“America you are beautiful… and blessed… the ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life.” Pope John Paul II
As Pope John Paul wisely noted, we as a country and as individuals are tested not only by how we treat people who can stand up for themselves and defend themselves in voice and deed, but especially by how we treat those among us who cannot. A child in the womb is perhaps the most defenseless among us.
All children are cherished beings in more ways than one. I think that everyone, pro-life and pro-abortion, can agree on this, but there is a separation of opinion about when a child becomes a child to be cherished. Those who advocate for a woman’s right to have an abortion contend that there is a difference between when a fetus is alive and when it achieves, what they call “personhood”. They advocate that abortion is justifiable up until the point that the fetus achieves “personhood”; and they define that in several different ways. One is when the fetus’ face looks fully human, or when the fetus is able to survive on its own outside of the womb with current technology. Another is at about 26 weeks of gestation when science has determined that the fetus attains consciousness. How can this be acceptable?
Is a newborn, or even an adult, conscious when an outside influence, say a car accident, has caused them to be knocked out or (for lack of any other word) unconscious? No, by definition unconscious means that the person lacks consciousness. But they are still alive. Under “personhood” logic it would be justifiable to end the life of a newborn knocked unconscious after a car accident. After all, they aren’t conscious of their existence right?
I, and most pro-lifers, contend that from the time of conception the child is existent and has life, and that life should be preserved and protected. To me, life and personhood begin at the same time, conception. There is no discernible way to conclude otherwise. It has been said, and I couldn’t agree more, that “A human fetus is a life with potential, not a potential life”. Someone who is pro-abortion is then summarily saying that because of circumstances, that may be less than ideal, they can justify ending the life of that child through the process of abortion.
Ronald Reagan put it like this: “Simple morality dictates that unless and until someone can prove the unborn human is not alive, we must give it the benefit of the doubt, and assume that it is (alive). And, thus, it should be entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” If we as a society or an individual have no justifiable reason for taking away these three fundamental, inalienable, rights from a young child fresh out of the mother’s womb, why would these same rights be cast out when it comes to the unborn, and at any stage, child?
Some babies are aborted, the parents say, because to have the child would be too much of a burden on their life; too much of a drastic change in lifestyle that the would-be parent is not ready to undergo. Take babies with Down syndrome for example. They require special care and attention for the rest of their life in most cases. It is estimated that in the United States, somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted, rather than permitted to be born. Governor Sarah Palin gives an account of what it is like to be the mother of a Down syndrome child, to be made aware of it early in the pregnancy, and then to make the decision to choose life even in that situation. At a benefit dinner for Heroic Media she recounted the story once again, saying that making that decision has proved to be one of the biggest blessings in her life. Down syndrome children are often more loving and affectionate than other children and there is much that we can learn from them; much more, the Governor contended, than they could ever learn from us.
We usually gain much-needed perspective on life when we interact with special needs children. I have participated in a therapeutic riding program which gives special needs children the opportunity to ride horses. I know that they get a thrill out of it, but I can’t imagine that they get more out of it than I do, it almost seems unfair; the amount of personal blessing I receive. I don’t know what it is like to be a mother of a special needs child or any child for that matter, but I can imagine that it brings more personal blessing, giving life to that child and nurturing it and caring for it, than helping the child ride a horse.
So in conclusion, if you happen to be reading this and are a mother to be, maybe in less than ideal circumstances, there are options other than ending the life of the child early on in the pregnancy. Options that could prove to be a blessing to you that maybe you cannot see right now in your current situation. If you have been made aware that your child will require special needs, or if you do not have a father figure for the child, you are not alone in this endeavor. There are people that can help you in many different ways, through counseling as well as financial help. You just need to search them out, and this site is a good place to get information like that.
Also take in to account stories like Governor Palin’s, and there are millions of stories like that, where a seemingly insurmountable task lay ahead, but these challenges turn out to build character in the mother like she never could have imagined, and the child turns out to be the biggest gift and blessing to everyone involved, but especially to his or her mother. With Mother’s Day just behind us, consider choosing life. Consider giving the gift of life to the child inside you, and in turn you will be given a tremendous gift as well, the gift of being a mom.
Hank Piasecki is a pro-life advocate, and operator of the blog uccoalition.blogspot.com.