Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Politics of Life

A few months ago, I had dinner with two, dear nephews. It was a lovely evening. They were most interested in why I have become so conservative over the years. I explained that it had mostly to do with gradual epiphanies about the realities of personal responsibility, the shedding of naive perceptions about what are individual rights versus privileges, and a deeper, more reverent devotion to this gift we call life.

As recently as ten years ago, the term pro-life conjured an immediate picture for me. Anti-woman, anti-choice, right wing, extreme. You could not convince me otherwise. This is a woman's right, it is her choice, no one, especially the government, has any business interfering in what is a women's health issue. I said all of this and I was passionate in my conviction. I played the part anyway.

Yet, there was a lingering inner voice, urging me to question the Ms. Magazine talking points. How can we know for sure when life begins? Does a fetus feel pain? Can a woman truly feel sustainable relief after an abortion? Or does that fade and eventually turn into an immense sense of regret? Maybe even shame? Why are pro-choice advocates so zealous in their position that they fight any and all restrictions on a "procedure" that has such a chilling impact on our entire society? Regardless of however marginal or infrequently practiced, why do they resist ending barbaric practices such as partial birth abortion? How can they advocate abortion-at-will for underage girls, insisting that it be available without parental consent?

These and other questions sat in the back of my mind. Regardless, I maintained my pro-choice stance. And then everything changed for me the day I gave birth to my first child. Simple as that.

Until you hold your first newborn child you just cannot understand the enormity of the love that you will feel. It was so overwhelming to me that I felt stunned, almost paralyzed. The new sense of responsibility is beyond describable. The child trusts you for every single one of his needs. And you, his parent, are obligated to care for him in every way. How is it that we understand this for a born child but we do not afford the same basic standard of care for the unborn? Suddenly, I realized how arbitrary and ridiculous the born/unborn cutoff really is.

I also came to realize that this gift to create and bear life is not the bondage described in Women's Studies 101. It's an incredible power bestowed upon us and it is not to be taken lightly. I realize that unwanted pregnancy happens and that not all parents are equipped to meet the many demands of a child. Thankfully, adoption is a loving and responsible alternative when this situation occurs. There are so many resources available to women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy. The Church certainly walks the walk where this is concerned. A good example: Gabriel Project.

I pray that I can live up to the responsibility that I have been given with my own children and that someday soon, the killing of untold numbers of children will someday end. I also pray that we elect officials who have the fortitude and determination to protect the weakest, most vulnerable among us.

The issue of life is pivotal and yet I have heard liberal pundits ask why are you people so focused on abortion? Are there not other, critical problems to solve? My answer is simple. Right now, we live in the midst of a holocaust. Thousands, if not millions of unwanted children are killed each year. It is state sanctioned child abuse. With this definition in mind, I cannot think of an issue that surpasses abortion, both in terms of scope and consequence.

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