Have you ever listened, really listened, to women with Downs Syndrome talk about what it’s like to grow up in a society where the vast majority of babies like them are aborted? Have you ever listened to these women talk about how they deal with societal messages that it would be best for them if they didn’t exist, that their lives are not worth living? I have.
Have you ever listened, really listened, to women who were conceived during rape and/or incest, sometimes when their mothers were really young? Have you listened to them describe what it is like to hear people say that their mothers, by not aborting them, did not make what is the “best choice, 100% of the time”? or what it’s like for them to hear that no one could possibly love a child conceived by rape? I have.
Have you ever listened, really listened, to women who have survived their mothers’ attempts to abort them? I have.
Have you ever listened, really listened, to women who grew up in the foster system describe what it’s like to hear that it would have been better for them not to have been born at all, that no one should have to live their life? I have.
Have you ever listened, really listened, to women who regret their abortions? Have you held women in your arms as they wept over abortions from years, even decades, before? I have.
Have you ever listened, really listened, to pro-life women? Or have you bought into the idea that all pro-life people are men who want to control women’s sexuality? Have you listened, really listened, to women who are falsely accused of not adopting, not fostering, not supporting single mothers, etc.? Have you visited your local crisis pregnancy center and politely asked the women there why they volunteer and what services they provide? I have.
Have you ever listened, really listened, to black pro-life women talk about the ugly racist legacy of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood? Have you listened to why some black women say that abortion is black genocide? I have.
Do you know what it’s like to have a doctor, mistakenly thinking that your medical condition is genetic, suggest your baby be immediately tested in utero because, “of course you won’t want to bring a child like that into the world”. What?! “Of course I don’t want to bring a child like me into the world?” Did you just seriously say that to my face?
Do you know what it’s like to have a miscarriage in our culture, to wake every morning with a grief so intense that it’s like a sledge hammer blow to the heart, and to carry that grief in a culture and society full of laws, politicians, and abortion advocates loudly insisting that it was not a child that I lost, but a product of conception, a clump of cells, a part of my body no more significant than an appendix, perhaps even somewhat of a parasitical creature — but certainly less than human because it had not lived long enough to take a breath. Do you know what it’s like to experience agonizing grief in a society that doesn’t think I lost anything worth grieving? I do. The only people who wept with me, who carried my sorrow with me, who were there for me, were the pro-lifers who supposedly don’t care about women.
My dear, sweet, beautiful daughter has lost babies in the womb. She buried four sons. Sons — not clumps of cells or potential humans. I lost grandsons.
Do you know what it’s like to hear the stories I’ve heard, wipe the tears I’ve wiped, weep with the women I’ve wept with, grieve the losses I grieve — and have to ask myself over and over again: Do abortion advocates realize how much pain they cause with their rhetoric? Do they even care about women? Or do they only care about women who want abortions?
This morning’s Gospel reading at Mass jumped out at me:
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will be weeping and wailing while the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. A woman in childbirth suffers, because her time has come; but when she has given birth to the child she forgets the suffering in her joy that a child has been born into the world. So it is with you: you are sad now, but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy, and that joy no one shall take from you. When that day comes, you will not ask me any questions.’ (John 16:20-23)
NOTE: I will not be approving any comments advocating or defending abortion. You have the entire rest of the Internet to do that. Not here.
Rebecca, I have no words. This was beyond beautiful — and yes — what you said!!!
I haven’t had the opportunity to listen to each of those women tell me those things, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have been trusted by some of them to hear them. I’ve kept that trust and protected their stories, and tried to show respect by a willingness to listen, and not to intrude by making the issue about my own thoughts or opinions. Thank you for the reminder that every person has a story, every person has struggled, and every person just wants to be heard by a compassionate listener who will receive their words.