Maybe you see the title of this post and you know exactly what I'm talking about... Maybe you dont. Maybe it makes you not want to keep reading... Maybe you are intrigued... It's a polarizing issue, isn't it? Should it be? Shouldn't it be? Right? Wrong? Downright immoral?
I'm talking, of course, about abortion. 38 years ago today, the Supreme Court of the U.S. decided the controversial and, even today, hotly debated Roe-vs-Wade case, which legalized abortion in the States. Nearly 4 decades have passed and, although estimates put the number at 50 million, including non-surgical abortions, there is no way to know the countless of children who have died since this decision was made law.
But I dont want to debate abortion. I dont care if you are pro-life or pro-choice. I dont care if you've had an abortion or if you cant even fathom the thought. It doesnt matter. It really doesnt.
We all know someone (even if we dont know it) who has had an abortion. The people we celebrate holidays with, the people we call on their birthdays... Someone, somewhere has done "the deed". The women we call "mom" and "aunt" and "sister" and "friend"... The men we call "dad" and "uncle" and "brother" and "companion". Someone, somewhere has made the decision to take the life of their child... their flesh and blood... They've taken a pill or laid on a cold table while an ultrasound guided the hand of a doctor to either inject a lethal chemical into their child's beating heart or to use a catheter to literally suck the child from their womb. Perhaps, even more heartbreaking, they've delivered their child and it has either been left to die in a garbage can or was killed on the spot by their so-called doctor. Some of them mourn their babies and regret their decisions; some dont. But they all share that one word: abortion.
I know some people... Actually, I know several people. Some know that I know, some dont. And they all had their reasons, reasons I wont- cant- judge because, in my book, the Great Spirit judges all our sins and they are all equal... The couple who killed their child because they were struggling to feed the two they already had and could barely do that. The mother who wept as she made the choice to kill a child she would have kept, except that the baby's father didnt want another child. The couple who decided it wasnt really a baby at that point and, since a baby didnt fit into their plans at that point in their life, they would take care of the situation and have children when they were ready. The scared young girl who unexpectedly found out she was pregnant and, fearing she had no other options, made the choice that still haunts her. There are others too... And they all have had their reasons. Not wanting a child, not feeling like they could take care of a child, not wanting multiples or fearing the health of multiples chose to reduce (although interestingly enough, women who find out they are carrying multiples are LESS like to abort if that is their initial thought), finding out their child has an illness incompatible with life and thinking their abortion is the "compassionate" choice, finding out their child has an illness that they simply cannot face. There are so many reasons... So many. One cant look at the issue of abortion and not see the reasons.
It's easy to demonize the people who make the decision to kill their own child. I mean, let's be honest, if I posted tomorrow that person A poisoned their 2 year old, we'd all jump on the "OH MY GOD!!!" bandwagon or if I told you that a pregnant woman was hit by a drunk driver and her child- regardless of gestational age- died, we'd all send her sympathy. But an abortion... That muddies the water a little... Easier to judge the parent, pray for the baby and move on. Or, to say that it doesnt matter because it was the mother's choice. Either way, people die and people are hurt.
We miss the point, dont we? So many in the pro-life camp make abortion the poster child of the Life Movement and forget about those on death rows throughout the world, the elderly who are being left to whither and die, the countless poverty-stricken forgotten. And, in doing so, we drop the ball... We make it easy for people to say that we only care about "life" but not about living... That only certain life matters... That we just want to tell people what to do with their bodies and screw the emotional turmoil they may have. So many in the pro-choice camp want to talk about women in crisis and how abortion is an equal-opportunity issue and a sex rights issue and that if we let the government into our bedrooms (and our bodies), then we'll never get them out. They want to make people see that there are living-out-of-the-womb people who are suffering and that their suffering weighs more than the suffering of the in-the-womb person due to be killed. That, really, a child in early gestation is nothing more than a ball of cells, like those that could be removed if you swabbed the inside of your cheeks- if we give the blastocyst rights, then what's next? Snot rights? Hair rights? That parents should be able to end a pregnancy if the child they are carrying is deformed or sick or... THEY are the parents. THEY should make that CHOICE- not you or I or a court somewhere.
There are people in crisis... Both camps have that part right. And where does the "right" answer, the moral answer, the just answer lie? Pro-Choicers are right: if abortion is illegal, people will just find another way. But Pro-Lifers are right too: legal abortion doesnt mean safe abortion. Just look at the Philly doctor who is on trial for murder. Even pro-abortion supporters cringe at this creep. So, if we are both right... If we both see people in crisis and want to help, then the answer should be easy... It should be right there in front of us.
I know the face of abortion... The faces of children I will never get to hold. Babies who bled from my body... Babies delivered too early to live a life on this earth. The only difference was my want, my desire for those children.
I am the face of abortion... I am the product of a rape. I am an unwanted child. The only difference was want, the want of a woman to give her child a better life by abandoning her to parents who would raise her.
I understand the fears that lead to abortion... The fear of being too young to parent, of being too poor to raise a child, the fear that carrying a child may harm your own health, the fear that your child will die anyway so what is the point in continuing, the fear that one child in your womb may harm the other and that it is better to let one die to save the other, the fear the carrying more than one child puts all those children at risk and that it is better to risk the pregnancy and have the one child versus carrying multiples and losing them all. I was in college the first time Peter and I thought we were pregnant. My cycles were beginning to become irregular and I just wasnt sure. And we were frightened. We sat in the chapel, praying, wondering what would happen to us- to the possible child. I was afraid, sitting in the university health center, waiting for the test- a test that would ultimately be negative- to come back. I was working part time and Peter was unemployed when I found out I was pregnant the first time. We were terrified... We could barely make rent and we didnt even have health insurance; how would we support a child??? After Nicholas was born and I was still carrying Sophia, the doctors told us how the risk I would get an infection that would not only take our daughter's life, but my uterus and ability to ever carry a child as well, was through the roof... than an abortion was the best way... That Sophia was going to die anyway, either from a second round of PTL or from an infection, so why not save ourselves the trauma of X weeks (and, besides, then we could try again sooner...). I sat, hooked up in L&D, barely 24 weeks with Bobby and Maya, as his SVT drove his heart rate into the 200s and we were told that our options were to deliver and risk them both or do nothing and let Bobby die to try and give Maya a better gestational age delivery. That, since her heartrate was fine, medication might slow hers too much even as it saved him. Wait and lose them both? Deliver and lose them both? Lose one, save one? Is that even a choice? And, then, even before that point, being told (not by our doctors, thank God) that a selective reduction, with my history, would be understandable... (Just not to me.)
I'm not a beacon of light; I'm not an example because I chose to continue my pregnancies in spite of risks and fears. We all make choices, in every single thing we do. And those choices impact those around us, and sometimes, those in us.
Who speaks for the girl who is afraid to tell her parents she is pregnant? For the single-mother who already has a few children that she is struggling to support and who finds out she is pregnant again? The young couple who thought they were practicing "safe" sex only to find a positive pregnancy test? The poor who feel they have no option? The couple who wanted their baby only to find out their child has an illness incompatible with life outside the womb? The woman, raped, who now relives the trauma in a positive pregnancy test? The couple who struggled to conceive who now, through whatever means (because IUIs and ovulation induction with timed intercouse can produce higher level multiples), find they now have more babies than they could have imagined growing in the womb? The couple who have living children at home and find out their new addition has a genetic issue that they cannot fathom?
Who speaks for the child in the womb? Innocent in their part of conception? Innocent of how their genes came together? Innocent of their creation? Innocent of their part in being part of a multiples set? Who speaks for them?
They are all victims, arent they? They all deserve voices.
It's better that a child be aborted than abused and killed after.
It's better that a child be aborted than raised in poverty.
It's better that a child be aborted than have X illness.
I cant raise a baby with X.
I cant afford a baby.
I cant afford another baby.
I'm too young to be a parent.
I dont want a baby.
I dont want twins/triplets/quads/etc.
I dont want a baby with X.
I dont want a boy.
I dont want a girl.
I have X and that makes carrying this child too difficult.
I dont want a baby at this stage of my life.
Give the baby up for adoption.
There are so many people who want children and cant have them.
It's not fair.
It's not the child's fault that they have X.
Aborting disabled children is a prejudice against the disabled.
Babies are a blessing.
Twice the babies, twice the love.
All children are gifts.
It's not the baby's fault that you got pregnant.
There is no greater love than to give up yourself for your child.
We can help you raise your child.
There are options.
You arent alone.
Questions on both sides... Answers on both sides... Tragedy, heartache, loss. For every person who doesnt regret their abortion, there is one who does. There are those who have their children and wonder every single day what would have happened if they had chosen to raise, to abort, to adopt out.
I am pro-life. All the way. Even when my heart breaks for a child who has no hope- save a miracle- of life outside the womb. Even when a convicted murderer gets to breathe another breath of air after committing the most savage of crimes. Even when... I dont get to make the choice to end another's life. At any stage. For any reason. I'm not the Divine.
Dont get me wrong... There are ways that the death of another is incurred without desire, such as a mother taking chemo during cancer treatment or a mother losing her tube during an ectopic or someone defending their family from a home invasion. But those are for another post... Some other time.
I dont believe (the majority of) people walk into an abortion clinic with the desire to murder or believing that they are selfishly putting themselves above the life within them. I think they walk in feeling that they have no other choice. They are in crisis, much in the way their unborn child is in crisis. I think they walk in believing that the being in their womb isnt a "real child" yet. And yet, the child is here already... Abortion remedies a pregnancy problem; it doesnt suddenly make the child involved unreal.
Some of the women I know walked away from their abortions to never speak of them again. Some may say it's because it wasnt a real child to start with. Others, that they dont mourn the baby because it wasnt a baby to them. In some cases, it may be because being a parent is the hardest damn thing you can ever do and they felt they made a 'hard' decision that was in line with them trying to parent the best way they could and what is the use is dwelling on it.
Some of the women mourn to this day. They regret killing their child, regardless of the situation that led to it. They mourn the child who would have been X years old, who would, possibly, have brought them grandchildren. They wonder every day what would have been different, if only if they hadn't made that one decision. Even the pro-choice posterchild, Roe, regrets her abortion and the fallout from it.
But this isnt an abortion debate. It isnt an "it's wrong" or "it's right in some situations" or "it's right no matter what" post. It's about a simple truth. Today marks 38 years since Roe-vs-Wade was decided in Washington, D.C... Since millions of babies have been put to death for the crime of simply being...
And, perhaps an even deeper truth: abortions- no matter the cause- leave victims in their wake: babies, mothers, fathers.
And that makes me fall to my knees and weep prayer.
(Will you pray with me today? Regardless of where you stand in the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice debate, will you say a prayer for the countless innocents lost through abortion at all stages and for their parents who, for whatever reason, made the choice to abort? No judgement, no shame: just a thought to the Universe and a prayer for peace. Want something more formal? Join in a 20-Mystery Rosary for Life; the mysteries can be found here.)