Jun 2, 2010  •  In Baby, Christianity, Personal, Pregnancy, Relationships

The Right to Live

My baby is now 1½ weeks away from being considered “viable” by the medical community. Once she hits that magical 24-weeks mark, she has a 50% chance of longtime survival outside my womb. And if anything were to happen to the pregnancy after this mark, a hospital will try its best to keep her alive.

I can now feel her movements every day (and every night as she keeps me awake). She reacts to outside stimuli. She even performs extra flips and kicks when her daddy is around!

My baby has never felt more alive to me, and I know that the feeling will only increase as the days go by.

However, there has never been any doubt in my mind that my baby was NOT a living human being.

Yes, she began as only one cell. Yes, she did not develop a heartbeat until 5-6 weeks, and did not look remotely human until the end of the first trimester. I was not able to hear her heartbeat until 9 weeks, and did not feel her until 16.

But to me, my baby was a living human being from the time of conception.

What prompted this post that regurgitates my pro-life, “life begins at conception” stance?

There is currently a debate going on in a pregnancy board I visit — a topic titled “When should a baby have the right to live?”

While it was not meant to be an abortion debate, it was inevitable that the discussion would borrow from that topic. And while some pro-choicers definitely made valid points, I couldn’t help but be shaken by what others wrote.

“A person is not a person until they are born.”

“A fetus has the right to live when the woman carrying the fetus decides to give it the right to live.”

“Right to life exists between the first breath and the last.  There is no right to life either before or after.”

“Being hooked up to a ventilator is completely different than being hooked up to a human being’s organs.  A ventilator doesn’t have rights to be infringed on; a human being does.”

“Someone only has a right to life if I think so. If they are using my body, you are goddamn right about that.”

One poster even changed her signature to say something along the lines of, “Fetal Parasite #2 due 7/19/10”

Where do you stand on this issue?
When should a baby have the right to live?

I personally believe that once a woman becomes pregnant, she has the responsibility to make sacrifices because her body no longer belongs to her alone. Yes, they may be inconvenient but they — along with childbirth — are our burdens to bear as women.

If I had to choose between my baby’s life and my own, I would choose my child’s. And my answer would not change regardless of the baby’s gestational age.

However, if I were in a position where the pregnancy was putting my life in danger, I would pray about it, talk to J about it, and pray some more. I know what I would have to do — because Biblically, J and I are in a covenant of marriage and once we were wed, we became one. As such, I should put J before all others (except God), including our children, and J has told me that if put in this horrible situation, he would choose my life over our baby’s. So I would ask for the baby to be delivered prematurely, and pray for a miracle.

But of course, these are only my beliefs based on my morals and religion.

9 Responses to “The Right to Live”

  1. Kit:

    Oh this is a tough question! And there is no right answer except for the person who makes the decision!

    I see both sides of the fence’s argument (at least I try because I don’t want to get too passionately involved in this, it is such a personal decision!)

    Really what it comes down to is this: a) my uterus is my own and no one should have any influence over what I do with my uterus.

    I think politically pro-life/pro-choice should always stay out of that arena. I just think it’s personal. And a woman should be able to have access to counsel to help her come to terms with whatever decision she makes. I would like to think we can be supportive of one another in these hard decisions. Whatever situation that brings it up- either attempting to save the life of the mothers or child (or both).

    Take this one recent scenario: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/opinion/27kristof.html

    In which a catholic nun was ex-communicated for being a part of the Ethics Committee in one Az hospital in which the committee weighed towards saving the mother’s life instead of the baby’s.

    A neighbor of mine recounted his wife’s first (and last) pregnancy. He was with her as she went into Pregnancy induced Hypertension and went into a coma and nearly died- and the hospital staff and father/husband decided to save his wife. And he vowed never to put his wife in that position again because he couldn’t bear for her to lose her life- and he couldn’t bear to lose his wife. (They have since adopted a gorgeous loving son. And the son’s biological mother was brave enough to adopt her son. She was in her mid/late thirties, broke up with her fiance, went to Vegas with some girl friends to "escape" her grief. Got drunk. had a one night stand. Got pregnant from some man she didn’t know. And ultimately chose life for her son).

    I just think for me, it depends on the scenario. If I can save my child and my own life- then yes I would do whatever is possible. But realistically my husband may decide (like our neighbors) to draw the line at a certain point if he couldn’t bear to see me or our baby suffer. There are just too many other horrible scenarios to account for to really say for sure though….

    I would never abort if I could avoid it. But I would never look down on someone else who chose to. My best friend had an abortion before I met her. And she is a wonderful person. She aborted her baby when she was merely 6wks. I don’t think of her any less, I feel nothing but compassion for her and her hard decision that she ultimately came to terms with in her own way and on her own path.

    As for when should the baby have the right to live? I think that lies with the woman and God. The woman needs to take a journey with God and I would hope the woman is guided and nurtured through her decision and that God embraces her enough to give her the guidance she needs with the precious gift He blessed her with. I think every child has the right to live, but every woman does too. It’s not for me to make that decision with her, other than to support her.

  2. Though I also want to avoid a debate, I must say that you really put it down well. I agree with really everything you said. I do think that abortion is wrong, but its difficult to make a blanket statement. I think that God will let what he wants to happen, happen, and with some guidance from him, the decision should be made like you said, with prayer and input from your husband.

    Congrats on reaching that point, in any case! So happy that this pregnancy is going so well for you. :)

  3. Amy:

    OMG…I’ve heard the debate of calling a child a parasite while in the womb. It disgusts me. I’m in the gross minority, and I’m a big time pro-lifer. Once that baby is conceived, that baby is alive and as human as anyone else in this world (in my eyes).

  4. Emily:

    I’m relatively pro choice but only in cases where people aren’t being idiots about it. You shouldn’t be pro choice because you don’t use birth control, for instance. But I’ve met people who’ve had abortions and meeting someone who’s gone through that ordeal really changes your perspective on it. It was never an easy decision. I also know that I, personally, would terminate a pregnancy if I felt it endangered myself or would have major complications. That’s just me, and thankfully my husband feels the same way. I think it’s a parents’ personal decision and I think the majority of people who get abortions think long and hard about it (at least I hope so!) and pray about their decision. I have always been taught, quite controversially I’m sure, that you can grieve and heal together and make more babies, so if we don’t reach a viable stage, we’d heal and move on I guess, but I honestly don’t see my husband and I choosing to put myself in danger should a major problem arise, if premature delivery isn’t an option.

  5. That is an interesting question.
    I am pro-choice. I think women should have the option of deciding what they want for themselves and suddenly making that option illegal is just going to lead to more problems since it wouldn’t stop people from having abortions, it would just make them back alley and dangerous.
    My mother became pregnant when I was 8 years old and there were severe complications that, had the pregnancy proceeded, would have meant her death. Therefore the pregnancy was terminated and I believe that was the best solution to the issue because it saved her life.
    My husband and I have had the discussion about this and the only situations I would consider aborting a pregnancy are:
    1) If my own life were in jeopardy.
    2) If the child I was carrying was going to be born with a litany of serious birth defects/health issues that would majorly affect their quality of life. If I knew that to birth them would condemn them to a life of chronic sickness and pain from which they would never recover, I don’t think I would be able to do that.
    Thankfully, I have never been in a situation where I have had to make this choice and I hope I never am. I can’t imagine that it is easy, no matter which decision you make.

  6. The women on the message board you reference were certainly completely and totally callous, and I’d definitely react the same way you did. Abortion is very serious.

    That being said, I am pro-choice. I don’t like to debate with people, and I really only worry about deciding things for myself, rather than trying to swing others to my point of view, but for purposes of discussion, I’ll explain why I’m pro-choice….

    I grew up in a large family, where most of my siblings were abused in their birth families, and they are now my siblings via adoption. They are all severely disabled, 5 of them due to either botched abortions (they were international adoptions where abortion is illegal, thereby promoting back-alley abortions) or their birthmother drank alcohol/did drugs during pregnancy.

    I think you have to take into consideration WHO gets an abortion. Certainly there are women who get abortions that have a job, are "normal" people, will be a good mother someday… but that’s not really the majority of women who get abortions. The majority of women who get abortions do NOT want a child – they do NOT want to be a mother. So what happens to that child if they carry to term? The child is born to a mother who doesn’t want her/him, often into abusive circumstances. Sometimes the birthmother will give up the child for adoption. This is great… if the child gets adopted – most don’t. Hundreds of thousands of children age out of foster care every year. In countries where abortion is illegal, abuse is high, orphanages are FULL of children in cribs, starving for human attention. I know because that’s where my siblings came from. For a child to be born into circumstances where he/she is unloved and abused by a mother who never wanted that child… to me, that’s so much worse than abortion. Abortion is horrible; to be raised without love, starving (literally) is so much worse. Because I know exactly what a child looks like when they’ve been raped, starved, beaten – what those aisles of kids in cribs looks like and what children desperate for love feel like…. I can’t say that surviving was a good thing. The ramifications of severe abuse are SO awful. Of my five siblings who came out of poor birthmothering… two are in permanent inpatient hospitals, and one has been convicted of 3 felonies. Love doesn’t conquer all, not by a longshot.

    I’m not saying this to sway you, but just to say that there is another side to this. If I were to have an unplanned pregnancy, I would NOT have an abortion because I would be a good mother and love my child – many women who have abortions are not in that position, however. Many pro-lifers say "stop abortion" but they aren’t willing to do work that prevents unplanned pregnancies in the first place.

  7. CaitStClair:

    Legally speaking, I believe a baby should be considered its own person when it is viable outside the womb.

    As to where I stand, I am pro-choice for largely the same reasons that Penny mentioned. For me, quality ranks higher than quantity. There is a sign along the interstate that for years I thought said "Abortion stops a beating" and I totally agreed with it. It wasn’t until recently that I realized it wasn’t just missing a period and that the little heart in the corner was part of the sentence.

    Also, I just saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, "Thank GOD your mother was pro-life." And it made me laugh because in fact, the opposite is true. My mom was date raped when she was 16 and became pregnant. She had an abortion (which was illegal and she still carries the physical side effects of today). If she hadn’t, it is extraordinarily unlikely that I, or my two sisters, would have had the wonderful childhood that we did, assuming of course we would exist at all. (Also extraordinarily unlikely.)

  8. M:

    Your post was beautifully written and you have made some valid arguements.

    I know this post wasn’t meant to provoke arguements or stir up a debate. I just feel I should share my own story. I am pro-choice. And I’ve had an abortion. It’s not something I’m proud of or would even mention lightly. In fact, only my husband, best friend, and her mom know about it. It happened two years ago shortly after my husband and I became engaged. We were both still in college (1 more year for me, two more for him) and looking at a future that would be incredibly tight financially (thank you private college loans). We knew wouldn’t get any sort of support from our families, as they were both incredibly conservative and already had issues with us living together before we were even engaged. I realize that many women could’ve taken this as a challenge and succeeded at overcoming the odds and raising a wonderful child. At the time (and even now) I knew that would not have been the case for us. Do I ever wish I could take it back? Yes. Most days I wonder how different my life would be IF….. But I can honestly say that no matter the issues I have now, it is a far greater quality of life for us both (and our still-new marriage) than if we had made a different decision.

    Simply put, I can empathize with the many women who are forced to go through this ordeal and I do not wish it on anyone to have to make this choice. But I will fight for that choice to be available to every woman.

    On a much happier note (and hopefully lighter!), my older sister is currently in her seventh month and I am eagerly anticipating the day I become an Aunt.

  9. Well said! I also feel that abortion is an extremely personal decision & that it should be legal (mainly for the reasons that Penny stated above – making it illegal makes it even more dangerous).

    That being said, I feel that abortion is killing a baby and the decision to kill that baby is between you and God. You (not YOU, but you know what I mean) are the one who is going to have to live with that for the rest of your life, not me. So why should I tell someone else what to do?

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