By Len Suzio
Nearly 50 years ago, on January 22, 1973 the Supreme Court legally decided the contentious abortion issue with two rulings, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. The Court may have decided the matter legally, but it didn’t settle the matter culturally or socially as attested to by the ongoing challenges to the Court’s controversial decisions.
My wife, Kate, and I first confronted the issue in 1977 when someone close to us called us in tears to inform us she was pregnant, and her boyfriend insisted she have an abortion. We did our best to comfort her and encouraged her to do nothing rash and to visit us to have time to sort her thoughts and feelings out. Unfortunately, she gave in to the pressure of her boyfriend and aborted the child she was carrying.
That experience prompted Kate and me to become more involved in the issue. We realized that many women were pressured by their boyfriends or families to have abortions, so we decided to offer our home as a shelter home for pregnant women. From 1979 to 1992 we hosted an untold number of young women who had become pregnant under difficult circumstances. Almost all the young women were from poor families, and many were women of color.
It was an eye-opening experience. It’s one thing to offer financial assistance or to counsel someone every few weeks. But when someone lives with you for months you get to see their problems and concerns up close.
I can remember one young woman whom I considered particularly intelligent. We knew she had had a drug problem at one time, so I asked her why someone as intelligent as her would risk her life by using drugs. She told me that she had been abused by her father when she was a little girl and she didn’t care if she lived or died. I had never before encountered someone so young and so disillusioned by life. At the same time, she told me that she had never met a family that would take in complete strangers to help them through a difficult situation.
Her experience with our family not only helped her through the difficult circumstances of her pregnancy but proved to be a turning point in her life. A few years later she came to visit us with her little boy, and she was happier than I ever had seen her. She told us that she found God (or he found her) and purpose in life. We were overjoyed for her.
Ultimately, after the arrival of our fifth child, we had to stop sharing our home, but Kate continued to serve pregnant women in difficult circumstances. She volunteered at the Meriden Birthright office and eventually became executive director. Meriden Birthright serves nearly 200 poor women every month, providing pre-natal and post-natal assistance.
Abortion, by its very nature, is violent and destructive. Almost everyone has qualms about the abortion procedure (I say “almost everyone has qualms” because lately I have met militant abortion rights activists who express a “no regrets” attitude about abortion). But most pro-choice people I’ve encountered have feelings of unease about the procedure and view it is a somber decision. Ironically, Norma McCorvey, the woman who was “Jane Roe” in the Roe v. Wade case that made abortion legal nationwide, eventually became involved in the pro-life movement speaking out against abortion.
Humans have a capacity for self-deception when it comes to difficult moral decisions that we want to justify. Abortion is no different. For anyone wanting to know more about abortion, I recommend the following reading.
A book, “In Necessity and Sorrow: Life and Death in an Abortion Hospital,” written by a pro-choice psychologist, Magda Denes, who had had an abortion, expresses the view that many woman who choose abortion do so with sadness and often because they feel compelled by circumstances to abort the life in their womb, hence the title, “In Necessity and Sorrow”. Dr. Denes, states unequivocally she is pro-choice; but her book is a good read for anyone interested in the abortion issue because it is unique in its frank description of the gruesome reality of the medical procedure and the lives that are destroyed in the process. All too often the pro-choice argument is couched in euphemisms that smokescreen the brutal reality of abortion. This book, written by a pro-choice physician who observed and personally experienced abortion, is a good read for anyone interested in the unvarnished facts about abortion.
One other book I highly recommend is “Mortal Lessons” by surgeon Richard Selzer who wrote a chapter, “What I saw at the Abortion,” His words after observing an abortion, “And it has happened that you cannot reason with me now. For what can language do against the truth of what I saw.”
Len Suzio is a former state senator.