February 29, 2012
A baby is never a mistake, even if the mother’s conduct was.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about our country’s stand on abortion and what the issues are on both sides. As we all know, abortion is the voluntary, or calculated, intentional termination of an embryo or fetus. I understand that reasonable people can debate when life actually begins and I understand that religion teaches that life begins at conception. Yet I somehow feel there could be some room for common ground in the very early stages of a pregnancy. But once there is a heartbeat, it would be impossible for me to imagine any reason why that living being should be terminated, absent an urgent dire threat to the mother’s life. Yet as it stands now, abortions performed prior to the third trimester are legal in this country, thanks to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. [The decision essentially states that since a fetus is not a human being and therefore has no rights, including any that are protected under our Constitution, the woman's right to control her fertility and reproduction ability naturally outweigh any possible rights of the developing fetus for the first two trimesters. With respect to the third trimester, the state may have an interest in protecting the life of the unborn and so it can regulate, but NOT when the woman's health - either physical or mental (including stress) - becomes an issue. So Roe also shows great tolerance for the abortion of a baby that is ready to be born].
Pro-life groups believe in the sanctity of all life. They believe, as Ronald Reagan wrote so eloquently in 1983, that to diminish the value of one category of human life — the unborn – diminishes the value of all human life. They believe that God is the giver of life. They believe that the embryo or fetus is “alive” and thus abortion is tantamount to murder. To them the question is not when human life begins, but rather ‘What is the value of human life?’ “The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother’s body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being. The real question for him and for all of us is whether that tiny human life has a God-given right to be protected by the law — the same right we have.” (Ronald Reagan)
Since the decision in Roe v. Wade, which stands for the legal fiction that a fetus is not a human being, more than 20 million unborn children have had their lives snuffed out by legalized abortions. That is well over ten times the number of Americans lost in all our nation’s wars. In 1982 the nation watched as a court in Indiana allowed the starvation death of “Baby Doe” because the child had Down’s Syndrome. The death of the tiny infant Baby Doe tore at the hearts of Americans because the child was undeniably a human being – alive. He was born mentally retarded and with an incomplete esophagus. He laid helpless before the eyes of the doctors and the eyes of the nation. The parents wanted to deny it a simple medical procedure to fix his esophagus so he could eat and they sued for the right to let him die. This time the issue before the court was not whether Baby Doe was a human being, but rather whether parents had the right to choose to terminate the life of their baby when it was handicapped or whether the state could step in and try to save its life. They sided with the parents. If Baby Doe received such little compassion from the courts, how do those who haven’t had the opportunity to enter the world stand a chance?
Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who in 1969 was a co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), later renamed the National Abortion Rights Action League, helped make abortion legal. He provided statistics to the Supreme Court in Roe to help support that decision. He was also the former director of New York’s City’s Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health, the largest abortion clinic in the world at the time. In the late 1970′s he turned against abortion to become a prominent pro-life advocate, wrote Abortion America, and produced the powerfully revealing video, “The Silent Scream.” He later admitted that the statistics he presented to the high court were intentionally misrepresented. As he wrote: “We fed the public a line of deceit, dishonesty, a fabrication of statistics and figures. We succeeded because the time was right and the news media cooperated. We sensationalized the effects of illegal abortions, and fabricated polls which indicated that 85 percent of the public favored unrestricted abortion, when we knew it was only 5 percent. We unashamedly lied, and yet our statements were quoted by the media as though they had been written in law.”
Dr. Nathanson also wrote: “I believe with all my heart that there is a divinity of existence which commands us to declare a final and irreversible halt to this infinitely sad and shameful crime against humanity.”
Roe v. Wade and the continued devaluation of the unborn continues to prod the moral conscience of Americans.
Pro-lifers understand that they can’t fully appreciate all abortion decisions nor the wrenchingly difficult dilemmas presented by their particular situations – such as those made by an ill-informed 16-year-old who made an impulsive decision or was coerced, or a college student who has an education ahead of her, or an unwed mother who can’t afford to feed or take care of another child, or a woman who has had non-consensual sex, but they don’t believe the solution lies in a deliberate act of destruction of human life. They don’t believe an otherwise viable and living fetus should be killed because of inconvenience – or for any other reason, for that matter. There are options and resources. There is education and common sense. There is a lifestyle built on decent moral values, discipline, and priorities.
Pro-choice groups, on the other hand, believe that a woman should have access to whatever health care she needs and that she should have control over her own body. Of course, as Ronald Reagan once commented: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion is already born.” Finally, there is the issue of state intervention and to what degree the state should have a say in a pregnancy.
There are some women (pro-choice) who believe that they have a fundamental civil right to have complete control over her fertility and therefore she should have the freedom to decide whether she wants to continue or terminate her pregnancy. Others simply want the right to an abortion to undue something they aren’t capable or ready to deal with. Some have a change of heart and want to postpone having a baby until a future time. As Frederica Mathewes-Green explained: “No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.” Yet we all know that abortion is often performed with less consideration than that. It is often a woman’s choice of birth control…. birth control after the fact. Sometimes many months after the fact.
Pro-choice for women means no-choice for men.
Career women overwhelmingly side with the pro-choice view. Women who consider themselves pro-life have typically been stereotyped as church-going women and those who are stay-at-home wives and mothers. They are often portrayed as not really needing the option of an abortion. In 2008, my husband and I attended a rally at East Carolina University for John McCain. Sarah Palin was the speaker. Although most of us thought the event would be mobbed by Obama supporters in protest of Ms. Palin’s visit, there were no such mobs. In fact, the only protesters we saw were those who stood across the street carrying plenty of signs calling for the right of women to have an abortion if she chooses. As we were walking on the campus to the event, we saw a woman walking out of one of the University buildings, wearing a nice tailored suit, and asked if we were walking in the right direction. She made a snide comment about Sarah Palin and as we continued on our way, she shouted this to me: “You can’t be a successful woman if you don’t support abortion rights.” Am I to believe that in order to be successful and respected in today’s world, the innocent unborn might need to be sacrificed? Am I to believe that in order to be successful and respected, a woman must knowingly set aside the laws that God asks us to respect? Is that what it means to be successful? I don’t think so.
In fact, I have these few words to say to those career women who so lightly sacrifice the fruits of their womb for a chance to be a player in the business world: Please don’t think there is a comparison between a good job and giving life. Jobs are fleeting and merely ‘positions’ that are temporarily held by one person or another. They either consume you for a business purpose or they consume you for some selfish egotistical gain. A child is a legacy; a permanent bond; a life-long friend…. A reason to live life to the fullest every single day of your life. When I finished graduate school, when I was in my 20s and into my early 30s, I planned for a life of great accomplishment. I was going to be a great scientist. I was going to help understand the molecular basis of cancer and maybe find a cure. There was nothing inside me urging me to get married and start a family. In fact, at that point in my life, I didn’t want children. And I was hoping I would find a man who would want the same. But God knew better. He knew more about my heart than I did. And he blessed me with a child right after I got married. I admit I was scared. I had no maternal instincts whatsoever (but was great with animals) and wasn’t sure I would know what to do. But the minute I saw my daughter’s beautiful face and helpless body, I was hooked. I knew that I was meant to be a mother. I instantly knew there was no greater meaning to life than having a child. I knew I would love this child every minute of my life. When I saw her fragile tiny, red, wrinkled body and the way she was so uncoordinated and didn’t know how to do the simplest of things, I knew I wanted to care for her and keep her safe and comforted for as long as I was able to do so. By the time I left the hospital, I had already circled the dates I would try to conceive my next child. And only in having children of my own was I able to appreciate the depths of the unconditional and eternal love my own parents have for me. And that is the true meaning of life. It is the true circle of life. And like a circle, the love between parents and children are never-ending, just as God’s love is for all of us.
To any woman unsure of her lot in life, I would offer this heartfelt advice: Don’t make the mistake of thinking a career or anything else of such material worth is more valuable than the life-long love you experience and the life lesson you learn from being a parent. My biggest regret in life was not being able to start having children earlier, while I was younger, so that I could have had more of them before it was too late. While all of my friends were dating and getting married, I was still trying to figure out what degrees I wanted and so I got married much later.
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