Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Response to #ShoutYourAbortion

There is currently a hashtag trending on Twitter known as #ShoutYourAbortion. The hashtag consists of 140-character testimonies from those who have had abortions, praising the decision and the freedom that has resulted.

Here are a few (authors omitted):
so thrilled to see women standing up for themselves, sharing stories, and resisting stigma

I've never wanted to have children, so I had an abortion. I'm thriving, without guilt, without shame, without apologies.

In 1988 a late-term abortion got a teenage me back on track for college, career, & motherhood.

My abortion was in '10 & the career I've built since then fulfills me & makes me better able to care for kids I have now.
Seeing these tweets evoked quite a reaction in me, one that I'd like to share. Although I'm still finding the words for how I feel about this, I'll try to articulate my thoughts as best as I can. 

Let me start by saying that I am pro-life. But I will not spend this post shouting at those who are pro-choice. Let me also say that I am Catholic and that this is a Christian blog. But I will not mention Jesus or Catholicism once for the entirety of this post. 

Now that that's clear, some background to my stance:

If you don't know the story of my birth and how I got my name, I was nearly aborted. The doctors told my parents it was the best option, that if giving birth to me didn't kill my mother first, I'd likely have severe chromosomal defects, maybe Down Syndrome, too. 

Why risk it? She had two healthy children. She had a loving husband and family. How could a defect ever be worth that risk?

Thank God she did risk it.

Thank God I'm here, alive and kicking. Thank God I have a voice. 

Because of my close call, I find it easy to associate myself with all the aborted babies in this nation (57 million). I consider myself one of the ones who almost met that fate.

So, suffice it to say, the #ShoutYourAbortion hashtag makes me feel sick to my stomach. 

Women who have had an abortion: I don't want you to feel shame. I don't want you to crash and burn. I love you. I pray for you. And because of this, I want you to change the way you think about abortion.

Shouting and reveling in your abortion will not convince me. Perhaps it will make you feel better, but it does little to change anything. And I doubt me shouting back at you will do much either. 

So let's talk. Let's have a civilized discussion. But, when we do so, keep in mind that when you say "fetus," when you say "inconvenience," I see myself. 
I could have been the child you aborted. 

But let's make this more concrete. Let's say I was your child. Let's say you faced the option: abort me or not. 

I'll use my mom to model specifically what life would have looked like for both of these options.

Option #1:
You choose abortion. The doctors raise a valid point. You have a family that depends on you. You were looking forward to having another kid (or maybe you weren't), but this choice is the logical one. You make an appointment. You tell yourself that it has to be done. You abort me. And then you go about your daily life. You have a family, a good husband, a pleasant life. You hardly even remember me. Give it a couple years, and you stop wondering what life would have been like with me there.


Option #2:
You choose life. The doctors raise a valid point, but you can't help but think I'm worth it. Even if I come out with defects, you'll take care of me. Even if it puts financial strain on the family, you'll do it. Even if the birth will be risky, even if you may lose your life in the process, you'll risk it.

July 12th rolls around. The doctor thinks you're making a mistake. Your husband loves your unborn child, but has his doubts; what would he do if he lost you? 

It's 2:52pm. I am born. I am perfect, the doctor says with shock. The doctor starts to cry. Your husband starts to cry, you start to cry, and eventually, my newborn sobs are just one of many in the room.

I'm an easy baby. You take me wherever my brother and sister go. I learn to crawl and walk and talk--boy, do I love to talk. I have trouble saying "yellow." I call it "lellow" instead. My sister likes to make fun of me for that. 

I go to school. In 3rd grade, for career day, I say I want to be a mom when I grow up. It makes you happy. In 5th grade, I join a program for talented and gifted students. You're proud of me. In middle school, I come to you with boy troubles. You laugh on the inside, knowing how insignificant my woes are in the grand scheme of things.

In high school, I play lacrosse. You come to my games and cheer me on. When I mess up, you tell me it's no big deal. When I do well, you tell me how proud of me you are.

I start getting into music. I can't sing, so I rap. You think it's silly, but you support me nonetheless. You make me cookies when I'm stressed; I love chocolate chip. 

I graduate high school as Valedictorian. You tear up when you hear my speech. You laugh when I end it with a rap. 

I go to college. You're sad to see me leave, but I call you often. I want to be a doctor. I'm studying neuroscience. I want to help people. I want to do international medicine or maybe join the Navy; who knows. You tell me you'll be proud no matter what I do. I even work on a rap album, and you ask for a CD. You play it in the car while I'm away at college and tell me that the songs I created are stuck in your head. I don't know if you're just saying that or if you actually like them that much. But it doesn't matter. Either way, it reminds me how much you love me.

I'm also loved by my dad. He's always there for me, even if he's there to push my buttons. He knows my personality inside and out, and would do anything to make me happy. My brother and sister, too, make sure I know how loved I am--even if they do so by messing with me. My grandparents love me, too, along with my friends from high school and college. And I love all of these people, too. I try to brighten their days. I try to make them happy, to give them the love they give me.

In these past 19 years, a lot has happened.

But if you had aborted me, none of it would have happened.

You would have gone on living just fine. You very well could have had a normal life, as if I had never existed. You could have made lots of money, had lots of friends, changed lives. 

You would have been just fine. But you would have missed a lot.

That's the problem with abortion: it leads us to believe we have fixed a problem, that we have nothing to worry about. That things can go back to normal now. It blinds us to what could have been.

And it's not just how things could have been for us. That decision affects everyone else: the future classmates, the future siblings, the future husband or wife of that baby. 

My mother could have had a great life if she aborted me. But only because she did not can she now see the even greater life she has because I'm here (or so she tells me).

Thank God she saw that I was worth it--I was worthy of radical and irrational love. Thank God she saw that I was human--that I existed from the moment my cells began to multiply. Thank God she thought about not just who I was at the time--a helpless and dependent baby--but also, who I would grow to become.

I could have been aborted. 

I could have been the child you aborted. 

As such, I ask you--no, I beg you--don't look at me as a burden to be free of. Think of me as a kid who could have done a lot. Think of me as the kid who can't pronounce "yellow." Think of me as the kid who will go on to be a doctor. Think of me as the kid who will have kids of her own, who will have your grandchildren. Think of me as the person I am, and always have been.

Think of the what-if's, the could-have-beens.

It is here that you find peace. It is here that you find dreams and hopes come into fruition. It is here that you shout triumphantly.

Not in the broken shadow of abortion.

Please, my friends, do not make a death march your anthem. Do not make a gunshot your war cry.

Shout love, not whatever this is. You are worth so much more.

I love you, and I'm praying for you.