Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A failure to love

Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, which means it is the 40th anniversary of the day that our Supreme Court decided that unborn Americans can be deprived of their lives at the whim of their mothers.

I've spent a lot of time over these past years of blogging writing about abortion, and about the nearly 55 million American children who have been brutally killed in their mothers' wombs since that terrible day.  We tend to think of them as babies, but there are 55 million Americans aged 40 and younger who are dead and missing from our world.  Some of them might have been doctors, poets, scientists, teachers.  A lot of them would have been ordinary moms and dads, college students, high school students.  Quite a lot of them would have been the same ages as the Sandy Hook victims or the victims of the Aurora shooter.  We, as a nation, decided they didn't count, they didn't matter; their killings raised little outrage except among the pro-life movement, and the same talking-heads who rush to shed tears on national TV over every other sort of tragedy shrug callously over the million deaths of unborn children each year, or write smug congratulatory little editorials celebrating the right of women to choose to participate in the vicious and violent shredding of their sons and daughters in utero.

The funny thing is, those smug members of the editorial glitterati are rarely post-abortive women.  Those women have voices, and more and more of them are starting to speak up about how powerless they felt, how hurt and angry, how empty and alone, as they lay on a table with their feet in stirrups and waited for the abortionist to begin his bloody and deadly work.  Many of them wanted to flee in horror; many of them shed tears immediately that have not stopped and may never stop this side of Heaven.  They, so many of them, didn't and don't believe that abortion was a simple choice; they, so many of them, felt forced to chose death for their unborn children.


The answer is at the same time simple, and one of the most complex problems human beings have faced since the Fall: they were forced or manipulated or tricked into abortion because of other people's failure to love.

Sure, some of the failure is their own, and most post-abortive women don't absolve themselves lightly from that failure.  If, some of them say, I had only loved my child enough to stop being afraid.  Fear of an unplanned pregnancy or its consequences drives more women to abortion than we can imagine.

But that deadly fear comes from somewhere, and some of you may not like what I have to say here: it comes from us.

It comes from us, when we fail to raise sons who value chastity and who are men enough to take responsibility if they fail to live that chastity in virtue.

It comes from us, when we don't speak out enough about men who abandon their families and their children--born or unborn.

It comes from us, when we don't give our daughters the same instruction in the virtue of chastity, when we don't support them in living what is now a counter-cultural life of virginity, or when we make them think that any failure of chastity that results in pregnancy on their part will kill our love for them or make us disown them or deny them.

It comes from us, when we think it's more important for an unwed Catholic schoolteacher to lose her job and health insurance, and deal with the "shame" of being pregnant out of wedlock, than to let her continue in the only loving and supportive work and faith community that could possibly help her make different choices in the future (because shunning people is a great way to show how Christ-like we are, right?).

It comes from us when we can look at this picture and shrug, because that man about to be hanged is a criminal, and he's not one of us, so what does it matter if he must die?

It comes from us, when we think that unmanned drones taking out innocent children is a good way to prosecute wars and assert our supremacy in the world.

It comes from us, when we condone racism or other serious injustices.

It comes from us, when we support torture or pornography or IVF or anything else that reduces the human person to an object, a commodity, or a means to an end.

It comes from us--because all of those things are at their heart a failure to love as Jesus taught us: to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strengths, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves--not a mere platitude, but a truly radical way of viewing each other, of viewing each Other as another Self, and demonstrating the same care, solicitousness, and concern for them as we do for our own persons and the ones we love best in this world.

If we wish to end abortion in America, we have to love.  We have to love everyone involved: the child who deserves her human dignity and her right to live; her mother, who may be anguished or frightened or abused or even callously cold and indifferent; her father, who may be a cad and a spoiled brat or who may dearly love his child and plead for her life; her parents who may be urging her to take care of this embarrassing problem or who might welcome her and their grandchild with open arms and gracious hearts; his parents, who might do likewise--and all the other people in their lives, like teachers or employers or friends or extended family all of whom, even if they don't know it, will be forever impacted by this child as we all will be by every human soul, whether she is permitted to be born and live or condemned unjustly to die.

We are all members of one human family.  Every person who lives or who has ever lived is our brother or our sister.  And that we have been so poor in our love that fifty-five million of our nearest relations have had their lives extinguished like so many bright flames, plunging us all into darkness, is a tragedy indeed.


L. said...

Actually....many of "those smug members of the editorial glitterati" are post-abortive women.
I know you hate abortion and I know why, and I won't argue the point -- I just want to say that many post-abortive women have no regrets, and are very vocal about it.

Red Cardigan said...

Yes, L., because they do not love. They cannot love what they destroyed, and cannot realize that they destroyed themselves as well.

But they will know it at the hour of judgment.

Anonymous said...

well said, just one quibble: mom's ability to deprive has always been (see my comment under Taylor Swift's 'historical censure' post,
our capacity for complaisance with that ability to deprive was the novelty (the for-some perplexing syntactical "Can I?"/ "May I?" conundrum, as in
Q: Can I eat a cookie?
A: Yes, you have a mouth with teeth in it don't you? But NO you may not eat a cookie before supper

"Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, which means it is the 40th anniversary of the day that our Supreme Court decided that unborn Americans may be deprived of their lives at the whim of their mothers."

Within the trimester framework argued by Prof Mary Ann Glendon, women's surrendering to their 'can' will always be a mystery of grace, only when the presence of the developing fetus "shows" is there legal room for us to manouever over our capacity for complaisance (we may not stand by if you do harm to the new life we cannot not know is within you)

Rebecca in ID said...

Thank you for this. I shared it with several people who were also very moved. This is the essence of all things and a good personal reminder to do all I can to love those with whom I find myself.