Thursday, April 21, 2005

ayelet waldman, part 1

It's been too long, my blogging buddies. Lately I've wrestled with exactly what the point of blogging is for me, or for anyone for that matter. All I really do is write about myself...doesn't that seem just a tad bit narcissistic? But I don't find myself thinking that about others' blogs. In fact, I rather enjoy reading stories about your lives and how you deal with life on a day-to-day basis. With that said, here is yet another entry about what Jana thinks!

Yesterday, on Oprah, the spotlight guest was writer and mother-of-four Ayelet Waldman. She was discussing her recent piece featured in the NY Times titled "Truly, Madly, Guiltily". I intend to comment on that article, as soon as I can get a hold of it in its entirety. As I was searching online for the essay, though, I came across another piece Waldman wrote entitled "Looking Abortion in the Face". The column describes her personal experience with abortion; she terminated a pregnancy after learning her child was "genetically compromised". Here is an excerpt:

"I believe that every woman is entitled to choose when and if to end a pregnancy. I also believe that to end a pregnancy like mine is to kill a fetus. Kill. I use that word very consciously and specifically. I have no regrets. I made a choice based on my own and my family's needs and limitations. I did not want to raise a genetically compromised child. I did not want my children to have to contend with the massive diversion of parental attention, and the consequences of being compelled to care for their brother after I died. I wanted a genetically perfect baby, and because that was something I could control, I chose to end his life."

Okay. Big breath. Where do I begin? Do I start by telling you that I cried when I read this? That my heart felt like it was physically aching? That as I was sharing her thoughts with Brandon, I felt like I could not get across to him the depth of my sadness? I tread lightly here because I have never been in Waldman's situation. I am not familiar with this kind of grief. So I'm wondering if I should make any comments about this at all. But I'll proceed...

I have always felt like abortion should be legal, yes, because if a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy -- whatever her reason -- then, by all means, let it be done safely and in a sterile environment. However, I say "CHOOSE LIFE"! If we are having sex, a potential consequence is pregnancy. We all know this is a possibility. My thoughts are that the Giver of Life should be the only one who is allowed to take away life.

The comment I am especially saddened by, however, is Waldman's statement that she wanted a "genetically perfect baby". What qualifies as "genetically perfect"? Where do we draw the line on physical abnormalities? Brandon jokes about how he was born cross-eyed, club-footed, and asthmatic. I suppose a club-foot might be considered a physical abnormality. Maybe his mother should have aborted him.

I read another of Waldman's columns yesterday. She writes:"Four children is enough. So why can't I stop thinking about another? We've already experienced the heartbreak of terminating one pregnancy due to a genetic abnormality. With four healthy children, I tell myself it would be irresponsible to give the dice another throw. And yet... And yet..."

I wonder if her yearning for a fifth child is actually her heart grieving for the child that would-have-been. Guess we'll never know.


Blogger tine said...

i watched that oprah yesterday also, and could make several comments on that as well...i appreciate your post today...i share that ache with you, especially as i watch strangers along with members of my own family, who have lost children and would have given anything just for one more minute with those precious babies who were nowhere near "genetically perfect"

4:31 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

My heart aches and my stomach turns, especially when I think of people like Joe and Laura Hays, who right now are dealing with a "genetically-compromised" child born yesterday. And loving him with all their might.

I wonder if Ms. Waldman's view would have been different in an age where she didn't have the technology to know whether or not her child was "genetically compromised." Would she have had no problem killing a live birth baby in the same way she had no regrets from the abortion?

I don't mean to sound judgemental if I am. And being a man, I have no idea what it means to have a life growing inside of me or to even know that that life isn't as perfect as I would want.

I guess I believe that where there is life, there is hope. And God doesn't look differently at a "genetically compromised" person than at someone whose genetic flaws aren't as noticeable to the world.

Rant off.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Ed said...

Right before I read your comments for the day, Jana, I was saying to myself that "blogging is from God" - and this is from someone who doesn't even have a blog but who peeks anonymously into the lives of friends and even strangers. Having said that and in light of waldman's comments, I am thinking of baby Ira's story, who I've gotten to know through his dad's blog. Even with his "imperfections", do you think his precious parents would think it was all worth it?...I think so.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

This makes me feel physically ill. My mind is going everywhere on this - but here's what I keep coming back to:
What if one of her "genetically perfect" children gets cancer, is in a terrible car accident, or contracts a chronic disease? There are no guarantees when you become a parent. It is not easy. No one will have a perfect child...there's no such thing. Nowhere in her explanation of her choice did she think about the baby...only how the baby would affect her "genetically perfect" family. Absolutely it would be difficult to raise such a child, and not everyone can do what is needed for such children. But there are other options, there are ways to help out with familys' "limitations".
I can't help but wonder if her wanting another child is because God had sent her this "genetically compromised" child because it would fulfill her life in a way she would never have expected, but she rejected His gift.
Perhaps I'm being too harsh...but I don't apologize for it.

12:21 PM  

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