Recently, I participated in a 24-hour Adoration and Procession for Life at a local parish as part of the 40 Days for Life 2016 Fall Campaign. One of the organizers was a secular Carmelite, and I wanted to show some kind of support.
In one sense, nothing happened. After Adoration and Mass, we walked leisurely to the Planned Parenthood nearby, prayed, and sang to the accompaniment of a single guitar. When we stopped at the corner, holding our “Pray to End Abortion” placards up in the air, people would either honk and beam a smile, or yell at us from their windows as they passed.
At first, I blended in with the crowd, and tried not to be noticed by the passersby, but as young women walked up the other set of stairs into the clinic, I was reminded of my community college students, particularly an eighteen-year old girl on the day of her final exams. She was shaking and couldn’t concentrate. I took her outside the classroom, and there she told me, “Yesterday, my grandma forced me to have an abortion. I didn’t want to do it. She made me do it.” I didn’t know what to say. We just embraced for a very long time.
I remembered another one of my students, her eyes aglow with joy as she showed me photos of her two-year old on her iPhone. Despite the tube from a tracheotomy that protruded from her throat, the little girl was laughing. “There she is,” my student said with pride. “She’s the reason I’m in this classroom!”
And then I remembered my own story. In the third month of my fourth pregnancy, I went for the usual round of ultrasounds and check-ups, but there was nothing usual about the results. The doctors had identified a growth in my son’s brain. Within one week of the ultrasound results, I was scheduled for a visit with a genetic counselor who explained to me that the baby I was carrying in my womb would be severely mentally handicapped, and that in all likelihood, he would not survive beyond the age of three. She told me that one of my options was abortion and that she could schedule an appointment the following week. My husband and I looked at each other and refused. We would keep the baby no matter what.
In the two months between my appointments, I would often place my hands on my belly and stare numbly into space. I asked for prayers from anyone who would listen, and rather than trying to imagine the unimaginable, I tried to stay resolute in our decision to keep the baby.
During the next ultrasound appointment, the doctors surprised us when they said that the brain growth had disappeared. The initial result was probably a misreading, they explained. A few months later, my fourth miracle child, a beautiful, healthy boy was born.
My son is now fourteen years old, and has a very sharp, witty mind. I don’t know what life would be like without him. In fact, I have had moments of desolation when holding his hand has felt like my only life raft.
People say that abortion is a freedom and a choice, but my experience is that its availability gives a false choice, a false freedom. I wonder how many women have been offered the kind of choice that I was offered by a professional health practitioner, said yes, and unwittingly aborted a perfectly healthy baby. I wonder what young girls would say, if they even had a glimpse of understanding of the exponential joy children give to those around them. I wonder what they would do if they had the knowledge that with each newborn, God gives special graces to raise that child. Every time each of my children were born, my husband and I thought that for sure, we would not be able to afford it, and that we would collapse in financial ruin, but we were wrong. With each child, the blessings multiplied, as we faced each challenge with our wounded faithfulness and love. I wonder if the young girl I embraced on the last day of school has found freedom from the choice she was forced to make.
With all these memories in mind, as those of us in the Procession for Life started praying the first decade of the rosary, I asked an older woman for her placard, stood boldly at the corner of the intersection, and held up my “Pray to End Abortion” sign, hoping that someone, at least someone, would have second thoughts.
by teresa linda
Lauryn Hill can say the rest….
One day you’ll understand
Unsure of what the balance held
I touched my belly overwhelmed
By what I had been chosen to perform
But then an angel came one day
Told me to kneel down and pray
For unto me a man child would be born
Woe this crazy circumstance
I knew his life deserved a chance
But everybody told me to be smart
Look at your career they said,
“Lauryn, baby, use your head.”
But instead I chose to use my heart
Now the joy of my world is in Zion
Now the joy of my world is in Zion
How beautiful if nothing more
Than to wait at Zion’s door
I’ve never been in love like this before
Now let me pray to keep you from
The perils that will surely come
See life for you my prince has just begun
And I thank you for choosing me
To come through unto life to be
A beautiful reflection of his grace
See I know that a gift so great
Is only one God could create
And I’m reminded every time I see your face
That the joy of my world is in Zion