Let’s make one thing crystal clear: I am against abortion. For me, there is no grey area. My primary reason is that at my core I am Catholic. And right alongside that unshakeable core is the fact that I was told when I was in high school that I would probably not be able to have children.
Many times throughout my teaching career, my students would challenge me on the topic of abortion, leveling “what-ifs” in my direction, as I remained steadfast in my position. “No,” I would answer, “not even in cases of rape or incest.” I would explain that while I would have that child, I would also need to be in therapy for longer than I could imagine. And while I have not nor will I ever reverse my position, I will also not ever judge another woman for making her own decision.
That is where I draw the line. That is not my choice to make. That is a judgment call, and I can say with complete certainty that each and every one of us will, most definitely, meet our maker one day. And it is He who will hold each one of us accountable and responsible for our actions.
Am I happy about Senate Bill 8 in Texas that gets around abortion law by having citizens turn in doctors who aid in abortion or people who seek one? Absolutely not. It has the potential to bring back the days of back-alley abortions or self-induced abortions. After the Texas law went into effect, I became a part of a discussion surrounding its pros and cons. When I raised my concerns, someone said, “If a woman chooses to have an abortion, she should die, after taking the death of a child.”
At that moment, I felt that there was absolutely nothing that I could say to this woman that would change her mind, and yet I know that there are thousands of people who would agree with her, and I shudder at their collective disregard for truths that may not be revealed until the afterlife.
Years ago, I worked with a brilliant young woman who became pregnant. Her boyfriend refused to have anything more to do with her, after being told that she was going to have a baby.
She confided in me, telling me that she had made an appointment for an abortion. I begged her not to do that. I talked with my husband about paying her medical bills during her pregnancy and then, if she chose to, adopting her child. When my husband agreed, without question, it became and will always be the moment I loved him deepest.
I thought I had solved her problem. Yes, I was that naïve. When I shared with her the conversation my husband and I had, she looked at me with a blankness that I had never before seen. She had the abortion the next morning. It is something that will forever be etched in my mind.
And years after that, when a student came to tell me that she was pregnant, I simply asked her if she would walk with me to the principal’s office so that we could all sit down with her parents to talk about the situation. She agreed, carried the baby with a support system that was unmatched, delivered the baby, and gave it up for adoption. While I couldn’t convince my colleague to embrace the offer my husband and I had made, I did (with the help of so many others) witness a life brought into this world.
Abortion is a controversial subject — always has been, always will be. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that when a woman’s only choice when faced with an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy is to self-induce, jeopardizing her own life, it becomes a problem that has yet to find an appropriate name.
Kathleen Jacobs lives in Charleston.