How do you define personal? The dictionary has a few suggestions: private, belonging only to the bearer, affecting only that particular person and no one else. When a decision is personal, it generally means that only one person can make it—often because the decision affects them alone.
Recently there’s been a trend in the media to describe abortion as a “personal” decision. NBC’s medical drama, New Amsterdam, may be the latest to use this language. In a recent episode, Dr. Vijay Kapoor confides in colleague, Dr. Iggy Frome, that his son’s girlfriend, Ella, is pregnant. When Dr. Kapoor laments that Ella may not keep the baby—his grandchild—Dr. Frome quickly plays the “personal decision” card to make sure Dr. Frome doesn’t try to talk Ella out of an abortion.
Dr. Kapoor pushes back, implying he wants to share his feelings with Ella—to let her know he’d rather her keep the child. Then, Dr. Frome becomes adamant, “What, no? No, no, no you can’t. You can’t talk to her. Ellas’ about to make a profoundly personal decision, one that is only hers to make . . . No buts, no meddling, no prying . . . You can’t even ask.”
Self and other teen and young women focused magazines mimic this same language. As explored in this post, the term “personal decision” is too often used to deter well-meaning friends or family members from speaking into a woman’s decision to have an abortion. “Personal” decisions are, it seems, to only be made in isolation. One should only get counsel from those who will support her choice to abort the baby, not from those who would want to help her deliver and nurture life.
But I wonder: when did we, as a culture, adopt the mantra that personal decisions had to be made without input? In all other areas of life—one displays wisdom in personal decision making by doing research, seeking wise counsel, and talking through both facts and feelings about the particular matter. If you want to invest your money, you talk to an investment counselor. If you want to buy a house, you talk to a realtor. Choosing a job, picking a mate, deciding where to live . . .these are all personal decisions that would be foolish to make without thorough research and input from others with experience.
So why and how does anyone buy the fallacy that a woman considering abortion should be left alone to make her decision? It seems the abortion industry wants to make sure that women only receive counsel from sources who will push them towards ending the life of their baby.
But the truth is, abortion doesn’t just affect the mother of the child. It affects the child—by denying his or her rights and snuffing out the breath of one of God’s creations. Abortion also affects the father of the child—a man who will be deeply impacted by the loss of his child if the decision to abort is made. To call a decision that so severely impacts two other people “profoundly personal” seems a misnomer.
As people who are committed to helping women, men, and their unborn children find abundant life in Christ, we must recognize the subtle yet deliberate propaganda behind the “personal decision” language and help those around us see the truth—a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy needs help, support, guidance, and information. She needs respectful care and counseling to make a decision that will affect three different lives—not just one. At Care Net’s network of affiliated pregnancy centers, we offer just that.