The Personalist Project

I'm really worried about all the women who have had abortions. (Some of them are people I know and love.) I'm worried that the moral horror now dawning on the public (thanks to those video exposés of Planned Parenthood) will overwhelm them—that they will be tempted to despair and self-hatred, or else to more entrenched denial and callousness.

We have to pray for them! We also have to deepen our awareness of our complicity, as individuals and as a society, in this evil. We have to help those women know and feel that they are not alone in their guilt. We have to help them carry it; it's ours too.

I've never had an abortion. I've also never had a boyfriend who used me for sex, but refused to take responsibility for a child we conceived together. I've never felt that fear of abandonment. I was never in a tight spot—pregnant out of wedlock with no money and nowhere to turn. I don't have a controlling, abusive husband. I didn't have the kind of parents or friends who would urge and pressure me to get an abortion—as if it were in the best interests of all concerned. I was never subjected to the lying propaganda that can convince a scared young woman that "terminating a pregnancy" is the right thing to do, because she's not ready to be a mother, not ready to care for a child. I wasn't indoctrinated to believe that recreational sex is "safe" or that "the product of conception" isn't a human being.

I knew the truth, and I've been free to live in accord with it, personally. "The boundaries have fallen in pleasant places for me." I was raised by Catholic parents with staunch moral values, who taught me that Planned Parenthood is an evil organization. If I had gotten pregnant as a teenager, they would have been disappointed, but they would helped me have that baby. Thanks to evangelicals, I've had a "personal relationship with Jesus," since I was 12. I've traveled my whole life in ardently religious, pro-life circles, surrounded by faithful Christians who deeply believe that each and every person is created in the image and likeness of God, and who make generous personal sacrifices from that conviction—sacrifices of money and time and energy and prestige. I know many, many people who pray regularly in front of clinics, who support single mothers, who volunteer at domestic violence shelters, who foster or adopt unwanted children, who give their retirement years to helping raise the unplanned babies of their unwed daughters... These are my people.

And yet, I've been enjoying life and sipping wine, and generally carrying on as if it didn't concern me too much that babies are being dismembered every week in my neighborhood. I am like the Germans under Hitler, who knew Naziism was wrong, but kept mostly quiet, from fear or complacency and self-interest.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

I understand very well what it means to conceal truth from my own mind, or to muffle its urgent voice, because it seems like I couldn't function otherwise. I also know the pain and profound, almost-aniliating humiliation of disillusionment. And I've learned that the only answer is to throw myself on God's infinite mercy.

I really hope Planned Parenthood is finally destroyed by the recent revelations, and I hope everyone who has ever had anything to do with abortion is saved by the same Love and forgiveness that I rely on to save me from my part in it.

Comments (2)

Rhett Segall

#1, Aug 10, 2015 2:15pm

Thank you, Katie, for your point on the pressures that have to be considered in any moral evaluation of abortion. However; most of the 1,060,000 US women who have abortions are not young teens, but in their 20’s! And most get abortions because they are not willing to accept the changes that a child will bring to their lives- difficulties with a boyfriend, getting a job, education etc. They morally justify their abortion on the basis of its legality and the (so-called) non-personal dimension of the fetus.To me, such “justification” is pure rationalization. Abby Johnson is an example here.

An anecdote exemplifies a major motivation for the abortion industry: A very bright 17 year old girl highly valued the moral theology class I taught. Nonetheless, a few years after her graduation I was astonished and deeply saddened to read her letter to the editor of the Albany Times Union. She was totally in favor of keeping abortion legal. Why? It would enable women to be in charge of their own destiny.

Katie van Schaijik

#2, Aug 10, 2015 4:27pm

There was a horrible story last week about a woman who was 20 weeks pregnant with twin girls and had an abortion because she didn't want any more girls. 

But my point isn't limited to young teens. Women in their 20's can also feel trapped and panicked and ashamed and hopeless.

So many of the "abortion regret" stories I read are by women who thought they had no choice. 

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