So maybe I’ll lose some friends, followers & supporters with this post. It seems to be the day for that. I do hope not, but I have to say my piece.
In South Africa, abortion is legal. There’s no debate about whether or not this should be so, it’s simply a fact. For any woman of any age facing a crisis pregnancy, abortion is as valid a choice as adoption or parenting her child.
There are a number of crisis pregnancy organisations out there, although most that I have seen seem to be coming from a “pro-life” or religious position which seems at odds with the aim of supporting the mother. They do say they don’t judge, and they undoubtedly do help many of their clients. But it still doesn’t sit well with me; I can’t help it.
I also get a lot of people praising our work because “at least they’re not aborting their babies”. This irks me. There is no right answer, and women who choose abortion for their own well-considered and complicated reasons are no less worthy than those who choose to raise their children. There’s appearing not to be judgmental and then there’s truly not judging – believe me, that pregnant woman can feel the difference.
This is what I know about being pregnant and confused: You’re going to ask somebody “What do you think I should do?”
I also know that nobody should actually answer that question. The minute somebody answers and says “I think you should…” they are speaking from their own agenda.
There is NOBODY who can answer that question for a pregnant woman. Nobody should try – not a partner, not a parent, friend, teacher or pastor. Seriously, NOBODY is qualified to answer it, or to venture an opinion.
The correct answer from a sensitive helper is this: “I don’t know what you should do. Only you can answer that question. These are your options, and this is what each will entail. Think about how you feel about each one. And I will be there to hold your hand no matter what you choose.”
The minute you say any of the following:
“I think you should do this because…”
“I think you shouldn’t because…”
“This won’t won’t work because…”
“This is what I would do…”
“If you do this, it will mean this about you…”
“You can’t because you’re too young / too old / too poor / too single / too anything”
“Don’t worry, as soon as the baby is born everything will be worth it”
You’re trying to change her mind to suit yours. And that’s wrong. Wrong wrong plain bloody wrong.
Seriously, I’ll say it again, keep your mouth shut. Stick to facts. Stick to specific questions about the specific players in the situation and how they will react or feel about each of the options – obviously to do this, you need to KNOW the people you’re speaking about. This is not a situation where the theoretical is going to be of much use.
If you’re going to help a pregnant woman in crisis – it’s your job to help her see her path more clearly – not steer her towards anything.
I don’t see how somebody with very strong anti-abortion views is able to do this objectively.