Sunday, January 22, 2012

Infertility vs. Pro-Life

Note: I wrote this several weeks ago and have been debating with myself on posting it or not.  The quote below is used  without permission, and, if M requests, I will remove it.

A friend, whom I have known for quite a long time, has published several nonfiction books and is now aspiring to become a published author of fiction.  Since I love to read, fiction mostly, I have been reading his drafts and giving him feedback.

On the latest novella I have yet to respond.  The writing is sharp, the story is thought provoking, and, in M's style of writing, contains much witty dialog.  But I am having a difficult time putting into words to him what I think of the book.

There’s one section that pained me.  I’ve long known that our politics and general life philosophies tend to be at opposite ends of the spectrum.  But his professed atheism and my devout Catholicism has never impeded our friendship.  I doubt this writing of his will change our friendship either.

One day in 1973, Gabriel completely shocked me with a question out of the blue.

“What is abortion?” he asked.

I was taken aback, but tried to hide my surprise at the fact that an 11-year-old
would even know the word. “It’s a little complicated, Gabriel. Why do you ask?”

“At school today, Mrs. McCovey was really upset. We asked her what was wrong, but she wouldn’t tell us. At first. But we kept asking, and finally she got really mad and said that the government was going to allow babies to be killed. Is that true? Will the government actually kill babies.”

I have to tell you, that one is a “little talk” that no one thinks to prepare for. Idon’t remember exactly what I told him. I know I reassured him that, no, the government would do no such thing. I seem to recall covering the “usual” talking points as best as I could: a woman’s right to choose, the embryo stage, viability outside of the womb. I felt as though I did a horrible job. But I must have done OK, since he said, “All right. As long as the government isn’t killing any babies,” before walking down the street to a friend’shouse.

I later learned that Gabriel’s teacher had what we would call “reproductive issues.” Had it been 2003, she could have gone to a fertility specialist and been given a chance to realize her dream of motherhood. But that was 1973, and test tube babies were still the stuff of science fiction.

So I surmised that she simply was venting her frustration, and expressing her view that someone should not be “throwing away” a baby, a baby that she would be grateful to have. I sympathized with her. I felt sorry for her. But at the same time, I didn’t feel that it was right for her to pass that view along to impressionable elementary school students, especially in so demonstrative a fashion.

I guess more than questioning him, it’s a question for all pro-choicers.  Do you really, truly think I am pro-life only because I am infertile?  That I think abortion is wrong only because it limits the number of infants available for adoption? 

That is not who I am.  Perhaps I am more sensitive to the "choice" that woman is making.  Does she really, truly realize what she is choosing?  Perhaps I am a little louder in voicing my stance as I know just what a precious gift that life is.  Perhaps I am a little more active in the pro-life movement since I have more time, time that is not given to the raising and nurturing of those little choices.

I hope and pray some publisher is smart enough grab M's work and run with it.  It's important and intelligent and thought provoking.

I got me thinking.

1 comment:

  1. This would be difficult to bring up, but if he's a friend and knows your views, then he should be prepared for you to say something and it shouldn't offend him.
    As I'm not sure the context of the book and how the story ends, I'm not sure what you could say, other than it offends you. But if the story goes on in the future with "Gabriel" finding out differently or being pro-life, then maybe it has a reason to be there?
    I am irritated, too, at pro-choice people thinking IF people are pro-life only b/c of infertility. I guess it brings out the opportunity to witness regardless. :-)