Pro-lifers: We Must Do Better
by Jay Fadden
I want to paint a picture for you. Your life is hectic and there are many distractions. Bills need to be paid, work is difficult, and the car needs to be fixed. In the midst of this chaos, your teenage daughter tearfully tells you she is pregnant. Everything else fades away and panic sets in immediately. You begin to wonder what you did wrong, about the future—what will people think? The baby is an afterthought, and you scramble to fix the “problem.” Well, as the famous saying goes, the horse is out of the barn.
Thankfully, I have never had to face this situation, but millions of people have. Some react calmly and with love, while others are angry and disappointed. All those emotions are understandable. It is life changing. But what happens next? How do we, as a community, respond?
Sadly, the young teenager or young woman is often treated as an outcast and branded with horrible labels. She is made to feel dirty, and the baby is labeled an unfortunate mistake. That is wrong of us. At the moment when the young woman discovers she is pregnant, there are two choices: have the baby or have an abortion. That is it.
For many of these young ladies, they feel isolated and alone, afraid of the consequences of their decisions. They feel trapped by a society that preaches the dignity of all people, yet shuns a person who needs to decide if she will bring life into the world with all the complications, both socially and financially, that the decision will bear.
So the question is not who is the young pregnant teen, but who are we? She has conceived a child and the baby is growing. She can’t go back.
To call ourselves pro-life means many things. At its core is understanding the sacredness of life from the moment of conception to natural death and defending all life, especially the most vulnerable. We cannot have it both ways by ostracizing a person who decides to bring life into the world. We need to rally around the pregnant woman as a community and champion her decision to have the child, a gift from God. She should not be chastised or ridiculed, but supported.
I am always amazed, frustrated, and a bit disheartened when I hear pro-life people criticizing a single mother for having a child out of wedlock. It is true that marriage is the preferred and sacramentally right context in which to have a child, but we cannot rewind the clock. The young lady is pregnant, and all that should matter at that point is her and the baby. We need to refocus our attention to the life growing in the womb and the courage of the young woman to bring that life into the world in a society that will belittle her for her actions. I have great respect for single moms for making a difficult decision.
It is often said that abortion is the easy choice, but it is not. It may seem like an easy out, but the ramifications reverberate forever, not only for the woman making that decision, but also for us as a society. It is a decision that the young woman will carry with her for the rest of her life. When she sees a baby or a child, she will think of what might have been. She will consider the potential lost and the relationship abandoned. There is a bond between a mother and child that is strong and emotionally deep. In some instances—not all—the father goes on with life, thinking he dodged a bullet, while the woman suffers. I cannot imagine the pain and stress that a woman who has had an abortion must feel. It is a pain that must be suffocating. I am 100% pro-life, but that does not mean that I cannot feel for those women who have taken that step or imagine the pain and anguish that must have caused. As a loving society, we should comfort these wounded women and understand that they are suffering and hurting. Through our love, we may be able to demonstrate the error in their thinking so that they do not make the same tragic decision ever again. They should not be rejected, but loved.
As I write this, I am sure there is a young woman who is petrified. She is alone in her room and shaking. She does not know where to turn or whom to confide in. Her world is crashing down on her. She has just found out she is pregnant and feels abandoned. She does not want to tell her parents, and some of her friends are recommending that she abort the baby. It is complicated and devastating. Her head is spinning and she does not know what to do.
We need to change our message. We need to be an alternative support to these young ladies so that they do not feel shame, but feel emboldened to bring the baby into the world. We need to care more about the baby and the new mother than appearances or societal norms. The mom and baby need to be our top priority, along with her parents, so that they know they are loved. It does not mean we agree with the initial decisions that led to the baby being conceived, but it does mean that we will not turn our backs. The dignity of the mother and the baby are no less important because of the circumstances of her pregnancy. Our response to the situation says more about us than about her.
I am now going to paint another picture for you. Five years and nine months after that teary-eyed teenager fearfully announced she was pregnant, a beautiful five-year-old child is running around the house. The mother decided to have the baby, and the child is the greatest gift the mother has ever received and the apple of the grandparents’ eye. The child is quick with a smile, full of energy, and a bundle of joy. He or she loves to give hugs and has a laugh that makes everyone smile. That child is special, and the world would have been less if the child were not born. The child may grow to be a teacher, doctor, firefighter, laborer, or a great parent. The potential is limitless, and it is available because a young mother said yes to life.
So who are you going to be? Are you going to be a person who supports the pregnant mother with love and comfort, or the person who makes the alternative of abortion much more attractive? Stand up and be part of the solution: life. Love one another and respect the dignity of all life.