The Grievance of Loss: A Comparative Essay on Miscarriage and Abortion

Sep 6, 2021
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The loss of a life is always aggrieved, either by a loved one or someone who enjoyed his company. Such grievance is nuanced during miscarriage. When the mother loses the child in her womb, she also loses the hopes, dreams, and the chance of experiencing joy with someone that, now, can no longer be. This is the grievance of loss; unfortunately, it is not always felt with miscarriage when it is deliberate. Today, it is commonly called “abortion,” and while it, too, is met with grievance, it is that of a different kind, and often a selfish one compared to the grievance of miscarriage.

It is necessary to, first of all, justify the distinction between miscarriage and abortion. In essence, they share a deep similarity in how they each describe the loss of a child within a mother’s womb. What ultimately sets them apart is the element of intent. Miscarriage occurs due to factors outside of the mother’s control, while abortion is done within her volition. In legislation, this distinction bears precedence as found in the distinction between manslaughter and murder; while both involve the killing of another person, the former is generally accidental while the latter is premeditated. The significance of ascertaining intent is that it also determines culpability: is the mother responsible for the loss of her child?

The legality of miscarriage and abortion is not important in the discussion. What is being pursued here is the sentimental differentiation between the two, grounded on the element of intent.

Intent – or its lack thereof – is accompanied by a set of factors determined by the agent of the action. Perhaps among the most significant of such factors is emotion. While it is a very irrational element, it cannot be denied that it is a prime mover of one towards many actions, be it consequential for a brief time or for a long term. Simultaneously, however, emotion is fleeting and fluctuating. One who constantly bases his decisions on emotion, therefore, will find himself always in a whirlwind, never definitive in his choices, always swayed in his lifestyle.

Miscarriage is never intended, though there is intent, albeit in spite of the miscarriage. The true intent of the mother cannot always be exacted. While she may feel eagerness and anticipation for the child on the way, there is also the possibility that she could feel uneasy, unsure or even upset about her pregnancy. Perhaps being pregnant by itself is something that she never intended in the first place. Yet, these emotions are never a precursor to an action if they are not directed towards that action or an event. Miscarriage, therefore, cannot be attached to the mother’s intent prior to it.

In any case of miscarriage, grief runs deep into mothers. In an article posted in the website of the American Psychological Association named “Miscarriage and Loss,” written by Elizabeth Leis-Newman, Emma Robertson Blackmore, PhD and psychiatry professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center, reported that miscarried mothers have a chance of being clinically depressed or having anxiety after the loss of their child. In the same article, Martha Diamond, PhD, also reported that mothers attempt to justify what happened in order to justify what happened – and often, they blame themselves over it. Miscarriage is a traumatic experience where the hope for the future is gone, and left in its place is disorientation in the present.

This trauma is not present in abortion. The thoughts of a future with the child are routed by the thoughts of the self. Instead of a more joyful future with the child, what is hoped more is one without one. Miscarriages occur among couples who see the child as an end in himself. Their hopes and dreams encompass the livelihood of the child, of a life that can best provide the child with happiness and support for his own endeavors. With abortion, such a future is envisioned only for the mother herself, and she thinks to herself that she lost the chance of having that because of her pregnancy. This is the grievance in abortion: self-centered, selfish, and egocentric.

This is not to say that mothers are not allowed to think about their own lives. Everyone holds the right to be able to reflect and act upon their own lives to improve it. So is the case, too, that people – in this case, especially, miscarried mothers – to grieve when they are barred from the life they desire. But for them to act accordingly in the expense of others is immoral. One’s right to act upon herself should not infringe upon that of another, which is the case in abortion with the mother and her unborn child.

The ultimate concession in the case of rape victims should always be professed. Their hopes and dreams were taken away from them by another. They have a right, therefore, to be able to reclaim what they lost. But this should not be done with abortion, because in doing so, they commit a theft that any other aborting mother commits. Granted, this does not eliminate their traumatic experience under the hand of their rapist, and more so will the child be a reminder of that. What is only advised here is that abortion because of rape is tantamount to taking away the hopes of the future of the unborn, just as the rapist took away the victim’s hopes and dreams.

In no case can the grievance of an individual be invalidated. A mother who miscarried is entitled to the right of coping by her own terms. A mother who either by rape or sexual irresponsibility, becomes pregnant is also entitled to the same right. All expectant mothers deserve support, regardless of the circumstances. What should not be done, however, is that they exercise such a right to the extreme, at the expense of others. The most important thing here is how a mother acts upon her grievance. It should not be the better of just one, but the better of all.

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