Madeleine Berenson tells the story of her courageous decision to choose life 27 years ago when she had an unplanned pregnancy while she was unwed. When she informed the lecherous father that she was pregnant, he replied “I want to wash my hands clean of this whole thing. I’ll support abortion or adoption. That’s it.” Nevertheless, she had her baby and kept him.
Now her son is 27 years old and has a Ph.D. and she couldn’t be happier about choosing life. Yet her reflections on her own journey and on the abortion issue are a bit surprising. I would argue that they are a bit of a non-sequitur as well. She writes:
I have never regretted for a moment, not for one instant, the decision I made in 1978. For me, every difficulty I experienced was far outweighed by the incredible joy and beauty my son brought into my life. For me. Because of who I am and who he is. Because of what I chose.
And no one knows better than I do that an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy is an experience that should not be wished on — let alone mandated to — a worst enemy. The fear, isolation, financial hardship, emotional sacrifice and physical danger involved simply can’t be quantified. Sometimes they are all severe, sometimes only some are — every woman is different, and every situation is different.
But all of these factors are always there. And no one has the right to tell any woman faced with this profound circumstance how she should feel, what she should endure and what she must do. No matter how reasonable or justified or righteous any course of action may seem to someone in his or her own house, office, church or courtroom, at the end of the day, it is your own house you come home to, your own night you stare into and your own future you are choosing. Not theirs.
Berenson revels in the joy that he son has brought her, even though raising him as a single mom was very difficult. She knows that her unplanned pregnancy resulted in something wonderfulâ€”a baby boy who has now become a man. Yet she says that choosing death would be just as morally justifiable for another woman faced with a similar circumstance. Berenson contends that factors related to the mother’s situation dictate the decision, not the humanity and the dignity of the unborn child. As a matter of fact, the baby’s right to life never enters into the equation, only the mother’s autonomous “right to choose.”
If you can’t see the injustice of this calculation, then your gauge is broke.