[DISCLAIMER: this contains graphic images. Do not read this if you do not agree to being exposed.]
On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court made a final decision on Roe v. Wade: which disallowed many state and federal restrictions on abortion in the United States, all in the name of the 14th Amendment. On the same day, it decided in favor of Doe v. Bolton, which states that a woman may obtain an abortion after viability, if in favor of her health.
This week marks 40 years after those decisions.
Therefore, I have been thinking a lot about abortion lately. My son was born on September 4th of this past year, and while I have always thought that abortion was detestable, I have recently become slightly distracted over its existence.
I am not fanatical about pregnancy. I do not enjoy it. I do not get a thrill from feeling a baby kicking around inside of me, unless you consider nausea to be a type of thrill. But I always knew that it was a baby, and that his life was just as important as my own. I do not think that birth control is wrong. I think that it can be a very responsible choice for many people, although I do not condone taking it just so individuals can feel free to have rampant sex. The key word there was: responsible. It is irresponsible to have rampant sex. Plain and simple. If you don’t agree with me there, I don’t know what to tell you. Sex is the one and only activity that leads to the conception of a human baby- the arguments for artificial insemination, IVF, etc. are moot since that child was deliberately sought. Why then, after having sex, protected or not, do individuals feel that the embryo has somehow invaded them? That the baby has just cropped up randomly and ruined their lives? How else did it get there? If it doesn’t belong there, where else does it belong? From the point of conception, those parents are obligated to defend and care for that child. They agreed to that when they engaged in sex. If a mother is obligated to care for her born children, she is obligated to care for her unborn children. How many times do women go to trial for killing their babies? Too many times. We look at Casey Anthony and say that she is a monster. On the other hand, didn’t she have a right to do what she wanted to with her baby? The baby was hers, legally. Why does it matter if Caylee was inside, or outside, of her body?
I think of my womb, the dark and warm place that was my son’s home for the first nine months of his life. I think of the blood that is in me being given to him. I think of how my body fed him, and how he grew inside of me. He was not a cluster of cells. He was real, and he was alive, because he grew. Things that aren’t alive don’t grow. I think everyone can say that is true. One minute he was there, kicking me from the inside out, and within a matter of seconds, he was suddenly out. Nothing changed in those seconds. He was not nothing one second, and then Osbourne the next. I do not change when I get up from this couch and go into the kitchen, unless you count the calories I put into my body after leaving that room. Enough of them would most certainly change me. Why, then, does the thin wall of the uterus, the short tunnel of the birth canal, change a baby’s status? Quite simply, it doesn’t. It is just something that some people tell themselves so that they can continue to try and maintain control over their lives.
As I write this, the words of someone rings in my head: the safety of the mother always comes first. I had never heard such a statement in my life. Being in the health field, I have of course heard that a woman has the right to her own body. I have already pointed out that if you engage in sex you are thereby agreeing to the possibility of becoming pregnant, and all that goes along with that. (Now, hold on a minute. There are probably a few of you shouting at the computer about how consensual sex is not the only way to get pregnant, and that not all pregnancies are without complication, and that not all fetuses will be healthy and strong. I will get there. I promise). I have taken many classes on bioethical issues, from euthanasia to stem cell research. However, I had never heard anyone say: safety of the mother comes first. Allow me to clarify. I had, of course, heard the argument that if a pregnancy is detrimental to a woman’s health, she can abort without it being considered unethical. The actual wordage of “safety of the mother comes first” was new to me, and appalling. Because, what mother would put herself before her child? I am instantly barraged by all manner of scenarios in which I could put myself before my child. Even an unborn child.
I wonder that selfishness has become so rampant these days. Me me me me me. Everyone says, “Me first.” I can only imagine what a comfortable, worry-free world we would live in if people just took the time to say, “I care about you. What can I do for you?”
What about the safety of the mother? My husband has told me that he would want to choose me, if it came down to one or the other: me or our son. I would have to agree. I would choose my husband. He is my second half. We have become one. I would never be able to endure the loss of a child without him. I then snap out of it: what possible scenario would ever make me choose between my husband or my son? And what possible scenario could ever make him choose between me or our child?
My imagination takes a spin for a second. Of course, we could be held hostage, and the kidnappers say, “I will let one of your loved ones go, take your pick.” If that were the case, my husband and I easily say that we would die trying to save the entirety of our family. I certainly hope that we would never be put in that position, and I would naturally like to assume the most honorable and brave qualities about myself, but I just don’t see bowing to the hand of another human being, and allowing them to make that decision for our lives: choose, your spouse or your son. No human being can, or should be able to, dictate the life of another.
Okay. So what about pregnancy? What about when a pregnancy is unsafe for the mother?
If, for example, something tragic happens and an immediate choice has to be made (by immediate, I am referring to emergency proportions), it is ethical to choose which life to work on; coincidentally, which life to ‘spare’. I think anyone could agree to the reality of that.
The problem arises when said mother has, say, cancer, and needs chemotherapy. That chemotherapy would most likely be fatal to her unborn baby, or could cause some serious defects. Most often, a physician would suggest an abortion. It is then that I say the abortion is murder. Would it be wrong for the woman to pursue treatment? No, I can’t say that it would. Even with the risks. I would say that it is wrong to eliminate the baby for the sake of eliminating it. If the pre-born baby is injured or dies from a prescribed medication that is necessary to save the mother’s life, such as seizure medications, the injury to the baby would be unintentional and, if truly medically necessary, not unethical. Perhaps this would seem heartless to some people, or ridiculous, to say the least. I don’t really know what to tell you, then. I am not the author of life, and neither are you, and neither is anyone. If a baby is conceived, it is no one’s right to take that baby’s life except for the One who granted it to begin with. I always say: we can only work with what we’ve got. If you have seizures, take your seizure medication, and leave the baby’s health and well-being up to the One who allowed it to take shape to begin with.
As far as a pregnancy sapping the actual life out of a woman: it just doesn’t happen. Fetuses don’t kill their ‘hosts’. They are not a virus.
What was that you said? Ectopic pregnancy? Yes, they are very dangerous for the mother. In this case the embryo attaches to somewhere other than the wall of the uterus, such as the fallopian tube. This will make the mother very sick, and could even result in her death. The human body is incredibly resilient. Many times the body will take care of itself, and ‘regress’ the ectopic pregnancy, removing it through a natural, biological process. Those that take place in the fallopian tubes can, and have, never survived. There is a fifty-fifty chance that the body will miscarry on its own, for the others it goes without saying that removal is necessary. However, cases of abdominal, ovarian, or cervical ones have. The key is that time and patience are crucial here. I am not suggesting that the mother just grin and bear and pass away because that is the right and moral and self-sacrificing thing to do. Now, one might wonder at the difference between a likely miscarriage and that of an abortion: why not just get it over with quicker? A miscarriage is still a natural process, and an abortion is not. And that is not just semantics. There is no grey area in nature. It is either alive, or dead. It is either biological or artificial. Nature is nature, and needs to be given its right. The fact of the matter is, we have broken bodies. They will succumb to sickness, perhaps to disease, and always to death. We can only work with what we’ve got. We can only try to survive, and that includes the protection of another’s survival. Our own life loses its value if we devalue the lives of others. If a mother’s condition during her ectopic pregnancy continues to deteriorate, surgery may become necessary to save her life. This operation would be the attempt to remove and relocate the fetus to the uterus. More than likely it would be discovered that the fetus had already died. If not, an attempt to save the baby had been made, and its unfortunate death was not deliberate. I am the first person to admit that I would have a surgical procedure if I had an ectopic pregnancy, but I hope that I would have given my body enough time to process, and try to correct itself. My husband currently works with a man that was an ectopic pregnancy. When I hear stories about that man, or when my husband relays a discussion they had, I try to envision the emptiness that would be present if he had been aborted. My own body has been cut open, sewed back up, and completely resealed and healed on its own. How fascinating, to know that my insides had been completely exposed, but that my cells were able to recognize the incision site, and go to work, and bring about full repair. The body is resilient by nature. Give it a chance. Allow it time to try and survive. An abortion to avoid an operation later is careless, and an easy scape-goat for a physician trying to avoid a malpractice suit.
I try to push away the thought, because I really don’t want to write it down, but all of this makes me think about Phoenix. I think that is what bothers me the most about abortion, thinking about Phoenix.
October 15th is Infant Loss and Awareness Day, and the whole month was designated by President Reagan for parents and people to reflect on the infants that have died due to miscarriage, molar pregnancy, SIDS, etc. Ironically, on that very day, in 2011, Michael and I witnessed the passing of our own eight-week-old pre-born baby. The baby had come, and gone, and had served its purpose, and lived its life. We all die when we were meant to die, unless you take your own life or, heaven forbid, it is taken for you. Who was I to argue with the baby’s Creator? I hesitate to say, for fear of appearing cold and calculated, that I did not struggle with the baby’s passing as many have. I certainly do not compare myself to parents who have birthed and begun raising a child that dies at a young age, or even those who experienced miscarriage passed the proverbial ‘clear’ mark of twelve or thirteen weeks. I respect that Phoenix was our baby, I respected that it was growing inside of me, and I accepted that we would be responsible for caring for it.
I spent a lot of time on the internet after that. I wanted to know what that little person looked like, at only eight weeks of gestation. This is what I found (the first picture is an actual photo taken of a six-week-old miscarried fetus, as I couldn’t find one at eight weeks. But look how much that baby grows and changes, to become the eight-week-old shown in the second picture!):
And then, suddenly, I couldn’t get passed the fact that people actually tear these fetuses, these babies, from their wombs, and I couldn’t stop myself from finding images of aborted, eight-week-old babies. This is what I found:
And ya know what? There was no difference. They were the same type of baby. Same little feet, same tiny fingers, already with eyes, and a delicate spinal column, smaller than the most delicate of bracelets. Except that my baby had died on its own, and the other babies had been ripped apart. They had been dissolved. By choice. Because of selfishness, and irresponsibility.
I didn’t want to be pregnant. I didn’t want Phoenix growing inside of me. I am not foolish enough to think that everyone should want their pregnancies. I don’t think you are a terrible person if your positive pregnancy test makes you cry… and not with joy. Having a baby, raising a child, can really ruin your life. If that is the mentality you choose to take. That is when we need to be courageous, when we need to be strong. We need to get help and make plans. Plans to prosper.
I did not want to be a mother. God wanted me to be a mother. He left the choice up to me. I was not happy by agreeing, but I knew that my life would be empty if lived for my own gain. Since Phoenix, and since Osbourne, we have experienced more blessings than we could ever ask for or imagine. And they haven’t even stopped! It is so exciting. It is so refreshing, and it is what the Bible promises.
But who are we to say what is right or wrong for someone else! I mean, am I right, or am I right? Those people who flew the planes into the Twin Towers, according to their beliefs, they were doing the right thing. So what did it matter? You can’t hold it against them, then, right?
A serial killer prefers to take lives. It makes them happy. So who are we to judge them for that, or to try and stop them?
How could I be so terrible, right? How could I dare to desecrate the memory of these people by posting such horrifying and sickening images? I do not like watching the news. I think it is wrong for the media to expose a family’s pain, a person’s dignity. When it comes to abortion, those pictures are the reality of it. I decided against listing the actual procedures of an abortion, since the decimated corpses in the pictures I show is pretty self explanatory; if you prefer to know the actual steps, it is not hard to find them listed on the internet.
What makes one life more important than another?
I am sure you would agree if you found yourself on the receiving end of a morbid plan.
All of that pain we just saw? Man-made. My baby died because it was time for it to go and be back with Jesus. I can accept that; admittedly, a lot easier than some people might be able to. The abortions, the attacks of 9/11, the serial killers: all of that pain, that horror, that devastation, is by the hands of another man. Why do we give ourselves this power? Why do we play God? Why do we think we have the right?
I am tired of people and their ‘rights’.
I am not innocent of the fact that not all babies grow healthy and strong. I have worked as a caretaker for people with special needs. And, man, are those needs ever ‘special’. I have watched families struggle to raise their disabled children, and their healthy children at the same time. I have watched the money stretch, and I have seen the pain, and heard the stories.
I have read accounts of parents that wanted their babies, but felt it was the right thing to ‘spare’ their children the suffering of growing up with a disability.
There are a large number of pro-choicers who agree that a fetus is a living, viable baby. Their argument lies in that they believe a woman has the right to her own body. I have already been over that. When we stand before God and man and join someone in holy matrimony, we are agreeing to become one body, to become one flesh, to endure with one another through anything and everything, “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part”. We don’t get to kill our spouse or, for the sake of touching a less sensitive nerve, we don’t get to just walk out on our spouse when they get cancer, when they lose their mental faculties in a tragic automobile accident. How detestable we would be seen as. How shallow. When an individual agrees to engage in a reproductive act, they are essentially agreeing to conceive. When someone agrees to conceive, they are agreeing to the possibility that their pregnancy may destroy their body, it may leave them with Bells Palsy, they may experience life-threatening events such as hypertension preeclampsia or placenta previa, and even that the baby may have its own conditions, such as Downs Syndrome, or cerebral palsy. Some babies are even born without brains! There are numerous other factors that cannot be seen through an ultrasound, such as schizophrenia, or autism. It is all part of the commitment, and it is terrifying, and we would like to think that we have control of it. We have no control over nature. It comes upon us as it wills. It arrives and fashions and departs in a manner that we cannot alter.
The heart-breaking fact is that suffering and pain are a part of life. They are unavoidable, as the parents who have aborted their disabled babies can attest; the accounts of devastation at the process of terminating those pregnancies, the emotional distress at feeling they needed to make that choice. But they didn’t have to. So many of the people that I took care of had become disabled in their childhood. They weren’t even born that way. It was not acceptable for those individuals to be dispatched of after their accident, so why do we argue that the lives of those disabled from birth should not be fostered? There is no way to avoid disability, deformity, or suffering. We can try, but it will always catch up with us.
Every life has a purpose. It does not need to be healthy, and whole, to fulfill it.
I could understand the compulsion to spare a child a life of suffering. I could understand wanting to just end it for that baby, if it was going to die shortly after being born due to a horrific condition. I am a practical person. Death is a reasonable, natural process to me. And it takes many forms. Those situations of parents being told that their fetus has a fatal or debilitating condition are very real. They happen. And they are a nightmare. I must remind myself that each life has a purpose. Each life was granted, and will be taken when it is time to be taken. As a parent, that is not my decision to make.
Every single person that I helped take care, from those that needed one-hundred percent assistance to those that needed only minor supervision, all made an impact on my life. Each one of them had a personality, and preferences, even if they could not communicate them. Each one of them deserved to live their own life, to have their own experiences, to touch the lives of other people. I watched even the most bedridden and helpless of them experience joy. Experience pleasure. They were generous, and friendly. Those that could not even feed themselves tried to shower me with their most prized possessions. The woman who could neither see nor speak, and was partially deaf, invited me to look at magazines- the horse ones were her favorite. Disability does not equal dissatisfaction. I know someone blind from birth who does not wish she had been born with sight. She owns her own life.
Before ultrasounds were that common, or showing possible complications, numerous babies were born with numerous problems that resulted in astounding medical breakthroughs. There is always a bigger picture. Of course this is easy enough to volunteer for someone, anyone, else… I try to think of the impact that every single life makes. Someone that is very close to me has had the honor of being aquainted with a man with spina bifida, who just so happened to be the guitarist for a well-known band, and who runs a pain clinic to help others deal with their pain without the use of narcotics. He uses his own pain to help others, consequently transforming those lives and, by effect, the lives that those people come into contact with. I read an account of a couple who were devastated to learn that their third child would be born with spina bifida, and they felt it was more loving to end his life than to ask him to live it. When I read that, I envisioned myself learning that news about my own son. How truly horrendous. What a lot of sacrifice, on everyone’s part, and we all know that sacrifice doesn’t feel good: or it wouldn’t be sacrifice. After intimately knowing both demographics, I have always said that I would rather my son be born with a disability than to become a derelict of society, and you can’t screen for that in an ultrasound…
A well child will experience frustration, and anger, same as an unwell child. Perhaps even more, if they are born with a syndrome such as bipolar, or a propensity for depression, or any other mental condition. There is nothing to say that a child in a wheel chair will have to sit on the sidelines and watch others on the playground, seething with rage and frustration at the hand they have been dealt. There is a place for everyone, perhaps not always on the playground, perhaps not always in the classroom, or on a sports team, or in the spotlight, but somewhere. Pain and suffering are unavoidable, and I know many people, including myself, who can attest to the fact that pain of the mind can be just as debilitating as a physical condition. It can rob you of mobility, access to others, the capability to excel and expound. It can leave you shell-shocked and traumatized. I had to choose my own path: one of desperation, or one of appreciation Miracle of miracles, I was able to put the days of wishing I had never been born behind me, hopefully for good. Everyone deserves the chance to make that decision, it should never be made for them.
And so that is the stance that I take on pregnancy from rape or incest. I am sorry for your pain. I am sorry for your suffering. We must all find ways to deal with what has happened in our lives. It is our responsibility, so that we do not base our relational decisions on circumstance. Circumstances change. As do feelings. I have said before, there is a natural process to things. This allows for healthy relationships, for procreation and population. Emotions are fleeting, and unreliable. We can only work with what we’ve got.
We forget that we are not here for ourselves. We are not here to just walk the earth, and go to the grocery store, and get a degree, and hang out with friends.
Each one of us has a purpose. There is a plan.
Sometimes that plan is hard to imagine.
But so is heaven.
I know that Phoenix is in heaven right now. And that right now that little baby is welcoming another little baby. And right now. And right now…and now…and now…and now… Today, over three thousand times, my baby will welcome another baby, an aborted baby. Just today. And tomorrow it will start all over again.
Whatever happened to Jane Roe, from Roe v. Wade? She is now pro-life. It isn’t the whole story, and I encourage you to research it if you have interest, but that is where she is right now.
Even Mary Doe, of Doe v. Bolton, recently sought to appeal the Supreme Court decision from her case. She reveals that she had never wanted to have an abortion in the first place, she had been in an abusive relationship, and had been forced by her attorney to make the case. It has been documented that she refers to herself as ‘pro-life’.
We named our Phoenix after the constellation. We found it in the sky on the night of the baby’s passing. It is a minor constellation, in the southern sky, consisting of many stars, some planets, and even a galaxy cluster. The constellation was named after the mythical bird, which is cyclically reborn: it rises from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix is a symbol of renewal. I don’t think that this is ironic in the case of abortion. Each baby that is conceived is dearly loved and welcomed by the One who created it.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16
He welcomes each one that returns to Him.
“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
Each one of them is a gift from Him.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3
Each one of them is deliberate, and individual.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you….” Jeremiah 1:5
He identifies Himself in them, and commands us to protect them, and care for them.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10
I wait to live in a world where we do not put ourselves before others. Where we do not say that right and wrong is different for others. Where we do not say that truth is subjective, for in that we lose truth in its entirety. I know that my part is holding myself accountable. It is treating others with love and respect. Sometimes that is tough love; sometimes that is the most tender compassion. I know that I must lead by example.
I am sorry for those of you who have wanted to bear children and could not. I am sorry for those of you who have suffered terrible and detrimental pregnancies and births. I am sorry for those of you who will struggle throughout your days as you care for a disabled child. I am sorry for the pain and suffering that comes along with being a parent, regardless of how the parenthood was attained. I am sorry to those who made the choice to have an abortion, and now must live with any guilt, or anger, or pain. I am sorry that no one took you by the shoulders, looked in your eyes, and told you that you were strong enough.
Be strong enough.
Post-Abortion resources: http://www.heartlink.org/hottopics/a000000266.cfm
You can also find post-abortion resources [on-line and] at your local pregnancy resource center: http://www.pregnancyresource.org/