Monday, August 27, 2012

A Glimpse Into the Rationale of a Choice


Salon.com gives us an enlightening glimpse into the mind and thought process of a woman exercising her "choice".
I felt lucky to live in a place and at a time when I could make decisions about the destiny of my own life and about whom I would couple with — and when and why.
Gila Lyons has penned a piece that is open and honest about her relationship, pregnancy, and decision to have an abortion.  She should be commended for her bravery.  However, and much to her chagrin I am sure, what she wrote reveals a woman who would be likely be classified by her therapist as clinically obsessed with her racial identity, in denial about her situation, and self destructive.

Throughout her article Lyons makes every effort to reveal her Jewishness as if it is at all relevant to the story.  Instead, it seems to be thrown in to lend her some kind of Religious credence she perceives as necessary to establishing her bona fides on the issue of abortion.
I met Josh on the previous Passover while sitting around a friend’s seder table... we shared Passover cookies my mother had baked... I was also hopeful, remembering the relief I felt at the Passover table when in walked a nice Jewish guy, literate, sensitive, attractive... My dreams were full of his arms and fingers, like how I would dream about bread every Passover... A Jewish embryo, all brain and hair... A river of blood on the second day of Passover... The next few days, matzah tasted better than anything I had ever had. Matzah and butter with salt, matzah with brie, matzah crushed up with raisins in a bowl full of yogurt. It was unbelievably liberating to be able to eat again, to have an appetite. Passover, festival of freedom, slaying of the first-born... I ate bowls of red beet borsht, globs of fuchsia horseradish on thick slices of gefilte fish. The festival of freedom. Moses in his basket, saved on a river that would soon become blood.
Lyons also appears to displays a pathological unwillingness to attribute any sense of humanity to the child growing within her womb that is relying on her for protection:
Our baby was the size of a lentil, with a poppy-seed heart that beat 167 times per minute, twice the rate of mine. It had veins, brainwaves, arm and leg buds... The doctor said my uterus was roughly the size of a lemon... I took days off of work and browsed online pictures of what our baby might look like under a microscope. A human tadpole. Nothing but an eyelash of spine, a pinprick eye, an amalgam of peach tissue and miniscule veins. A Jewish embryo, all brain and hair... “It’s just a mass of tissue,” the doctor had said before she put me to sleep. “Not anything like a baby.”
What Lyons really reveals to us in Abortion, a love story is her unwillingness to appreciate the consequences of her choices and reckless and desperate behavior:
When we ducked into the Harvard Book Store, my favorite in the Square, he followed me around, looking at the books I picked up. I wanted to say, “Go look at your own books! Where’s your initiative?” But I kept quiet, trying to give him a chance, though I became annoyed again when he took a call from his sister and asked if she could join us. I thought then that he was a boy... 
I suppose I was lonely, having recently moved to Boston and having recently emerged from a year of emotional hell followed by a blissful few months of love with a man who did not stay... Josh and I had dinner. He paid for his half only. He delighted me with his wit, and I saw his goodness when he spoke tenderly about his students, but I wished he hadn’t worn a boyish white sweatshirt over his nice work shirt, dirty white sneakers clashing with his pants. 
[H]is style pointed not only to a different sense of aesthetic but also to a different way of seeing the world — conventional, conservative, unrefined. Like eating at an Outback steak house, I just wouldn’t do it. He was five years younger than me, but there was also a class difference between us... 
I worried that our clashing styles and upbringings might signal deep differences too challenging to overcome. But I clung to my therapist’s urgings to avoid carefully picking out the possible failings of any potential partner... 
So, I gave up. One night he biked over to return a book I had lent him. We sat on my bed. He was sweaty and breathless from the ride over. I wore a big red sweatshirt and black leggings, feeling particularly unattractive and having just come from the gym. I was in the middle of a story about my day when he leaned over and kissed me. I was surprised and kept talking because I wanted to finish my story, because the kiss was dry and because I wasn’t sure how I felt. He kissed me again, in the middle of another sentence, leaning on one arm on my mattress. I kept talking. The third time I thought, “I’ll give it five minutes. If I don’t feel anything, we’ll stop.” There were a few moments of numbness. I felt nothing. Then the floodgates opened. I think we had sex for five months straight... 
It bothered me that he lived like a teenager – rolls of quarters and half-drunk glasses of milk on his dresser, his perpetually dirty sheets and laundry that smelled unclean even when fresh from the dryer. It bothered me that he arrived late for our dates and for his own appointments, and that even though he was extremely talented, he wasn’t trying to advance his career or his writing as quickly or ambitiously as I thought he could...  
I knew Josh wasn’t right for me, hadn’t been from the start. And I didn’t want to have his baby.
To review, Lyons went on a date with Josh; decided he was too different, too immature.  Then a few months later ran into him again, started hanging out with him because she was lonely, and knowing she did not have those kinds of feelings for him, chose to return his advances and have sex with him after their first kiss.
Lyons says she's grateful she lives in a time and place that would allow her to choose to have an abortion.  Instead, what she really means is she is grateful she lives in a time and place that she does not have to be held responsible for her choices, that others can pay for those bad decisions.  Unfortunately for her child, the price it paid was the ultimate one.
"We could have saved ourselves so much trouble. Why did I kiss you back?"
An excellent question, indeed.

7 comments:

Nick said...

Most late teen and early adult relationships are ineffable.

However, even had Lyons access to your psychological insight, that's no guarantee the premorbid factors (as it were) leading to the relationship could have been significantly altered: insight without the resources or will to change is as useless as hindsight commentary.

Plus, and this is important, your opinion doesn't matter. It's her body, her decision.

Anonymous said...

A baby is not a choice its a person. What of its body, its liberty?

It does take a rocket scie.tist to know that sex leads to babies. It doesn't take hindsight to know that the ways to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

It's quite simple a matter of principle and accepting the responsibility for your actions and protecting the life and liberty of those who have no voice.

Nick said...

Perhaps some of the things you say are true. In a qualitative sense, none of them are true all of the time; an embryo is not a person, for example - legislating otherwise to fit a preconceived/religious notion does not make it so.

But, again, it's not up to you.

You have no say. It's not your body that may or may not be a host for the potentiality of another life. And that's been the law of the land for nearly 40 years.

Move on...

Anonymous said...

Religious notion? Who has mentioned religion? Not I. I have simply talked abput responsibility and liberty.

The fact is an embyo is life. Left to mature naturally it will become a baby, a person, with thoughts and feelings. Come speak to me again about it not being life after you've held your still born baby in your arms.

When Lyons wrote this piece, she bravely opened her experiences up for analysis. It should serve to educate, not excuse infringing on others' rights, namely the right to life of the child.

That court decision you speak of as law of the land corcumvents the will of the majority of people in this democracy. It violates the very principles of Locke and Jefferson. Yet, even it acknowledged a substantial state interest in protecting the life of the child after after the first trimester.

Today babies can be born in the second trimester and live. In the fiture, as science grows, it will be even earlier. Already doctors are able to implant embryos from one person into another. Biology is not changing, science is. And the simple fact remains an embryo is life.

Nick said...

Nope - just the potential for life; that's real science. Anything else is hucksterism in service of a preconceived idea.

As for religion, that shoe may not fit you, but slides on rather comfortably on a large number of your fellow travelers (re repeal of Roe v Wade; not your personal views), hence the reference. Which is apt, unfortunately.

As for the law...learn to live with it.

As for 'right to life'? Man, open your eyes and look around: the universe guarantees nothing....

Anonymous said...

Potential for life? No, sorry. The science is clear, it is life. Feel free to go look it up, I'll wait here for you.

Back? Good.

You are right, the universe guarantees nothing, which is precisely why man created government, to create a force great enough to protect the rights of the weak from those of the strong. Who is weaker and in need of more protection than an infant?

Nick said...

universally medical professionals say life begins when the fetus is viable, e.g. when it can survive outside the womb. that would be anywhere from 24 to 27 weeks. and the law is predicated on that definition.

also? there are many reasons why man created government; sheer benevolence being the least among them.

good effort though...

good night.