Thursday, October 28, 2010

You don't know the circumstances of my decisions

My wife and I don't know if we're planning on having children. We may, we may not. Either way, it's a decision we don't have to make right away. More importantly, it's a decision nobody else can make for us for the simple reason that nobody else has our particular set of circumstances which will lead to the choice of whether we will propagate our genes into the next generation.

If someone told me that my choice was horrible, or immoral, or awful in some way, I can only imagine the anger it would produce in me. I'm not a wrathful person by nature, but I can easily see myself driven to a near-murderous rage if someone judged my decisions in an utter absence of any information about what brought me to them.

Unfortunately, this kind of occurrence is all too real, and all too common.

I used to live near Waikiki in Honolulu. My office is in Kaka'ako, which means that every day for almost two years, I would walk past the Planned Parenthood clinic on King Street near Keeaumoku. I don't think that a week would go by, and if it did, two never went by without a large crowd of people waving signs at anyone who dared approach the front of the building. Pictures of dead babies are strewn about in abundance. People praying the rosary are commonplace. And, always, they stand in self-righteous judgment of anyone who dares enter the clinic. Without daring to engage in conversation, they point accusatory fingers at the women entering the clinic and accuse them of murder. All the while, never knowing what decisions led them up to that point.

If you are a husband or a father (as these are the only roles available to me, I can only speak to the men on this particular issue), imagine being told that your child will not live. Imagine being told that an unfortunate, one in a hundred thousand fluke of developmental biology made your child's chances of survival exactly zero. That the absolute best-case scenario you could hope for was that some day in the very near future your wife will give birth to a corpse. Imagine hearing the anguished, heartbroken wails of your spouse or partner upon finding out that the child she's been carrying for months will not live.

Imagine, further, coming to the heart-breaking decision that the most merciful, indeed the only merciful option is to terminate the pregnancy.

Now imagine, on the day you go to the clinic, in a time frame which, by biological necessity, is too short to come close to allowing the grief to even weaken, people are standing outside the clinic, waving pictures of torn up fetuses, and screaming at the person you love most in the whole world that she is murdering her child, and she deserves damnation for entering the building, all the while not wondering, or not caring what circumstances, or heartbreak were involved in that decision.

This would be bad enough, if it were only a hypothetical scenario.

Aaron Gouveia deserved better. His wife deserved to be treated with compassion and humanity, two traits which I have, to this day, never seen anyone demonstrating outside the Planned Parenthood clinic display.

I'm going to end this post with Aaron Gouveia's words, because they fit, and they deserve to be quoted:

My wife, suddenly serious, pointed out a women entering the clinic. Within minutes, she said, that woman would be making a serious choice. Whether she kept her baby or not, it didn’t matter—what matters is that she can make the decision that’s right for her. And she can make it without people screaming at her.

These women may be making the wrong choice. I am nowhere near secure enough with my own moral standing to make that assessment. But whether wrong or right, nobody, no matter how righteous, has the right to take that decision away from her. You don't know the circumstances of their decisions, so don't judge them.

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