I didn't see this one coming. K. and I had been talking about her sex life. We had arranged to meet before a sexual abstinence event at a church in Michigan. I was there interviewing young people for a book project on evangelical abstinence campaigns, and K. travels the country with an organization that promotes waiting for sex until marriage. K. is an attractive, gregarious young woman in her early 20s, but her easy laugh belied her deeper pain.
I had asked her about her previous dating relationships and what led her to commit to abstinence. What began as a tale of sexual escapades quickly devolved into a heartbreaking story of abortion. As can often be the case in the complex tangle of life, she wanted the baby, but at the same time she didn't. Her much-older boyfriend had left the cash for the procedure on the dresser. She bled for quite a bit afterward, and through her tears told me that she had found a fragment that looked like a small hand on the floor of her bathroom. It had happened a few years ago, but the pain was still fresh. She had been eleven weeks pregnant at the time. My eyes filled with tears, threatening to shatter my objective researcher posture, as I tried to nonchalantly continue taking notes. I instinctively touched my belly - I was eleven weeks pregnant myself.
Stories like K.'s often get lost in the vitriolic rhetoric surrounding abortion. President Obama's abortion rhetoric in his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame yesterday is a small step in the right direction. "How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?" Obama asked the graduates. But what about individuals ...1
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