Blocking off Poydras Street in downtown New Orleans, hundreds of people gathered on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 for a pro-choice rally in response to recent attempts to changes state abortion laws across the country.

The Advocate recently published a poignant letter from a woman expressing gratitude to her mother who had made the courageous choice to give birth to her after enduring the horror of rape. While acknowledging my admiration for that mother, I’m also mindful that we all have our limitations.

Not all women and few adolescent girls are equipped with the emotional maturity and stable mental health to overcome such trauma in order to provide a child with the love necessary to bequeath to her a strong sense of self and well-being. Different circumstances may require a different choice.

Oversimplified labels like “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are not mutually exclusive concepts. The statement, ''I'm pro-life except in the case of rape,'' is not meant to be interpreted as a reflection of unworthiness for a nascent child conceived in rape. Rather it accepts that a rape victim has the natural right to choose whether to allow a fertilized egg to develop fully into a human being.

The mental and physical health of both mother and fetus deserve to be privately and thoughtfully weighed along with the input of a healthcare specialist before the kindest outcome for both entities can be fairly determined.

Large numbers of Americans are not convinced that a fetus in the early stages of pregnancy meets all the qualifications of a human being deserving of the same dignity and rights as one developed enough to live outside the womb. Because we don’t all function with identical beliefs, capacities and circumstances, morality is much too complex an issue to be resolved by a dispassionate legal system with a simplistic one-size-fits-all solution.

Dealing with such heartbreaking dilemmas by passing rigid judgmental laws seems unbelievably cruel when what would best serve society is our recognition, respect, and compassion for our individual differences and needs.


Baton Rouge

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