Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bioethics + Life = All Kinds of Rabbit Trails

In Cambodia, I remember listening to the stories of mothers and grandmothers who had started small businesses to provide for their families. 

Where were the men?

At the bar, drinking the money away.

This year alone, I've seen several families fall apart. Who is left to put back the broken pieces? Nine times out of ten, it's mom. They are women with the resilience of warriors; they have no choice. 

Saying this does not imply that men are bad. It does not make me a man-hater or mean that I think men are the enemy. They so are not. Many are humble, strong servants and advocates who love, respect, and honor all people. Women can leave paths of destruction and wreck lives in the same way as men. As it turns out, we're all human. Even so, when we look at our world as a whole, the majority of inequality still falls on the backs of women. It's how it is, and I'm thankful for both men and women who are actively working on behalf of all people towards restoration.

Soon after having Emma, I wrote the following blog, with a couple modifications, about motherhood. I thought of it today as I was thinking through a bioethics assignment I'm working on. While I'm still staunchly pro-life, I wonder how we can do better support all the mothers and potential mothers out there who see no better option than abortion? I think of a former student, who journaled about how she had never wanted an abortion but whose parents and boyfriend pressured her into getting one. The majority of women cite a lack of support or inability to carry on other responsibilities as reasons to have abortions. How can we have an active role in reducing the number of abortions? I believe that in advocating for the unborn, we are also advocating for the dignity of those that carry them. 

I think mothers are the strongest creatures on earth (Of course, I say this six months after becoming one myself). While making a baby takes two people, the responsibility of protecting and nourishing that baby falls on the woman. We do a job that no man, literally, could ever do. While women have so many options that those that came before us did not have, nothing comes easy for a woman. It is still a man’s world and breaking through the glass ceiling is still an unlikely task. The fact that our bodies are able to reproduce is one of the obstacles of making it in a man’s world.

This is the beautiful burden of womanhood.

Some face this fact by choice, others by surprise, while others by force. There is a certain power and freedom that men have from never having to face this. As women we have worked so hard for equality and rightly so- equal wages, opportunity, etc. However, the greatest thing that separates us from men is our ability to reproduce. This is also the most beautiful, amazing thing about being a woman.

We give life.

The artistic beauty of a child being knit together inside a woman’s body is so incredible. In secret places where only we can feel the acrobats of this little one, we protect and nourish until he or she can survive apart from us. 

Through women, all men find their beginning. 

Yes, we have rights. We've worked very, very hard for our rights. But, as women, isn't it the ultimate show of strength to set these rights aside? Doesn't humanity always shine brightest when we choose sacrifice? I think most people would agree it’s best to choose love over indifference, optimism over cynicism, giving over taking, creativity over status quo. At times we are asked to set our rights aside for the sake of another, to sacrifice our bodies (and I have the stretch marks to prove it!) which a man would never have to do, but it is the ultimate display of strength and dignity. The kind that comes with celebration and "Eschet Chayils!" 

How can we ensure, even in unwanted pregnancy, that this is every woman's experience with giving birth? 

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