Grace is a beautiful thing. Basically I think grace means choosing not to act like an asshole when one might have a good reason to act like one. Grace is a window; righteous rage is a locked door, and this beleaguered nation seems to be making another turn toward gracelessness judging by the leaked draft of a Supreme Court document overturning Roe v. Wade.
I don’t like talking about abortion even though, right now, I am. I remember the heated arguments of the early 70s which were nearly as hot as the heated arguments over Vietnam. I’ve lived through the entire interval and all the continuing arguments and violence against clinics and doctors. People with money went to Mexico, people without? I remember the grim jokes when (and it happened) we’d see wire coat hangers beside the road, casualties of a house move gone wrong, but we’d say, “Uh-oh. Another illegal abortion.”
How this issue continued to be fought, debated, even murdered over is beyond me. Roe v. Wade should have put the whole question to rest so we could move on to all the huge problems in this nation that could be addressed through law, all the pressing concerns of our world. Instead, the Supreme Court is concerned with which government entity has the right to say what an individual woman (family, doctor) is and is not allowed to do with her own very private parts, her very private life.
Plenty of animals practice a kind of retroactive abortion — including bald eagles who deal with over population in their nest by letting the stronger chick eat its weaker brothers and sisters. Coots lay a LOT of eggs and then feed ONE chick. But humans? The vast vast vast majority of humans DON’T and never would use abortion as birth control.
While I have no direct experience, you don’t teach English to upwards of 10,000 post-adolescents, of whom at least 50% are female, without having more than one anguished office conversation about, “What do I do?” from a young woman who is afraid to tell her parents, doesn’t have parents, lives on the streets in her car.
“I can’t tell you what to do, Student. But I’ll listen. Then, I think you might want to go to counseling services and health services and talk to them. I’ll go with you.”
“OK.” Then I heard the whole story which almost always had little to do with the guy; everything to do with her fear, her poverty, her lack of preparation for her future, fear of the boy”friend,” her fear that she’d raise her child alone without any income, her fear that she and her baby would be living on welfare just the way she and her mom — who’d been a single mother — had. Some of the stories these girls told were harrowing.
Sometimes the story ended in a baby. Sometimes the story didn’t. Sometimes I didn’t learn the end of the story because the young woman dropped out of school. A few times the woman came to class bruised and battered from a difficult “conversation” with one of the two powerful men in her life.
I won’t even mention the extreme cases of rape, incest and the sick molestation of those unable to give consent to the sex act and are taken advantage of. I do know that NO woman goes into the decision to have an abortion a happy camper. “Whoopee! I’m having an abortion! Waaa-HOOO! Can’t wait!”
As I looked at those young terrified and confused women in my office, it was completely clear to me that of all beings? They should be given grace.
“I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces..”
Gerard Manley Hopkins, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”
Here’s a thoughtful analysis by historian and writer, Heather Cox Richardson. Whatever you have to do to read it, please do. https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-3-2022?s=r