Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Perhaps it's time to find out what your daughter thinks
Pregnant daughter, Catholic mother: My 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. We are Catholic, although my husband doesn't practice. I am against abortion but have never been a fanatical opponent. My husband thinks my daughter should have an abortion. I feel torn completely in half.
If I agree, I go against my long-standing beliefs. If I disagree, he thinks I'm an idiot. If I stand for my beliefs, then I am not "there" for my daughter in need. If I go along with the alternative, I am a hypocrite.
I realize either choice has serious consequences. My best friend in high school from a very Catholic family gave up a baby for adoption at age 20. Several of my husband's female relatives had abortions while in college, so to him it's not a big deal. (I'm sorry, but to me it is.) I would be there to support my daughter with a child.
How do I help without betraying my own deeply held beliefs? I hope that your readers who are ardently pro-choice don't belittle my very real dilemma, and that other readers who are vociferously antiabortion don't weigh in that I'm a coward. I am in anguish.
Carolyn: With all due respect, I think it's misplaced. Your anguish is real, and I feel for you, but none of your back-and-forth is relevant. Your daughter is old enough to decide for herself what she wants. Yet, you mentioned only your husband's beliefs and your own, with no mention of what your daughter thinks. Is she in anguish?
If she is, and if she's undecided, then you can help her find an unbiased source of information to help her decide. If she asks you, then you can say what you believe, both about abortion and about being there for a daughter in need.
But if she has already made up her mind, then support her choice to the best of your ability. That was going to be your job anyway when she turned 18, so think of this as getting a few months' head start.
By the way, what's with your husband and thinking you're "an idiot" for having an opinion different from his? I hope you intended that as shorthand for, I don't know, letting emotion get the best of you, but if not, please write back with the possibly bigger problem you're having at home.
Houston: Re: Pregnant 17-year-old: I strongly second your advice. I also just wanted to let the mother know that as someone who is "ardently pro-choice," that doesn't mean I think that everyone should have an abortion — just that everyone should have the ability to make that choice, if that's what is right for them.
Be there for your daughter, who is probably having the same conflict you are. Love her and do not judge her. I am sorry you and your family are in this situation.
Carolyn: The daughter might not have the same conflict; Mom ought to brace herself for that.
Either way, this mom has already shown she is capable of accepting other views on abortion: She loves and stays married to her husband knowing he's unopposed to abortion, and she herself has "never been … fanatical." Whatever tolerance she harbors, she needs it now.