Saturday, September 02, 2006

To Donna McAllister:

This is in response to a message left in the comments section of my last post regarding a conversation that spilled over from another site. It might not be of interest to everyone but I wanted to put my message here because it's too long to just put in the comment box.

Hello Donna,
I am absolutely willing to accept your apology. Everyone gets angry and says things they may later regret. Lord knows I have and continue to do so much more than I'd like to. I am very glad that your conscience led you to write to me again because I always prefer dialogues over monologues.

I think you should follow your conscience in regards to whether you should go and post on the abortionclinicdays site again. The thoughts that you expressed here definitely show a side of you that I think would have added to the conversation sparked by that post.

I know you might find this hard to believe but I actually do understand this feeling of being at a loss as to how to behave about the abortion issue. I come from an ultra-conservative religious background and for most of my life, I was as anti-abortion as one can get. I had absolutely no problem with the idea of throwing women in jail for having abortions. Frankly, I didn't even care to hear about why some women believed that having an abortion was the best decision that they could and did make given their circumstances. To me, it was morally wrong no matter what and that was all I felt I needed to understand.

What first started to change my views was going to college and finding out that the abortion issue isn't nearly as uncomplicated as I thought. During my freshman year, I remember the group NOW came to my campus and I angrily confronted them and told them things that would make the stuff you said on the other website seem like a slap on the hand. I was really proud of myself until I learned a few things.

I found out that one in three pregnancies end in miscarriage and if society attempted to save every single pregnancy that occurs, we wouldn't have enough healthcare workers or researchers to deal with all of the other medical issues that people have to deal with. Now, since I have Lupus--which never gets the amount of funding that it should given its prevalence--this really concerned me.

Then there was the issue regarding all of the things that can end a pregnancy. For instance, regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is known to increase medical abortion (the technical term for a miscarriage) risk. In other words, using ibuprofen or aspirin can bring about the same results (a medical abortion) that RU-486, the so-called "abortion pill", induces.

That makes for a very complicated situation for women like us who have Systemic Lupus. I don't know about you but at certain points in my life, I have relied on the over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen to use as stop-gap medications so that the doctors didn't have to increase my Prednisone dosage. As you know, the doctors try to keep steroid doses as low as possible because of the long-term damage associated with them.

Also, the use of birth control pills is contra-indicated for a lot of women with Lupus because the hormones in the pill are known to exacerbate disease symptoms, so many lupies like us don't take them. As a matter of fact, birth control pills are also contra-indicated for a lot of other women like, for instance, those who smoke.

Now, when you add all of these facts together you get a situation where there are many, many women of child-bearing age just like me who

1. Aren't on birth control and are, therefore, more likely to get pregnant.


2. Regularly use medications (e.g. Motrin, Bayer) that can cause the termination of pregnancies.

which means they can either get their Fallopian tubes tied so that they have virtually no chance of getting pregnant or they can live with the knowledge that they are basically inducing their own medical abortions if they happen to get pregnant while experiencing the normal ups and downs with lupus that make many of us regular anti-inflammatory users.

I realized that if taking a pill that induces miscarriage (e.g. RU-486) is just another form of having an abortion, then I might be guilty of having had one too. However, I know that I didn't consider myself a murderer; I was just trying to do what it took to stay alive. At that point, it dawned on me that many of the women who have had abortions were just trying to do the same thing--stay alive--and who was I to condemn someone for that?

Once I stopped condemning women who have had abortions, I allowed myself to see them as real people--not some kind despicable creature who just has no sense of decency or compassion. When I started voicing my new views to some of those around me, I found out something that really surprised me: There were quite a few women in my congregation that had an abortion at some point in their lives. It wasn't anything that they could discuss openly because they would have been virtually expelled from our denomination had they done so. These were women I had known for decades. They certainly weren't the amoral, promiscuous women that I associated with those who'd had abortions.

To be honest, it was pretty common amongst the evangelicals that I worshipped with to perpetuate the idea that "godly women" just didn't have abortions. The difference between the stereotypes I'd learned and what I saw when I stopped condemning people really confused me. Being the evangelical Christian that I was brought up to be, I turned to the Bible because I was sure that the truth would be there and that this would help me sort things out. Well, when I started this goal to find out exactly what the Bible said it turned out to be a lot different from the attitude that many of my very judgmental fellow worshippers seemed to think. When I looked in the Bible it showed that only God can determine what's in someone's heart because, as imperfect humans, we are all incapable of truly understanding what is someone's "just deserts" but we do know that He can. I also remembered being a kid and being taught that simple lesson that "God is Love". If all of that was true, then it just might be that His love is big enough to include everyone and I do mean everyone--women who went to church three times a week like me, women who had abortions, women who had unprotected sex, women who were sick but still wanted to have babies in the future, etc. Really, all we can do in this life is speculate about who is going where to spend the rest of eternity. Heck, some people even say our pets will be with us and, frankly, I hope they're right. I haven't found anything in the Bible that says they will but I also haven't seen anything that says they won't so I'm gonna to stay hopeful on that point.

As Christians, we were also taught that all of us have "sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" which means that those who haven't had abortions are no worthy (of the benefit of Jesus' sacrifice) than those who have had one. The book of Isaiah says that, to God, even "all our good deeds are like filthy rags". If that's true, then I really don't have any business looking down on others no matter what they've done in their lifetime. Besides, I've read my Bible from cover to cover 20+ times and of all the people that Jesus condemned, ne'er a one of them were those who'd had an abortion, had sex outside of marriage, or even murdered someone. So, there just isn't any Biblical precedent for those who would call themselves Christians treating the abortion issue as many do. The final nail in the coffin for me was when I was reading my Bible, not even looking for anything about the abortion issue and I found Romans 6:23. It said:

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

That really convicted my heart because I thought about what it DIDN'T say. It didn't say that some sins are worse than others. I didn't say that some people deserve to die and others don't. It says that all sinners--everyone on earth who has ever existed, with the exception of Jesus--are worthy of death. That definitely includes me. At the same time, there is the possibility eternal life and it's a gift from God. It stood out to me that it was a gift because I know, as a human being, I can give a gift to someone if I choose to and there doesn't even have to be a real reason for me to do it. I don't have to justify my choice to give someone a gift. Now, if I don't have to explain to someone why I decide to give somebody a gift, God sure doesn't have to explain to me why He might choose to give His gift of eternal life to whomever He wants to.

As for me, if I die and find myself staring in the face of God, I'm sure not going to complain even if He decided that having had an abortion isn't enough reason to turn His back on someone. After all of the times I've put my foot in my mouth and said or done things that I knew I had no business doing, I'll just count myself as blessed to be numbered amongst those He saw some good in.

I know that you might not understand why I'm saying all of this but I really wanted you to see why I am passionate about supporting all women. Just like you, it all boils down to my beliefs. My hope is that if you can look at this issue and see that those who disagree with you aren't doing so because they don't care about life or they don't hold any heartfelt religious or spiritual beliefs, then it will maybe make it a bit easier for you to deal with them because you'll see them as people just like you who are doing the best they can in a world where we often don't have good choices, only bad and worse ones. As a woman who has SLE and has had her life impacted by cancer, I'm sure you've been in that situation before so, in my heart, I want to believe that you are kind enough to try and show sympathy for others in the same way as we want sympathy shown for us.

I'm in the middle of a flare-up right now and I'm totally with you on the idea about not fighting anymore. Just trying to get the insurance company to pay my parents what they owe is taxing enough for me today. I will be praying for good health for you and your loved ones and I sure would appreciate any prayers for us down here in Louisiana. We need as many as we can get.

P.S. I hope you'll come back to my site and visit and comment again. I really mean that.


Blackamazon said...

You are an amazing amazing woman sistren

Breez said...

Totally unrelated to your post: LOVE YOU!!!

Suzanne said...

I volunteer for an organization in NYC called the Haven Coalition, which provides housing in volunteers' apartments for women forced to travel to New York City for an abortion because they cannot get one where they live. Your post reminded so much of many of the women we've hosted who are conflicted about the procedure for religious reasons, yet compelled to have it for the most practical reason of all: to survive.

Thanks for sharing your personal perspective on such a sensative topic.