Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fox's 'Choice'

This past Saturday night, the Fox News Channel aired a compelling one-hour program titled "Facing Reality: Choice". 

In the program, Fox followed a trio of women as they went through their own particular "choice" process after learning that they were pregnant.

The women, their circumstances, their attitudes, and finally their choices could not have been more heterogeneous.

Kayla is a beautiful woman in her low-20's, born and raised in a practicing Christian environment by her strongly pro-life mother. As a teenager, she took the "chastity pledge" and wore a "purity ring" to acknowledge her commitment to remain a virgin until marriage.

She herself was strongly anti-drug, and like her mom, thought of herself as strongly pro-life. Then she went to college, turned into a partier, experimented with drugs, met a guy, got pregnant.

Her unmarried roommate was also pregnant, and they had frequent girl-chats about how fun it was going to be having their kids at the same time, and raising them as friends.

Big problems popped up though (imagine that) when Kayla's "partner" (read: baby's daddy) didn't want to raise a child. Suddenly Kayla was preparing to become a single mother.

With her future on the line, she was after all trying to graduate from beauty school, Kayla made the "difficult" choice to have an abortion, against everything that she had previously believed in as a theory. She even was able to enlist her mom's support in the project, and mom attended the actual abortion procedure with her.


It was here that mom learned, lo and behold, that it was not Kayla's first time. She had a previous abortion within the same year! She is apparently ostracized by many in her church community. Oh, and her roommate decided to also have an abortion.

Jeanne is a 30-year old woman, like Kayla she is an attractive blonde, and single. But Jeanne also has the hardened look of what she has been for the past decade and a half: a drug addict.

In addition to being an addict, she has given birth already to five children, and is now pregnant with her sixth. She goes through men, and pregnancies, like Sherman through Atlanta. The angle with Jeanne is that she is an immature, irresponsible person, but that she can't or won't make the choice for abortion.

She has had her first few kids taken from her by their grandmother, without a fight as she acknowledges it is for their best under her circumstances. She then decided on adoption as the best for another child. Finally, she may have (the facts are a little murky, as is much of her real story) miscarried another child.

Now with her current pregnancy, she agreed to adopt out this child to the same couple who had adopted her previous one. The couple agree to pay for her support completely, including of course medical costs, up until six weeks following the birth of the child.

One gets a sense that Jeanne may be in it for the financial "benefits". But she meets yet another guy, and is considering making a go of it with him and the upcoming baby. The show leaves us with the knowledge that the baby is due in February of '08, but that Jeanne has disappeared from their radar.

Brooke is a young wife and the mother already of one healthy child, but she desperately wants another and the couple has been trying to get pregnant for some time. Finally, she and her husband are happy to learn that she is indeed pregnant.

However, something is wrong, and tests reveal that her baby has a fatal birth defect. If she goes through with the pregnancy, the baby is not likely to live for more than a few hours.

The initial devastation of this news for the couple is replaced by the resolution of their choice: to have the baby and leave the rest in God's hands. They want to hold their child, to look into it's eyes, to give it the completion that it was meant to have from conception.

Brooke goes through with the process, getting to see her baby in ultra-sound procedures right up until the last days. Thanks to the clarity of this modern technology, the couple is even able to determine that the baby has the husband's nose.

However, their daughter ends up still-born, having passed away approximately twenty minutes before her birth. The family buries her and goes through a normal grieving process, but only after they get to hold her and let her know that in her brief existence, she was indeed loved.

Three women, three varied circumstances, three incredible choices in the women's lives.

The show does not present political arguments, does not show pro-life protests at abortion clinics, does not show pro-choice feminists or humanists defending Roe vs. Wade.

With the exception of talking about Kayla's upbringing and background as a contrast to her own eventual decision, the show does not take on any religious angles.

From a medical angle, an abortion doctor is interviewed and states that he doesn't "kill babies, I save women's lives."

Fox bills it as taking no position: "there are no experts and no politicians, only three women telling their very personal stories".However, in the telling of the stories in the women's own words, it is hard not to come to some conclusions that would be considered as polarizing judgments, and my bet is that the folks at Fox get plenty of feedback on this show.

Here is my take:

Kayla is the typical person for whom values and morals are great and preferred, until it comes down to their having to personally stand up for them. Despite her Christian upbringing, she makes the wholly un-Christian decision to kill her baby. Twice.

She defends her "choice" (the babies, of course, never got to make one) to move on with her life as a beautician. The Kayla who opened the show seeming so much like a model young woman deteriorates into a selfish, vain, immature excuse-maker.

Jeanne is easily the most openly irresponsible of the trio, her lifestyle exposing her children to difficult circumstances. But for whatever reasons, she chooses to have the children, thus at least giving them a chance.

Her earlier kids are being raised by their grandmother, and another is adopted to a solid couple, and all seem to be fairing well to this point. They are not out of the woods, and there is another sibling on the way, but they are all alive.

Brooke has the most difficult of the circumstances. She makes the emotionally wrenching decision to go ahead with a pregnancy that she knows will end in the death of her baby. But the decision turns out to be easy for her, because she recognizes the baby within her as life, one that has as much value as her own.

Brooke's baby girl dies. Kayla's babies are dead. The difference is, Brooke's child got to live out her natural life, short as it was. Kayla's were basically painfully sucked out of existence by a scraper and vacuum cleaner.

I have some personal experience with this issue. It has touched my own life in the distant past. Like most men, I didn't have much say in the ultimate decision. It still haunts me, and the experience has absolutely colored my current position to staunchly defend the life of any unborn child against all but the most serious threats to the mother's physical well-being.

How anyone can say that the intentional killing by a healthy mother of an unborn child is a "choice" is beyond me, and for that I am glad. For giving us this well-made glimpse at the decision-making process of these prospective mothers, Fox once again deserves kudos.

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