On the surface, it may seem the pain, grief, and suffering a miscarriage causes the child’s parents could blind their ability to serve at abortion clinics or within the pro-life movement in charity and truth. Some have a pronounced emotional reaction to losing a child in miscarriage. Grieving individuals can lash out at others and envy what they do not possess—namely, a child or more children.
It seems logical for a person grieving a miscarriage to turn in hate towards those who choose to abort their unborn children. These individuals of their own free will intentionally kill their unborn babies, and those grieving a miscarriage want a child. While the danger of envy and hatred exists, reality is much more interesting.
To Parents, Children Are People from Conception
From the moment a pregnancy test reveals a positive sign, the mother and father begin to plan and dream about their new child, a specific person. Men and women experience parenthood in different ways, but come together to discuss names, purchase baby items, contemplate how to rearrange the house if necessary, and plan for the future. They start to see their family with the unique person growing in the mother’s womb.
There is great joy in discovering that a new person has entered the world. Pope John Paul II’s letter to women, “Mulieris Dignitatem,” discusses the deep bond formed at conception:
The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life, and ‘understands’ with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the ‘beginning,’ the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings – not only towards her own child, but every human being – which profoundly marks the woman’s personality.
From the beginning, a woman unites to her child in the very depths of her being and understanding. It is possible to suppress this understanding, which occurs in abortion. Those who endure the loss of a child in miscarriage, however, often profoundly experience this understanding. There is no question in their minds that a child, their child, is lost. This is precisely why the grief is so profound, even if it is done largely behind closed doors.
We Feel Compassion, Not Anger
It is easy to wonder whether such emotions will blind people when serving women and men at abortion clinics or within the pro-life movement as a whole. It seems natural for a father or mother who have lost a child in miscarriage to become angry at women who freely walk into abortion clinics to kill their own children. While it may surprise some, the opposite occurs. I can attest to this fact, as can the numerous families I know who continue serving knowing their miscarriages juxtapose abortion.
Miscarriage awakens a deep compassion in men and women towards those individuals walking into abortion clinics. While our losses occur against our will, we understand at the deepest level what it is to lose an unborn child. We also understand, as John Paul II explains, that motherhood and fatherhood begin at conception. We know that a child is being killed by his or her parents in an abortion, just as we know a child is lost in our miscarriages. Even though one child died through a free act of killing and the other through some design against the parents’ will, the common denominators are the death of a child and the loss of parenthood.
Since we know this loss so well, we desire to help women and men who consider an abortion avoid the pain of loss at their own hands. They may not accept that they kill their own child through an abortion. They may not even acknowledge their motherhood or fatherhood, but truth does not change because an individual believes something apart from reality.
We know these men and women deny themselves a great gift: An opportunity to love and be loved by another person. They walk away from the intense joy and love of parenthood. Most of all, they inflict harm on themselves and on the child they were meant to protect. It is not only a child who dies in an abortion—a part of the mother and father dies with that child.
We Actually Have a Lot in Common
A mother or father choosing abortion will live with the death of a child at their own hands for the rest of their lives. Years later, they will ask themselves: Who was the child? Who would they have become? How would my life have changed for the better in loving and raising them? These thoughts may be fleeting and not even cause guilt, but they are the natural thoughts of a mother and a father. The exact same questions will be raised when families grieve miscarriage.
The major difference between the two is the intentional choice to kill one’s own child versus the death of a child due to nature. Even though there is great difference between the two, the unifying factor of the loss of a child and the loss of parenthood binds these two groups together in a way others cannot fully fathom. This experience of loss also makes pro-life people who have lost a child in miscarriage understand how burdensome the guilt from an abortion must be to carry.
It is this knowledge and understanding that propels grieving men and women within the pro-life movement to serve as witnesses at abortion clinics. It is not anger, envy, condemnation, or judgment; rather, it is empathy from people who know great loss.
Compassion cannot be born of condemnation. Morally, abortion is destructive and gravely evil, but on a practical level, these men and women need help in a time of great fear, confusion, and pain. Miscarriage also causes great fear, confusion, and pain, which is why people like myself can have a deep understanding of the abortion problem and its impact on our fellow human beings.
When I was put out cruciform on the operating table for an emergency dilation and curettage after I hemorrhaged with my third miscarriage, my first thought was of women getting abortions. There must be great fear, confusion, and pain involved, because all of these emotions present in miscarriage. These feelings amplify in an abortion to nearly unbearable levels.
We Wouldn’t Help If We Hated
No one could properly serve in pro-life ministry and community programs if hate motivates them. Screaming at women entering abortion clinics accomplishes nothing, not even assuaging one’s own grief. Hate-filled individuals could not provide a compassionate ear for someone contemplating an abortion or work to find supplies for impoverished women in crisis pregnancies. Hatred enslaves people and makes them selfish and impotent. It keeps individuals from moving outside of themselves in the service of others. No one blinded by hatred is going to reach out in charity to help women seeking abortions.
Yes, men and women grieving miscarriages want a child, but we want our own child, not someone else’s. True, in a heartbeat most of us would adopt a child in danger of abortion, but we have no claim to other people’s children other than our duty to protect the unborn. We know this. We also know envy is destructive. Envy destroys the envious and no one else. Men and women blinded by envy, as with hatred, become incapable of helping others in genuine charity.
Suffering is an opportunity. It is a chance to transform pain into good. Those of us enduring the loss of a child or children in miscarriage have an opportunity to reveal real motherhood and fatherhood to those struggling with a past abortion or who are contemplating abortion. We can share in the pain of loss while revealing the joy of every new human person, as well as the power of healing.
It may seem illogical to some or unbelievable to others, but men and women who lose a child in miscarriage are a huge asset to the pro-life cause. While we suffer greatly through our losses, we choose to turn that hurt into good by serving as witnesses in front of abortion clinics, at crisis pregnancy centers, as writers, speakers, in ministry, or through community programs. Yes, men and women who have experienced miscarriages can, and will, serve in charity and truth within the pro-life movement to help defend the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death.