Letter: “Life” versus “Choice” – Beyond the Rhetoric

With the recent nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the US Supreme Court, the political spotlight of the nation has once again focused on the great, seemingly-endless, cultural battle of “Life” versus “Choice”.

Activists of all flavors are out in force, and media is flooding us with strong opinions, virulent rhetoric and exaggerated tales of oppression. Each side jockeys for airtime and prevalence. But with all the messages grabbing our collective attention, are we missing the real life stories of the people bearing the consequences of our abortion-as-a-political-football mindset?

What are we losing sight of in this conflict of “Life” versus “Choice” in our culture? At Tulare-Kings Right to Life, we frequently hear firsthand the tales of those are being affected by abortion. Sometimes, all we can do is offer help and healing resources to those that have been devastated by their abortion decisions. But every so often, we encounter those that are actively considering whether they should have an abortion.

I first met Jodi in a Facebook group for women and men seeking help because they regret their abortions and don’t know how to move forward from the trauma.

Most are at least two-five years past their abortions, and have had significant time to think through the consequences of their actions. They don’t use words like ‘freedom’, ‘right choice’, ‘fetus’, ‘best thing’ and ‘clump of cells’; they use phrases like ‘killed my own child’, ‘never forgive myself’, and ‘just wish I could hold my baby’.

Jodi was no exception, and had followed the sound bite advice of the culture.

Faced with raising four children during a bitter custody dispute, extreme morning sickness 24 hours a day through all nine months, and no local support, she chose abortion. As with most women, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder soon followed. More than a year later, she finally reached out for help online.

We were doing everything to help Jodi process her abortion trauma. She was depressed on her best days, and considering suicide on her worst. Then, during a failed attempt to reconcile with her ex-husband, she became pregnant again. Her situation hadn’t changed. Feeling foolish for becoming pregnant, fearful about how it would affect her custody battle, and already facing debilitating nausea, she scheduled another abortion.

The only thing that had changed was her connection to a group of twelve hundred complete strangers on social media. Jodi told us her plans three days before her scheduled abortion.

We didn’t condemn her – we had all been there ourselves, and she was already condemning herself. We didn’t offer her empty platitudes and assurances that everything would be okay – we knew she was facing difficult odds. We certainly didn’t give her the absolving advice of a sound bite culture.

Instead, we first offered Jodi our prayers and support. Then we found her local assistance, and clinicians specializing in extreme nausea during pregnancy. Jodi was given referrals for legal aid. She was encouraged to reach out to friends and family. We Listened. Sympathized. Comforted. We did what every decent and kind human being naturally wants to do to help a scared pregnant woman: We offered our help, and our hearts, to see her through it.

The time for Jodi’s abortion appointment came and went. Another day, another week, another month. The other day she posted a picture of her first ultrasound, along with her thanks to the people that talked her through it. No idea what single thing helped change her mind. I just thank God we were there for HER, and not for our politics.

— JP Pritchard

JP Prichard is the Executive Director of Tulare-Kings Right to Life, a community benefit organization dedicated to restoring societal respect for human life of all ages. To learn more about TKRL or their 23rd Annual Making A Difference For Life fundraising banquet featuring Christian Author Lee Strobel, visit them at www.tkrl.org.

8 thoughts on “Letter: “Life” versus “Choice” – Beyond the Rhetoric

  1. Based on the studies I seen, post-abortion regret occurs in around 80% of the cases.

    In the only study I’ve seen regarding women that have been unable to obtain abortions that they were actively seeking, 95% changed their minds about wanting the child by the time they gave birth. So 1 in 20 – I pray they reach out to get the assistance they need.

    Here are links to a few dozen studies/articles addressing the topic of abortion regret/trauma:

    http://www.theunchoice.com/psychological.htm

  2. I followed your link to “theunchoice”. When it referenced an 80% figure, it cited Vincent M. Rue, Ph.D. Here is an excerpt from a Wikipedia page on the man:

    In 1992, Rue’s testimony in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case was thrown out by a district judge, who concluded that it was “not credible.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_Rue

    Unfortunately, I am unable to have discussions in a framework that seems dishonest, so I leave the conversation.

  3. I take issue that teens or women of any age are being coerced into an unwanted abortion. The majority of the people who are probably doing the coercing are those who belong to these extreme prolife organizations. The vast majorities of those who seek abortions are very much aware of the alternative options available to them and have made a very private and personal decision to terminate the pregnancy due to their individual circumstances. As for counseling or information about alternatives they need to look no further than Planned Parenthood.

    Planned Parenthood offers the following services, just like you receive from your local doctor and/or hospital. Birth control for both men and women; General Health Care for both men and women; LGBT Service;: HIV Services; STD Screening and Treatment; Pregnancy Screening; Cancer Screenings; Pelvic Exams; Mammograms; Pregnancy information are thoroughly discussed which includes information about abortions AND alternative options which includes adoption agencies, possible child placement with relative/family member, etc. Planned Parenthood also offers counseling as well as providing information of other counseling agencies. The number of abortions performed is less than 2% of all the services that they give.

    Planned Parenthood does what many extreme conservative politicians and anti-abortion fanatics won’t do. While they demand they have the right to control a woman’s uterus/womb they do not provide financial and physical help to the mother and child once the baby is born. Planned Parenthood gives options and access to real help and information. Once a baby is born they don’t abandon the baby or mother, they help find real viable assistance for them. And just as important, from the moment you enter their doors they do not judge you but treat all individuals with compassion and respect. If Tulare-Kings Right to Life is as kind and helpful without coercing and being judgmental as you posted then that is another alternative that is available and I respect all that your organization does to “help”. Glad to know that your organization is there to provide another viable alternative. We as a society need all hands on deck helping one another.

  4. Wow, the people who want to control our bodies are still pushing this fake “women are victims” narrative?
    Wow. Just wow.

  5. > Based on the studies I seen, post-abortion regret occurs in around 80% of the cases.

    Is it possible that you are cherry picking what you read?

    I’ll be happy to help you find peer reviewed studies on the matter if you will be happy to keep an open mind about what you might learn.

  6. Maybe we could focus on better medical conditions for women and children.

    American children are almost twice as likely to die in the first five years of life as British children. The US has the highest rate of child mortality in the developed world. (Please note that the vast majority of developed countries, including the UK, measure infant mortality in exactly the same way as the US.) http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/09/08/438657898/how-many-children-under-5-die-a-year-in-the-u-s-vs-angola

    “An American woman is about five times as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as a British woman — partly because Britain makes a determined effort to save mothers’ lives, and we don’t.”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/29/opinion/sunday/texas-childbirth-maternal-mortality.html

    “The United States was also one of only 13 countries to have worse rates of maternal mortality in 2015 than in 1990 – a group that also includes North Korea, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.” Women in America are now twice as likely to die from childbirth as they were 25 years ago.”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/12/us-health-pregnancy-idUSKCN0T10LO20151112#fE4cLCCbtrgVEwhu.97

    • No compassionate conservative Republican or conservative Democrat will commit and fund money for women and children’s total healthcare coverage. Too many with the attitude “I’ve got mine….now go get your own”. Yet these same people will “demand” control over a woman’s uterus all the while not taking any responsibility in providing care and welfare services for the woman/child during pregnancy and after giving birth. As affluent as America is….our government is lacking when it comes to the needs, concerns, and welfare toward the very least of its citizens. In short, America’s government doesn’t seem to value people’s lives very much. Talking the talk is nothing if they don’t walk the walk.

Use your voice

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *