NOTE: This post is an expression of my opinions and experiences. If you would like to continue this debate in the comments, please do so with respect.
On Sunday, I spent a wonderful day in Paris with two of my French friends. We saw an exhibition on Studio Ghibli at the Musée Art Ludique. I love Hayao Miyazaki’s films, so there was a lot of fangirling involved. We then had a Japanese lunch of sushi and an American dessert of Häagen-Dazs on the Champs-Elysées.
We headed home on the early train, and it was there that the tone of my day changed.
The train was pretty empty. The only other people in the car besides us were a young girl and an older man. They were talking. At first, I was able to pick out snippets of their conversation as I talked to my friends. But as their conversation continued, I sat in silence with bated breath, listening. My two friends also stopped talking to listen, and later, they filled in the gaps of my comprehension.
The girl was 19 years old, with no job and living in a residence hall. She was pregnant. The baby’s father had left.
The man was a nurse. Apparently they had just met. He sat there calmly giving the girl advice as her eyes filled with tears.
I am not describing the situation like this to romanticize it. This is reality. For the first time in my life, I was facing it.
Talking about abortion has often made me sick to my stomach. It’s one of those issues that is so tangled up in emotion that it’s hard to have an objective debate on it.
As a Catholic, I believe all life is sacred and a gift. That being said, I have a huge problem with some sectors of the “pro-life” movement and some politicians who insist on women carrying out the pregnancy at any cost to their physical and mental health. These same people often blame the mother, especially if she is young and unmarried, calling her horrible names and saying hurtful things like, “Well, she asked for it. Maybe if she didn’t sleep around so much, this wouldn’t have happened.”
This. Is. Wrong.
Being pro-life is not the same thing as being anti-abortion. If your only concern is the fetus in the womb, I’m sorry to inform you that you’re doing it wrong. Being pro-life means being pro-birth parents, pro-adoption, pro-immigration, anti-death penalty, anti-euthanasia, pro-sex education, pro-motherhood, pro-fatherhood, pro-woman.
Mary is often used as a poster child for the anti-abortion movement, saying, “Mary was an unwed mother. What if she had gotten an abortion?” This is a poignant example, but many people seem to forget that Mary didn’t have to go through her pregnancy alone. When Joseph, her fiancé, found out she was pregnant, he was “unwilling to expose her to shame” and instead “took his wife into his home.” (Matthew 1:19, 24 NAB)
Pregnant women don’t just need the support of their baby’s father or their families, because unfortunately, many of them don’t have it. Therefore, it’s our collective responsibility to tell them that they are good, beautiful, strong, loved and valuable. That young woman on the train thought she was worthless, diseased, a piece of trash. If society, politicians and the Church are telling her, “We don’t care about you, but you can’t abort your baby,” someone please tell me where she can find the courage to choose life.
Going back to the Mary example, one of the first people who knew about Mary’s pregnancy was her cousin Elizabeth: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leapt in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:41-42) Imagine how many women would choose life if someone told them, “You are beautiful. You are enough. You are valuable. I’m here for you. You can do this.”
For many years now, I’ve felt a call to adoption. A friend from summer camp, whose brother was adopted, said, “There are so many children in this world who don’t have a home. Why don’t we take care of those children first?” Her words have stuck with me, and the young woman on the train further convicted me in this calling. As I listened to her talk to the man, I found myself thinking, “God, if only someone could adopt her baby so that he or she could have a chance!” If I get married, I pray that my husband and I can adopt our children so that these babies and their mothers can have a second chance at life.
Today, thousands are gathered in Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life. As they march, I pray that they lift up not only the millions of children aborted since Roe v. Wade, but also the mothers and their families.
Abortion is not a political talking point; it’s about real women who need to make real decisions, and no matter what their choice, they need our support.
For another great piece on abortion, please head to Relevant Magazine.