"There is no law that will end the practice of abortion, only laws that can protect a woman’s right to choose it...."
In yesterday's New York Times, author Kate Manning described at length a variety of gruesome ways in which women would "end a pregnancy" before the legalization of abortion. (She is wrong, by the way, when she says "the United States Supreme Court made abortion legal on Jan. 22, 1973"; even the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute acknowledges that "legal abortions were already available in 17 states under a range of circumstances beyond those necessary to save a woman's life" at the time of the Supreme Court's ruling, which "made abortion legal nationwide.")
As I read her several opening paragraphs that ask "Why would a woman" do this, that, or another thing to herself, the image that came to my mind was of a woman sitting in a bathtub of hot water and slitting her wrists with a knife and bleeding out into the water. Why would a woman do this to herself? She would do it because she wanted to die, or at least as a cry for help, as a way of screaming, "I hurt!"
I've known women who cut themselves just to feel the pain and see the blood, because they needed to experience something louder than all the pain they were already feeling and felt helpless to end. When a woman who feels this kind of pain and engages in this kind of behavior does get someone's attention, every effort is made to help that woman find healthy means to end her pain and her self-abuse.
Yet when a "desperate" pregnant woman is willing to do dangerous, damaging things to herself (not to mention to her prenatal baby, which of course Manning doesn't mention, not even once, not even by any of the common euphemisms, such as fetus), some women would encourage her and even help her to do it!
What if Manning had written an article listing the many ways that a "desperate" woman "determined" to end her life's pain could do so by ending her life? What if she had included a rant against social, religious, and governmental efforts to prevent women in such pain from killing themselves? What if she had raged against social, professional, and legal efforts to provide help for women suffering mentally and emotionally, and advocated for government funding of programs to help women end their own lives? (Sadly, this may not be so far-fetched in a world where the legalization of assisted suicide is an increasing possibility.)
Why indeed, Ms. Manning, would pregnant women do all the horribly dangerous things you have listed? The only reason you have given is "to control their own bodies."
Again, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute (in a 2005 report), the most frequently cited reason for abortion in 2004 was that "having a baby would dramatically change my life" (74%); the second most common reason given was "can’t afford a baby now" (73%); and the third reason identified was "don’t want to be a single mother or having relationship problems" (48%). The only body-control related reason given was "physical problem with my health," cited by only 13 percent of respondents (and what is meant by that is not clear).
If a woman wanted to kill herself because a health-related issue would "change her life" or because she was having financial or relationship problems, would Ms. Manning recommend that she just go ahead and kill herself so she could end her suffering? Wouldn't she instead give or find help for her to live with her health issue and solve her financial and relationship problems? Then why not do the same, in every instance, for every woman distraught because she is pregnant?
Back to the question of the day: What does a woman who chooses abortion actually choose? According to science (and understood intuitively by most individuals, societies, and religions for millennia), abortion ends the already underway life of a new, unique human being who is being nurtured and protected within his mother's womb as he grows and develops to a point when he will be physically able to breath air. Abortion kills that human being either directly (as in "partial-birth" late-term abortion) or by removing the child from the source of his nutrition, sometimes dismembering him in the process.
That is what a woman chooses when she chooses abortion. And there's a reason that abortion, even a legal early, chemically induced one, is so dangerous to women: it forcibly interrupts a natural process. Like cutting and suicide, it is an act of violence—against a woman and her prenatal child. It is an act of violence not only against their (the mother's and the child's) bodies, but also against the mother's mind, heart, and soul.
This is why people like Manning focus on "the pregnancy" and "the procedure" and on such bogus reasons as the need to control one's own body: so they don't have to say—to themselves or to others—what abortion really is and what choosing it really means. Rather than offering women and their children life-supporting options and support, they ignore the real reasons that women with little human beings growing inside them become desperate and determined and willing to risk their lives (legal abortions still sometimes cause the death of the mother) in order to end their own children's lives.
In the process, they abandon women who need help and turn them into women complicit in murder, thereby adding to their burdens rather than easing them.
I have every right to comment on this topic, because I was one of these misguided women, and although I have found peace in my soul through my faith in the forgiveness offered to me through Jesus Christ, I carry, and will carry with me every day of my life, the burden of my own complicity in my child's death. It is a cross that I am willing to bear (and to accept help to carry) rather than lay down prematurely, because by carrying it I remain always conscious of the consequences of what I did and am motivated by that stinging awareness to do whatever I can to help others hold out for real help rather than accept the lie that abortion is the answer.