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March 22, 2018

“But you see, Meg, just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean the explanation doesn’t exist.”

I wrote about abortion again. Boring, I know, but every time I write about abortion, it seems to more and more politically imperative to do so. And this piece is one of the best essays I’ve ever written, I think. I’m really proud of it and feel good having those words, this story, out in the world. It’s such a common story, but for so many reasons, it’s not one we read about or hear about very often. Though I’m writing it not just for myself and so many women like me whose uncomplicated, ordinary, straightforward stories of abortion are that it was a good thing, a blessing, and simultaneously not a big deal but also such an important part of our lives. I’m writing it also with the hope of reaching someone who sees abortion as killing a baby, and cannot fathom how it could ever be ordinary, let alone a blessing. Not even to change their mind, but to have them entertain the notion of considering a different point of view. “I understand where you’re coming from,” I want to tell them, because I do, “but for a moment just consider my story.”

Which makes me think of a idea that keeps recurring in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, which I’m reading aloud to my family at the moment. Uttered first in a line by Meg Murry’s mother, who tells her, “But you see, Meg, just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean the explanation doesn’t exist.” Just because someone doesn’t understand my story doesn’t mean my story isn’t true. My story is, no matter how much that complicates your worldview. I’ve written before about being grateful for my abortion, for what it’s taught me about in-betweenness and grey areas, and about the value of listening to people and believing them when they tell you about their experiences. Even if you can’t identify, even if you can’t understand. Because it’s possible that the limits of your understanding are also the limits of your point of view, and I want my ideas to be able to travel further than that. And I hope that other people might see the benefits of such open-mindedness as well.

2 thoughts on ““But you see, Meg, just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean the explanation doesn’t exist.””

  1. Susan Morton-Leonard says:

    I’m about to turn 63. At age 42 I found myself pregnant. I was in a stable marriage with a loving partner. I had three daughters age 16, 14, and 12. I had returned to university after a long hiatus to complete my undergraduate degree and then hopefully do a Masters of Divinity degree with an eye to having a career as a Presbyterian Minister. At the same time the school board my husband taught for was on strike, and the university I was attending was about to go on strike. I was in full blown peri-menopause. My body was doing odd things, which in part was why I found myself expecting. I was not particularly healthy at that time and questioned if I could even carry a baby at this age to full term – what about my other kids if something happened to me – who would care for them because their Dad would still have to work. I started researching abortion for older women. I was astounded to find, women in there forties and early fifties represented the largest group of women seeking abortions – not teens and twenty year olds. Like me, most women don’t expect they can get pregnant after age 40, and that birth control would fail at this time in life. I had an ultrasound – my lentil was the size of a cheerio. I booked an appointment for an abortion, however the night before I miscarried. When I was a teen in an english class debate about abortion, I fought on the pro-life side. My life experience has taught me to never judge a woman’s choice. Each of us has the divine gift of free will – what we choose to do is our choice. The opinions and judgements of others are merely that – opinions and judgements – there is nothing Godly or divine in opinions and judgements.

    1. Kerry says:

      Thanks for your generous honesty in sharing your story. Life experience is a marvelous educator.

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