Tomorrow marks the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the 41st annual March for Life in Washington D.C. I want to take this time to reflect on at least one of the factors that drives mothers, fathers, families, and even governments to the conclusion that abortion is the best solution to a problem that could be best, (but not easily), solved with compassion and a collective sense of responsibility.
Twelve years ago I had a friend who was like a sister to me. We supported each other through bad times and shared the good times. It was, in all regards, a “best” friendship. It came to an end, however in the wake of an unexpected crisis pregnancy. She called me one evening to say she had something to tell me and that she was telling me because she knew I would support her no “matter what.” She had become pregnant by the guy she was seeing and had decided to have an abortion. She was unemployed at the time and battling the relapse of a drug addiction she thought she had kicked for good. I could hear the disappointment in her voice when I said that was a decision I could not stand behind. I tried in vain to persuade her to have the child and put the boy or girl up for adoption. I went to a local Right to Life office and got materials to illustrate to her the risks to her own physical and psychological health. At one point she asked me point blank “Are you willing to adopt it?” I stopped short. The ridiculousness of the question astounded me. “Of course I can’t!” I snapped back. “I can barely take care of myself!” I was working part-time as a waiter and made about $50 a day. I was asking my parents for money for rent every month. How could I be the one to take this child?
I don’t remember much of the conversation after that. She went on about how if I were incapable of helping in any material way, then how could I expect her to provide? My argument was that there was someone else out there with the means to support her child. There were options. All she had to do was carry the child to term. Yeah. That’s all. The bottom line is that the one person who was speaking up for this child was only willing to go so far. My advocacy for his or her life went only as far as what I perceived to be my responsibility. I was willing to beg her not to end her baby’s life but I was not willing to do the one thing she asked me to do that may have actually stopped her. I declined the opportunity to rescue a child bound for abortion.
The story has an all-too-typical ending. She went through with the procedure and we quickly drifted apart. Our mutual disappointment in each other became a constant presence. Eventually all communication stopped. Over the past twelve years I recall those few days that led to the end of our friendship; the arguments over the right to life, the right to choose, whose life, whose choices mattered most. For me the arguments were theoretical. For her, they were real. Was I not symptomatic of our society’s apathy toward those in need? Was I not typical of the congressman who votes pro-life but anti-healthcare? We talk a lot about the sanctity of life. How about putting our money where our mouth is and show that we stand with the unborn and not just for them. There are many who support the war on terrorism, but less than one percent of our country have signed up to actually fight it. Let’s do more than that for those who cannot yet speak for themselves. Let’s stop paying lip service to life and actually do something! Are we who can afford it willing to pay higher insurance premiums so that expectant mothers who can’t afford high premiums can get free prenatal and pediatric care? Are we who don’t have children willing to pay higher taxes so that new mothers and fathers can take extended maternity and paternity leave with full pay and a guaranteed job upon return?
Pope Francis said “It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life… On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty,” (Evangelii Gaudium) Let us pray that we have the wisdom and fortitude to take the Holy Father’s words to heart and to action.
Have a blessed week!