Monday, June 28, 2004

TT: Abortion conference

TT is wrestling with the abortion issue. Read the article here.

Even though many women have abortions, TTians find abortion to be beyond the pale. Women who have abortions may be contemptuously told that their "belly is a graveyard." The hospital ward in which those who have had back-street abortions are taken is called the "slip and slide" ward, and the occupants there are often treated unsympathetically by the nursing staff. Life is precious, and pregnancy can be avoided, is the perspective of the nurses on such wards.

TTians refer to the practice of abortion not as "throwin' way a child." Pro-abortion Americans may regard the fruit of the woman's womb as a foetus or a blob of tissue that is not yet a child or has potential to be a child; TTians don't deal in such euphemistic nuances. What the woman is bearing in her body is a living child; what she kills is also a living child. Thus, when she "throw 'way the child" she does so in the full awareness that she is taking innocent life. That may be the source of the nurses' contempt.

In 1989, I was somewhat ambivalent about the abortion issue, more inclined to have an "it's your thing" attitude towards it. That was until 6:30 one morning in July; a young woman hustled into the gallery of the house that I shared with a buddy and proceeded to squat on the cushions of the sofa. There, without so much as a by your leave, she completed the abortion she had drunk some bush-medicine to effect the night before.

My bud got her fiancé and a next door neighbor took the woman to the local hospital. After they were gone, she and I cleaned the blood which had soaked through the cushions of the sofa and the cloths we had put.

The stench of the blood clung, coppery and rank, and no amount of mopping or handwashing seemed to rid our nostrils of the foulness that tainted the early morning air. While we cleaned, anger simmered underneath. That she was our neighbor and had needed help during an emergency, we didn't mind. That that emergency was an abortion, and that she had attempted to make us complicit in her act -- she'd wanted us to cut the amniotic sac -- that caused the anger to grow as the cleaning continued.

By the time the cleaning was done, I was no more ambivalent about abortion. I was firmly pro-life. There is something about seeing the amniotic sac with a whole aborted child in it that will move a person off the fence. Delivering a live child brought to term would have been a joyous thing; coping with an aborted child and mourning the waste of life and human potential.... Ambivalence could no longer be an option.

I'm not quite sure what TT should do with regard to addressing the back-street abortions that women have. The answer is not to be found in legalizing a procedure that takes lives; to do that is to introduce a culture of death which the country is too small to afford. Perhaps the answer lies with orphanages and abstinence-based sex education, a re-orientation of TT's moral compass.

Perhaps something as simple as the implementation of Uganda's ABC (A = abstinence; B = be faithful; C = careful condom use) anti-AIDS initiative. If ABC works for AIDS, then it will work to reduce, even eliminate, abortions because it requires Ugandans to change their sexual morés. No more sexual promiscuity and pre- or extra-marital sex. TT would benefit tremendously from such a change.

Whatever the answer may be, turning more bellies into graveyards cannot be it.

More on the abortion issue here.


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