Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Friday, April 27, 2018

cram_halfThe view from the dining room table was spectacular, overlooking a mountain covered in mist. I was visiting an old family friend, and the discussion had turned to abortion.

 

Our families had been friends for decades, and while my friend had grown accustomed to our parents’ traditional views, she assumed that the next generation was more enlightened.

"I had a long talk with your sister recently," my friend Belinda began. "I was shocked to hear that she opposes a woman’s right to an abortion. For heaven’s sake, she’s an engineer! She’s educated and intelligent, and she has teenage daughters! How can any educated woman stand against such a basic right?"

My friend looked intently at me. "What about you? Surely you support abortion, don’t you?"

"May God’s Word be on my lips and in my heart," I silently prayed.

"An unexpected pregnancy can be devastating," I began tentatively. "I’ve worked with teens and young adults for most of my life, and I’ve seen the fear and pain caused by an unplanned pregnancy. Many of these women don’t want an abortion, but they can’t imagine enduring a pregnancy alone. It’s overwhelming."

Belinda relaxed her posture as she anticipated my endorsement of abortion rights.

"The thing is," I continued, "I can’t get beyond what I’ve seen on the ultrasound screen, and what I know of science. Think about the end of life. How do we determine if a person is still alive? We look at the presence of a heartbeat and brain waves. As a minimum, shouldn’t we use these same indicators as at the beginning of life? By the time a woman knows she is pregnant, typically the baby’s heart is beating and there are brain waves. In scientific terms, that means there is life."

I paused to collect my thoughts.

"You may recall that I lost a twin during my pregnancy with Tierney, and the prognosis for continuing the pregnancy was grim. But the day came when the unborn baby received a clean bill of health. I’ll remember that ultrasound for as long as I live: a 16-week fetus panning for the camera and sucking her thumb. Sucking her thumb! She wasn’t a cluster of cells or a Product of Conception (POC). She was a real person who could feel pain. She recognized her daddy’s voice. She had dreams. That child was alive, and once that tiny life has begun, I have no right to end it.

"Believe me, Belinda, I am not callous to the pain of women in need. It’s terribly important for us to help them find solutions. I just don’t think abortion is a solution."

Belinda disagreed, although she appreciated that my words were neither rote nor lacking in compassion. She criticized pro-life people who seem to value life only during pregnancy, but who abandon woman and child once the baby is born.

"Those of us who are pro-life do an inadequate job," I readily admitted. "If we truly lived what we believe, there would be a waiting line to adopt handicapped children. We’d provide better care for needy mothers and families."

I paused. "Still, there are countless programs that provide fantastic support. My point is that our inadequacies do not justify taking innocent lives."

"What about the violence against abortion providers?" my friend charged.

"Violence is indefensible. Period," I stated emphatically. "Every reputable pro-life organization in the country has condemned violence. I look at it this way: Recently, an abortion rights supporter became violent, killing a pro-life activist. You don’t condone this action, nor would any pro-choice organization. Rather, it was an isolated action of an isolated individual. We all hope such violence ends."

My friend and I sat looking at each other. I did not expect to change her view. My goal was to put a different face on pro-life people – a face of scientific fact and compassion.

It is my dearest hope that one day, all abortion shall cease. Until that day, every month is Respect Life Month.

For nonjudgmental post-abortion help, contact Rachel’s Vineyard at www.rachelsvineyard.org

Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.