A girl got an abortion at 29 weeks.
That should be all I have to write.
That should be the tragedy. There’s enough wrong with that sentence that it ought to make you cry for a week straight. Why was a teenage girl pregnant? Where’s the father? Why is no one talking about the father? Was she raped? I don’t have reason to think that she was, but I wonder why I don’t see anyone asking that question.
When I, myself, was a teenage girl, we were taught that teenagers who get abortions are often victims of rape and incest, and we should have compassion on them. I remember standing at the clinic with a picket sign, watching gruff parents push shaking girls inside by the shoulder. “That’s an incest case,” the other protesters whispered. “They’re trying to cover up incest. You always know when the license plate is from out of state. Poor girl.”
I don’t see pro-lifers asking questions like that right now. I see them exalting in her predicament as a punishment for her unchastity. But in any case, a girl got pregnant at seventeen.
The seventeen-year-old got an abortion, at 29 weeks. A 29-week abortion is a tragedy no matter the circumstances. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, those very late term abortions are only performed as an emergency measure to stop the mother from dying or being permanently injured by a terminal or severely ill baby. Late-term abortions are traumatic, for everyone including the medical professionals who perform them. But this was the one case out of a hundred. This was a teenage girl who decided she didn’t want to be pregnant. I don’t know her state of mind when she decided that. I don’t know why she waited so long. I don’t know who may have influenced her. I don’t know if she was panicked or calm as she planned this. I know that she had help planning it: her mother, who was a legal adult as the girl wasn’t, plotted with her and obtained the abortion pills.
What they did was illegal in the state of Nebraska. It was also horribly dangerous; you’re not supposed to induce a pill abortion after ten weeks. After that point, it should be surgical. A pill abortion at 29-weeks means you’re inducing labor and squeezing out a viable but premature baby. The girl labored without medical care. I don’t know how long it took. I can’t imagine how painful it was. I’m sure the baby suffered as well. I don’t know at what point the baby died. There’s nothing good I can say about anything that was done.
The girl then took steps to cover up the abortion.
She burned and tried to hide the remains.
She will now spend ninety days in jail, for burning human remains. Her mother, who obtained the pills, will probably go to prison for longer for the abortion itself.
When I was a teenage girl, going to the March for Life with all the Catholic homeschoolers, we were told that the pro-life movement did not seek the punishment of post-abortive mothers. That wasn’t what we wanted. Women who aborted their babies were victims, manipulated by the evil pro-choice baby-killers. I remember the poster in my church’s social hall, with a tacky drawing of Jesus embracing an embarrassed Mary Magdalene, and a number a woman could call to get “post-abortion healing ministry.” Lots of people had “post-abortion healing ministries.” They offered counseling, deliverance prayer and retreats for the poor dears who got abortions. They were not our enemy. They were victims.
I don’t see any of that today.
I haven’t seen a single pro-life voice expressing compassion for the girl. I’m sure they’re out there, somewhere. But what I see is a great crowd of angry voices exalting that she was punished. They keep correcting me that she was punished for hiding the remains, not the abortion itself– as if I didn’t know that and as if that really makes a difference. They keep saying that post-abortive mothers have to be punished as accessories to crime. They are taking delight in her anguish, in that horrific courtroom photo of her being led out by the bailiff.
They’re happy her face is smeared all over the news.
They’re talking about the death penalty, or life in prison with “hard labor–” a sickening turn of the phrase, considering.
Of course these are just internet trolls, but they’re legion. And their voice is the one that’s being heard. They are the pro-life movement right now.
I think they’ve always been the pro-life movement.
I think they feigned compassion and sympathy when they had relatively little power, and now that they’re seeing victory we see them as they are.
I’m sick that my compassion was ever manipulated into being a part of the pro-life movement. I’m sick that I was used. I’m sorry for the people I hurt. And I will never be used by the pro-life movement again.
I actually care about human beings. That’s why I was against abortion in the first place. I care about human beings and I want to help them, and I thought the pro-life movement did too.
I think we all know better now.
This is a terrible world, and I would like to make it a better one.
The pro-life movement is not the way to do that.
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.