Thursday, March 23, 2006

thoughts from my daughter

This is what my daughter M emailed me from uni yesterday. Whether or not you agree with her on abortion or even Chrisatianity, she raises some questions we all need to think about

In the tute this morning, as part of our values & ethics thing, we had tostand on different sides of the room to show our feelings about abortion.It had to be an absolute thing, no in between. In the class of twenty,only three of us were against. All Christians. And in a sense, I foundthat very depressing, that nobody else has any moral framework to valuethe life of a foetus. Some people in the 'for' camp had qualifications,wanting to be in the grey area, one saying he couldn't work with a clientif they weren't involving the father in the decision, another saying shecould never do it herself, but she could understand others doing it. Andwe talked about self-determination, and autonomy, and our ownself-knowledge and how we might have to be paternalistic in high-riskareas like child protection or mental health patients.But somehow the whole experience showed up what is lacking in the socialwork rhetoric, which I consider essential: compassion. We talk about humandignity, and social justice, and service to humanity, but it's all scarilya step away from real love. A sort of righteousness without love. We talkabout respect, and appropriate empathy, and boundaries and trust. Butthere is no love. I only just thought of it, so my thoughts are veryundeveloped as yet, but it is interesting, isn't it?

Is compassion the thing that Christians bring to social work that othersdon't? Surely not. I don't want to think that this is the case, but itlooks like it is. While the students I've met are nice, a lot of them seemvery hard - all for policy change and different politicians, and justiceseems very abstract, and individual people almost non-existant.What bothers me about the abortion thing isn't so much that everyone elsewas for it, as how most of them didn't have to hesitate, as if it was asimple and clear-cut thing, that of course a woman has the right toterminate. (We spoke of termination more than abortion). We on the otherside said it was a complex issue, and under some circumstances...and Ithink they appreciated that, (cue sympathetic nods) but still thought wewere rigid. I remember being shocked in first year that Islam and Judaismare less rigid than Christians about it...they are against it, but muchless strongly, depending on the reasons, and how far along the pregnancyis. But it's like in the secular world nobody thinks it's an issueanymore. I wondered if some of them didn't really care about it, were justgoing along with the rest, being politically correct. I also wondered howmany would have held such views a century ago, when the moral/religiousclimate was so vastly different. ...

1 comment:

Suzanne R said...

You have raised a remarkable daughter. Her views about compassion and love seem well thought-out.

My experience with abortion has been that my mother had an abortion when she became pregnant in her 40's, at the urging of her Mormon bishop, my father, and her counselor. They felt she could not cope with a baby. At the time, I was quite outraged, feeling that this had been my brother or sister and that I would have been willing to raise the baby. (I was in my 20's.)

My opinion about this has become more philosophical over the years, however. I question whether it would have been the right thing to bring a new child into that family to abuse, and I'm sure the idea of giving it up for adoption, or to me to raise, wouldn't have been considered. (Also, I now recognize the obstacles that my upbringing created for my own child-rearing ability.)

Maybe some kind of solution could have been reached that would have allowed the child to come into the world and have a decent life, but I truly doubt that so I guess I have accepted the situation as it was.