I've always, since learning about abortion, been on the side of pro-choice. It wasn't that I was completely comfortable with the idea of a pregnancy being terminated, but I felt strongly that the issue wasn't as clear-cut as the strident pro-lifers acted like it was.
I mean, right to what kind
of life? One of violence? Abuse? Poverty? Resentment? Neglect?
I also always thought that the woman's needs should figure prominently into the equation. It just seemed unfair that someone's whole life should be turned upside down because of one mistake, especially when the other person involved didn't have to face the same ramifications.
And then there was the question of when life actually begins. I never believed that it began at birth, but I would have argued that an embryo was only truly a baby when it developed some kind of an awareness.
Having Henry, though, has made me re-visit my thoughts on this topic.
I haven't blogged much about this -- someday I will write an entry about it -- but Henry is a test tube baby. My husband and I went through infertility treatments for two years before getting pregnant. We were successful with our first try at in vitro fertilization, in which eggs were extracted from me and injected with sperm from my husband.
Because my husband has a daughter with Down syndrome we were concerned about the possibility of chromosomal disorders, so we opted to have genetic testing done on the embryos. We ended up with three viable embryos; two were placed in my uterus through a catheter and one was frozen. As we all know, one of the embryos "stuck" and became Henry.
Right before the embryo transfer my husband and I got to see them under the microscope, projected onto a TV in the doctor's office. They were multi-celled organisms and looked like this:
I sometimes think about the one that didn't make it, as it could have been Henry that hadn't implanted. Would it have had dark hair and eyes like Henry, or been blond like me? Was it a boy or a girl?
And then I think about the one that we opted to freeze. Is it a Henry, waiting in stasis? My husband and I have agreed to only have one baby, but this frozen embryo haunts me. Neither of us are ready to let it go. When the one-year free storage pass lapsed and the bill came to continue preservation, we paid it.
At the risk of sounding like a Veritas Society
commercial, I wonder, if it isn't a baby, or a potential baby, frozen at a few days old, why do I feel such reluctance to dispose of it -- especially when the odds of one thawed embryo implanting are so slim anyway? Is
it a baby before it has any consciousness?
Suddenly, the other arguments don't seem as compelling.
Because if that five-day old embryo is a baby, does it make any sense that the needs of the woman supersede the rights of the embryo? I keep thinking about the bunch of cells we saw on that screen. Abortions are done long after that stage, when the embryo is actually starting to look like a baby.
As for the kind of life some embryos may be destined for...don't some children overcome their miserable childhoods? Mine certainly wasn't the happiest. Do we have the right to validate such a permanent act based on conjecture?
And so while I'm still offended and disgusted by the gaudy pro-life display a neighbor a block away has in their front yard, and you won't catch me picketing outside Planned Parenthood
, my feelings on the topic of abortion aren't as clear-cut as they used to be.
I guess having a baby really does change everything