That’s the number of years abortion has been legal in the US and the estimated number of abortions that have been performed in the US since 1973. For those of you who can do math (I exclude myself) I think that breaks down to about 1.2 million abortions each year. every single year.
There was a time in my life when I thought this was just fine; well, if I’m honest, I didn’t think a whole lot about it, because it made me incredibly uncomfortable. I was (and still am) a feminist; I hadn’t yet realized you don’t have to be pro-abortion to be a feminist. I did not want any woman to have to choose between a child and the rest of her life, but I wasn’t sure what the best way to safeguard those opportunities was. I knew on some level that abortion was wrong, because my pro-choice reasoning was thus, “I would never have one, but I can’t stop someone else from having one.” This line of reasoning is nothing short of absurd.
There’s one question that needs to be answered: “Is an unborn child a human life?” If the answer is no, then there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to oppose abortion, because it would be akin to having a mole removed. If an unborn child is not a human being, then every woman should be encouraged to have an abortion, like she has her wisdom teeth removed, a rite of passage from childhood to adult. Safe, legal, and rare would make as much sense as a slogan for heart transplants as for abortions…if in fact, an unborn child is not a human life.
However, given the medical facts that are available to everyone via the Internet, medical texts, ultrasounds, and other visual sources, it is getting harder and harder to deny that an unborn child is a human being.
So then the question becomes, “If an unborn child is a human being, is it o.k. to kill her?” There are only two answers to that question; yes or no. Is it permissible for one person (or entity) to decide to kill another, and then do it? This question lies at the heart of ethics, and is not of course, limited only to discussing abortion. It remains the central question in such issues as war, capital punishment, euthanasia, and all forms of murder.
If an __________ (insert group here) is a human being, is it o.k. to kill him/her?
I did not think of it that way, as I said, because I tried my best to be pro-choice without giving much thought to it at all. I framed my arguments in terms of liberation and choice, pitting women against their children in a struggle for survival Darwin himself couldn’t have imagined.
I had a group of friends in college who were very pro-life, and they invited me to attend the March for Life with them in 2006. I was skeptical, to say the least. I still considered myself “on the fence” on abortion, but I was softening my position just a bit. I wanted to go, my interest was piqued, but I was worried. I remember wondering if there would be people with pictures of dead babies everywhere. I wondered if they would “know” somehow that I wasn’t really one of them. I went with a mix of fear, excitement, and trepidation.
The thing that stood out the most to me, and which succeeded in pushing me “off the fence” about abortion, was hearing women from Silent No More speak about their abortions. I thought until that moment that women really wanted abortions. They needed them to be free. I bought that lie hook, line, and sinker. However, hearing stories of how abortion ruined the lives of women, or at least reduced competent, caring people to substance abuse, promiscuity, and even suicide attempts, washed the scales that had been on my eyes for a long time. I became convinced that abortion, far from being a great liberator, was a lie and a disgrace, a sign of how miserably society has failed women.
I returned to the March in 2008 with Atticus, just a few months before we were engaged. I had a different, but very powerful experience that year. Standing in front of the same Supreme Court which made this tragedy legal, I recalled something painful from my past that I hadn’t really ever shared with many people. Something that should have made me pro-life from the get go, but I am ashamed, did not.
My mother’s doctors suggested she abort me. She had a baby who died about 7 years before she was pregnant with me. She wanted to be a mother very much so, but with kidney disease, it was not advised. When the doctors found out she was pregnant, they tried to convince her to “terminate” me for her own health. And she could have. Easily. No one would have judged her. One choice, and I wouldn’t exist. I shared that story and cried on his shoulder.
That situation – one choice, and someone ceases to exist – happens over 1 million times per year. What do you call it when other people get to decide who lives and who dies? When someone who is already alive gets to decide that some lives aren’t worth living?
This Friday, I’m going to stop and pray. In thanksgiving for my mother, for all the strong mothers who give their babies life. For all the women who chose differently, for whatever reason, and are left with numbed emotions and a lifetime of regret. For all the babies, all 50 million of them. For all the people who turn their heads away, like I did, unwilling to answer the only question that matters; “If an unborn child is a human being, is it o.k. to kill her?”
37 years; 50 million lives.
“A nation which kills its children is a nation without hope.”
-Blessed Mother Theresa