It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post, or anything for that matter. I’m juggling so many things at one time and swimming through life with swinging moods. Sometimes it’s “Oh, why is life so difficult? Why do I always overload myself? Why do I make myself suffer?”, while most times are “Wow, life is fun. I’m exploring every part of the library… Yey, I’m adding Afghanistan to my MUST-TRAVEL-COUNTRIES list.” I’ve recently diagnosed myself with “a chatty brain” too. With an overworked mind and body, I couldn’t conjure up the time and energy to write. Oh, my poor diary, how I have neglected you.
What induced me to write this time was my conversation with a good friend during lunch today. It brought me back to the time when I had this dilemma but because life became so busy, I decided to forgo thinking about it. Besides, I knew I am very cautious and responsible, and thus, I would never land up in that trouble, so why think about it? Why think about abortion and its moral dilemmas? Now, having recalled it, I’m still at a loss on which side I should advocate for.
One side of me is and have always taken the pro-choice feminist side. I heard a segment in BBC today when a representative from Mary Stopes International, a non-profit sexual reproduction health organisation, said to the BBC correspondent, “We’re not advocating that abortion is a better choice. But, we believe that women should be given the choice to lead their lives in the way they wanted to”. I believe so too. A child is not just a 9-month load to the mother’s physique, but, a lifelong responsibility. A child requires investment in time, energy, love, dedication and money. It’s not easy.
Imagine this scenario: You are young, you are struggling to find a place and a job, and you find yourself pregnant. What to do? Do you give birth to the child when you don’t even have the money to support the child? Or, abort it? Personally, I think it’s not sensible nor is it rational to bring the child to this harsh world, if the parent is unable to cope with life in the first place. Even if, she is able to cope and manage as a single parent, would that child have an equal opportunity in education, or a good family upbringing compared to those children born in financially or mentally prepared families? Though there are a number of success cases of those children who struggled against all odds, I still have my doubt. Why give the child a difficult life because you were unprepared for it?
Whenever I meet my self-confident and self-assured friends who in the eyes of the world would have a bright, successful, and rich future, one of the questions I’ll ask them is, “Wow, what did your parents do to bring up such a bright child like you?”
How children are brought up in the first few years of their lives play a huge role in developing their character and perception of life as well as in developing the skills needed to survive in this competitive world. Will the child be multilingual in the future? Will the child be a loving and warm adult, or a cold and distant one? Will the child be given the opportunity to go to a good school that will give him or her plenty opportunities to learn and grow? Additionally, we read so much about what parents worldwide do to nurture a “genius” child. Sometimes, their efforts are a bit overkill, such as listening to Mozart even when the child is still growing in the mother’s womb, or giving the infant toddler swimming lessons for faster mental development. In competitive countries like China, Singapore and Hong Kong, parents even have to bid, sometimes years ahead, to give the child a chance to go to the best primary schools. Can a child brought up in an unprepared family give that kind of life to the child?
Of course, pro-life supporters offer an alternative to these unprepared parents, of giving the child away to another interested party. There’ll be those fortunate enough to be adopted into good families, but there’ll also be those who would be “institutionalized” in orphanages. Giving birth to the child will give it a chance to live a life, but is this a good life for the child? Sure, by not aborting, we will give the child a right to live, but what is living if you have to struggle to live?
On the other side of the coin, there is the pro-life stance. One of my friends showed me a YouTube video of the fetus’s “silent scream” during the abortion process. The scalpel is seen to have crushed its head before pulling it out forcefully out of the sanctuary of the mother’s womb. It’s just a highly speckled grey ultrasound image, but it’s crude and gruesome enough to make me feel horrible.
Almost all religions, be it Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism, consider an abortion as an act of killing. Once, a friend I met in Buddhist camp – she is a liberal English woman – and I, asked a nun about her thoughts about abortions. Bear in mind, this is not a word-for-word recollection as this conversation happened nearly a year ago. The nun said, “By aborting the baby, you are violating the 5 Precepts as Buddhists should not kill any living beings, whether directly or indirectly”. We continued asking, “But, what if the woman had been raped? Now, she has to bring up the rapist’s baby? Isn’t this so unfair for the woman?”. The nun replied, “Well, it’s her karma. By bringing up the baby, she will be neutralising the negative karma she has accumulated to deserve this fate.” The main gist of it is since Buddhism believes in the law of karma and cause-and-effect, being granted the precious gift of life, you should bring it up even if you are unprepared. It’s due to something you had done in your previous life and you need to pay for that mistake or else, in your next life, you’ll go through this once more.
That’s theology. But, I also believe in the capabilities of being human. All of us are resilient human beings and from childhood, we have developed mechanisms to survive and lead a happy life. By hook or by crook, we will find a way to survive. Matters that look horrible today, and probably still terrible tomorrow might dwindle down to nothing but a prick in the heart in a few months’ or in a few years’ time. Bringing up a child in stark sad situations might be difficult, dark and disastrous times, but through perseverance and strong willpower, it is not impossible.
So, this brings me back to the question rephrased this way, “If I see a friend having so much difficulties, and he/she is clearly unprepared for this additional trouble to the uncertain future, what should I say?”
To abort or not to abort, that is the question.