Features — 25 May 2019
Abortion debate raging in the US

In one of my pieces some time back, I mentioned that I don’t support abortion, but I support a woman’s right to choose an abortion. A couple days ago one of my female cousins re-posted (on Facebook) a bit from Feminist News, which read: “Just because I am pro-choice does not mean I am pro-abortion. It means I understand your choice is none of my business, and I will always fight for your right to choose.”

It is easy to understand why men of old felt they had the right to outlaw abortion. In the old times the continuation of families, tribes, and countries depended on large families. A woman who didn’t want to have a child was dangerous to the survival of the group.

This is no simple debate. I am here and you are here because our mothers didn’t abort us. We should be grateful to our mothers. I don’t know that we have the right to dictate to them.

One of my paternal grandaunts, Lillian Hyde, had a tough life. Her husband died from tuberculosis, and their son would also die from tuberculosis. After her husband died, Lillian went to Honduras. There was a big banana boom in Honduras in the early-mid 1900s, and some of her family, including her brother, Valan, were working over there. I believe it was after Valan died in Honduras that Lillian returned to Belize.

Back in Belize, Lillian had a relationship with a Mr. Peters, and she became pregnant. The doctors advised her that she couldn’t handle the pregnancy, that if she had the child she would certainly die. The story my elders told me is that Mr. Peters desperately wanted the child, insisted that Lillian have the child, and Lillian wanted to please Mr. Peters. My grandaunt had the child, a daughter, Lydia. The child lived: she died.

I am certain that my cousins are happy their grandmother, Lillian, decided to roll the dice with Mr. Peters. I am happy for them too.

There are a lot of threads in the abortion story. It is very complicated. This is a debate mostly for women. There are situations that you have to be in to understand.

There is evidence that many African women aborted children because they were fathered by slave masters, or because they didn’t want their children to grow up in slavery. There are people who are content to live on their knees. There are others who will resist enslavement every way they can.

www.nature.com says that “British scientist Francis Galton…was also the creator of the field of eugenics… From this work, he … theorized that humanity could be improved by encouraging the fittest members of society to have more children.” We hear that Hitler wanted German women to have blonde, blue-eyed babies who weren’t Jewish. We know that eugenics extended to sterility, and abortion, to cut down the population of black people in the USA.

Modern science can reveal abnormalities in a child in the womb. Sometimes the child can survive the abnormalities, but they will have a life that is severely limited. It is a very difficult thing for a parent to have a child with physical or mental problems, and the situation is made even more difficult when they have to care for their physical needs because they are unable to do so.

Some people can handle a lot of pain. Some people make great sacrifices of their time and resources and everything to make their children’s lives better. I can’t forget the story of the Indian grandmother who cut off a piece of her breast to bait a hook to catch a fish to feed her grandson. She did not have any milk to give him, and all around them was snow. I don’t recall if that’s a true story. But there are people who would make that sacrifice.

The love between Newt and Arcella, in The Learning Tree, a book/movie written by Gordon Parks, was something special, but it got dashed when Arcella became pregnant with the child of Chauncey, the white son of the white judge in their town. The sense I have from watching the movie is that Chauncey, with his fancy car and money, seduced her, but a movie review I read suggests that the book story is that he raped her.

Life can be very tough. Not everyone is tough enough to handle some of the pressure that will be brought on them in this world. For Newt, it was part of his Learning Tree. It was part of Arcella’s Learning Tree too.

The story has layers, and abortion could have been big in it. If Arcella had worldly women in her world, they would have advised her to abort the child before her parents found out. There were no worldly women around to “advise” her, and when her parents found out that she was pregnant, she “blamed” Newt. Her parents were deeply religious, Baptist types, so abortion was out.

Some people are suicidal. If you force a human being who can’t handle too much pain into a situation they can’t handle, for example, force them to carry a pregnancy they absolutely don’t want, you might be guilty of murder. There are enough news stories about of people who were bullied into committing suicide.

In Long Gone Lonesome Blues, Hank Williams sings, “I’m gonna find me a river, one that’s cold as ice, And when I find me that river, Lord I’m gonna pay the price, oh Lord, I’m goin’ down in it three times, but Lord I’m only comin’ up twice, She’s long gone, and now I’m lonesome blue.” That is pain too tough to handle.

Some women decide to abort solely for economic reasons. This could be considered the worst justification for the sin of abortion. Sister Joan Chittister pointed out that the guilt is not the woman’s alone. Sister Chittister said: “I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed.” Chittister continued by noting those views aren’t “pro-life” at all. “That’s pro-birth,” she said, adding that society could benefit from a broader, more complex conversation on the subject. (quote taken from www.self.com)

A story by Kate Smith for CBS News, titled, “Abortion is still legal in Alabama and Georgia, despite new abortion bans”, said that things are heating up over there. Smith wrote: “At a call center in Atlanta, six Planned Parenthood employees field calls for patients in Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. After Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law the state’s so-called ‘heartbeat bill,’ an effective ban on abortions after six weeks into a pregnancy, there was an uptick in calls from women concerned the new legislation would impact their upcoming appointments. Calls skyrocketed into the hundreds as Alabama’s near-total abortion ban moved through the statehouse; it was signed into law this week.

“On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law House Bill 314, legislation that completely bans abortion in the state except if a woman’s health is in serious danger. There is no exception for victims of rape or incest. Providing an abortion would be criminalized, and doctors who perform an abortion could face up to 99 years in prison.”

fivethirtyeight.com says a 2018 Gallup poll said that, “65 percent of Americans said abortion should be illegal in the second three months of pregnancy. But 60 percent of Americans in that same Gallup poll said abortion should be legal in the first three months of pregnancy. The new Alabama law’s lack of exceptions for cases of rape or incest may make it particularly unpopular, considering that Gallup also found that nearly 80 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances.”

A woman has a right to choose a mate, and it is my opinion that if she decides to have a baby with that mate, that baby is hers up to when that baby is no longer dependent on her for its survival. I believe that aborting a baby that is fully capable of surviving outside of the womb is heinous territory.

Most of us don’t want to live in a country where our daughters view abortion as a trivial thing, and the easiest way to ensure that doesn’t happen is by passing and enforcing laws against it. The other way is through totally honest education; put all the facts out there. Let them know how we feel, without being rude or forcing ourselves into their space.

I am aware that men sometimes force women into having abortions. We don’t want our sons to trivialize abortions either. It is my belief that abortion is a sin, but we all have a right to sin. I will not compare it with any other sin.

We understand that some religions feel that a curse will be on everyone if a woman decides to abort, but we are limited to prayer about some things. Abortion is one of those things. We don’t have the right to chop women to pieces if we suspect they are guilty of abortion, and we don’t have the right to pass laws against it.

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Deshawn Swasey

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