Apparently, there is a day called Sanctity of Life Sunday. I don’t know if I ever knew there was such a thing.
I have acquaintances who frequently post rather graphic images, videos, and quotes on social media about pro-life and anti-abortion and special needs kids (who all deserve life, despite doctors recommend terminating pregnancies if tests reveal any disorder).
I’m sure they mean well as their results show, with lots of comments and likes showing agreement.
I have friends who wear pro-life T-shirts and probably feel like they’re changing lives with the messages written across their hearts.
And maybe they are.
At women’s conferences, pro-life orgs proudly set up tables amidst the charities, Etsy shop vomit, and various vendor alley.
And what they do is well and good, I’m sure.
But aren’t they preaching to the choir?
Their profiles proudly state the number of children they’ve birthed. Some list the number of miscarriages as a “babe in heaven.”
Why don’t we talk about that?
If the embryo never breathed air, is it a child?
Does a heartbeat equal a viable person?
If a child is never named, is it a person?
If a baby is stillborn and isn’t baptized, what then?
I smile when they spout self-righteousness, but the smile doesn’t reach my eyes.
Because they don’t know.
They don’t realize how they’re turning that knife and carving out pieces of my soul with every word.
I’ve read various heart-wrenching stories of teen girls being coerced into an abortion by their families, their church, their culture.
I could’ve been that girl too.
But I was twenty-two. And I was married.
Too old to use the excuse of “she didn’t know any better.”
This is proof that you never know what someone is going through or has been through.
Don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes.
So many excuses could’ve been laid out there.
The devil loves excuses.
I read all these fabulous adoption stories and something wrenches inside me. My baby could’ve lived and had a loving home. Maybe I could redeem the whole ordeal by adopting a baby. I’m horrified by women experiencing infertility and I long to comfort them somehow, some way, but who am I?
But that’s not the answer.
There was no real coercion. I was simply dead inside and followed to my doom. Sure, there were oodles of options. I even filled out a form for whatever state aid was available to me. I had planned to have that baby for a minute. No insurance. No job. Separated from my husband. No hope. Lost.
I turned to my parents – who should have protected me, who are supposed to know what’s best.
When I blindly trusted and obeyed, I could have rebelled and run away, far away, even if it had been to have my child in secret squalor, in love.
My parents led us like lambs to slaughter.
But it was ultimately my choice.
The hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make.
But my life would be vastly different if the decision had been different.
I wouldn’t be married to my husband now.
I wouldn’t have four brilliant kids now.
So, for the good and juicy? Because that’s why you’re here.
I can’t bear to relive the details, much less type them out here.
It sure wasn’t glamorous.
I still remember the smell of the clinic.
I expected to see picketers outside like I’d seen on the news.
The nurse showed me an ultrasound of the seven-week old embryo and made sure I realized there was a heartbeat on that monitor. It was the law.
I turned away from the flickering image, sick in body and soul.
And then I did the unthinkable.
I was quietly put to sleep while they sucked that precious little life out of me.
That heartbeat stopped.
Recovery felt like a dream, a void, a time lapse. Had I just been to the dentist or something? I was rushed out as soon as I was awake and able to walk.
My body recovered easily and quickly.
I pushed the experience away, to the depths of my being, to not be remembered.
The shame. The blame. The soul-sickness.
It was never spoken aloud. When I tried to express something, once, I was hushed with a harsh word and a harsher expression. So, I clammed up and moved on.
It’s never been expressed.
I thought my mother would understand my loss, my pain, my hopelessness.
Perhaps it was hers too, but she didn’t know how to cope or comfort.
I realize now that I’ve never even really grieved. It is a nameless, sexless child in my future memory. A nonbeing.
I never received any post-care. It’s unspoken.
People seldom ask questions. I occasionally fill out forms where I have to write in how many pregnancies – how many to term and how many not, and I pause in pain over those form questions.
I don’t feel forgiven because I can’t ever forgive myself.
Society and the church and the government has taught me to hate myself for my decision.
I am still amazed that God has blessed me with four perfect children.
I expected punishment. Do I deserve those perfect children? I live in constant fear in the back of my mind that they will be taken away, like I’m living in some dream of what could be, should be, an alternate reality – and because I didn’t appreciate nor protect that one innocent life, I will eventually awake and realize my punishment of childlessness.
This is my self-inflicted tragedy and I don’t expect anyone to understand it. Sure, you can quote Bible verses and suggest recovery groups or studies to “set me free,” but I don’t agree with those.
There’s a gaping hole that nothing can fill and I live with ambiguity.
It’s not my proudest moment, but it’s my history. It happened. This event propelled me to the life I live today.
People can scream on both sides of the political issue and that’s fine.
I hope and pray that those who feel so self-righteous about a woman’s body, her uterus, her choices, her future…I hope you never have to face that decision.
I hope it’s not you, your daughter, mother, niece, aunt, granddaughter, friend.
I hope you have it easy.
But no one gets to make that decision for us.
Because it’s so easy to spout self-righteousness and think it’s us vs. them, others who have these decisions to face. It’s about so much more – controlling women, brown bodies, socio-economics.
There is no black and white. No absolute right or wrong. It’s not all only pro-choice or pro-life.
Anti-choice rhetoric generally falls into three categories:
1. Extremely oversimplified and totally subjective (“Life begins at conception.”).
2. So incendiary that all who disagree are immediately marked as evil (“Abortion is murder.”).
3. An oxygen-less loop of tautology (“Life begins at conception, therefore abortion is murder.”).
The pro-choice movement, on the other hand, has never figured out an effective way to counteract anti-abortion propaganda because the omnipresence of that propaganda has terrified the vast majority of people who have abortions into silence and because for decades we have constantly been allowing ourselves to be drawn into a bad-faith debate over a fundamental human freedom that is not debatable. As soon as we are baited into correcting our opponents, it legitimizes their argument. Once you are arguing from the defense, you’ve already lost. ~Lindy West
Don’t just say that abstinence is best. Don’t condemn healthy and complete sex education. Don’t tell me there is adoption and foster care.
Don’t tell me that you’re pro-life if you don’t care about inmates on death row, immigrants seeking asylum, children who are living in poverty and hunger, uninsured people who need medical care and medications, police brutality towards minorities.
Don’t tell me what’s best for me.
I want the church to stay out of my uterus.
I want the government to stay out of my uterus.
I want lawmakers to stay out of my uterus.
I fear for my daughters. I fear for women. I fear for those who have a uterus. Don’t get raped. Don’t get abused or assaulted.
The government will not help you.
They just want to control you.
Only the embryo is important? Not the woman? Why doesn’t her decision, healthy, future have any weight?
Why doesn’t she matter?
Why are we punished for having a uterus?
I’ve spent twenty years thinking I’m a bad person because society and the church and Christians and the government told me I am a bad person.
I don’t have to apologize to myself every day.
You don’t have to apologize to anyone for your decisions about your body.
Make amends to yourself now. We do this every day for lesser things.
When azaleas bloom and the world awakes to a new beginning.
One life went to sleep.
Why are these stories untold?