Just a women’s issue. Really?

Although I’m probably now pro-choice–I haven’t decided–I have to take exception with the idea that abortion is only a woman’s issue. Some women may believe that but, based on my own experience, a woman’s decision about whether or not to abort an unborn child can affect the father of that unborn child every bit as much as her. Not only that, the decision affects not only people alive when the decision is made. It also affects the people who are affected differently if a child is aborted rather than being allowed to live his or her natural life. Just for one example, albeit a Hollywood movie example, James Stewart, in the throughs of depression got to see what would have happened if he’d never been born and realized God had given his life a purpose which would never have been fulfilled had he not been born.

l even believe a fetus which results from rape or incest has the same right to have life outside of a mother’s uterus as does a fetus resulting from consensual sex between a man and a woman. I don’t know how often children are conceived by rape but it’s probably more than most people thing. I know, for example, that, when i was doing refugee work, a presenter told us that, with just a single vaginal penetration by a man with viable sperm, there was a fifty percent chance of a resulting pregnancy. That seemed a bit overstated, and she may have been somewhat biased what with her job of encouraging us to convince our refugees to practice birth control. Still, I once knew a woman, a very significant woman in my life, who told me she’d never slept with a man and was in denial about her pregnancy all the while I was with her and even after I left her to find a “real job” in the States so she could come over and be my wife. She was so ashamed of becoming pregnant outside outside of marriage that she couldn’t admit it even to herself.

I’m sure that every situation is different, but this one occurred in Thailand during the Vietnam War. , and since the father was a counterinsurgency officer, I was told that what happened was normal. And what with the promiscuity around an Air Base, my American family couldn’t bring themselves to believe she was actually raped.

I lost touch with the woman who was raped. In fact, based on my attempts to talk to her a on the phone, it appeared that she hated me and/or believed I wanted to ruin her life– not just her marriage, because I was trying to talk to her after she divorced the volunteer who married her three month after I left her (leaving the Thai community to believe I was the child’s biological father). They got married one day and left town the next, leaving the town to believe another American was taking responsibility for another American’s indiscretion, a necessary ploy to keep the policeman at bay.

She’s now 72 years old. I’m 73. Her daughter is pushing fifty.

So who was the victim there? It’s apparently not the daughter, or maybe it was, but she has an internet presence, and appears to be quite successful in her career. From the other American’s point of view, it was always important that his wife and daughter never communicate with me because, from his point of view, I’m “infected”. From my ex-girlfriend’s point of view, I was a stalker for trying to contact her after her divorce, which was twenty years after I’d left her.

She may have been the victim of a rape, but, as it turned out, she got what she wanted…….I think……that is, the freedom of being a single woman in America. Meanwhile, the Thai girlfriend of the guy she married was devastated to learn her boyfriend had taken responsibility for my indiscretion while she was away at college.

That’s how it came down. I may have stopped my life of serial promiscuity before I met this woman, but, after she was raped, I became the villain who’d knocked her up and fled. It was a tricky situation. A lot of intricate if convoluted arrangements had to be made for this to happen. So much that happened was invisible to everyone except for the people most intimately involved.

She was raped during my Peace Corps home-leave. I knew she was very naive. I had a premonition about what was happening during my absence, and I almost didn’t go back. But I did go back and tried to make it all work. I no longer had a job. Her mother hated me. After three months, I knew it was time to leave. She arrived in California one year later, and, once her daughter was raised, she decided she didn’t need the American she married. Eventually, I think she confided in her friends, telling them that that she’d married an American she didn’t love because of her condition, and because he’d offered to raise her child as his own in the States.

There’s more to it all than that, a heck of a lot more than just that, and, of course, my point of view is quite different than that of anyone else. In fact, every person had their own point of view, and there were many people involved, if only indirectly. I did learn a lot about Thailand, but I never hated the place as some people seemed to have surmised. For years I wanted to go back and live there, and I’ve been married to a Thai for twenty years. But still, this stuff will always be inside me.

There was once a Tom Hanks movie about the Peace Corps and its relationship to the CIA in Thailand called Volunteers. According to the producers and writers, the idea for the movie originated in 1979 which, coincidentally, was the year I sent my story to a Hollywood producer.

Just saying that makes me seem like I have or had delusions of grandeur, when, in fact, I’d only sent my writing to Bob Shanks, the Executive Director of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation after he expressed some interest in reading what I wrote. Then, without my knowledge, he urged his Hollywood friend, Bob Shanks, to read it. Then Bob Shanks asked me to send my manuscript to him. After receiving it, he promised to read it but said that, since it was “weighty” and since he was involved in writing projects of his own, I should be patient in waiting for his reaction. But the only reaction I got was a movie which mocked the Peace Corps and assurances from everyone who knows me that the movie most likely had nothing to do with what I’d written. In fact, it didn’t. It was totally different; coming, it seemed, from almost the opposite perspective from what I’d written.

And then, as I learned, Peace Corps people believed I was tarnishing the image of Peace Corps all along.

Anyway, in Thailand they had a saying about how people that make ghosts get ghosts and, shortly after I got there, I’d had a girlfriend–a bargirl, all my girlfriends were bargirls except for the last one–who got pregnant. I didn’t even know if her baby was mine. She said it was, but I believed it was the child of her previous boyfriend. Anyway, she mentioned that there was a way to induce an abortion by taking some sort of concoction downtown, and I gave her $25 to take it. It worked, but it almost killed her, and, after that, whenever she rubbed her breasts, they emitted a stream of milk. She thought that was kind of funny, but, when I saw that, I finally realized I’d really curtailed the life of a human being. And, perhaps because of that, or partly because of that, and everything else that happened in Thailand, I didn’t get married to my present wife until my fifties, too late to have children, although we tried.

So why do these women I see on the news say abortion is a women’s issue? I was heartened, at least, to learn that the abortion rate has been going down. For myself, I have to believe that my ex-girlfriend’s daughter in California, the product of a rape, whether she knows it or not, has the same right to be alive that I do. In fact, I used to hope she’d do great things, cross-cultural things, and maybe she does. Anyway, because I believe that, I have to be pro-life even though it’s surely the woman’s choice. But I have to be pro-life even though

I guess that’s it for today.


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