My husband, George, believed that women and men need unlimited access to information on sexuality and birth control so as to avoid abortion. He also believed in a woman’s right to choose abortion as a last resort. He understood the power of the sexual impulse that has peopled the world, and also the critical importance of a woman choosing the appropriate time for parenthood, even at the risk of abortion.
George was a general surgeon for women, and he performed one abortion, and would ever agree to do another. After the procedure he held a perfectly formed tiny baby weighing a part of an ounce in his hand. He knew that at 10 weeks an embryo in the uterus becomes a fetus and at 11 weeks the baby is nearly formed, measuring less than 2 inches and weighing less than ½ an ounce. Aborting a pregnancy is unforgettable and is major decision in a woman’s life.
Thank you Pope Francis for recognizing the anguish faced by many women who choose to abort a pregnancy and for offering a path to forgiveness. You have helped Catholic and non-Catholic women alike.
How extremely unfair that having access to birth control is related to wealth! Those with wealth, and/or good health insurance, can use birth control in order to choose the right time for parenthood. Those without money, or without insurance to pay for it, have little opportunity to choose a time to get pregnant – perhaps a time when they have the income to raise a child.
George had witnessed the deaths of beautiful young women who self-aborted rather than bring a child into the world whom they could not care for. He was one of the first surgeons in Massachusetts to serve on the Board of Planned Parenthood. He saw that Planned Parenthood offered information on sexuality and easy access to birth control so as to avoid abortion.
The Pope said very recently, “I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it,”
Catholics and non-Catholics alike are heartened by the Pope’s statement on abortion. Many women suffer for their whole lives when they make the decision to abort their pregnancy, especially when they delay that decision for more than a month or so. I hope that the Pope, will bring more understanding of women who feel it necessary to make this momentous decision. I hope that birth control and sex education become universally available.