Surviving the Titanic

Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? Did you dream of being an actor or an astronaut? A doctor or a nurse? An artist or a musician? Maybe you wanted to be a National Geographic photographer or a fashion designer.

When I was a little girl, I had a few good ideas about what I wanted to be when I grew up. One Halloween, I dressed up as a bride. I laugh to think about it now, but my guess is it had more to do with a longing to be beautiful and desirable than it had to do with being married. When I was older, I wanted to be a marine biologist and learn everything about dolphins and other sea creatures. In college, I wanted to be a writer. I graduated and became sidetracked with being an accountant and a business owner, and at last I am fulfilling that dream.

Growing up, I had a lot of ideas about what I would be in my life, but one thought I never had was that I would be a woman who had an abortion. Why in the world would I dream of that for myself?

There is a popular misconception that women who choose not to carry a pregnancy to term want to terminate it and are anti-life. I have yet to meet a woman who chose to have an abortion who did not value life.

I speak for myself and for many other women when I say that abortion is a painful and traumatic experience. And yet, when we make the choice to do it, we are expected to “suck it up” or pretend it never happened.

I’m reminded of euthanizing my dogs when their suffering became too much for them and they had no hope of escaping a painful death. I once had a sweet dog named Samantha who suffered cancer that gradually eroded her entire body. There was nothing I could do to stop the disease, though I tried, with chemotherapy. Her companion, Allie, outlived her by two years, but eventually succumbed to old age and illness as well. I chose to put my beloved pets to sleep instead of watching them suffer. Does that mean I don’t honor life? That I don’t know life is sacred? It couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The choice I made to end my pets’ lives was not an easy one, and neither was the process of saying goodbye. But it was by far the most loving choice I could make and one thousands of pet owners make every day. It was out of my deep love and respect for them that I made the choice to end their suffering, and it was that same love and respect that let me lie with my arms wrapped around them as they passed over.

Sometimes there are no perfect alternatives. The captain of the Titanic had to choose who got in the life boats as his ship sank. It was what he could do. I am sure he didn't imagine captaining a sinking ship anymore than a woman dreams of facing an unplanned pregnancy (Abortion can be the consequence of Other things ). Choosing abortion for an unwanted pregnancy can sometimes be the most loving choice a woman can make. Sometimes all we can do is try to find our own best answer in a quagmire of unpalatable solutions.

Abortion happens. It’s not something we plan for, dream about, or desire. It’s an unpleasant and difficult aspect of life. But it doesn’t make us “bad” people. It simply makes us human.


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