Since I found out I was pregnant, stories about violence to children have made me feel quite literally sick. This deeper horror in the pit of my stomach exacerbated the morning sickness. From the statistics on DIY abortions to a toddler being batted around by 900-pound gorilla to a murdered pregnant mother and her three-year-old son shot in the face and in critical condition—until very recently, I’ve found it too physically and emotionally taxing to write on such violence.
For instance, take Glamour magazine’s “continuing coverage of Abortion in America: The Tipping Point,” a new section on its website. So far, all its materials are from a pro-abortion perspective, as if there were some consensus that violence to the unborn is reasonable.
Take this paragraph, for instance. It’s an excerpt Glamour published from Lindy West’s new book: “I don’t give a damn why anyone has an abortion. I believe unconditionally in the right of people with uteruses to decide what grows inside their body and feeds on their blood and reroutes their future. There are no ‘good’ abortions and ‘bad’ abortions, there are only pregnant people who want them and pregnant people who don’t, pregnant people who have access and support and pregnant people who face institutional roadblocks…”
Such callous regard for unborn babies should be enough to make any parent weep. But more than that, views like this have made me angry. Angry that some people don’t understand my baby is a human being, a person. My attitude toward this subject has gone from “Well, of course it’s a baby” as a childless woman to, now that I’m halfway through my pregnancy, “How the hell can you not see this is a child?”
Then Baby Says Hello
I haven’t written much on social media about the little girl I expect to hold in my arms come October. My instinct has been to keep things quiet. I didn’t “announce” formally until almost 14 weeks along, while friends and relatives have announced at eight weeks or even five. With the morning sickness that has made nearly every day up until a couple weeks ago feel like a slow recovery from the flu, I haven’t had the energy to post cheery pictures of my growing tummy, holding whatever fruit my baby is the size of that week. Neither did I want to look back in the coming years at how much pregnancy bitching I did on social media. So I chose to keep my day-to-day thoughts on this new chapter in my life private.
But then something happened that I had to share more openly: At 20 weeks, I finally felt her kick. It wasn’t like “butterflies,” as some had suggested. She woke me up in the middle of the night. It was unmistakably my little girl, awake and moving around. She has muscles—let me tell you, it isn’t comfortable. I physically startled when I saw my stomach bulge with a particularly strong kick. Last Friday afternoon she was kicking for several hours. She’s kicking right now.
No, it’s not comfortable. No, it doesn’t feel “natural,” not because it isn’t, but because there’s nothing I’ve felt quite like it. My husband told me our baby never felt more real than after she started kicking. The ultrasounds were beautiful, especially seeing her heartbeat. But it was still more conceptual at that point. When you feel her move, it’s like she’s saying, “I’m here! I’m real! I’ll be out in the world soon!”
She’s Really A Person
Her room is ready, in pastel gray with pink and purple accents. We chose a bird theme. I’m nestled in my glider as I write in this quiet little space we’ve prepared for her.
She’s been a real person from the beginning, although she doesn’t even have a name yet. But now that I feel her move, it’s as if her existence had been in black and white, and now I see it in color. I nearly cried in the shower one morning soon after the kicking started, when I thought of all the babies that let their moms know how real they are, but the mothers decided to end their unborn babies’ life anyway. How can anyone do that, after feeling, not just emotionally, but physically, how real their baby is?
It’s an honest question. How much must you invest in the narrative that your baby isn’t real until he or she is born that you can overcome such a strong indicator that your baby is a tiny, growing person who already impacts your life in a tangible way?
I have always believed in the sanctity of unborn life. But now it is beyond belief—it is knowing firsthand. I don’t have to love every minute of motherhood, but I embrace that it is motherhood, not a physical condition that can be cured with chemicals or surgery, should you choose. Pregnancy is no picnic for me, but I don’t treat her as unwanted, an inconvenience, an ailment to be remedied. It just means I look forward to her birth even more.
For the first time in my life, the life of my baby is more than a concept, and so now all my reactions to pro-abortion articles are physical, not just intellectual or even emotional. Although I thought maybe my pregnancy would bring my heart closer to all women who have been pregnant, I confess I have lost some compassion for the women the pro-life movement often generally portrays as “victims.”
The Victims Become Victimizers
Many are victims, of abusive partners or coercive relatives, or they see reflected in their desperate circumstances a victim tempting them to escape their own mistake. But a majority (59 percent, according to the Guttmacher Institute) of women who abort have given birth before. They’ve been through the whole experience, seen the ultrasounds, heard the heartbeat, felt their child move in the womb—and still they decide the next time around that this baby’s life is expendable, or convince themselves he or she isn’t a person yet, or don’t want to bring baby into tough circumstances, or whatever the reason may be.
A relative recently told me of an acquaintance who traveled a good distance to get an abortion. The reason? She and her husband were “done having kids.” They just didn’t want any more children. It is so hard for me to wrap my head, much less my heart, around how one can go through with an abortion after knowing pregnancy and birth so intimately.
I don’t pity these women as victims, or praise them as self-empowering. As I laid in bed last night with angry tears spilling onto my pillow, my hand rested on my abdomen to feel my baby kick. How could this be, that these mothers commit such violence against their children? I told God how angry, how bitter I felt toward them. I knew I should be filled with more grace, but I was empty of it. I was void of empathy and love.
Then came a gentler thought to cover my anger. Yes, all women who have had abortions need healing, but they also need divine forgiveness and grace, as we all do. The empathy I have with these mothers is that of a fellow sinner in need of redemption. We all deserve the wrath of a righteous judge, and judgment will come. But grace has already come through Christ, and he mends what is torn. It is through him that we can love fully; he replaces the turmoil of our wrongdoing with a peace “that transcends all understanding.”
The woman who aborts needs God’s grace because she ended another innocent human life, a life that wasn’t hers to take. The unborn are persons. My baby is real—not just real to me, but objectively real. She shows up in my blood test and on the ultrasound, and others can feel her kicks. She is very much a human being.
So the next time you are tempted to believe in a woman’s “right to choose,” remember that it isn’t a decision over whether a clump of tissue can grow in your uterus, or a parasite is allowed to feed off your blood. It is the power over the life or death of another human being.