I see them marching down the street on a certain Sunday afternoon, bearing signs that proclaim the sanctity of life. Their faces are firm with resolution; their dresses and suits stay clean in spite of cars spitting exhaust; they do this once a year for three hours—then they get in their cars, go home and tuck the signs away for next year. And I wonder, Is this the best we can do?
I see myself in them. When I was younger, I participated in pro-life movements at my parents’ request. And even though I don’t do it now, I still believe in the sanctity of life. Just not the politics of it all. I don’t believe in bearing signs like hammers poised, ready to slam down on anyone daring to disagree. I don’t believe in the crassness of magic-marker judgment scribbled across paper of any kind, thrown in people’s faces through tracts or sanctity-signs, daring people to challenge the church, or better yet, God.
“Fight, fight, fight,” they cry, drowning out the sounds of girls being raped against their will. “Rid our national character of this embarrassing blemish.”
Meanwhile, the rape victim walks by, sees the signs, the perfect Sunday clothes and feels guilty for wanting to kill her rape-baby. Keeps it. Gives birth. Now where are they? The people with their signs? When the baby’s cries are outmatched by only its mother’s, where are the Christians who believed in the sanctity of life?
It’s easy enough to carry signs once every 365 days in protest; but what about setting them down and spending every day loving society’s outcasts? What about setting aside the plank in our own eyes to understand the plight of this little girl who has no one to help raise her child? To understand why she’d be tempted to kill the living being inside of her?
“Adoption is an option,” people say. But now that the mother’s seen her little one, she’s attached. Unable to let go. This is why she was going to abort in the first place—to spare the pain of loving someone she couldn’t part from, but couldn’t provide for, either. She can only cry into her cereal bowl, too exhausted to eat, too hungry not to, and wish she'd never been born.
It’s all too easy to cast stones or titles at people who are different from us. It’s all too easy, when we’ve made the ‘right’ choices in life, to condemn those who haven’t. To huff and puff and blow people down from our towers built of homemade morals and home-schooled children.
It’s not so easy to look into the eyes of a woman who’s been raped —or any other pregnant woman who, for her own gut-wrenching personal reasons, cannot bear a child at this moment in her life— and tell her you’ll personally be there to help her care for her child, once he or she has been born.
Or to love her, when she says she’s decided to abort.
That’s why we depend on the government to remove choice altogether—to make abortion illegal—and why we get so disgusted when it doesn’t. After all, if it weren’t for politics, we might be forced to choose love.
Emily Wierenga is an author and artist whose work has appeared previously in Parent:Wise.