“My body, my choice” is a tired mantra we hear from the pro-abortion community. The argument attending this soundbite is that because the unborn are dependent on their mothers’ bodies for survival, the self-sacrifice of pregnancy and childbirth are not required. Pregnant mothers, they say, should have the right to evict their children under the pretense of “bodily autonomy.”
According to this view, the unborn child is a foreign invader – a parasite – and no woman should be “forced” to have her body serve the needs of another person whom she doesn’t want inside her. Because the other person is dependent on her for survival, he has no say in the matter, and abortion is justified. The argument has more than a few holes, but it’s remained the centerpiece of generation after generation of abortion sophistry.
Two thousand years ago, a famous historical figure made the same statement in the face of self-sacrifice – and for him, it was to the point of death: “This is my body…” But in his case, the statement continued: “…which is given up for you” (Luke 22:19). Jesus did not, when asked to sacrifice himself for others, refuse the stripes that healed and redeemed his children (Isaiah 53:5). Mothers, when they accept the stripes, stretches, and scars of motherhood, can claim solidarity with someone who knows the sacrifice of offering his body for the good of another.
Pregnancy, especially when unplanned, is difficult. When another person takes up residence inside a mother, her whole life becomes undeniably other-centered, and no aspect of her life or her body is left unchanged. Motherhood changes a woman’s identity and her body forever. And here there is another cause for solidarity with the suffering Christ. The self-sacrifice of motherhood – present regardless of whether the child is kept or placed for adoption – has a purpose. All of the best things in life require a struggle, and life itself is possible only because of the struggle of mothers.
The sacrifices of Jesus during the last days of his life encompass and give meaning to the difficulties of motherhood. In his total self-gift to humanity, Christ provided the ultimate paradigm for love – a love that nourishes humanity until the end of time. Understood as participation in this self-gift of Christ, motherhood can be seen as a privilege, not in spite of its difficulties, but because of them. Without the selflessness of mothers – a reflection of the ultimate selflessness of Christ – the framework for love and life on Earth would crumble.
“This is my body.” This is my privilege, as a mother: to give it up for you.