I’m pro-life because…

Ten and a half years ago, I perched precariously on fence.  Not literally, of course, it’s been awhile since I did that.  Figuratively, however, I was stuck teetering between what my Church taught about abortion and what the secular world had to say.  I’d vacillated for years between what I knew was right for me (I would never have one), and what the law should demand of women with unexpected pregnancies(personal choice).  It seemed perfectly acceptable to have two standards in the case of abortion.

And then my baby died, and I fell crashing down off that fence.

Not until this very moment have I used those words out loud: my baby died.  I’ve always called it a miscarriage, which is of course, a correct term for it.  But miscarriage has such a euphamistic nature about it, doesn’t it?  It sounds like a disappointing medical event.  What it doesn’t sound like is the rending and tearing of a heart wide open with grief.  It doesn’t sound like profound loss and indescribable pain.  And yet all of that is what happened when my baby died.

I began to realize that the two standards I’d previously held on the subject of abortion were mutually exclusive.  Either it didn’t matter that my baby died (even though it was out of my control) or it mattered when all babies died.  And if it mattered when all babies died, then it especially mattered when the choice was entirely up to us as a society.

While my heart knew that truth in an instant, it took my intellect awhile to catch up to.  Even though the grief and the loss were real, it was nearly a year before I voiced my conversion to one of my pro-choice friends.

In a small voice, with my heart in my throat, “I don’t think abortion is okay.  Not ever.”

As she tested the waters and we both tried to re-position ourselves in light of this new information, the words began to flow.

I am pro-life because

I’m pro-life because of science…

Science shows us, more clearly now than ever, that babies in the womb are far more than just a blob of tissue.  From their earliest stages of development they meet the criteria for living beings(1).  If you want something more touchy-feely than ‘meet the criteria for…’ then there’s this: their hearts beat at 22 days post conception(2), brain activity can be detected by seven weeks(3), and by the ninth week, they’ve developed all organs and bodily structures(4).  By twenty weeks (but probably sooner) babies feel pain.

All those fancy footnotes and links amount to one conclusion: we know a lot more about fetal development now than we did when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion 42 years ago.  It makes sense to reexamine, and possibly abolish, the law under the new evidence.

I’m pro-life because of logic…

I have a cousin who, after a difficult childhood, was in jail and pregnant with her fourth child. She decided to have an abortion, which would have been paid for by the corrections system.  My parents, who had been planning to adopt anyway, begged my cousin to let them adopt her baby.  She agreed.  Awhile later, she was released from prison and succumbed again to her demons.  She was arrested for driving under the influence and booked on child endangerment charges.  The child she was accused of endangering was her own unborn baby.

The corrections system that would have paid to ‘terminate her pregnancy’ was going to receive her again for endangering the life of that same baby?  I laughed bitterly at the irony.  Shortly after I miscarried my baby, my cousin had her baby and decided to keep it.  The baby, thank God, turned out to be a beautiful boy who’s being raised by his grandparents.  I’m grateful my cousin chose life for her son, but I’m still aghast at such a broken system.

And yet, this type of hiccup in the system is inevitable with laws like the ones we have.  It’s not logical for one person to decide the worth of another person, or whether another person will live or die.  Under no other legal circumstances does one person have that power.  It goes against the laws of nature and the tenets of human rights.

I’m pro-life because of feminism…

The purpose of feminism is to empower women.  If we want to empower people, we build them up.  We help them through difficult times and strengthen their resolve when they face struggles.  We give them tools and helps them find resources to succeed.

Why don’t we do this with an unplanned pregnancy?  Rather than encouraging women to take the ‘easy out’ that abortion provides, why don’t we look our sisters in the eye and say, “Yeah. This is hard.  I know you didn’t plan it this way.  But I’ll stand by you and help you get through it and you will come out a stronger woman on the other side of this.”

Now that is my kind of feminism.

“How can one protect and help women by killing them as babies?”- Alice Paul, early feminist and suffragist

I’m pro-life because of compassion…

This was, for me, the most difficult hurdle on my intellectual journey.  After all, my main reason for not wanting to ‘force my beliefs on other women’ came from the compassion that motivates most of our culture in this debate.  And yes, I said most of our culture.  I was once very close with 2 women who worked for Planned Parenthood.  Even after my pro-life stance was solidified, I was able to see that they too felt compassion for the women who felt compelled to abort their babies.  Most people, pro-life or pro-choice, aren’t monsters.

But what if abortion isn’t actually the compassionate choice?  What if abortion hurts women more than it helps them?

There’s some evidence that abortion can increase risk of cancer, but pro-choice groups hotly debate that.  There’s other evidence that women who’ve had abortions have an increased risk of depression, as well as alcohol and drug abuse.  Pro-choice advocates also deny that.  I’d rather not follow those rabbit trails because honestly, both sides can find ample evidence to support their claims.

The struggle of an unplanned pregnancy is real.  The answer, I believe, lies in how we care for both mother and child.  As Feminists for Life says in their Women Deserve Better campaign, “Abortion is a sign that we have failed to meet the needs of women.” A-freaking-men.  Let’s show these women compassion.  Let’s rain down compassion on the women around us.  And let’s love them through these hard times until that love brings forth more love in the form of a precious baby.

 And yes, I’m pro-life because I’m Catholic…

The Church has always upheld the dignity of the human person, at least in doctrine even if not perfectly executed by the flawed humans who make up the Body of Christ.  I don’t know of any other faith that speaks so clearly on this subject.

I guess you could say: I’m Catholic because I’m pro-life because I’m Catholic.  I’m a part of a faith that looks at the weariest, at the most broken, at the youngest and at the oldest and says: You have inherent worth and dignity.  You belong here on Earth, with us.

Heck yeah, I’m with that Church.  Heck. Yeah.

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Dissenting comments are welcome, as long as they’re written in a kind and respectful tone.  Comment moderation is always on for first time commenters,  so if you don’t see your comment right away, that’s why.  🙂 

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(1) Carl Sagan, Billions and Billions (New York: Random House, 1997): 163-179. See The American Heritage Medical Dictionary: “The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.” The American Heritage Medical Dictionary, reprint edition (May 7, 2008), s.v. “Life.”

(2) Moore and Persaud, The Developing Human: 350-358.
(3) The Commission of Inquiry into Foetal Sentience (CARE and The House of Lords), “Human Sentience Before Birth,” (2001): 3, 36.
(4) England, Life Before Birth: 9.

Comments

  1. There is a movie out right now called the Obvious Child. I have not seen it but basically from what I can gather it is Romantic Comedy about a young women who gets an Abortion. No problem….just gets an Abortion. It is so sad to me that this movie could influence woman into thinking it’s not a big deal. Basically it is pushing an agenda. I love this post!

  2. Beautiful, wonderful, amazing post Micaela. XOXO

  3. Well said! So many important reminders about protecting both moms and babies, especially with the Roe v Wade “anniversary” coming up again. I struggle with feeling like I’m in the minority among many of my friends on this issue. Unfortunately I don’t think they get to see all of this compelling information because they don’t read Catholic blogs. :/ I was mentally right where you are 10 years ago, too. It took my husband bravely talking this issue through with me for me to start to let go of what I later realized was misinformation and propaganda I had (albeit uncomfortably) accepted as a woman. I wish I knew how to bring up such subjects with friends without fear of alienating them and/or potentially losing the friendship. Suggestions? 😉

  4. Thank you for saying these words!
    Becca@threeplusme recently posted…New Themes: Cubic and WilsonMy Profile

  5. I’ve had this saved on my desktop. Beautiful post, Micaela! Loved the, “I’m Catholic because I’m pro-life because I’m Catholic.” and the heck yeahs too 🙂 Always so thoughtful and thorough!
    Amanda recently posted…Embrace the Ordinary: Striving to RiseMy Profile

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