This week, I will travel to Washington, DC, with members of my church to join several hundred thousand other people from around the country at the March for Life. Contrary to what many mainstream media outlets will claim: hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists will participate (NOT just a few hundred or a couple thousand); they will a diverse group, not only a bunch of angry white men (many women, young people, and people of diverse races will be present); and it will not be restricted to a bunch of right-wing evangelical extremists (actually, I wish we had more evangelicals present, but the vast majority of participants will be Roman Catholic).
Why would I go? Why do I care about this issue? Why would I give up one of my vacation days to spend it on a long bus ride, followed by one hour praying outside the Supreme Court, followed by carrying a sign for maybe less than a mile down the street with a throng of other people, even though many politicians are trying to ignore us? Some may think it is a waste of time.
I will not be silent. Some people suggest that abortion is “a women’s issue” and therefore, as a man, I should mind my business. By that logic, the Nazi Holocaust was a “German and Jewish issue,” and the rest of the world should have minded their business. The Nazis also claimed their victims were subhuman, or at least a lower class of human, much as abortionists do. When innocent human life is at stake, silence is cruelty.
There are several reasons why I am passionate about this issue. One of those reasons was an experience I had in 1990. My son, Daniel, had been born two months premature and was less than one week old. His first few days in the neonatal intensive care unit were rough, but after about five days or so, his condition improved dramatically. His mother and I remain convinced to this day that the prayers of many friends and family members, assisted excellent medical treatment, brought miraculous results.
However, not all premature babies are that fortunate. Directly across from Danny’s incubator were two twins (I believe they were about three months premature). While Danny’s mother and I were visiting him, celebrating his remarkable turnaround, their parents arrived. They were not there to celebrate but, as we soon noticed, to say goodbye to one of their children. The father was a fairly tall, strong-looking guy, but as he went to the smaller baby’s bed and held his puny hand, his eyes welled up with tears. On the monitors, most of the baby’s vital signs had been declining. My wife and I could not watch; we left. Although we were no longer living their pain, we had endured a small taste of it when our baby was struggling. When we returned a few hours later to see our son, the bed across from his was empty.
That little boy did not experience the healing mine did, but he obviously had one thing in common with Daniel: both had parents who loved their babies, whose hearts ached to see them suffer, and who would probably do and give anything to see them recuperate and grow up.
Sadly, while we (my wife and I, and this other couple) were praying and hoping for healing, grateful for anything the doctors and nurses could do for our babies, millions do not share this passion. Thousands of babies are chopped to pieces, or chemically burned alive, in the uterus every day. In most states, it would be legal to kill a baby in the sixth, seventh—or even the final month—of pregnancy. The child’s fate is left entirely to the will of his or her parents.
Here were three babies, from two families, who were loved and cherished by their parents. From a purely objective perspective, these children were not worth more than other children, but their parents ascribed great value to their lives. Perhaps their only chance for survival was the fact that their parents loved them.
Are we willing to live in a society that determines whether one lives or dies, solely on the basis of whether another person — even a parent — deems them worthy of life. When the news reports about a child who was killed by his or her own parents (remember Casey Anthony?), Americans are outraged. Why should we be, if parents have the right to choose whether a baby lives or dies?
Legalized abortion continues to bring new complications as it slides along its slippery slope. Several years ago, an article in the Journal of Biomedical Ethics proposed that “postnatal abortion” (killing a newborn) should be “permissible in all cases where abortion is.” Is there any significant moral difference between this and what Casey Anthony did to her baby, or what any other negligent or violent parent has done to a child?
Do any of us have a “right to life” which, according to the Declaration of Independence, is given to us by our Creator? Or, is our right to life in the hands of other people—perhaps people who place selfish personal agendas over the well-being of others?
I could probably write a few thousand more words on this subject, addressing it from biblical, theological, philosophical, constitutional, and other perspectives. However, at this time, I choose to leave it with this personal angle. Babies are loved or rejected; wanted or unwanted; planned or unplanned. But, each of those are a reflection of the parent’s soul, not a quality inherent to the child. I pray for a day when all preborn babies have a legal right to live because they bear the image of God. May we see a culture of life where this can become possible.