As a woman and a mother, it is difficult not to feel connected to all the stories about recent states passing laws regarding abortions. Georgia recently hit national news because the legislature passed what is now commonly referred to as the Heartbeat Bill, which prohibits a woman from getting an abortion once a heartbeat is detected which can be as early as six weeks.
Protestors objecting to these and similar bills argue that they are effectively giving the state an unnecessary say in how a woman cares for her body. They amount to government over-reach for they impede a woman from getting an abortion when she wants. Roe vs. Wade, in many of their minds, made it legal for woman to undergo abortions and therefore is a decision between a woman and her doctor.
Thus, we see many Hollywood stars signing petitions and groups of demonstrators chanting and protesting at capitals, supposedly protecting women’s rights, including a choice to abort the fetus inside them without prohibitions from the state.
However, every woman that I know who has shared that she underwent an abortion did not view it as a choice that she made proudly. Each one shared how painful a decision it was for them to make; how it haunts them to this day. Some shared how they felt scared as they laid on the abortive table, alone, and powerless. For others they tried to block out the memory as and after it happened. But for all there was always, always a feeling of sorrow for a choice they deep down did not want to make.
Having an abortion did not free or empower them. It left them with a lifetime of regret, because unlike in the days when the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade came down and the science seemed to indicate that the fetus was simply a mass of tissue, deep down these women knew what science tells us today to be fact — inside of them, was a life, a human life, a living soul.
These women still feel the pain of their abortions, not because a patriarchal society has oppressed and shamed them into thinking they were doing something wrong when in fact it was inconsequential. To the contrary, these women feel emotional regret because they know they have taken a life.
While it is incontrovertible that a human life is taken during an abortion, many still argue that it is not a person. Philosophers try to qualify personhood in numerous ways, including level of intelligence, self-awareness, self-sufficiency, cognitive functionality, societal utility, and on and on. Esteeming personhood, but not humanity, however, is a dangerous moral slippery slope.
When Roe vs. Wade was passed, it did not provide a national mandate for every state to provide women an abortion whenever, wherever, and however she chose. It only allowed for abortions under very strict conditions. And this sentiment of abortions not being a “standard procedure” seemed to be the attitude of the American public even 20 years later when former President, Bill Clinton said, abortions should be “legal, safe, and rare.” Interestingly, the current Heartbeat Bill does have provisions that allow women to have an abortion if it would protect her life, or in cases of rape.
It is only in recent years that the segment of our society demanding that abortions should be made whenever, wherever, and however a woman sees fit has taken hold. States like New York and Virginia have passed laws allowing women to abort their unborn babies up to and during the very delivery process. They even allow doctors to kill babies after they are born if the abortive procedure was not successful.
One has to wonder, how is killing a child after it is born protecting the physical health or safety of the mother?
However, as science advances and proves the viability of human life, attitudes of the American public, particularly younger generations, are moving more towards protecting life.
So now we have states like Georgia and Ohio, where the majority of their citizens — as represented by their legislatures, want to swing the pendulum of this issue and allow for protections for human life, whether inside or outside of the womb. After all, does not the U.S. Declaration of Independence affirm that every human being (arguably born or unborn) have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
No matter which side of this issue one falls on, a life either the mother or the unborn child will be forever impacted. As a woman I have always questioned the presupposition that pro-abortion advocates speak for and try to protect women. From my perspective they enable women to view ourselves as powerless victims whose only recourse is to kill a life or have our futures destroyed.
However, I suspect, if given the choice again, many would choose to endure the six to nine months of discomfort and pain rather than the lifetime of guilt and remorse they currently feel.
[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville with her husband and their five children.]