On Being both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life

I somehow found myself in a flame war online. I didn’t plan on it (does anyone?), but before I knew it, I had to respond. However, like most of these things, the topic is more nuanced than we allow for in short online comments. Maybe this is something that needs to said, or at least something I need to get off my chest.

I’m really bothered by the connection many baby loss moms make with the pro-life movement, and I’m concerned that we may be causing a whole lot of hurt as a result. Right now, mothers who have made heartbreaking choices are deeply grieving the loss of their babies. And, not only do they face the pain and grief of baby loss–the sense of being ostracized from their friends and family and all that goes with that–they are not welcome in many online communities for baby loss moms. That’s wrong.

I can appreciate that someone who is struggling with infertility, or has lost a child, really, truly has a hard time feeling compassion for someone who has made a choice to terminate a pregnancy. Those of us who have disabled children may be hurt too, by the suggestion that no life is better than living with a disability. But when someone comes to the baby loss community looking for love and support, they are past the point where a decision has been made, so there is no benefit to berating them for making a choice different from your own. There is no going back in time to change their minds.

Each person arrives at her decision based on her own experiences and life, and those experiences may be radically different from yours. We may reach out to this community in order to feel a little less alone, but the truth is, we will always feel a little bit that way because we always are. No matter how similar we are to one another, we each have very unique circumstances that have brought us here. Even our spouses, who we love and cherish and who lost the same baby (or babies) we did, do not experience the emotions, grief or loss in the same way we do.

This isn’t to say that I cannot sympathize with the pro-life movement. I live in Canada, where there are no legal restrictions on abortion. It means that when a baby dies in utero, there is no legal recognition, and that hurts. Had my sons died due to medical incompetence, I would not get any financial compensation had I sued. The law simply doesn’t allow for it. This legal position contributes to a society that denies recognition of our children, and makes it easier for them to be forgotten and ignored, and for us as grieving mothers to be shunned and treated as though we do not deserve the same compassion as other grieving mothers.

Being pro-choice does not mean that one endorses abortion, or that one would choose it for oneself. It simply means that you believe the choice is yours alone, and you do not get to make the choice for anyone else. That’s why, politically, I am pro-choice. I cannot imagine the pain that mothers who have had to choose live every day, and I can only say that I am thankful not to have to be in that position. My heart aches for them, and I wish only to show them compassion, love and friendship. I want all baby loss moms (and dads!) to be welcome here.

For those who are wondering, I believe in God. I do my best to live a life that follows Christ. For me, that means this wonderful fact: I am forgiven. It also means this wonderful fact: so are you. We are all called to forgiveness. I don’t seek to change anyone’s opinion on abortion. I just wish to ask that there is more compassion in how and where one expresses views. The baby loss community should be a place where those of us who are grieving can find solace.

It is not a place for politics.

If you are a mother who has made a heartbreaking choice, there is also a special place for you online. Find it at: http://www.aheartbreakingchoice.com/

This post originally appeared at Still Standing Magazine.

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