|My family, albeit thirteen years ago.|
Those babies are teens and older now.
It’s late, and I am tired. I was not going to post on my blog tonight because it’s been a long day. Long, but a good day. I actually began to come to grips with my new project—a biography of Helen Corbitt, doyenne of food service at Neiman Marcus. I hope to fit her into the dramatically changing foodways of America in the fifties and sixties, the years she was at Neiman’s. But writing such stuff is slow and hard going, and my brain is tired.
So, tonight I read a bit on a novel I’m currently intrigued by—more about that another time—and I scrolled through Facebook, partly because you can do that without truly engaging your brain, but also because I want to read everything I can about the decisions coming out of our rogue SCOTUS. I am alarmed that they dismissed charges against two physicians convicted of pushing opioids, that they upheld a coach’s right to pray at the sidelines in a decision which is being widely heralded as giving teachers the right to encourage students (Christian, of course) to pray in class, that the court will probably issue a decision limiting the EPA’s power to enforce environmental protections on the states. Are they rushing—for they do seem in a hurry—to destroy every facet of American life? Rumors are rife that they will next take on contraception and gay marriage. And of course, somewhere along the line, I’m sure they will enforce book banning and governmental dictation of school curriculum? Slavery? No, no, you can’t teach about that. The Greenwood Massacre? Never mention it.
But the abortion ruling is much on my mind. I have thought about what I have to contribute to the discussion, and I don’t know that it’s that much. But here I go. I am pro-life in that I am opposed to abortion, but I firmly believe that’s me, and I do not have the right to force that opinion on anyone else, not even my daughters. When I married, I had never given any thought to whether I would have children. But my then-husband, a physician, desperately wanted babies. After five years of marriage, endless tests, and more than a few embarrassing moments—the hospital nurses who asked, “When are you two going to put a baby in our nursery?”—it was clear that I wasn’t going to conceive. One completely unexpected miscarriage sealed that conclusion. I had been given fertility drugs, and I have always thought since that God knew what he was doing. That fetus was not meant to come into this world. But that experience speaks to me as I read of women accused of infanticide because they miscarried. And it also left me with the profound belief that being able to carry a pregnancy to term and deliver a healthy baby was a gift from God.
We adopted—four beautiful children. I, the one who wasn’t sure about parenthood, turned out to be the parent. My husband moved on, out of the marriage, and I, more than a little frightened, raised four babies by myself, from the time they were ages twelve to six. Today, they are four wonderful adults—good gravy, can you believe three of the four have passed fifty? They make me proud every day, they have given me seven beautiful grandchildren, and we are a huge, rowdy happy family.
If one of those girls—my two daughters and my two in-law daughters—had ever wanted to abort a pregnancy, barring a severe threat to their health, I would have been heartbroken. But I would have kept that to myself, and that never happened. We all rejoiced in the arrival of every baby. I often think that we live a life of privilege—and I sometimes ask God “Why me?” because I know the circumstances of my life could be so much harder. But we were blessed—each of my four were able to provide for their babies without hardship (yeah, there was a bit of careful budgeting early on) and they have been able to give their children comfortable and happy childhoods. (Ask me about family get-togethers sometime.)
So that’s where I am: pro-life and opposed to what I might call casual abortion, but a firm advocate of abortion in cases of rape, incest, danger to the mother, or a severely deformed infant. And an advocate of every woman's right of sovereignty over her own body. What I find frightening in the states’ trigger laws that the Dobbs decision enacted is the inflexibility, that “one size fits all” mentality, the refusal to listen to medical science but instead to follow what passes for scriptural law.
If anti-abortionists want to follow God’s word, they need to realize that the Talmud, that source of Jewish wisdom, advocates abortion in the case of the mother’s health. And the Bible, the ultimate source for so many Christians, never mentions it. What the Christian Bible emphasizes is love.
Whether saving babies or keeping women out of power is the real purpose is another subject for another time. But I am a worried woman tonight.