Guest Column

My daughter, miscarried at 14 weeks, taught me that every human being has value and purpose

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this guest post are solely those of the guest author. 

King Leonidas was in his sixties when he led his 300 Spartans into battle at the Gates of Thermopolye. Susan Boyle was 48 when she began her singing career. Audie Murphy was 19 when he held off an entire company of German soldiers by himself, earning a Medal of Honor. Tiger Woods was two when he began playing golf.

Age is a funny thing. Every stage of our lives is unique, offering fresh and often startlingly different perspectives. And yet, it is still us. We can remember thoughts we had as toddlers, plans we made as teens, ideas that made us so thoroughly ourselves from as far back as we can remember – and if we have parents who were writing down stories, even earlier than that.

Bargaining with God

I was 30 the first time I ever felt old. I had to dig a grave for my miscarried daughter, Avery, who was 14 weeks, 3 days old in the womb when she passed away from unknown causes. They usually can’t tell you why, and you’re left wondering if you did something wrong, if you shouldn’t have taken your wife to that restaurant, or if you should have insisted she rest more, or if there was some way you could have pitched in more — but there is no answer, because it’s just something that happens in around 10% of pregnancies.

So there I was, digging in hard, near-frozen dirt with a post-hole digger, and suddenly it was like the weight of every year I’d lived was on my shoulders. Watching my wife grieve was difficult. It had to have been even harder for her, having carried our daughter for that all-too-short a period of time. The sobs of a mother who’s lost a child are difficult to describe, and there aren’t any words to make it better – just arms to hold, shoulders to cry on. 

We had two other kids at the time, and they’re best friends. They bring so much joy to our lives, and it especially warms our hearts to see how they have taken to each other as partners in crime, companions, and teammates. Avery was supposed to be the third part of the gang, but it wasn’t to be, I guess.

I remember after I’d come out of denial, that I tried to bargain with God. I’d never been in real denial before – “No, that midwife with 15 years of experience doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I saw her move in the ultrasound. The baby’s fine.” And subsequently, I don’t know that I’d ever really hit the “bargaining stage” either. But when I did, I earnestly told God that I’d give up all of my dreams, all of my aspirations creatively and in my career and financially if I could have my daughter live. I meant it.

That wasn’t a deal that God was going to take, as it turns out, and we walked through the grief together.

She looked like me

My wife passed our baby naturally, and so we were able to see her body in the funeral home before taking her home to be buried. She was 14 weeks, 3 days — just shy of the 15-week marker of the “abortion bans” that have so many people up in arms. So I mention her age here, because when I held my daughter, I could see that she looked like me.

She had the slightly upturned nose from her mother’s side, that all of our kids have in their ultrasounds – and absent from others I’ve seen of friends’ children. And she had long legs, shaped so much like mine that my wife gasped and pointed out the similarity immediately.

Going back generations on my side of the family, we cross our legs, even as young kids and babies. As the story goes, I famously crossed my legs in the car seat on the ride home from the hospital (and my two oldest children did as well). My grandfather did it, my father did it, I did it — and when Avery died, and her position was frozen in place, it was apparent that she crossed her legs, too.

I had been a passionate supporter of the right to life for a long time before, but this experience made it deeply personal. Even since Roe was overturned, children my daughter’s age are still able to be legally aborted in many states throughout the union.

I’m willing to bet that they look like their mothers and fathers, too.

Birth doesn’t make us human

There is nothing magical about the moment of birth that bestows personhood and rights on a child. They have human rights from the moment they are human. They’re as much a clump of cells as I am, as you are. A fetus has its own distinct genetic code, blood type, and body. It’s not “my body” to a pregnant woman, and we all know it. It is a human child, that left unhindered will grow, mature, and develop into a unique and irreplaceable individual. “Fetus” is not another species, just a stage of human development, like “newborn,” “toddler,” “teenager,” “middle-aged,” or “elderly.”

Pro-abortion apologists will often say nonsense such as, “You pro-lifers don’t really care about babies. If you did, you’d want *list of entitlement programs and controversial political goals*. Until that happens, it’d be irresponsible to end abortions!”

This flawed argument casts the pro-abortion advocate as the compassionate one, against the ones pleading for the innocent blood of children to be spared. Why can’t we flip the narrative? Someone who claims to care about education, healthcare, social security, etc. cannot possibly be interested in human rights or human flourishing if they don’t even want to protect the children being aborted for long enough for them to see their education, healthcare, and the rest of it.

There is a lot of misinformation out there. A lot of guilt and shame disguised as vehemence. But the point is this: that we as a society made a terrible mistake, and it is our responsibility to set it right, whatever the cost.

A people that decouples personhood from a particular group of human beings is on the path to disintegration, war, destitution, and collapse. Just ask WWII Germany or the USSR. I could go through the rest of the arguments here, but they aren’t difficult.

And increasingly as I debate online, and the old slogans slough off, I hear pro-abortion advocates resorting to things like, “It doesn’t matter if it’s murder,” and “So what if it’s a human being and alive?” Or my personal favorite, from a now-infamous Twitter thread: “People don’t grieve miscarriages.”

Well, I grieved mine.

Everyone is valuable and has a purpose

But we don’t have to live in a culture that becomes so hardened and so callous. We can have grace for one another without resorting to moral equivalence. Pro-abortion rhetoric is immoral – but the people doing the rhetoric are intrinsically valuable, bearing the divine image like all people.

So let our compassion, forgiveness, and abundance absorb the lies, the hurts, and the dark advocacy like an iron welder who patiently absorbs the blows of his three-year-old daughter before calmly sitting her on his lap and explaining that we don’t act that way. We don’t have to shout at one another, but we do have to be firm.

No, you shouldn’t abort your child, even when you are in a difficult circumstance. Yes, that does put the rest of society on the hook. The growing abundance of free crisis pregnancy health clinics is an encouraging sign that this need can be met. Each of these women have a wonderful purpose – even and especially in their seasons of creating new life.

Each “unwanted” or “difficult” unborn child has a purpose too.

We are all human. We all have value and dignity. So enough with the “abortion is a losing issue” nonsense. Let’s have the resolve to talk about it, find common ground, be strategic, and chip away towards creating a culture of life, step by achievable step. The Dobbs decision overturning Roe was a huge win – but the fight isn’t over, and we can’t let up yet.

You see, my daughter Avery did not live to see her birthday, but even she had a purpose.

She helped her dad let go of the anxiety driving a lot of his ambitions. She helped him see the things that matter most. She helped me harden my resolve to do whatever I can to help others who have a choice, like we did not.

We couldn’t save Avery. But when it comes to the thousands of women in crisis pregnancies, their friends, family, and community, can.

The DOJ put a pro-life grandmother in jail for protesting the killing of preborn children. Please take 30-seconds to TELL CONGRESS: STOP THE DOJ FROM TARGETING PRO-LIFE AMERICANS.

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