It’s the great moral divide of our age. Here one doctor explains why she’s so passionate about persuading her patients NOT to have abortions.
Arms folded protectively around her chest, the thirty-something in her smart business suit was tearful but adamant.
"I can’t have this baby," she said, hands twisting nervously in her lap. "I just can’t. I’m not ready for it. It would ruin my career, and my relationship. I just can’t cope."
Across from her, Dr Tammie Downes leaned forward and gently posed the questions she had asked so many other women in the same position.
"What would have to change to make you see things differently? What would help you to see this baby as good news and not bad news?"
They are simple questions, but for the distressed patient they were to make a life-changing difference. Prompted to think about what she was actually frightened of, she broke down in tears and confessed to a fear of losing the successful career and lifestyle she had worked so hard to build.
It was a cathartic moment, and one that led her to a profound reassessment.
"As soon as the words were uttered," says Dr Downes, "she found herself thinking ‘does my job really matter more than my unborn baby? Can’t I find a way of having both?’."
Instead of the abortion she had been so determined to have, the young woman gave birth seven months later to a baby boy.
"I saw her shortly after she gave birth and she was delighted. She adores her little boy.
…Over the years, she believes, thanks to her prompting, around one in three women she has treated have been able to change their mind.
This does, of course, leave many others who press ahead with their terminations, and as their GP, Dr Downes often bears witness to the sometimes unexpected emotional aftermath.
She remembers one patient, an 18-year-old hairdresser with an unreliable boyfriend, who came in determined to terminate her unborn child.
"She said: ‘I don’t want this.’ She was adamant, as I recall.
"I talked to her, asked her again what would have to change for her to feel differently. She said she had hoped to be older when she had her first baby, and for her relationship to be more stable."
Unable to shake off her fears, the girl went ahead with her abortion, but her story has a surprising twist. Only five months later, she came back and revealed she was pregnant once more. This time, however, she wanted to keep her baby.
"She told me the decision to have an abortion was the worst one she had ever made and she was desperate to make amends," Dr Downes recalls.
…Then there was the Asian family, a couple who already had three children under five and were shocked to find another on the way.
"They were sure they couldn’t cope. They kept saying their family was ‘complete’.
"Again, I asked them to think about things in a different way. What is a complete family? Doesn’t every child complete a family? I asked them to spend some time just talking together.
"They came back a week later and said they were going to keep the child. They are now exhausted but happy. They have told me they couldn’t believe they ever thought about not having her."
As they say read the whole thing. Rarely do you see an article like this, especially one that doesn’t search out to add the pro-abortion spin.
Wow! That’s great news! What a key question — and huzzahs to Dr. Downes for asking it!
A former roommate of mine told me about an argument she used to present to male friends who had gotten their girlfriends pregnant. She would simply ask them something like, “Have you asked your girlfriend what she *really* wants to do? You say you want to support her and be there for her, but do you know for sure that she wants to abort this baby? Come on! What woman truly wants to kill her own baby? Maybe you should re-think this ‘support’ thing, and ask your girlfriend what kind of support she really wants.”
Brilliant. I thought this was pure dead brill, because even though this woman could tell you about the moral and psychological wrongs of abortion, she sidestepped the religious and emotional points (harder for her male friends to hear, she told me) and used an approach that they could relate to.
Bravo, both of them!
The phenomena of the “redemption baby” (child conceived and carried immediately following an abortion) needs to be more carefully studied. Abortion clinics need to be forced by law to reveal all this data they have been hiding because it has the potential to harm their revenues.
The focus of all the abortion dialog is wrong.
Interesting, is it not, that these pregnancies – these children – provoke the following reactions from the mothers (hopefully to be):
“…shocked to find another on the way.”
“…unsure of her true feelings for her fiance…”
“…utterly distraught to find herself pregnant.”
“I don’t want this.”
“I just can’t. I’m not ready for it. It would ruin my career, and my relationship. I just can’t cope.”
When a (fertile) man and woman engage in sexual intercourse, they are entering into a contract with God. There are obligations to be fulfilled in every contract, and one obligation of this contract is often the duty to love and raise provide for a new creation of God’s – for 18 or so years.
The worst sin of abortion is not the murder itself – it is in telling God “Go to hell. It’s my life.” And the greatest sin of our culture is in teaching people that this attitude is alright. And it is all the ultimate result of our emphasis on the individual, which is so much a part of our culture that I fear the culture itself must be destroyed in order to change it – the emphasis – to what it should be: God.
Our culture is all about rights. A healthy (holy, that is, but that tends to be a bad word these days) culture is all about obligations.
And the focus of any dialog on abortion should be on obligations, not rights. Not the rights of the women (girls, actually), not the rights of the (unborn) children, and not the rights of the men (boys, actually), for that matter.
I couldn’t agree more, Paul K. Ours is a society of selfishness…what makes ME “happy”
is all that matters. Obligation is a foreign concept. Churches and homes must teach the Gospel clearly and unequivocally and let our lives be a witness to our Faith; thank God for people like Dr. Downes who try to do that.
Actually, I think the once a child has been conceived, emphasis should be on the rights of the unborn, whose life will depend on whether the woman and man accept their obligation.
Fair enough, Lynn: If the focus should be on rights at all, it should only be on the rights of the unborn.
And yes! Thank God for people like Dr. Downes!
On a far, far sadder note, see this article in the Sunday Los Angeles Times:
“The abortion debate brought home
He and his wife have always been pro-choice; recently, they were forced to make the Choice.
By Dan Neil
May 6, 2007
MY WIFE AND I just had an abortion. Two, actually. We walked into a doctor’s office in downtown Los Angeles with four thriving fetuses � two girls and two boys � and walked out an hour later with just the girls, whom we will name, if we’re lucky enough to keep them, Rosalind and Vivian. Rosalind is my mother’s name.
* * * “
The Neils just assume without question that in vitro fertilization is morally acceptable and that the “reduction” in children that may follow when “too many” implanted fertilized eggs take to life is also morally acceptable. The choice they make to save two girls while aborting the two boys is positively scary:
“Some wanted to know how we decided to keep the girls. Partly, it was a matter of how the fetuses were arranged. Partly, it had to do with other factors. Some studies show offspring of older fathers (I’m 47) run a higher risk of autism, and males are four times as likely to be autistic.”
Eugenics anyone? Pray for these people who have decided to play God.
I’ve met several women who’ve had abortions. With one exception they all regretted the act. That exception (who had five abortions in all) seemed one of the most amoral, self-centered persons I’d ever met.