Listening to the claims and counter-claims over whether the RU-486 is safe and should be more widely available, I have many questions. My biggest question is about what we aren’t hearing. Where are all the other voices in the abortion debate?
We are used to two voices – ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-life’. In both camps we find the compassionate and the zealot. There are those who trade insults and those who argue with reason and logic. We argue as if this matter is solely about abortion. In reality though, abortion is simply an element of a much larger issue. By failing to recognise that, we have excluded many voices that need to be a part of this discussion.
Where, for instance, are the voices of the childless couples? I find it disconcerting that the only option our society is discussing – with regards to women with unwanted pregnancies – is abortion. In a nation where countless childless couples ache to hold a baby in their arms, there are less than 80 Australian children available for adoption in a year. There are also over 90,000 pregnancies ended each year.
Do we not find it a curious tragedy that in our nation women will weep with the grief of childlessness, whilst other women will grieve because they feel they have no choice but to abort? Why have we made it easier to end life rather than nurture life?
Adoption is now almost considered the unmentionable. A friend of mine who has been adopted however, expresses nothing but gratitude for both their biological mother who gave them life, and also for their adopted parents who have nurtured them.
Imagine if our community considered adoption as an alternative that we would support, both emotionally and economically? Imagine the dignity we would bestow upon women if we empowered them, in the midst of uncertainty, to be givers of life and joy to those couples whose are unable to conceive.
No-one is pretending, of course, that adoption doesn’t carry an emotional burden. However, once an unplanned pregnancy occurs, there are no detached, easy options. We are simply naive if we think that abortion has no psychological or emotional side-effects.
In fact, where are the voices of post-abortive women who experience great grief and regret? Why are they not a part, and a vital part, of the policy decisions we make as a society? After all, they can tell us, more than most, what the costs of these procedures really are. They may be the voices who challenge us to come up with constructive solutions for women who face an uncertain future. I find it hard to believe that the most ‘compassionate’ option we can provide is to suggest women end their pregnancy.
Where are the voices of courageous women who give birth despite their child being diagnosed with chromosomal abnormalities such as Downs Syndrome? The immense pressure placed on women to abort children who are seen as ‘less than perfect’ not only fails to affirm the value of those in our society living with such conditions, but it also fails to give women true choice. We should celebrate the courage of women who defy society’s quest for perfection and choose to love extravagantly and unconditionally instead.
In all of this we would be wise to remember that abortion is big business, and that those who profit from it do so at the expense of women across our nation.
We must make a place for the many voices that are currently being silenced in this issue. At the very least, someone needs to speak for the women who are calling for a pro-woman approach in its fullest sense. To be truly pro-woman, life-affirming choices should be as passionately and creatively supported as any other.
If we really care about the rights of women in our nation, let’s listen carefully to all their voices – for in a multitude of counsellors, there is wisdom.