she would be more inclined to marry him just to spite us than for any other good reason. I don't remember exactly what I said to her in my response, but it expressed positive excitement for the baby and questions about her plans for it. Her response nearly made me cry. She said that I was the first person she told, and she chose me because she knew I wouldn't judge her, and would be happy for the baby. She was afraid to tell my parents and siblings.

In her situation I and most of my family knew exactly what was going on. There are only a few reasons why engagements last for years in the LDS church, and normally it's because they want to go to the temple but can't stay worthy long enough. However the fact that she was pregnant offered proof of our suspicions and provided a chance to condemn her behavior. I think that if we were going to condemn her it shouldn't be when she got pregnant. There is no difference between what a woman does at conception and what she's been doing (if she's sexually active). Condemning illegtitimate sex only at pregnancy doesn't sufficiently condemn the sex, but instead condemns being pregnant.

When I was pregnant and preparing to graduate I had a nearly pathological fear that my classmates would think that my baby was an accident. At every chance I got I made it clear that I was married, the baby was planned, and I wasn't a skank. I'm not completely sure if my fear of judgement by my classmates was something specific to me, or if it's an LDS thing, or if it is just part of our culture.

I recently read this article (registration requred) about illegal abortions in El Salvador and the women who have them. In El Salvador *all* abortions are illegal and punished by jailtime. Even cases of ectopic pregnancy doctors must wait until the uterus perforates and the baby is already dead putting the mother at great risk and nearly sterilizing her.

A major pro-life (anti-abortion whatever you want to call it) arguement is that 'Indiscriminate sex is wrong. When you don't do it, you won't get pregnant and it won't be an issue. If you don't want a baby don't have sex.' A major pro-choice (pro-abortion) arguement basically says that 'Sometimes a pregnancy literally ruins a womans life, health, sanity etc. and she shouldn't be forced to have a baby that will kill or ruin her regardless of what she has done before.' I don't like the idea of anyone having an abortion. I fully recognize that there are times when abortions are necessary, and believe that women should be able to have the proceedure done in a clean safe environment. I don't want to argue about abortion legislation.

Instead I want to discuss the idea of becoming pro-pregnancy. In the anti-abortion camp pregnancy is arhetorical punishment for bad behavior, and abortion is an attempt to escape the consequences of your actions. The major problem I have with this is that the consequences fall disproportionately on the women who get pregnant. Their partners aren't condemned, and their non-pregnant counterparts aren't condemned either though they are all doing the exact same thing.

We know that it is largely futile to believe that we could police indiscriminate sex. What we can do is make it so that a pregnancy, though proof of sex, is not something that ruins a woman's life. We are so convinced that bad actions always bear bad fruit, that we feel that finding joy in an illegitimate pregnancy is condoning the illegitimate sex that lead to it. Pregnant teens are kicked out of their parent's houses. Pregnant women risk losing their jobs during maternity leave. Having a baby is nearly impossible to afford, even if the baby is given up for adoption. And there are countless intangible punishments for getting pregnant; the judgement from friends and coworkers, the stigma of being a single mom, and the culture-wide paranoia of the pain of labor.

I would hope that having a baby would never be viewed as punishment. If it isn't punishment then the average person wouldn't want to escape it. I would hope that pregnancy can always be met with joy and rejoicing regardless of how the child was concieved.


Anonymous said...

Great post SF. I agree with you completely.

What many anti-abortionists fail to see is that punishing an "irresponsible woman" boils down to being more about punishing an unwanted child by forcing her to bring it into the world, into a (non-)family that is typically unable to give it the care and nurture it needs/deserves.

I also suspect that the vast majority of those with this mindset are conservatives who also are at the same time more concerned about tax cuts than paying for her (in whatever dire circumstances she may be in) and her baby to have proper medical care, nutrition, vitamins, a safe home, etc. etc. Such costs would be a staggering burden if you stop to consider all the single, poor (often minority) women seeking abortions. While it would be great if all of them had loving, financially secure adoptive parents waiting in the wings to take care of all this, I highly doubt such is the case. 

Posted by Rich

Anonymous said...


loose: ill-fitting, not tight
lose: misplace

"Just one loose nail caused the horse to lose his shoe".

Starfoxy said...

Rich: "While it would be great if all of them had loving, financially secure adoptive parents waiting in the wings to take care of all this, I highly doubt such is the case." I'm not so sure about this. I can name three couples in my ward who want to adopt a baby right now and have been trying to for years, and those are just the ones who share that sort of thing with the ward in general. It seems that most of the kids who don't get adopted in the US are much older when they are put up for adoption. How many people do you hear of who adopt foreign babies because there aren't any in the US that they can adopt?

Anon, duly noted and corrected :)

Rich said...

What I'm getting at is only this: are the couples in your Ward willing to adopt "minority" babies, or are they waiting for white babies?

If we added millions of (now aborted) minority babies to the adoption pool, would white (read financially secure) couples adopt them as readily? I would hope it wouldn't matter, but I'm afraid it would.

And what about babies born with fetal alchohol syndrome, crack addictions, AIDS, Downs, or other "defects"? Would those babies find homes easily? Again, I would hope so, but I fear otherwise.

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