When I was in my second year of teaching, I had a co-worker come up to me in the hallway and inform me that she had had a dream that I was pregnant, that she was “usually pretty good about knowing these things,” and that I should probably take a test. I laughed, and told her that I actually was on day 32 or something of my cycle, which was usually a solid 28 days. Her face lit up, and she asked what on earth I was waiting for. Laughing again, I said it honestly hadn’t occurred to me, having only been married and doing NFP for three months, coupled with a busy beginning of the school year. Of course, I stopped by Target that very day and picked up a pregnancy test, which, to my shock, was positive. Despite our charting and having a pretty good grasp on what we were doing (read: there are no “taking chances” with NFP!), my husband was even more shocked. It was as though we were surprised that it had really worked.
After the initial shock had worn off, we were of course delighted and eagerly looked forward to my 12-week appointment, when we would get to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. My husband had just started a new job and wasn’t able to come with to that initial appointment. We weren’t overly concerned, knowing he’d be able to come to future ones and obviously, the 20-week ultrasound. So, on December 4th, I headed to the doctor’s office alone after school. After a few minutes of attempting to find the heartbeat, my doctor said they weren’t able to find it, and they were going to send me to the hospital by my house to have an ultrasound. In my naivety, I was delighted at the idea of getting an early sneak peek at our little baby.
My husband, who was home from work by this time, said he would meet me at the hospital. As the ultrasound tech ran the wand over my belly, we noticed a tiny little baby on the screen. She shut off the machine, told us our doctor would call us momentarily, and started to leave the room. For the first time, it occurred to me that something might be wrong. I asked her if there was indeed anything wrong with our sweet little baby, but she only repeated that she would be right back with our doctor on the line. Moments later, our doctor explained that the baby had stopped growing between eight and ten weeks and that there was no heartbeat. He went on to explain that I would likely miscarry naturally within the next week but to call the clinic if I didn’t. I can remember thinking he may as well have been speaking Russian- nothing he was saying made sense, and I was so dumbstruck I could hardly reply. As I hung up, the tech teared up and expressed how sorry she was for our loss. We made it as far as the hallway before the reality of what my doctor had said started to hit home. By the time we made it to our cars, I was inconsolable and near hysterical. We left one of our cars there for our friend to pick up later and headed home to grieve our sweet little one.
The week that followed was one of the longest of my life; telling people that we had lost the baby and worrying that we might not ever be able to have kids. My doctor assured us that it was not uncommon for a woman to lose her first baby, but we still wondered. I returned to school a few days later, which turned out to be incredibly therapeutic. Kids have a way of knowing just what to say or not to say, and my fifth graders were the most helpful during this time. I was also utterly amazed at the number of people who approached me or wrote cards with condolences, telling me that they too had lost a baby, often their first. Being one of the first in my circle of friends to start having kids, the very concept of miscarriage had honestly never even crossed my mind, let alone the idea that I myself might experience one. It was so reassuring to hear from so many people their own stories of loss. And equally as touching were the people who told us that they didn’t know what to say to express how sorry they were, but that they were praying for us.
Through prayer, we named our little one Aloysius John, and refer to him as Alex. We were able to bury him in a special area of our church’s cemetery for miscarried babies in a beautiful ceremony with our family priest, my parents, brother and future sister-in-law, and my grandmother, which was also a very healing experience.
Within two months, we were pregnant with our daughter, Mary, and today are days away from having our fourth child. However, it never ceases to amaze me how present Alex is in our family. Our kids all know about their brother, and we speak of him regularly, often bringing flowers to his gravesite. My husband and I have often commented that when we’re gathering up the kids or even just watching them play, we notice that someone is missing. His absence is tangible, and there isn’t a day that goes by without thinking of him.
Not coincidentally, the class I had that year was one of my favorites, and I know that their experiencing our loss with me added to the bond I had with them. It is always my hope that as they go through life, they’ll remember not only their fifth grade teacher, but also her sweet little boy, Alex. It is my hope that his life, which has impacted so many people despite its brevity, will remind them of just how precious life is.
As a high-energy, type-A, go-getter who comes from a family of high-energy, type-A go-getters, I have always struggled with pride and perfectionism. Pride in the fact that I am (under normal circumstances) able to accomplish a million things in a day and perfectionism in that they will generally be done correctly and in a very particular manner. And then I got married and started having kids- four in five years, to be exact. You can imagine how well my perfectionism has handled this!
Our first-born was (in hindsight) an incredibly easy baby, and about four months in, we were back into a routine and for the most part thriving. For the most part, our dog-hair-covered floors were vacuumed at least three times a week, if not daily, (who DOES that?) well-rounded meals were on the table when my husband walked in the door from work, and life really had not been disrupted much by our bubbly little chunk of happiness. So “easy” did we find our new roles as parents that a year and a half later, her brother arrived in all his glory- undiagnosed milk allergy, literally continual ear-infections, and non-stop hysteria for about ten months. Vacuuming? Ha! Survival was the new name of the game, and my poor sweet husband was lucky if there was food in the house to scrounge up a dinner most nights. Looking back, I can see how much I really struggled with the two-kid scene. Most days I had a healthy serving of humble pie arriving seemingly hourly. Post partum depression that at the time seemed not bad enough to treat added to the mix. However, upon getting tubes in his ears at 10 months and figuring out the milk allergy, he became an incredibly happy (albeit non-stop) baby, and we realized that it might someday be okay to have more kids.
So, here we are, about a month away from adding our fourth. With each pregnancy, it has always surprised me that I haven’t been able to keep going at my normal pace, despite that fact that I’m growing a human being. This pregnancy has been more physically difficult than my previous ones, both due to chasing three other rascals around all day and a few medical concerns. My usual get-it-done mode of operation has ground to a humbling halt over the last couple of months, due to a few factors besides the pregnancy, including a broken dishwasher (how DID our ancestors do it?!), stir-crazy-cabin-fever-stricken kids, including a resident three-year-old bound and determined to get me to heaven, and a husband trying to finish a grueling last semester of grad school in one piece. I have had to learn to live among the mess, and to realize that the dishes truly will always be there, just like everyone says, because we are literally unable to get to it some days.
Shortly after our third child was born, I read the Duggars’ book A Love that Multiplies. As I read Michelle’s account of how she was drowning in the laundry produced by two adults and five children under five, I found myself tearing up in empathy- no doubt hormonal-induced empathy, but empathy nonetheless. Her story went on to recount a night when, while doing laundry in the middle of the night in a vain attempt to keep up, she cried out in anguish to God that she just couldn’t do it anymore and needed help. The very next day, her kids’ piano teacher, I believe it was, noticed how tired she looked and asked if she was okay. As Michelle explained her middle-of-the-night laundry habits, the woman lit up and announced, “I love laundry! Would you like me to come help out with it a few times a week?” For the next couple of years, this woman came and spent a few days a week doing the family’s laundry. I can remember being so touched by this story and hoping that when I someday emerged from the trenches of raising littles that there would be a young mom in my life whom I would be able to bless with a simple yet potentially life-changing service.
Fast forward a little over a year to our current state of zoo-like living. Our home school co-op began our spring semester after a six-week break. This is our second year in the co-op, and my first year teaching fifth grade, which I love. At the end of the class, my classroom monitor, whom I recently learned lives literally around the corner from us, casually mentioned that if I ever needed any help with anything- kids, house, or otherwise, she has a fifteen-year-old daughter who loves adult interaction, cooking, cleaning, and kids. You can imagine it was all I could do not to cue the hysterical sobs of gratefulness. As it was, I had a hard time conveying my gratefulness without coming off like a lunatic.
After calling my husband on the way home to gleefully relay this miraculous turn of events to him, it suddenly hit me that although I have always loved the idea of someone coming to help out with a, b, and c, my pride has always prevented that idea from becoming a reality. Not that I’ve had dozens of wonderful home schooled teenagers beating down my door to help, but I know that had I expressed a need for help, there are many people in my life who would have been more than happy to help.
I began to ponder why this was so. The obvious reason was my pride. I take great pride in running a generally efficient household and raising our kids because it is my job. I don’t work outside of our house, and thus I view the day-to-day affairs as not only my career, but also my vocation. It’s what I’m supposed to do. So to ask someone to do part of my job for me, no matter how small that part may be, makes me feel lazy and unproductive, despite knowing that no one can “do it all” alone.
Even the day before this sweet girl came over for a couple of hours one Sunday afternoon, I wondered if we would be able to “justify” her coming over because I still truly felt like we should be able to function on our own. I was absolutely FLOORED at the difference two hours of help made. In that small time frame, my kids played game after game while my husband wrote a paper, we cleaned our catch-all bedroom, I made dinner for a guest we were having over that night, and even had time to get the dishes done before he arrived. The kids thought it was fantastic, and we were amazed at what a difference starting the week a bit caught up made. To say we have been humbled by the generosity of this sweet girl and her mother (who volunteered to watch my kids on her day off so I could go to my doctor’s appointments sans the crew) is an understatement. While I have always loved making a meal for a new mother, volunteering at our church, etc., it has been overwhelming (in a good way) to be on the receiving end. It has made me realize that no one was ever meant to survive this crazy journey of motherhood alone. What a difference being willing to admit that I can use a little help sometimes has made!
In October 2005, my husband and I went to the doctor to see our very first baby for the very first time. It was a routine 20 week ultrasound and we were so excited to catch a glimpse of the little person who was growing inside of me. We watched the screen closely, not knowing exactly what the technician was measuring, but not really caring. That was our baby and to us she looked perfect.
When the ultrasound was over, we were beaming. The technician had captured the most perfect little profile picure of the for us to show to the world. But, as the picture was printing, she looked at us and said “There is something wrong with this baby.” I was in shock. What do you mean there is something wrong? Didn’t I just see a perfect little baby right there on the screen? Our excitement for this new little person was now overshadowed by fear.
We were brought into a room for a consultation with the doctor. He had reviewed the ultrasound and confirmed that yes, there was something wrong with our baby. He calmly explained that we would need to see a specialist. He didn’t have many answers for our questions because he admittedly didn’t know much about it. It was a rare condition, one that the hospital we were at was not equipped to handle. Before we left he said, “Life is about expectations and you were not expecting this. But still, your baby looks beautiful.”
In the next month, we met with a specialist. We had settled down from the shock and we were ready to meet the doctor who was going to save our baby. He spoke with us in detail about our child’s condition and what would happen in the coming months. And then BAM! It came. “Do you want to terminate the pregnancy?” I felt sick. I had not expected this. I was supposed to put all my confidence in this doctor. He was supposed to save my child but yet he did not care if I wanted to kill her. Did he not just say this was a treatable condition? Is there something he was not telling us?
We told the doctor that we were going to continue the pregnancy. And even with a rocky start, everything turned out wonderfully in the end. We gave birth to a beautiful little girl who needed surgery and a little extra time in the hospital. Looking back, there are a few things I would like for my doctor, and all doctors in his same position to know.
I have been told there is something wrong with my baby. Receiving this sort of news is scary. The fear of the unknown is intense. I’m sure this isn’t easy news for you to relay but, please, don’t make it worse by scaring me and asking me if I want to terminate the pregnancy.
Please tell me what you know. I would like to receive accurate information because I really do not know too much about the condition. Many conditions which were once inoperable, can easily be fixed today and not all defects even require a surgery. Assume that I do not know this. Give me a little hope.
Please offer me a little bit of support. I understand that you have a lot of patients and you may not be available to hold my hand the entire way, but do tell me that someone will. There are numerous groups out there willing to offer support to women and families who find out their child will have a birth defect or a genetic disorder. Please let this be known.
Allow me to trust you. Help me know that even if the diagnosis is grim, you will do everything you can to try and save my baby. Once again, do not ask me if I want to terminate the pregnancy. How can I trust you to save my child if it seems as if you do not care whether the child lives or dies. Life is about expectations. And while life doesn’t always live up to those, I hope that you will by doing everything you possibly can for this baby.
A Mother who has been there
If you will, think for a moment about all the controversy and disagreement on the issue of abortion as if it were playing out on a huge chess board. Imagine the opposing sides facing off in a battle to win the decisions of women about what to do in instances of pregnancy; pro-choice and abortion on one side, pro-life and birth on the other. Each move of the pieces shows the pro-choicers trying to turn women towards freedom from pregnancy and fertility in preference for everything else, and on the other side the pro-lifers trying to sway women towards acceptance of life and their bodies natural functions before everything else. The desired outcomes for women are opposites, yet each side is assigned pieces or players that are similar.
In the pro-choice and pro-life movements there are many players on each side. Just like in chess some players are more powerful or useful in their ability to actualize the end goal of their team. The goal of chess is to capture the King. In real life, the goal is to capture women’s attention and popular opinion. The pieces may change in value as the game progresses and based upon the circumstances of the board positioning, but all of the chessmen are important and play some vital role in the success of their team.
Now of course no analogy is perfect, so bear with me a little bit and follow this through to see if you agree with my final premise.
In our real world “game” we first have the pawns, or the donors and volunteers to each side of the abortion debate. Pawns are like the regular people all around us who might write a check to an organization, yet still go about daily life just like everyone else. There are more pawns than any other piece in chess (eight) and often they are the first to exit the game as they make the first moves. The donors and volunteers are the easiest to fall out of these movements and much like the chess pieces, their range of motion/effect is rather small compared to the other pieces. However, just as donor money and volunteer time establishes the centers on both sides of the abortion issue pawns can change the entire direction of a game by staying in it long enough to score the win. A pawn that is able to reach the opposing side of the board can be promoted into any other piece, resulting in more powerful pieces for one team. A dedicated volunteer or a generous donor can have far-reaching effects.
Then there are the two knights, or in our larger “game” the clinic escorts and the sidewalk counselors. Both are facing off heroically in a battle for the women at the precipice of their decision. Both in chess and in our real life “game” they are restricted in their movement to awkward patterns (governed by right-of-way and Clinic Entrance laws in most real life instances) and can only strike when the exact right opportunity arises. Their armor consists of clinic escort vests for the pro-choice team and homemade signs and pamphlets for the pro-lifers.
The bishops are pieces that are easy to see the real-world counterpart for; obviously our clergy. There are two bishops for each team on the chess board. Each side of the abortion issue has clergy lining up to back their position. Pro-choicers have the Episcopals, the Unitarian Universalists and some more liberal Christian churches, while pro-lifers generally have the Catholics, Muslims, and Jewish faiths. The chessmen bishops can move any number of vacant squares in a diagonal direction, which means they never leave their assigned color. Much like how we see the real-world bishops preaching within the square walls of their own churches, not often infiltrating into the public discourse outside their own color. They can move far which makes them very powerful, but can only make a strike if someone wanders into their space.
Next come the two rooks, or the abortion clinic workers and pregnancy resource and care centers workers. Rooks are a valuable piece as they are able to move any number of vacant squares forward, backward, left or right. Our clinic and center workers are valuable in this way too as they also can reach far across the board with their messages through utilizing media, fundraising campaigns, and direct contact with women. Rooks are more valuable because of their ability to be more places on the board. They live regular lives and interact in churches, schools, with friends and family. Their experiences with a wide range of people make them a powerful tool. An interesting note on the rooks is that when they are protecting each other and working together they are particularly powerful pieces.
The Queen is widely regarded as the most powerful of all the chess pieces on the board. There is only one Queen on each team. Her range of motion is unmatched by another piece as she can move any number of vacant squares in any direction forwards, backwards, left, right, or diagonally. She is the greatest barrier to the opposition achieving their goal. She is the greatest threat to both teams winning the hearts and minds of women. She protects her own King piece as she also goes out and risks herself in pursuit of the opposition’s King piece.
Remember, the King is the end object for both teams. Capturing the King means access to abortions for the pro-choice team and for the pro-life side support for birth. In chess Kings can only move one square at a time. So while they can help a little bit by avoiding a possible attack they are pretty vulnerable to attacks by multiple pieces working together and are relentlessly pursued by all. Just like real women facing the abortion question.
So who are the “Queens” or the most powerful players in our movements?
For the pro-choice team the Queen piece is clearly the abortionist, the only person capable of executing the hard fought for right to terminate a pregnancy. They move from clinic to clinic as circuit riders and are all over the board speaking with the authority that their medical degree and experience affords them.
For the pro-life side this question has not been asked, or perhaps just not answered nearly enough. Many people in the pro-life movement would have a difficult time articulating who in their own movement has the greatest ability to bring about the immediate end goal of beautiful, loving births.
Many might say the players who have switched teams mid-game are the most valuable as they can attest to the horrors of their former team, share opposing strategy, and buoy the spirits of their new team onward. While this is a very valuable gain that could possibly result in a win if enough of the opposition transferred to the opponent’s side, these pieces are still only the pieces they always were on their original team. A former abortion clinic worker may become an outspoken advocate for life, but will remain a rook on their new team too. They are valuable indeed, but no, they are not the people capable of bringing about the goal we aim for. But who is? Who is the Queen piece of the pro-life movement?
The Pro-Life Midwife or Doctor.
The Queen piece of our movement must be the people capable of bringing women through the event that has challenged them to welcome new life. Our doctors and midwives are there to joyfully catch the new child that has entered our world and are uniquely able to fulfill the goal of allowing new life to develop and blossom. They empower the mother in her decision to choose life for her child and help her on the first steps to motherhood. We must raise up and recognize those who have the most power in moving all over the board to share the truths about life and have the opportunity to work with women in their times of greatest needs.
The Queen pieces speak with authority and move with greater power than an ordinary pawn, such that a board filled with Queen pieces on one team would decimate the opposition in a few moves. This is true for the pro-choice side too. If suddenly there were hundreds more abortionists setting up clinics it would not take long to overcome the resources of the pro-life movement and abortion would appear to become an uncontested practice in our world. Pro-life doctors and midwives hold their pro-choice colleagues in line by challenging them professionally and with research as to what is best for women and families. We need as many outspokenly pro-life doctor and midwife Queen pieces as possible to capture the King, or the hearts and minds of women everywhere.
Not only must we work to honor and bring up more pro-life midwives and doctors, but we also must work to provide safe places for them to practice the type of medicine that is life-affirming and focused on the holistic whole-life view of women and families. Many of our Queen pieces have been blocked into corners on the board by hospitals and healthcare systems that hinder their power to move and be effective. They are often required to refer for or prescribe drugs that are in opposition to their beliefs. The right for pro-life doctors and midwives to practice medicine in accordance with their conscience is being challenged today.
When this happens our strongest piece has been crippled!
We cannot allow that to continue. We need to think differently about where we ask our doctors and midwives to practice. We must find ways to unleash their fullest potential. Why would we want to cripple their ability to serve the way we need them to by locking them into employment at restrictive places?
Abortionists practice in clinics outside of hospital and often even state oversight. They have an immense freedom to persuade and convince women in the privacy of their clinics to receive a certain type of care. Why don’t we simply follow suit?
Imagine our strong doctors and midwives free to meet the needs of their patients in private practice clinics. Imagine all the pieces of the pro-life chess team working together to create a center that truly competes with the pro-choice abortion clinic. Only when our pieces are allowed the same freedom as our opponents to aggressively pursue the goal will the game ever be a fair match.
This is exactly the premise and the goal of The Guiding Star Project. We want to make this a fair battle by creating centers that can truly compete with the abortion clinics and Planned Parenthoods. Why should we settle for pregnancy help centers with limited medical capacity when the opposition is capable of realizing their entire goal in their facilities? Why can’t we create centers that not only can help a women process an unexpected pregnancy, but also walk beside her through the pregnancy, delivery, and early years of raising her child? The pieces of the pro-life team currently seem to be spread across the chess board and the table and even down onto the floor. Let’s pick ourselves up and line up to face the opposition by getting onto the same board and working together as a team.
All the chessman on the board play an important role in the victory of their team. Without any one of them the battle would likely be lost. We are all called to take part in this “game” in some way. Our conscience demands of us to become a player on the board and not a passive observer. Whether we are mere pawns or powerful Queens we can trust that our gifts and talents will be used for the win if we simply give what we have and allow ourselves to be used.
When we all work together we will be able to finally declare “checkmate” on abortion.
The Guiding Star Project was very pleased to be able to participate in the March for Life this year. It was a chilly and snowy day in Washington, D.C. full of meetings and speakers and conventions and of course the March itself. Conservative estimates said it was attended by over 500,00 people. According to Eternal Word Television Network, which hired a private group to assess the numbers in attendance, the estimates were closer to 650,000. What struck me was the number of young people. Everywhere you turned there were throngs of young adults and teens joyfully standing up for life. These young people are the future and they are overwhelmingly pro-life. They are so open to the message of New Feminism. They “get it,” they can articulate it, and they aren’t intimidated. For me this was perhaps the single most encouraging aspect of the March for Life.
This year marked the 40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court Decision to legalize abortion. Forty years of abortion on demand in this nation. Forty years of lies and mis-truths about women, their bodies, and their babies. While this is a sobering and heartbreaking reality, it was heartening to see that while it may at times seem we fight a stagnant or losing battle, we are making headway – we will bring about a culture of life! The Guiding Star Project is prepared to play a big part in this cultural transition. We met with pro-life leaders from across the country. We made connections and forged new friendships. The response was overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. ”This is just what we need!” The vision and mission of the Guiding Star Project is exactly what is needed to propel our culture towards life.
We at Guiding Star are committed to using the New Feminist methodology to proclaim the dignity and beauty of femininity, birth, mothering, and natural law. Women are entrusted with the human person in a unique and personal way, and so as we are unabashedly pro-life, we are also unabashedly “pro-woman.” While we hope that this was the last March for Life that will ever be needed here in America, we are committed to stay the course and to boldly stand up for women and their children for as long as it takes – until we have reached our goal and truly Lit the way to a Culture of Life!
There are certain types of people who prey on fear. They know how to use fear to motivate and manipulate. They also know that the antidotes to fear are understanding and Truth. Perhaps one of the most insidious utilizers of fear-as-manipulator is the abortion lobby. The industry survives by profiting off of fear.
Time again we hear statistics that tell us women choose abortion because they believe they have no other choice. They are afraid. Tell me, how can the same people who proclaim “choice” and “freedom of choice” also be the people who use fear to push their abortion agenda? Simple. Because when they say “Choice” they mean “abortion.” And when they say they are “pro-choice” they really mean they are “pro-fear.”
Women have been used and abused by the abortion industry for decades now. Yet, much like an abusive relationship, fear keeps women trapped in the abyss of “choice.” Denying their own biology, women elect to kill their offspring, forever wounding themselves in the process, not because they are exercising some Rite of Liberation, but because they are scared and they feel they have no choice. So I ask the members of the Abortion Lobby, NARAL in particular, What do you mean when you say Choice?
Do you mean you will speak gently and kindly to the scared woman who has come for your help? Will you tell her about her amazing body, how she was made to create and nurture life? Will you tell her about the life she carries? How there are fingers and toes, a heartbeat and completely new and unique DNA? Will you answer her questions without asking her to sign a form, a waiver, or be hurried along? Will you explain to her the options she has that are affirming to her dignity and her beauty as a woman? Will you love and support her and the life she is so afraid to give birth to? Will you support her and affirm her if she chooses to NOT have an abortion?
No. You will not. You will instead play on her fears, feed her fears, and lead her further down a lonely path of uncertainty, pain, regret and more fear. This isn’t “choice.” Some would say it is coercion. It is manipulation of the lowest kind and it is not “choice.”
Women deserve so much more than to have their fears played on. An unplanned pregnancy can be a tremendously scary thing for a woman, teenager, or young adult to face alone. She deserves a real choice, with real information. She deserves to hear the truth about the way she is made, the dignity she has and the life she carries. She deserves to be told that yes she has a choice, but that choice does not mean she must choose to kill her child. Choice should not equal fear. Women who find themselves contemplating abortion most often feel they have no where else to go, and no one to turn to. They are alone and scared. These women need to know that they are loved, that there is support, and there are people who want to help them make the difficult decisions that come along with bringing a new life into the world. Women who experience support, love, and affirmation when facing an unplanned pregnancy overwhelmingly choose to either parent their child or work out an adoption plan. They can lead a life free of the fear, the pain, and the regret that come with having no real choice – abortion. Women who fall victim to the abortion “choice” lie are forever changed and forever wounded by the decision. To make that fate even worse, their emotional stress and pain is often overlooked, misdiagnosed, or belittled by an industry and a culture that refuses to admit women suffer long after they have an abortion.
It is time the pro-abortion bandwagon stopped lying about their version of “choice” and instilling fear into women. Its time that organizations like The Guiding Star Project step boldly forward and loudly proclaim, “Yes, you DO have a choice! A beautiful, life affirming choice that will empower you as a woman, not wound you!” It is time that NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NOW and the like stopped dealing in the business of lies and fear and instead embraced the beauty of womanhood and the unique gift of motherhood. You and I know that day is very very far in the future. So until it comes, we urge you to not be afraid to continue to expose the lie that is the abortion industry. Keep speaking the Truth about femininity and womanhood to dispel the fear, and never be afraid to ask, “Just what Do You Mean by Choice?”
I have been part of an abortion.
I was just a student, still in nursing school, having just completed my OB rotation. The mother was young, like me, but the pregnancy was very much planned. What she didn’t plan for were the “fetal anomalies” that the baby had–developing with kidney problems.
The staff told me about the case, set up for an induction, and prepared the labor monitors.
The baby was only 27 weeks.
Just shy of the legal age of viability for this particular hospital–the age when they would have been legally bound to make an effort to resuscitate the infant–at 28 weeks.
As realization dawned on me, I remained confused. “But, wait, why are we inducing now?” I asked. “Won’t the baby….?”
The staff turned kind, but sad eyes on me.
Just think about how much easier it will be for her, they said.
There will be less pain.
The labor and delivery will be easier because the baby is smaller.
It will be better this way.
Like a river current that starts out gentle, I felt myself get swept up. Yes, of course, I thought. The baby will die either way, right? It will be easier on the mother, poor thing.
Later that day, when I had completely forgotten the case and was crossing through the back room to fetch some supplies, I was humming and singing a song to myself and thinking of the ice cream I was going to eat on my break as I pushed open the swinging door into the dark room.
I practically tripped over him.
The overhead light, the one they used to illuminate x-rays, buzzed as it glowed around him, encasing him in a perfect halo of light as the rest of the room lay in darkness.
I blinked twice, my eyes focusing, understanding. Suddenly, I stopped humming.
Someone had placed a little blue hat on him, arranged a blanket rather haphazardly around him. He was so tiny. Almost see-through. So perfect it hurt to look at him.
My breath left then, like hiccups I couldn’t get ahead of. I felt like I was drowning. Wildly, I looked around. Surely this wasn’t real. Surely they didn’t leave this perfect baby in his blue hat alone and forgotten in our back supply room on the same cold counter we did circumcisions on.
Abortion happens out of fear.
Image: becca cahan on Flickr
Fear for the pain we will endure with a sick child.
Fear for the future that we thought we had.
Fear for the special needs our baby will face.
Fear of the abuse she will endure.
Fear of the memories of the rapist.
Fear of the unwanted.
Fear of the hardship that a young mother will face.
Fear that we can’t take care of another baby.
It’s human to be afraid. And I think it’s easy to get swept up in the thought that abortion is the kind option.
But abortion can not take take those fears away or change the circumstances that led to them.
It can only hide them away, hoping they will remain undiscovered, in a cold, dark back room.
I feel like I’ve been carrying a secret.
I’ve worked hard to create my online “persona.” Diligently posting on my blog, commenting on other mommy bloggers sites, taking writing classes, even attending a blogging conference.
Waiting and hoping for my big break, the moment when I will make it as a writer.
And through it all, I’ve been silent.
Silent about my pro-life beliefs.
Silent about my faith.
Silent about my journey as a woman, mother, and feminist.
Because you see, the truth is–I’ve been afraid. Afraid of upsetting a potential contact. Or ruining my chances of being seen as a “real” writer. Of breaking up friendships with the cool and hip mommy bloggers out there. Being labeled (again) as that crazy pro-lifer or that bra-burning feminist.
I’ve been hiding who I am, trying to create something that I know is not completely accurate.
So here’s the truth.
I am a feminist. I believe in honoring women’s bodies. I believe in respecting the natural cycles in a woman’s life. I believe pregnancy is beautiful. I believe all women are mothers who love and nurture and make the world a better place. I believe that bringing children into the world shouldn’t be a shock to society–we should be able to combine work and motherhood and breastfeeding and grocery shopping. It’s called life. Ge over it.
I am pro-life. It hurts me to feel the animosity towards pro-lifers, because the truth is, I am pro-life because I care about women, not the other way around. I get the pro-choice arguments, I really do. I’ve taken care of a 13-year-old girl who was pregnant by a family member and felt disgusted and repelled and wished I could make it better for her. But I am pro-life because I know that abortion won’t change her situation anymore than a baby will end her life.
I have faith. Raised religious and still walking in baby steps towards God, I have struggled with admitting to the online world that I do have faith. But what am I so afraid of? Do I really think, even after giving birth to the unplanned joy of my life, that I am the in control here? What will it take for me to learn?
The time has come for me to shake off my mantle of fear.
And stand strong in the light of my beliefs.
My name is Chaunie. And I am a pro-life feminist.
For those of you who are familiar with the Guiding Star Model you know that good collaboration of separate service providers and organizations is essential to the realization of our mission. We are working to create comprehensive women’s centers that can provide for basically all of the needs of childbearing women and their families. This means we need several services to be located in one convenient place so that women won’t need to trek all over town to find the help they need. We aim to create these centers by pulling together the existing women and family-centered resources in a community and get them working cooperatively in one BIG Fabulous Supercenter! A Guiding Star Center.
Our name is Guiding Star because from the beginning we’ve seen our role as lighting the way for women seeking resources to be able to easily find them and make positive and holistic decisions about their health and family decisions. We want to be that bright, hopeful light providing illumination and helping women to find companionship who might otherwise feel isolated on their journey.
We want every group and individual within our Centers to share in our philosophy that women are strong and created naturally beautiful. Along with medical service providers, daycare providers, and local business owners, we’ve seen very encouraging and promising partnerships coming from many groups that identify themselves as “pro-life”. Groups dedicated to supporting women in unplanned pregnancies, groups offering material assistance and housing to families broken by abuse or other difficulties, groups committed to teaching natural family planning methods, groups offering counseling to families grieving the loss of children and families caring for elderly members. There have been some amazing collaborative ideas and energy swirling around our concept of a shared facility that can house all these groups. And rightly so. Many people can understand and clearly see the benefits of these groups working together for reasons of fiscal responsibility and broadening their ability to serve.
But we’ve run into a bit of a hang-up. We’ve yet to open our first operational Guiding Star Center (yeah, we’re still pretty new and that IS a big project, but I’m impatient!) Why, you ask, don’t we already see this model in practice; giant holistic pro-woman and family centers? I’m afraid to say it, but I’ve come to the opinion that it all boils down to two words: paranoid pro-lifers.
I really don’t want to come across as mean-spirited towards some of the most passionate and (usually) loving people you’ll ever meet, but over these past five years I’ve witnessed disheartening and unnecessary passive aggressive conflict on a level of which I could not even have previously imagined possible in this movement! I’m guessing this is not something you usually see unless you dare to ask separate groups to consider working together in close proximity. When that happens, the gloves come off, let me tell you!
I would have never dreamt that the sweet old ladies who lovingly knit blankets for the babies served by one pregnancy care center would refuse to donate to another because of insert totally random and outdated reason here (usually pertaining to a late pastor or priest or a careless comment made at a fundraising dinner umpteen years ago). Or that the director of a women’s center would refuse to work with the natural family planning group in need of new office space because it might confuse their donors. I didn’t previously realize how competitive many of these groups are with one another to provide “better” services, have nicer offices, and most importantly raise more money than the group with the same mission down the street. Everybody seems to be looking over their shoulder to make sure that someone else isn’t going to steal their contact list or court their major donors away from them. I guess in a free-market society none of this should surprise me. But it does.
It surprises me because theoretically it seems that there should not be this sort of conflict in a movement dedicated to non-violence, love, and acceptance of one another. It seems like we should be professional enough to handle our disagreements with integrity and open communication. Instead what I have witnessed has been a proverbial “Crabs in a Bucket”. It’s no wonder there’s paranoia in this movement.
So is it possible for pro-life groups to work together? How do we go about bridging the gaps that seem to somehow keep the pro-life movement from being united?
I think that we are beginning to see the collaborative pro-life spirit budding with the success of groups like 40 Days for Life. It is when people stop talking and looking at bottom-lines and just pray together that we realize our ability to create real change is in our numbers. It’s in our partnerships and affiliations with others who share our same goals. When we can tap into the networks of our friends because of their positive referral, we both grow. The pro-life movement has been operating out of a mindset that says “there is not enough to go around, so I must make sure I have what I need”. NO MORE. We NEED to start thinking “We are in this together and there WILL be enough for us all to survive. Together we are stronger.”
We think it’s possible and ask you to be part of the necessary change. There are many pieces in this Culture of Life puzzle and just addressing one issue will never bring us the society we desire. Let’s get all the pieces on the table and start figuring out ways we can put them together to create a truly beautiful picture.
In a brief exchange via social media this evening, I was reminded why it is so important for those of us in the pro-life movement to keep a bigger picture mentality when looking at abortion and how to change a society that accepts and supports this horrendous practice as a “right”. I read a post on a pro-life educators Facebook page about how the movement must unite and not be bogged down by side-conversations that are of little value to reaching the ultimate goal of ending abortion. I whole-heartedly agreed with that statement. We need to work together to end this problem as its too big for any one of us to beat alone.
But in the comments that followed I began to notice problems with this single-minded logic; we have much too small of a view of what it means to be pro-life.
Some of the follow-up comments that caught my attention were about not caring whether or not other people vaccinate their kids, or if they wear pink in support of the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation. While I agree that these things don’t immediately appear to be linked to abortion, with further investigation we can see that they are indeed part of that bigger picture view of a society that supports and loves abortion. Although many people are completely unaware of this fact, some vaccinations were created using cell lines from aborted babies, thus making their use highly questionable and unethical. Check out Children of God For Life for more information about this fact. Also last year alone Susan. G. Komen gave $700,000 to Planned Parenthood, our nation’s largest abortion provider. So in this case, yes, wearing pink is a pro-life issue. By ignoring practices and companies that support abortion, we unintentionally end up voting with our money to continue the violence of abortion in our land. While these are really not the worst examples of supporting a pro-choice agenda, they make clear the descent down the ladder that ends with having no guide to defend life other than opposing abortion alone. As Cardinal Bernardin once said, we are called to make our pro-life stance a “seamless garment of life”. It should apply to our everyday lives and extend beyond abortion to other issues that destroy human dignity.
Being pro-life cannot simply be relegated to the single issue of abortion and making it illegal. This ignores all the other injustices demanding our attention and effort; but mostly because it does nothing to address what Susan B. Anthony called the “root causes” of abortion. In an editorial by Anthony printed in her
publication, Revolution in 1869 she states,
“Much as I deplore the horrible crime of child-murder, earnestly as I desire its suppression, I cannot believe … that such a law would have the desired effect. It seems to me to be only mowing off the top of the noxious weed, while the root remains. We want prevention, not merely punishment. We must reach the root of the evil, and destroy it. To my certain knowledge this crime is not confined to those whose love of ease, amusement and fashionable life leads them to desire immunity from the cares of children: but is practiced by those whose inmost souls revolt from the dreadful deed, and in whose hearts the maternal feeling is pure and undying. What, then has driven these women to the desperation necessary to force them to commit such a deed? This question being answered, I believe, we shall have such an insight into the matter as to be able to talk more clearly of a remedy.”
Clearly what Anthony was calling for in better support for women has been achieved by the amazing crisis pregnancy centers we see all around our nation. But while we have worked hard to address this need and have been able to provide pretty much any pregnant woman seeking support the help she needs; we still have abortions happening every day. Why? Because as I have said before, crisis pregnancy and abortion are not the only issues needing to be addressed in creating a Culture of Life. To end abortion we need a much bigger movement.
We need “specialists” (like the crisis pregnancy centers and pro-life educators) in several areas of societal struggle to all be working together to reach the end goal. We need sex educators, fertility instructors, childbirth educators, doctors, midwives, lactation consultants, post abortion therapists, marriage counselors, hospice programs, and basically anyone with pro-life convictions to bring their specialty to the forefront of the pro-life battle. This is a fight we must all fight in our everyday lives with the degrees and careers that we have. We need to work united with one another to strengthen our movement and to highlight that it is much bigger than just fighting abortion. We are fighting for a way of looking at humanity. We are fighting for a Culture of Life that recognizes everyone as irreplaceable and precious. We can all do that in how we execute our professions and vocations.
So to not make this any longer than it already is….yes, we need to unite. Let’s be lovers and not haters. We need to share our expertise and build upon one another to create a culture that supports life. But we need to stop and recognize that abortion is not the only battle to be won, and that by aligning the strengths of many forces the war will come much more quickly to an end. We pray for the wisdom to accept a guiding set of principles that will make this sort of cooperation possible in our nation.