The problem with watching stduy videos from the nineteen-seventies is that the message can often be lost amongst the content - the stark oppressive environments, gaudy fashion sense and people lighting up cigarettes during their counselling training. It's very interesting to watch, in this case the training of would-be abortion counsellors (all of them women), and consider how times, views, opinions and culture have changed, come along, or devolved.
I found that I was slightly taken aback by what I felt was a rather relaxed and adult response from the two women at the centre of choosing their own abortions; which, in one case, seemed almost blasé. With the continuing climate of religious zealotry and controvesy that stands around abortion, I has assumed that back in the seventies, the subject would have been even more of an issue that views would have been in a state of sensationalised (perhaps even naïve) turmoil - as I suppose myself and the rest of modern-day culture often considers much of the thinking of past generations.
Further to this, I had to analyse myself. When questioned by the group about my own beliefs on abortion, I didn’t find the answer easy to come by. I could agree with the assessment of another member of the group – that situations are always different and sometimes it is necessary to allow abortion, and sometimes abortion isn’t the answer. However, I have never been faced with the choice; the decision. I have discussed it with my wife, then girlfriend, when we had our pregnancy scares, but I was often saved any decision because the choice would lay with her (it being her body) and that she could never bring herself to abort a life.
I believe that a life is begun at conception and not birth and would therefore have to suggest to myself that abortion is a bad thing, to be avoided. I have also to consider that there is free will and the choice to abort is as important as euthanasia, and should be a personal decision. As a teenager I would have stuck by my girlfriend’s choice, regardless of the outcome – my position as “man” feeling so dissacociated form the real situation and decision because it “isn’t happening to me” that it doesn’t seem real, and therefore not a real threat. Facing the same question aged twenty-six, with a safe-mortgage, wife and responsibilities I cannot easily answer whether I agree with abortion at all. Certainly, we would never now abort a child, but then, we consider ourselves to be financially comfortable. My views have definitely swung: I don’t agree with teenage pregnancies, but I don’t think abortion is the answer.
It was also interesting to consider that the core principles of counselling haven’t changed in thirty years; a feat I hadn’t considered previously; that this great art, this great skill, really does come down to the three tenets, and to listening ‑ which I personally believe is the most powerful support any of us can offer another human being.