by Callan Goodwin
A few weeks ago I was sitting around a table discussing the ethics of abortion with 20 conservative, politically-aware college students. Their arguments against abortion were based on the philosophy of what life is, or theoretical second hand experiences. During the discussion I had a sense of unease with how the discussion was being approached. Everything being said was statistics and personal opinion; there was a lack of humanity in the discussion. Because abortion kills a human before it is even born those who are left alive don’t think to put faces to the lost babies. Abortion becomes less of a human problem and more about how it affects public policy. This approach was what caused my unease in ethics class. On Monday evening I attended a parallel event put on by Real Women of Canada and Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. That evening I put faces on two survivors of abortion, a raped mother and a child conceived by rape.
Liz Carl was drugged and raped while still in high school, a few weeks later she tested positive for pregnancy. She was frightened, confused, and ashamed. Her friends encouraged her to get an abortion. The night before her appointment a friend looked her in the eye and said, “You know that it is a baby.” Miraculously Liz didn’t wake up in time for her morning appointment. That evening she finally told her mother the whole story and began to receive support and therapy she needed. In the next nine months Liz picked a family to adopt her son so she could stay in contact with her. Today Liz is part of her son’s life and is attending college. According to her, abortion supporter’s arguments are nullified because of her story. She said, “I have never looked and seen my rapist in my son, I have only seen joy.” Liz believes abortion would have been her worst decision because she has found healing from the rape in spending time with her son.
Rebecca Kiessling also gave her story. She was adopted by a loving family and when she was 18 she began to search for her real family. The records of her biological mother’s name were confidential but she was able to obtain information such as health records and a physical description of her mother. But only her father’s height, build and eye color, a description straight from a police log. Eventually Rebecca was able to find her mother, and when they met for the first time her mom told her about the brutal rape she endured and why her mother had decided against aborting Rebecca. When the assault had been committed abortion was still illegal. This saved Rebecca’s life and led to her mother’s healing. According to Rebecca’s mother she, “forgot the rape because she saw her beautiful child.” This mother also found joy in her child, just like Liz.
Rebecca’s story is one of a close call because Roe vs. Wade was past just three months after her birth. If it had been past just a few months earlier Rebecca would have become a statistic that people now use to discuss abortion. Rebecca points out that her mother didn’t choose to save her “the law did.” These women are the human faces to an issue that even conservatives disagree on, is rape a condition to allow abortion. When you look at their faces my qualms were answered.