Excerpt from Dancing with Duality:
es, three weeks later, I was pregnant for the fourth time! This, despite using my usual birth control methods that included anything but the pill. Again, I got an abortion as soon as I could, at six weeks. Again, the emotional turmoil, with my analytical mind winning the debate, while tears streamed down my cheek during the procedure.
I lost some sleep and nearly aborted this book because of the topic of abortion! Nearly all my friends have had one abortion, And most people will forgive you if you’ve had one. Every woman is entitled to one. OK, so she made one mistake. But some would argue that I was using it as birth control. Could I face all the judgmental attitudes against me? I thought, why write this book and become a target of angry opinionated people? Maybe I should skip these chapters. Later I thought, this might be the reason to write the whole truth: to show people what it’s like to be in this position and try to loosen their prejudices. To spread the insight of what goes through a woman’s mind when faced with this decision. All I can say is that I saw it as the lesser of two evils. In all but one case, I had used birth control. I didn’t want to get the procedure, but knew I wasn’t capable of supporting a child.
Before considering the abortions, I prayed for guidance. I consulted with female friends who encouraged me to go through with it. “This is not the right time, obviously.” I prayed to the soul to wait because the circumstances weren’t right. I didn’t want to bring a soul into what I considered a dysfunctional situation. I didn’t want to be a single mother. I could barely support myself financially. How would I raise a kid while working full time? Obviously, other women have similar situations and have managed to pull it off. But for me, even having a child in a solid marriage with a man who made enough money to support me, would have been overwhelming. The idea of being fully responsible for another human being was too much. I could barely take care of myself and my own needs. It sounds selfish. Yes, it might even be. But why is it considered so bad to want to take care of oneself first? Only then can we truly care for another.
Furthermore, I have an older brother who has lived out his life in a mental institution. At the age of one and a half, he got a fever that damaged his brain and reduced his IQ to 70. For me, the possibility of having a special-needs child was an imaginable possibility, made all the more intolerable with the idea of being a single mother.
Some women go on welfare, but that wasn’t my style. I was opposed to the idea. Maybe for others, but not for me!
I also knew women who had given birth, then given the baby up for adoption. They were tormented with the pain of that all their lives, haunted by lost loves and wondering if their babies had been raised right.
I knew people who were adopted and didn’t have the best upbringing, as well.
I’m not saying adoption is a poor choice for everyone, and often it works out quite well—especially with modern open adoptions in which the woman can choose the adoptive parents and visit the baby or at least stay in touch with the parents until the child is 18. At that point, he or she can decide for himself or herself whether to meet the biological mom.
My research on the soul led me to believe it didn’t enter the body for any great length of time until late in the second trimester, or even third trimester, well after the time when an abortion is usually given (six to ten weeks). Therefore, I wasn’t aborting a truly conscious being. I was merely dismissing an opportunity for a potential child. And if some soul were already prospecting my fetus as a potential new reincarnation, I really and truly felt I was doing the soul a huge favor by closing the door. There were much much better choices for a mother. My current husband says I did all of those souls a favor, as I would have made a horrible mother.
In a recent book, Growing Up in Heaven, medium James Van Praagh states: “From a spiritual perspective, abortions are lessons for the mother to learn self-love and self-worth. In the case of abortion, the soul always knows that the fetus will be aborted and does not attach itself to the physical body of the unborn. Therefore, no one is murdered in an abortion. Here again, both souls have agreed that they will go through this experience for growth. This matter can also be about one soul paying back a karmic debt to the other. Perhaps in a prior lifetime, the soul of the unborn was a mother who gave away her child and so must feel the effects of abandonment and/or betrayal.”[i]
You might judge my decisions. But at least I was true to my philosophy concerning bringing children into this world: Don’t do it unless you’re prepared on every level. What a different world it would be if everyone shared my values in this area.
If the world were underpopulated, we might begin to see abortion as more of a crime. There would be a need for people at all costs. Instead, we are faced with the plight of a lack of resources to support a population explosion predicted to reach nine billion by the year 2050, according to the United Nations. And it’s not like this place is paradise. If Earth is a kind of hell, as so many people believe, why would you want to bring more souls here? One of my anti-abortion friends claims that “life sucks.” So why, with that outlook, would abortion be so damning?
It’s so easy for people to sit in their ivory towers and judge all the women who have had abortions. But not only have I benefited from abortions, I’ve also been a teacher in the inner city, where there are crack babies and children with severe learning disabilities because their moms drank or took drugs while pregnant. Many of their mothers refused abortions for ethical reasons, but couldn’t quit taking drugs. One mother actually told a fellow teacher of mine, “Don’t expect me to come to teacher conferences. I had that baby just to keep getting welfare.” How many more have done that, but won’t admit to it?
When I was a sophomore at the university, I wrote an essay explaining that if I got pregnant, I’d commit suicide by jumping off a cliff, rather than face my strict and conservative father. Because of the shame, fear, and poverty centered around illegitimate childbirth, many such women risk their lives, or do die, in botched attempts where abortion is illegal. When I was in Brazil, I saw a woman who looked like she was on her death bed due to a coat-hanger abortion. Even in the U.S., girls have died from illegal abortions due to laws saying that their parents must consent in order to have safe legal procedures.
Ironically, one of the people I’ve been friends with longer than almost anyone is Jayne, who, with her husband Michael, has been an activist in the anti-abortion movement. For a period of many years, they were in the news. A segment on the TV show “20/20” was done on them. Their photos and names have appeared in Newsweek, Time, and US News magazines. We got a great laugh when one magazine had Mike’s photo, with the caption: husband of Jayne (as if he were merely in her shadow and not a major player himself, despite spending four years in prison for allegedly bombing an abortion clinic).
In one of our every-five-year reunions, Jayne told me about her beliefs and how she supported the concept of killing abortion doctors. “Now, these people are killing innocent babies. They are just like the Nazi prison camps in which people were being murdered. History will show that the anti-abortionists were valiant and brave to defend the rights of the unborn. Can you see how we feel?”
I closed my eyes. I tried to imagine having the beliefs that Jayne and Mike had, that the soul has only one chance at life. I quietly answered, “Yes! Yes, I can see your point of view.”
Never mind that I didn’t agree; I could feel how she felt. This disagreement did not stop us from being the dearest of old friends, friends since third grade.
Just as I’d taken an extreme approach in thinking, “If I can’t marry my first love, I’ll have many lovers,” Jayne had an all-or-nothing approach to children. She wanted none, but thought, “If I do have one, I will have as many as possible!” She and Mike ended up with 11 kids, all biologically theirs, though you’d never guess it from Jayne’s trim figure. I teased her that whenever I had an abortion, I would tell the soul, “Go to Jayne instead!”
Some fundamental Christians believe that children who die “before the age of accountability” will automatically go to heaven. Since very few people actually become “saved,” according to them, wouldn’t it make more sense to be in favor of abortion, since it guarantees the child automatic entry into eternal heaven? In fact, by that logic, we should kill all children: better they miss out on a brief life here and be guaranteed eternity in heaven than live here and risk eternal damnation!
I’ve heard various spiritual teachers say that if you’re not prepared to raise a child, the highest path is to abort. I’ve also heard others say karma is involved in abortion, just as with any other action. Years ago, I pondered what karmic repercussions might await me, after having several abortions. I read somewhere that one who has aborted will be aborted. That, to me, sounds like perfect justice. Or perhaps one who has aborted will try to reincarnate, but will not be able to. Again, perfect balance. Another possible scenario: During the life review, after death, a person is shown the parallel universe in which the abortion didn’t happen. She’s shown a beautiful child whom she loved. For me, this would be the worst “punishment”: being shown an opportunity that was missed because of fear.
Abortion is a multiple-edged sword, a no-win situation for everyone involved. So why does it exist? Not every pregnant woman is in a position to care for a child. Abortion, quite simply, sets a woman free to continue her life.As such, now I was free to be single again.