Sunday, 7 August 2016

Pro-life or Pro-choice?

There was a thread in Singaporemotherhood some years ago.

It was a thread seeking advice on which gynaecologist to go to for an abortion.

As expected, the thread sidetracked or 'degenerated' into a thread debating on whether the girl should keep or abort the baby. As usual, many mothers or mother-wannabes persuaded the girl to keep the baby. Only a few 'supported' the girl's decision, saying that it was her decision to make.

I was one of the few to say that others should not impose their opinion on the thread-starter. I can't remember if I stated them but my main reason was that these mothers were not in the girl's position and they would have no business in helping to raise the baby, so they should not interfere with her decision.

Of course, it invited a lot of virtual bashing, which I had foreseen. All the 'a foetus is also a life', 'a baby also has the right to come to this world', 'you are selfish not to think of the baby' and the classic 'she could give away the baby' arguments came on the thread.

I don't know how many mothers had put themselves in the girl's shoes, or how many of them had gone through the painful dilemma themselves.

It is my deep belief that no woman would go for an abortion happily or even willingly, no matter how intense the hatred she has for the baby's father.

The foetus is a life inside you. It is a part of you. Which woman in her right mind can surgically remove something from her within without feeling a tinge of reluctance, especially when the foetus is not a by-product of rape or an immoral transaction?

To go for an abortion is one of the most difficult decisions to make. To abort a baby takes some, if not immense, courage.

My honest opinion is that unless one is prepared to foot the bills for the girl, he or she has no business insisting on the baby being born.

It is not as easy as one would imagine to give a baby's up for adoption.

It seems to be a no-brainer for a third party: give birth, give the baby away to an infertile couple who badly wants a baby and everybody lives happily ever after.

However, in reality, no mother with an ounce of human kindness in her could give away her baby without batting an eyelid.

The bond that she has formed over the nine months' pregnancy, the labour pain that she has endured, the lifelong emotional hurts the baby's father inflicted on her, while remote to a bystander, are hardly figments of imagination to her, for the rest of her life. 

To an outsider who gives counsel that she ought to keep the baby and give it away, everything's over after the adoption. The mother would be able to start her life afresh like she is new.

To the mother, she knows that she will think of her baby for the rest of her life, no matter where she is, how she does or how many children she has with a new man. The guilt that she has brought the baby to the world but has to rob the baby of the real mother is something that she has to live with for ever.

Then someone might say,"Then keep the baby with her."

The financial constraints of a single mother alone are frightening. Most of these single mothers are not high-flyers or money-rakers. 

The regular monthly financial commitments of a baby include:
milk powder
caregiver's fees

and the adhoc purchases of milk bottles, clothes, steriliser, walker, cot, toys etc are not even mentioned yet.

Parenthood is expensive, and many times more so for a single mother. The emotional and financial burdens on a single mother's shoulders weigh many tonnes more than a married woman who has someone to share with. And it's only normal for guys not to consider single mothers as an option for future partners.

Perhaps to a bystander, the biggest challenge for a single mother is the pregnancy period. No doubt it is one of the most challenging periods but the tougher times come after that, when you need the time and money to take good care of your baby.

This is why single mothers are susceptible to settle for the next man who comes into their lives, especially one who seems to demonstrate a lot of care for them.

The more I read about tragic cases of toddlers and children mistreated, abused or killed by their mother or their mother's boyfriend, the more I wonder if the decision to bring these children to this world had been a right one. If these abusive mothers had aborted their babies when they were in their womb, perhaps it would have been a less painful experience for the children. The mothers might have been the few rare brave souls who decided to keep their babies despite being single, but along the way, after bouts of constant struggles with the harsh reality, regrets and hatred for the child could develop a few years later which led to the tragedies.

I acknowledge that there are happy single mothers out there but not everyone is the same and not everyone has the same experience. While you enjoy your baby and are prepared to face every challenge that comes your way bravely, it may not apply to another person. It is great that you share your own experience or encourage the girl to keep the baby but one should not dismiss those who propose a different solution to the girl as being thoughtless or cruel to an unborn baby. The ones who propose otherwise perhaps are the ones who have plodded down the same path and saw the other side of the story. 

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