Until recently, I hadn’t heard the argument that those who support home birth and a mother’s right to give birth where she chooses means the person should also support abortion. As readers of my blog may have noticed, I am very much a fan of home birth, having birthed Charlotte at home and planning on giving birth at home again, and am also very much pro-life, in every sense of the term. So how can I hold these two positions simultaneously?
Well, I don’t see the choice of where to give birth as being solely beneficial for the mother. If the mother is having a straightforward pregnancy, then study upon study shows that having a planned home birth is perfectly safe for both her and the baby. I know of no mother who chooses a home birth thinking it will be detrimental to the health of her baby, and if it would be, I don’t personally know a woman who would choose that option knowing it could be dangerous.
When I chose to give birth to Charlotte at home, I did so after extensive research. Kieran’s birth had been somewhat traumatic, and had involved interventions that wouldn’t have been necessary with a good supportive birth attendant. To ensure I could be in a relaxed environment (which of course helps with the labour overall), I planned a home birth. I knew that the midwives would transfer me at the slightest sign that something could even possibly be wrong, and so I wasn’t worried. Her birth was calm, peaceful, and without the interventions I wanted to avoid unless absolutely necessary, such as immediate cord clamping. She was absolutely healthy, and all was well. Far from being an aberration, this is the norm for low-risk mothers giving birth at home.
It is true that it is the mother making the decision on where to give birth, and with whom, but she makes this decision taking the baby’s well-being into account as well. Hopefully she also makes this decision after discussion with her husband and care provider(s), and after looking at all the facts so she can make an informed decision. Similarly, the parents make health decisions for their children until the children are old enough to make their own informed decisions. These decisions, though, are made not based just on what the mother wants, but on what is best for all involved, with a high emphasis on the impact on the child.
Abortion, however, doesn’t allow the child to have a voice. Science has proven what many already held to be true: that a unique human life begins from the moment of conception. Any other demarcation is arbitrary, really, for the unique life started at conception and merely develops further from then on. Of course, I’d also argue that abortion doesn’t truly help women, for it hasn’t improved support during pregnancy, especially for those who know the child may have a birth defect, hasn’t improved maternity leave in the US, and generally has removed sympathy and support for women who find themselves pregnant in less-than-ideal circumstances and yet choose to continue the pregnancy. Not to mention that it doesn’t celebrate the unique role of women in bearing life: this is something that should be celebrated, supported, and honoured, not seen as a handicap.
So I see a definite difference, because choosing home birth is also taking the child’s well-being into account, where abortion is touted as being just for the woman’s well-being, since the child’s life is ended. I’m not trying to sound harsh, but it is what it is.
So, can a person support a woman’s right to give birth wherever she feels safe and supported and simultaneously be against abortion without their being an inherent contradiction? Absolutely.