Should Abuse of the Born be Motivation to Abort the Pre-Born? by Stephanie Gray


After a recent presentation I delivered on abortion, an audience member approached me.  She told me she worked in a daycare where many of her charges come from profoundly broken homes.  She told me nightmare stories, horrifying cases of abuse these children had endured—and were enduring (which she then reported, the authorities would step in, and in some cases after removing children for a time, the little ones would be returned to the dangerous environment with the mistaken belief the kids would be safe, only to find abuse happen again).

I was sickened by what she shared, that such precious, innocent, and vulnerable children could be so horrifically mistreated and that they would be failed by a system that was supposed to help them.

Here was the woman’s point to me: Her first-hand experience convicted her that abortion would be better than what these kids go through, and the trauma they will carry with them for life. 

There is no denying that the brutal realities she observed would impact her feelings.  There is no denying that anyone with a functioning conscience would want to spare children suffering.  There is no denying that when someone is aware of their victimization there is an additional element of horror than when someone is unaware (e.g., being killed in your sleep versus tortured to death while awake).  Here is a question: Is it possible to agree with all that and still not see abortion as a solution to what undoubtedly is a grave problem?

Consider the children this woman cares for: Would we ever say it would be acceptable to kill them now because of their abuse?  To kill them now in order to spare them further abuse?  To kill them now in order to prevent a future filled with memories of past abuse?  Obviously the answer is no—it would not be acceptable to use homicide as a solution to abuse.  In fact, isn’t homicide just another form of abuse? Killing the victim would not be justice for the victim.  It would only further the evil mentality of the abuser that an individual’s life should be mistreated.

Moreover, what if a born child had not yet been abused but we somehow could see into the future that the individual would be abused in, say, 5 years.  Would it be acceptable to kill that child in order to avoid that which had not yet happened?

  Again, the obvious answer is no.

  Correspondingly, since the pre-born child is a living, human being, it would be unethical to kill that individual because of abuse she may experience down the road.  Instead we ought to work to ensure children are born into, or placed in, environments in which they and their parents or guardians thrive in a relationship of love. 

  Critics may respond that that sounds great in theory but it is not the reality for some, like the children in the woman’s daycare.  Correct.  So we need to respond.  We just don’t have to respond with abortion.  What can a non-abortion response look like?

·         It can look like my friends who fostered children.

·         It can look like my friends who adopted 3 little girls from China who had severe cleft palates which required multiple surgeries.

·         It can look like my friends who adopted a set of siblings from the foster care system in their own country.

·         It can look like a couple I met in my travels who adopted two children when their first biological child was only one.  They since adopted two more children, both of whom have Down syndrome and serious heart conditions, all the while giving birth to 4 more children.

·         It can look like an unmarried 28-year-old I met on a recent trip to the US: In the last 4 years she has fostered over 21 children and adopted 2 of them.

·         It can look like a retired couple I met who moved from their farm into a home for pregnant women in order to mentor them in motherhood.

·         It can look like a pastor I recently met who is in his mid-50s.  He and his wife have raised their own biological children and are now fostering—which is leading to adoption—3 young children.

·         It can look like foster father Mohamed Bzeek who takes in terminally ill children.

·         It can look like a mega Church in Texas whose pastor told me he is implementing a program where his church members make it their mission to foster and/or adopt local orphans.

·         It can look like Love Life Charlotte, a beautiful pro-life ministry I learned about in January that is also on a mission to embolden its church members to care for orphans through what they term “Orphan Care Hospitality.”  Whether through fostering or adoption, learn more about what they are doing here and watch this short video about the Malone’s who have welcomed two children into their forever home through this amazing program.

·         It can look like the Lott family who adopted 4 of their 6 children.

·         It can look like my friend Ryan Bomberger’s adopted family.  His mom, once an orphan herself, made a promise to God when she was a young girl that she would be a mommy to those without one.  She grew up, got married, and adopted 10 of their 13 children (Ryan, one of the adopted children, was conceived in rape.   Having now grown up, he has since adopted two children.

Is the abuse of children—pre-born or born—an unspeakable evil?  Yes.  Does it demand a response?  Without a shadow of a doubt.  Can children be rescued and aided without abortion?  The lived experiences of the examples above are living proof of that.

**The photo in this blog is of police officer Ryan Holets and some of his family.  While on duty, Holets encountered an 8-month pregnant heroin addict.  That woman is the very type of individual many would say should have an abortion rather than bring her child into a dangerous environment.  Officer Holets and his wife adopted that little baby, who they named Hope.  Read the incredible story here. And, as described in this article, it says “Holets has been quietly helping Champ [the birth mother] and her partner find the right rehabilitation center and gave them a tablet computer so they can receive photos of Hope over email.  To Holets’s knowledge, the pair, who have not responded to a Post interview request made through Holets, are not clean. It was always his goal from the beginning to help them through rehab.”


The Secondary Emotion of Anger, by Stephanie Gray

Two unrelated experiences reinforce what a friend of mine in social work told me: Anger is a secondary emotion.


      Over the holidays I watched an incredibly powerful and moving foreign film, “A Man Called Ove.”   Without spoiling key parts, the overall story is this: An old man is angry, isolated, and believes his life is not worth living.  As the film progresses the viewer begins to understand why Ove is as he is.  The unfolding backstory reveals what is under the surface.  This allows one to see Ove with new eyes—to see his goodness and his pain and therefore to empathize with him.  It also allows one to see what we all need for human flourishing—connection. 

  At one of my presentations on abortion an audience member spoke with me afterwards.  She shared that she was in favor of abortion, particularly in the case of rape.  I had addressed the point already in my talk.    I also shared with her the story of my friend Lianna who got pregnant from rape at age 12 and who kept her child.  She was unconvinced and unfortunately our conversation was interrupted. 

  I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that my message was impenetrable to her heart because of some deep pain.  I was very concerned that she had been raped and/or had an abortion.  She didn’t disclose either to me, but a lifetime of interacting with people and intuition was telling me something bigger was below the surface.  Because I knew she was part of a larger group I approached one of her team leaders with my concern.  The team leader remarked that that young woman had been behaving in a difficult and defiant way.  “That type of behavior is a secondary emotion,” I responded. “Something is triggering her, and I’m concerned it’s a huge trauma.  I really think she was raped or had an abortion.”  We then identified another team leader who had gone through a trauma of her own and approached her with our concern, asking her to find an opportunity to connect with the young woman.  We prayed and it became a waiting game for the opportune moment.

  Sure enough an encounter between the two women happened and sadly the audience member revealed that she had been sexually assaulted, but she expressed how meaningful it was to have someone listen to her and share in her pain.  It became the start of a journey to healing.  Like Ove, her attitude and behavior were a cover for a deep emotional wound.  Like Ove, connection with another soul is what would free her from isolation and give her spirit new life.

  Whether discussing abortion—or any issue in which people respond with anger or an illogical unreasonableness—our approach should not be to dig in our heals and write the person off as stupid or not worth our time, but rather to go gently and seek to understand the root of the person’s passion.  It is worth remembering that of all the words used to describe love in the famous passage of 1 Corinthians 13, the first two are “patient” and “kind.” 

  When you’re next in conversation with someone and if you find yourself struggling to be patient or kind, it can be helpful to step back and say the “Prayer of St. Francis,” which, in the middle, goes, “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand.”

  It is truly eye-opening what seeking to understand can lead to.


Why Roe is Against Reason, by Stephanie Gray


Have you ever been asked a question where the answer changed your life?  An audience member once told me about a time she applied to work at a chastity missionary organization in America.  During the interview she was asked, “If we don’t accept you for this position, what else would you do?”  Without skipping a beat she answered, “I’d go to Africa and work with the poor.”  Later that day she couldn’t get that question—and her answer—out of her mind.  She realized what her true heart’s desire was, she withdrew her application, and went to Africa to serve the poor.  Just as how answering one question led this young woman down a path very different from her original plan, I believe applying the power of questions to the abortion debate can help those who answer realize that Roe v. Wade, far from being a good legal decision, is actually against reason.

Here are questions we can ask:

1.      From what point are we measuring viability?

When discussing Roe v. Wade, people often talk about viability, some arguing that abortion is acceptable if the child cannot survive outside the womb.  It is generally considered that a pre-born child is viable around 24 weeks.  But consider the label 24 weeks—and what that implies: To get to 24 weeks implies we started counting the passage of time 24 weeks prior.  So what happened then?  Sperm-egg fusion, otherwise known as fertilization.  Since we are counting time from there, that is actually a concession that life does not begin at 24 weeks but rather 24 weeks prior.

2.      If abortion is allowed for a woman’s life after viability, why not bring the child out alive rather than dead?

Abortion supporters will often point out that abortion after viability sometimes “needs” to happen because a pregnant woman will die without an abortion.  Since, at such later stages of pregnancy, the child could survive outside the womb, why kill the child?  Why not remove the living child and place him or her in an incubator? 

3.      Does a negative pregnancy test result ever lead to an abortion?

We know the answer is “obviously not.” So what is it that a positive test is telling a woman?  It is indicating that the pregnant woman’s body is not the only body present; rather, that there is another individual present.  And just who is that individual?  A child.  And not just any child.  Her child.  So a related question we must ask is this: What do civil societies expect of parents?  Don’t we expect parents to care for their offspring, not kill their offspring?

4.      If abortion is about a woman’s right to her own body, when does the right begin?

Several years ago, The Economist magazine had a cover story about 100 million women missing from the world as a result of sex-selective abortion and infanticide.  Isn’t it interesting that abortion is often touted as being pro-female and yet so many females are being destroyed in the womb precisely because their sex chromosomes are xx?  Don’t pre-born females have a right to their bodies?

5.      What is the legal standard when a woman sentenced to death is pregnant?

Every American state in which the death penalty is legal prohibits the execution of pregnant women.    Moreover, the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states, “Sentence of death shall not …be carried out on pregnant women.”  People sometimes debate whether guilty individuals should get the death penalty, but people always agree that innocent individuals should not get the death penalty. To withhold capital punishment from a guilty woman for the sole reason that she is pregnant is to make a concession that within her body is an innocent child.

6.      What do abortion procedures and promoters tell us about abortion?

In the National Abortion Federation’s textbook on abortion (“A Clinician’s Guide to Medical and Surgical Abortion”) in chapter 10 (co-authored by abortionist Martin Haskell) it refers to “Fetocidal Techniques.”  What is the meaning of the root word “cide”?  It means to kill.  We do not kill that which is not living.  So to speak of killing the fetus is yet another admission about the pre-born child: Namely, that she is living.

That chapter on D & E abortions after 12 weeks also refers to “some pregnancy elements” such as “the spinal cord and calvarium.”  Spinal cord and calvarium of who?  Clearly not the pregnant woman.  Those are the body parts of the child.  If we acknowledge these major parts of the child, all the more shouldn’t we acknowledge the child to whom they belong?

Next, while Planned Parenthood is known for committing abortions, interestingly even they, several decades ago, made a startling admission:  In a 1952 brochure of theirs on birth control they answered the question, “Is [birth control] abortion?” by saying, “Definitely not…An abortion… kills the life of a baby after it has begun.”

7.      What became of Roe in Roe v. Wade?

Most people are unaware that the very woman, Norma McCorvey, who is represented as the Roe in Roe v. Wade, never had the abortion that brought her case to the Supreme Court to begin with.  Moreover, she later became pro-life and wanted the decision reversed. 

8.      What is the greatest love—and its opposite?

These are questions asked over at abort73.   From a Christian perspective, the greatest love is seen in the person of Jesus Christ: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13) and “This is my body given for you” (Luke 22:19).  Even the non-religious accept this standard; citing, for example, the firefighters who ran into the burning buildings on 9-11.  Their actions were also an example of the greatest love.  If the greatest love says, “This is my body given for you” then the opposite of the greatest love says, “This is your body given for me.”  Whereas motherhood selflessly declares, “This is my body given for you,” its opposite, reflected in abortion, selfishly demands, “This is your body given for me.”


How to Communicate with a Friend Considering Abortion, by Stephanie Gray


“I’m pregnant, and I want an abortion.”

  How should one react when a friend says those words? 

  I am routinely (and as recently as the day I write this) contacted by friends (and strangers) who have friends who are considering abortion.  “What should I do?” they ask. “What should I say?” they wonder.

  Their concern is the well-being of their friend and her pre-born child; they don’t want her to go ahead with the abortion, but they come for advice because they recognize a noble desire, while necessary, is not sufficient to save a life.  How do they actually achieve their mind-changing goal?  They follow these four steps:

  1. Seek to Understand

  2. Support Her

  3. Inform Her

  4. Be Unwavering

  Let’s look at each in more detail, with practical tools to get the message out:

1.     Seek to Understand

  Think through your past to a time when you felt utterly overwhelmed and afraid.  Think about an experience of despair where you felt helpless.  Think about what it’s like to feel panic—to feel trapped—and how that affects your decisions.

  A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy may feel any number of emotions like the above, and anything you say or do is seen through the lens of what she’s feeling.  Rather than start your exchange by jumping onto a soap box, instead, grab a Kleenex box and ask questions that give her a chance to express herself.

  Truly and deeply listen to her—what are her concerns?  People not only need to be heard, they need to feel heard.  This is achieved through affirming truth she’s expressed, and communicating compassion: 

 ·         “There is no denying that is a really difficult situation…” or,

 ·         “That is really tough; I’m sorry for your suffering…” or,

 ·         “If I’m hearing you correctly it sounds like the crisis is overwhelming, and I can imagine it would be…” 

  Notice what you’re not doing here—you’re not saying something false (“I know what it’s like” when you, in fact, don’t know what it’s like); rather, you’re formulating words that acknowledge you understand her feelings are consistent with her crisis.

  From this expression of compassion, you seek to understand by asking questions that will give her a chance to express herself, and to help identify what she’s most concerned about (which you need to know in order to address the problem—you cannot alleviate a problem you do not know exists).

  For example, ask her, “Why do you want an abortion?”

  Her response will likely involve expressing concerns about money, school, lack of support from her partner or family, feelings of inadequacy, or perhaps even pressure to abort.

  What does this show?  She does not desire abortion as an end in and of itself; rather, she sees it as a means to address a problem. Once she identifies the problem, suggest other means to address it, always through the approach of asking questions:

·         “I’m sad for you that your parents said they’d kick you out.  You’re right to be devastated by that.  What if I was to let you live with me? Would that help? [Or, what if I was to connect you to a place where you could live?]”

·         “If I’m hearing you right, it sounds like you don’t have the resources to care for a child.  What if I was to connect you to a centre that will give you the resources you need?”

RESOURCE: An excellent pregnancy help website: http://www.visitationcenterus.org/

 ·         “It sounds like you don’t feel prepared to parent a child right now, and I can understand that.  What do you think about adoption?”




·         “When a person receives a poor prenatal diagnosis, it can be scary to envision a future where the child has a disability.  Have you heard of stories of people who have had positive experiences caring for children with special needs? May I share some of these with you?”






“Choosing Thomas”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToNWquoXqJI&t=341s

Questioning is not only important to identify her motivations to abort so you can provide alternatives, but questioning is an important tool to help her explore her “gut” feelings about abortion.  Questions that help her think beyond the present scenario, to imagine a positive situation in the future when she’s pregnant, can help bring to light her own negative feelings about the abortion procedure:

·         “Given that you just said you don’t even love the child’s father, I can understand it would be hard to envision parenting the baby.  Something that’s worth considering is if your scenario was just the opposite—if you were happily married and pregnant with a child you’d tried for so long to be pregnant with, would you ever consider abortion?  [After her answer: Why not?]”

·         “If your parents wouldn’t kick you out of the house, would you be less likely to consider abortion? Why?”

·         “If you had the financial resources you needed to raise another (or this) child, would you want to carry through with the pregnancy? Why do you think that is?”

NOTE: The point of these questions is to draw out of her any instinctive feelings of revulsion toward abortion—if she articulates that she would never kill her child in these scenarios, you can now explore her thoughts that it is a child, and whether the difficulty of her situation changes what the child is.

2.     Support Her

There’s something terrifying about being alone in moments of crisis.  There is something comforting about sharing, even a hard experience, with another soul.

  A true friend will stand by her throughout this unplanned pregnancy.  If she feels abandoned, then she may run to the abortion which she feels will get her “out” of this experience of crisis and “aloneness.”  Knowing she has someone to stand by her through the crisis will make it easier.

  Offer to be with her when she has difficult conversations with her relatives or boyfriend/husband.  Offer to go with her to the doctor.  Time is of the essence in these situations and so is generous, self-less help.  If you have to miss work or school to accompany her to a pro-life doctor the next morning, do it.  Offer to accompany her to a pregnancy help center.  As a friend, it’s important to remember you aren’t a professional.  Correspondingly, remember that professionals aren’t friends, and offering to be present when she gets assistance from them will make her feel more supported than simply giving her a phone number to call.

NOTE: When she gets professional assistance, ensure that the people you recommend for this are 100% pro-life.  Tragically, some individuals and groups that are labeled “Christian” don’t always hold a consistent pro-life ethic, and this requires you be extra vigilant in your recommendations.

  FURTHER NOTE: Get to know your local pro-life doctors and local pregnancy care center staff as soon as possible, before you meet someone in crisis.  The more information you can give to your friend about who works where, what they offer, and how friendly they are, the more likely it will be that she will call or visit.  And remember—offer to accompany her.

  Part of being a support is helping her see goodness in a future that she thinks looks grim.  Being on the outside, you have the chance to paint a picture of hope when she feels despair, to help her consider how short-term gain can bring about long-term pain, whereas short-term pain can bring about long-term gain.

  This message, handed out by pro-life activist Mary Wagner to women going to abortion clinics, speaks important words of hope to women in crisis:

“You were made to love and to be loved.  Your goodness is greater than the difficulties of your situation. Circumstances in life change.  A new life, however tiny, brings the promise of unrepeatable joy.  There is still hope!”

3.     Inform Her

It is possible to communicate truth without love, but it is impossible to communicate love without truth.  Loving your friend therefore means communicating the truth about the abortion she says she wants.

  Certainly how you communicate that truth matters.  You need to be sensitive and should continue to use questions as much as possible, but you nonetheless need to impart some hard truths.  When providing information, you should convey three things:

·         The humanity of her pre-born child,

·         The inhumane nature of abortion, and

·         How abortion can hurt her

Let’s look at each of these in more detail:

The humanity of her pre-born child

A lot of women are unaware of just how rapidly their pre-born children are growing (for example, that a baby’s heartbeat has been detected at 3 weeks, and brainwaves have been detected at 6 weeks).  Ask a question like this:

“May I take you to a site which has amazing scientific facts of your baby’s development?”

RESOURCE: The Endowment for Human Development: http://www.ehd.org/  This is a fetal-maternal health website with prenatal development facts, along with actual video footage and 3D and 4D ultrasound.

Helping her bond with her child is key; two other ways to do this is through giving her a fetal model to hold, which helps her visualize her baby, and encouraging her to give a nickname to her child, for it’s harder to kill someone we’ve named and connected with.

RESOURCE: First-trimester fetal model: Order at www.lifecyclebooks.com (or ask your local pro-life society to give you one) 

The inhumane nature of abortion

Remember, you’re having this conversation with your friend because she said she wants an abortion.  But does she know what abortion actually entails?  It is essential that you convey the facts of the procedure.  You can ask,

“What do you know of the abortion procedure?  I have some knowledge of abortion and I believe you deserve to know what I do. May I share some information with you?”


Nucleus Medical Media: http://catalog.nucleusmedicalmedia.com/search?q=abortion&submit=&search_language=-1&search_type=&search_category=

First-Trimester Medical Abortion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRDnVSMr5j0

First-Trimester Surgical Abortion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5THDmys8z30&t=6s

Second-Trimester Surgical Abortion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgw4X7Dw_3k

Third-Trimester Induction Abortion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5Af8vIym2o

Abortion: Before & After: https://vimeo.com/41433061

  When trying to explain that your motivation to share what you know comes from a place of goodness, you could use this analogy:

“Imagine there’s water with poison in it—whoever drinks it will die. Now imagine you are thirsty and, not knowing the water is poisoned, you drink it.  Would you have knowingly committed suicide?”  She’ll say no.  Then continue, “Now imagine that I know there’s poison in the water and you don’t.  I see you grab the glass and I don’t warn you what’s in it.  You drink it and die.  Have I just been an accomplice to your murder?”  She’ll say yes.  Then connect the dots: “In the same way, I know some pretty shocking things about the abortion procedure, and if I don’t share these things, then I’d be guilty of withholding life-saving information.  That’s not fair to you.” 

Some people have an unfounded fear that using abortion victim imagery could do harm to a woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy. You don’t lose anything by showing her imagery. But you potentially lose something by not showing the pictures: her baby’s life.

Remember all the fears that are motivating your friend to abort? Those fears are very real in her mind; they are immediate problems. If she continues to maintain the idea that her pre-born child is not a baby and that abortion is not an act of violence that will kill that baby, then it will be easier for her to have the abortion than to deal with her problems. Your challenge is to make your friend more horrified of the abortion than she is terrified of her unplanned pregnancy. Pictures do that.

  Admittedly, you need to be discerning in your one-on-one interactions about when to use any material. Be gentle, listen, and when it comes to showing pictures, tell her that you care for her and that you want her to be informed of everything she needs to know about abortion

  Finally, be encouraged that using this information doesn’t just work in theory—it works in practice.  For example, a Los Angeles pregnancy center not only offers to show an abortion video to each client, but they provide a copy of that video for the client to take home.  In 2011, they conducted a survey of all mothers who chose life for their babies at the center after initially contemplating abortion.  80% of their clients who chose life said the video was the number one thing that helped them choose life for their babies. 

  When the women take a copy of the video home with them, it also helps them to convince husbands, boyfriends, parents or other people who might be pressuring them to abort that abortion is a terrible choice.  Showing the abortion video to parents pressuring their teen to abort helps them to understand the profound damage to their daughter (and grandchild) whom they love and want to protect.  It is good to show the video to everyone influencing her decision.  Further, some clients have reported giving their copy of the video to pregnant friends who in turn opted against abortion. 

That is consistent with this post below an abortion video on Youtube:

  “A big thank you goes out to whoever posted this video.  I scheduled an appointment with Planned Parenthood to have this procedure and wanted to learn more because they wouldn't give me any information. I'm calling to cancel right now. I don't want my baby ripped to shreds.”

How abortion can hurt her

Because abortion kills children it hurts women.  It goes against human nature to kill one’s offspring—that is why abortion can adversely affect women emotionally.  It goes against the nature of a woman’s body to unnaturally and prematurely interrupt pregnancy the way abortion does—that is why abortion can adversely affect women physically.  Consider asking your friend,

  “Have you heard about the complication risks of abortion?  May I share what I know with you?”






4.     Be Unwavering

  Remember the earlier comment that being alone in moments of crisis is terrifying?  That is true not only for the unplanned pregnancy, but also for the abortion procedure.  The act of abortion could be, in her mind, a terrifying moment she wishes not to endure alone.  Knowing she’ll be without a friend could be enough to convince her not to do it.  But if you are present, that could make her abortion experience easier to endure. This is why it is essential that if, after your best effort to convince her of abortion’s wrongness, she goes ahead with the procedure, that you not go with her, not drop her off, not pick her up, not facilitate her decision in any way.

  Keep this principle in mind: friends don’t drive friends to abortion clinics.  After all, if your friend was going to beat up her baby brother and you failed in convincing her not to, would you participate in that action, even if only to “be there to support her”?

  If your friend does abort and then realizes at some future point that she made a mistake, and if you had in some way facilitated that abortion, she’ll wonder why you did that when you knew it was wrong. She may even hold you partially responsible, and rightly so. But if you demonstrate integrity through your unwavering views and consistent action, this could be the factor that convinces your friend not to have the abortion—after all, actions speak louder than words.

  Consider how you could explain your refusal to go with her:

  “Because I love you, I can’t go with you.  Because to love you is to desire your good, and I know too much—I can’t erase what I know about abortion and I know it won’t be good for you or your baby.  If I go with you, if I help you get there, then I’d be betraying you.  I’d no longer be guided by what’s best for you, but what’s best for me (namely, just making sure you aren’t mad at me). I love you enough that I’ll endure you being mad at me—even feeling hate towards me—rather than help you do something I fear you’ll regret in the future.”

  Hopefully, though, it won’t come to making that statement.  Because when you seek to understand and communicate truth in love, you can go far in convincing your friend to make a life-affirming choice.


A similar version of this document first appeared at https://www.endthekilling.ca/blog

Present at a Birth, by Stephanie Gray


     I couldn’t have known when I said yes to a speaking commitment 8 months ago, that it would allow for a Divine Appointment that would make one of my dreams come true—a dream I had been waiting for since 2006.  On April 28, 2018, twelve years after writing my dream list in which number 37 was “be present at a birth,” I was the unexpected support person for my friend’s out-of-town—and emergency—caesarean section.  As a quote attributed to Paul Carvel says, “To witness the birth of a child is our best opportunity to experience the meaning of the word miracle.”

     Last August, I agreed to speak in Michigan this past April 24.  Being so close to Windsor, after the event I drove across the border to visit some of my Ontario friends.  As it should happen, my friend’s cousin, also a friend of mine, planned to join us for my last weekend there.  Angie came with her 4 born daughters and her 37-week baby girl in-utero.  She brought her family’s only vehicle, leaving behind in her small town her husband and 4 sons.  The plan was to go to a banquet dinner Friday night and have a girls shopping day Saturday.  But when Angie started having contractions soon after arriving, it seemed like the weekend was not going to go exactly as planned.

     First there was the hospital visit to be checked out.  Then there was the hospital admission.  Then there was the 4am assessment from the doctor that that baby needed to come out, that morning, and by C-section. 

“This is my body given for you” -Luke 22:19

     Journeying with Angie through the process reminded me of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani.  Hers was a real suffering: She was in pain; her husband was not there; she wasn’t where she lived; her own doctor was not present; she didn’t want to be cut open; she wanted to try a VBAC.   It wasn’t supposed to happen at this time, in this way.  The prayer of Jesus became her lived experience: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).  So surgery would happen.  After Angie was prepped, I was brought into the operating room to sit next to her, and for those unaware of how a C-section works, the mother’s arms are stretched out like she’s on a cross.  As she lay there, riddled with anxiety about being aware while being cut open, her experience was once again like Christ’s: “This is my body given for you.”  Angie would do what motherhood has continually called her to do—to be other-focused, to lay down her life.  In short, to love.  But with the impending arrival of her baby, soon a resurrection would follow this type of crucifixion.

     I don’t know what was going through the mind of the Ob/Gyn and his resident as they performed surgery, but if I could have selected a “soundtrack” for them as they cut into the person of Angie to retrieve the person of Mackenzie, it would be these words of Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty:

     “The most important person on earth is a mother.  She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral.  She need not.  She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral—a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body.  The Angels have not been blessed with such a grace.  They cannot share in God's Creative miracle to bring new Saints to Heaven.  Only a human mother can.  Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creatures.  God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation.  What on God's good earth is more glorious than this: To be a mother?”

“It’s like watching fire.”

     After I got to cut the cord, I held 6 pounds and 3 ounces of pure goodness up to Angie so she could see her little one.  While the doctors were still working on Angie’s abdomen, she did what she could from her awkward angle to plant tender kisses on Mackenzie and we both just stared in awe.  Then Angie said, “It’s like watching fire.”  Having just come out of a long winter where I had sat in the presence of more fires than usual, I thought about how fire draws one in.  Fire captivates.  It hushes people to silence.  It comforts.  It leaves you in wonder.  On a cold winter evening, in the presence of a fireplace, you’re drawn into the present moment, into what is in front of you, and everything else fades away.  That’s what this silent, tiny, vulnerable little baby did for us.

Reverent Silence

     As the doctors were finishing sewing Angie up, a nurse asked me to bring baby Mackenzie and follow her to the recovery room.  After she helped me get the surgical gown off, she walked away, leaving sweet one and me alone for about 15 minutes.  Blown away with incredulity of all that had just happened, I was tempted to immediately text my 3 best friends from childhood, all of whom are doctors and have regularly experienced what was a first time for me.  But then I thought, “No, the time for communicating with others is for later.  Now is the time to just be with Mackenzie and revel in the gift of her life, in the gift of her presence.”  And so together we simply were.  Me cradling innocence and beauty.  Someone who was unrepeatable and irreplaceable.  Never was before.  Never would be again.  Perfectly unique. 

     Robert Cardinal Sarah once wrote, “Through silence, we return to our heavenly origin, where there is nothing but calm, peace, repose, silent contemplation, and adoration of the radiant face of God.”

     Was this what it was like for Mary cradling baby Jesus?


     Mackenzie breathed gently.  Her one eye opened while the other was sealed shut by the vernix yet to be cleaned off.  At one point she rooted (“Sorry, baby girl, on that front I can’t help you!  Momma’s coming soon!”). 

     As we waited, I prayed. Tracing the sign of the cross on her forehead, praying over her future… that she would always love the Lord… that she would resist temptation to sin… that she would run to the mercy of Christ when she failed…that her earthly journey would ultimately take her to her Heavenly home.

     And then music came to my heart, and so I sang: “Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works Thy hands have made…Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art.”

Love Doesn’t Divide.  It Multiplies.

     My flight to Vancouver was scheduled for that afternoon, and so a few hours later I found myself on a plane home.  Mackenzie’s birth was to finish my two week work trip which began with debating an abortionist at the University of California, Berkeley, in front of 200 of his students.  As I thought about how my trip began—and how it ended—I wished that those students could experience what I just had, that they could know intimately, personally, the pure gift of life, that they could experience the awe and wonder that comes with pregnancy and birth—if we allow ourselves to see it.  That they could understand that new life isn’t to be feared but instead to be revered.  That they could believe that when a woman becomes a mother she isn’t reduced to the status of slave but is instead lifted to new heights of love. 

     My wish for the students is that they could come to know what Angie texted me today: “Being open to life and being gifted all these babies, I believe is a testament to how God’s love multiplies. When you have one kid, you can’t fathom having enough love for another one—but you do.  And so it is with each subsequent child.  It makes it easy to understand how much God loves me!!! (And you) :).”



What Will Make Christians Care About Abortion? by Stephanie Gray

Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler

     Last week I spoke at Church of the Resurrection, a thriving Anglican church in Wheaton, IL, with a fantastic shepherd, Bishop Stewart Ruch.  During Q and A, I was asked about how people can appeal to their fellow Christians to take abortion more seriously; in particular, I was asked what influences Christians to respond adequately to the plight of pre-born children.  I believe there are three factors in particular:

1.      Conviction,

2.      Education, and

3.      Courage

     Conviction is a strong persuasion or belief.  It is deeper than intellectual assent.  It involves capturing the heart.  And in the context of Christianity, it's not simply knowing about Jesus, or about His commands; it requires a personal relationship with Him, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  This way, just as we care about the things that people we care about, care about, a personal relationship with Jesus will naturally draw forth from us a deep concern for what concerns Him.  As the song “Hosanna” by Hillsong United declares, “Break my heart for what breaks yours.”  Abortion destroys God's creation that is more than good--it is "very good" (Genesis 1:31); it destroys life made in His image (Genesis 1:26); it destroys the result of His command to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28).

     I am reminded of an allegory I once heard about two people who recited Psalm 23.  The first was a professional orator who declared “The Lord is my shepherd…” with drama and exaggeration.  When he finished, the crowd jumped to its feet and clapped with much enthusiasm.  Then a humble pastor got up.  He lowered his gaze and bowed his head; then he slowly and reverently prayed, “The Lord is my shepherd…”  When he was finished the crowd was struck with silence—the only sounds being gentle weeping from a people profoundly moved.  The conclusion?  The orator knew the psalm but the pastor knew the shepherd.

     It’s like the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10: When the priest and Levite saw a half-dead robbed victim on the road to Jericho they passed by on the other side.  The Samaritan man, however, was moved with compassion and cared for the wounded soul.  It was as though the priest and the Levite knew the law, but the Samaritan knew the law-giver.  We need to foster more than simply knowing about Jesus, but actually being in relationship with Him so that the cry of our hearts becomes the cry of the blind man Bartimaeus to Jesus: “Lord that I may see” (Mark 10:51).

     Just as the Good Samaritan “saw” with his eyes, and his heart, the plight of his neighbor, we should pray “that we may see” the plight of our pre-born neighbors just as Jesus sees it.  We should allow ourselves to come face-to-face with their broken bodies and allow their dismembered limbs to communicate to us what their silent screams could not.  We should pray to “see” their beauty and fragility, and the corresponding destruction of what abortion did to them, so as to respond with the broken heart that God Himself responds with.

     Following conviction, there can arise within us a fear of how people will respond if we act on such conviction, which is why education is so necessary.  The more people are equipped to “give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15) the more readily people will share.  We need to help people gain confidence in their beliefs, helping them both understand and articulate the rationale behind the pro-life claims.  The better prepared people are to rebut objections, to explain things clearly and persuasively, the more they will increase in confidence, which means they will naturally decrease in fear.

     But fear won’t necessarily be entirely eliminated.  Which is why we need courage too.  I once heard it said that “courage is not the absence of fear, but a will to do what is right in spite of your fears.”  How do we instill courage?  I firmly believe we are more likely to be courageous when we surround ourselves by people who are.  There is something inspiring about the example of people who are other-oriented, especially when there’s personal cost involved.  The courage of others is magnetic, and draws that same virtue out of those who are exposed to it.

     That’s why I encourage communities of believers to immerse themselves in the inspiring examples of heroes and role models who responded to injustice in their midst and advocated for the vulnerable.  Movies like Schindler’s List, Gandhi, Sophie Scholl, Beyond the Gates, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, and Eyes on the Prize are not about abortion, but they are about good people responding to injustice.  That’s what we need in response to abortion, and watching these examples and then discussing how the past can relate to our present, will instill the courage Christians need to make a better future.

When Someone is in Darkness, Your Light is Blinding, by Stephanie Gray


     In my 16 years of full-time pro-life work I have met some of the most incredible people around the world.  For all the criticism abortion supporters have about the pro-life movement, portraying pro-lifers as having no concern for the less fortunate, as not caring about children after birth, as being mean-spirited, etc., I have encountered a movement of people that is the exact opposite.  I have met pro-lifers who have adopted children domestically and internationally. I have met pro-lifers who have adopted not one but several children, including sibling sets all at once. I have met pro-lifers who fostered children who otherwise had no place to go.  I have met pro-lifers who have welcomed pregnant women into their homes.  I have met pro-lifers who have adopted and/or birthed children with special needs and embraced these lives as pure gift.

     This striking contrast reminds me of a podcast interview I recently listened to where Patrick Coffin and Jordan Peterson discussed Peterson's viral interview with Channel 4 journalist Cathy Newman.  Peterson described Newman's approach to him as "grilling [an] imaginary opponent."  He said, "She was interviewing a figment of her imagination and not noticing, even for a moment, that it bore no resemblance to me.”

     I have seen that same phenomena in how some abortion supporters represent pro-lifers--seeing the pro-lifer not as he or she actually is, but as a figment of the abortion supporter's imagination.  Why is that?  Perhaps it's because when you're wrong about something and don't want to admit it, that by demonizing those who hold the opposite perspective, you can feel justified in maintaining your false views.  Perhaps it’s also because when someone is in darkness they close their eyes at light, and that prevents them from seeing things as they are.

     That is what came to mind a couple weeks ago when I presented in Oregon.  An audience member mentioned that she had two children with special needs.  She expressed that complete strangers have walked up to her and said they would have aborted children like hers.  She has been hurt and taken aback by such rude remarks and wondered how to handle them.  This was my response:

     "What comes to mind as I'm hearing you speak is that when someone is in darkness, your light is blinding.  When someone is in darkness your light—and you have light—is blinding.  If this room was pitch-black dark and I flicked on movie-studio, high-beam lights, what would you do?  You'd say 'Ouch, that hurts, shut it off' or you'd close your eyes.  But eventually what happens when we wake up in the morning and we kind-of experience that with our bathroom light?  Our eyes adjust, right?  So there will be that initial reaction of rejection, but ultimate adjustment.  And I would say when someone says, 'I would have aborted that child' it's very possible what they're non-verbally saying to you is, 'I did abort that child and how dare you remind me of what I did.'  Because your light hurts in their darkness. 

     "And so what I recommend is that we never take this hostility personally, that we pray for these people and we sit in their pain by allowing them to tell us their stories without any agenda to try to convince them of anything… [So when] you're ever in a situation where someone says, 'I would abort' …ask open-ended questions like, 'Why is that?' or 'What would scare you most?' or 'Do you know anyone who's aborted in this type of situation and what has that experience been?' And just let the story be told.  And what they will remember is your light and how you reacted to their darkness, with gentleness and with compassion—and that will draw them out to where you are."

To watch that particular answer click on the video below and go to 59:07:


Image source at top of blog: Wikimedia Commons, Feliciano Guimarães, Guimarães, Portugal, Light at the end of tunnel




When Does Parenthood Begin? by Stephanie Gray

uva debate.jpg

     In a recent debate I participated in against the former president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Nadine Strossen, we were asked to respond to the question “Should abortion be legal?” As is my usual practice, I believe the best way to teach people is to answer one question by asking more questions.  Typically I would ask my audience to first consider questions like, “When does life begin?” and “How ought we treat humans whose lives have begun?”  But instead I framed my message this way:

Q: What do civil societies expect of parents? and

Q: When does parenthood begin?

     If you google the terms “Parents abuse, kill, starve, children” you will come up with news stories like these:

·         From California: “Parents arrested after cops find 12 siblings shackled to beds”

·         From Denver: “Abused children's cries for help were ignored”

·         From Iowa: “Baby found rotting in swing; parents charged with murder”

     As I told my audience, I know there is consensus in the room that these are horrifying headlines.  We all agree on that because we all agree that in civil societies parents do not harm their children; instead, they help their children, they meet their children’s material and emotional needs.

     Moreover, I suggested, we all know that the more vulnerable a child is, the greater a parent’s responsibility is.  I asked the students to imagine they go home for the holidays and ask their parents to feed them three meals/day.  If the parents refuse we might be sad for the college student, but we would not pursue criminal charges against the parents.  But what if, I asked the students to consider, the child requesting food isn’t a college student?  What if the child is four years old?  What if the 4-year-old asks her parents to feed her and the parents continually refuse—at that point do we think the parents should be charged with neglect?  Absolutely.  So what is the difference between a child who is a college student and a child who is four?  The latter is a dependent, and by virtue of the neediness, weakness, and vulnerability of such an individual, we expect more of the parents—not less.

     Again, I said, I do not believe this is a point over which we have a dispute.

     Therefore, if we can agree on a civil society’s expectations of parents, then I think we can agree that the response to the debate question, “Should abortion be legal?” ought to be one simple answer: “No.”  In order to elaborate on that, I asked and answered the question, “When does parenthood begin?”

     A basic understanding of reproduction tells us that the next generation of a species which reproduces sexually will begin at sperm-egg fusion.  When a man’s body produces sperm or a woman’s body produces eggs, we know these are mere parts of the body from which they came.  But when those parts are combined, what is produced is something entirely different from that which is a part of a female or a part of a male.  In fact, what is produced is a female or a male.  What is produced is not something but someone.  What is produced is a whole new individual who can be genetically traced as the offspring of the parents—a part of their lineage, but not a part of their person.  What is produced is a separate person.

     Since parenthood begins at fertilization that means the responsibilities of parents begin then too.  From the moment a child exists, parents have a responsibility to ensure the safety and care of that child.  And if one day they wish to relinquish those responsibilities, the only moral way to do so is to ensure another party takes care of the child.  In the absence of a proper “transfer of care” (e.g., adoption) the parents would be neglectful in their duty to help, not harm, their children.

     So should abortion be legal?  The answer to that question is obvious once we ask, “What do civil societies expect of parents, and when does parenthood begin?”

What Do Rape Victims Say About Their Pregnancies? by Stephanie Gray

Image source: Mliu92, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pregnant_profile_IV.svg

Image source: Mliu92, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pregnant_profile_IV.svg

     “Abortion is needed in cases where women are pregnant from rape.”  Of all the justifications I have heard for abortion, that, by far, is the most common.

    Remembering my recent blog and review of the book “A More Beautiful Question,” I’d like to address this claim with a series of questions.

     What is this support for abortion based on?  Is it based on rape victims who have gotten pregnant and parented their children?  Or is it based on rape victims who have either never gotten pregnant or who have had abortions?  Is it possible to be pregnant from a much-hated sexual assault and yet be grateful for the resulting child?

     Consider the stories of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight.  These women were kidnapped (at the ages of 16, 14, and 21, respectively) and subjected to daily rapes and other horrifying torture by Ariel Castro.  They survived more a decade of inhuman abuse in his home in Cleveland, Ohio.  Amanda became pregnant by Castro three years into her captivity.  What was her reaction?

     In the Spring of 2006 Amanda learned from the news that her mother had died from a massive heart attack.  Soon after she discovered she was pregnant and wrote in her autobiography, “I think my mom sent this baby.  It’s her way of giving me an angel.  Someone to help pull me through, give me a reason to fight.”

     Indeed, in the book Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland that she penned with fellow survivor Gina, they wrote about Amanda's child conceived in rape: “We are inspired every day by Jocelyn Berry, who was born on a Christmas morning in the house on Seymour Avenue.  She made a dark place brighter, and in many ways helped save us.”  

     Amanda also wrote of her daughter Jocelyn, “I used to worry that if I had the baby it would remind me of him [Castro] for the rest of my life.  But I don’t anymore.  This is my baby.  I’m so close now.  I am still pretty small, maybe a hundred and fifteen pounds, less than when I arrived here, but my stomach looks huge to me.  I already feel more like ‘we’ than ‘I.’  Whenever I’m sadder or more depressed than usual, or when he does something especially mean and my hope starts slipping away, I rub my belly and talk to my baby.”

     After giving birth in the torture chamber she wrote, “I crawl into bed with my new baby.  As he fastens the chain around my ankle, I think about my daughter being born into this prison, and who her father is.  But I try to focus on happier thoughts: She seems healthy and she’s beautiful.  I am going to protect her, and the rest we will figure out as we go.”

     The experience of fellow survivor Michelle Knight was very different.  She became pregnant 5 times by Castro and he beat her each time, successfully killing her pre-born children.  In fact, Castro was charged with four counts of aggravated murder for this.

     The jury’s decision on these charges leads to important questions: Is killing wrong based on who does the killing or based on who is killed?  If it was wrong for Castro to kill the children conceived in rape, wouldn’t it be wrong for anyone to kill the children conceived in rape?  Is the human right to life grounded in being human, or grounded in the circumstances under which a human was conceived?

     In her autobiography Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed, Michelle writes that when he attacked her with a barbell because she was pregnant she screamed, “Stop it!  Please don’t kill my baby!”

     On another occasion, after he kicked her in the stomach to kill another child she had conceived by him, she wrote, “I stood up and stared into the toilet.  I reached down and scooped my baby out of the water.  I stood there and sobbed….Death would have felt better than seeing my own child destroyed.  I looked down at the fetus in my hands. ‘I’m so sorry this happened to you,’ I wailed. ‘I am so sorry.  You deserved better than this!’”

     Or consider the story of Jaycee Dugard.  She was kidnapped in California at eleven years old and held for 18 years by Phillip and Nancy Garrido.  Also subjected to rapes and other unspeakable torture, she gave birth to her first child at 14 and a second at 17.  She writes of her daughters conceived in rape (in the book A Stolen Life: A Memoir): “I had my girls to give me strength,” and “I am thankful for my daughters.”  Of her first pregnancy she said, “The connection I feel for this baby inside of me every time I feel it move is an incredible feeling.”

     Jaycee also wrote, “How do you get through things you don’t want to do?  You just do.  I did it because that was the only thing I could do.  I would do it all again.  The most precious thing in the world came out of it…my daughters.”

     Some might point out that because these women were still held captive while enduring rapes and pregnancies, that new life was a comfort and light in an environment of darkness and suffering, but for rape victims who are no longer enduring victimization, a child is an unnecessary reminder.

     In response, consider my friend Lianna.  She was kidnapped and raped at age 12 and found out she was pregnant after being released from the torture.  When a doctor offered her an abortion, she asked whether it would help her forget the rape and ease her pain and suffering.  She explains her thought process when he replied no: “If abortion wasn’t going to heal anything, I didn’t see the point.”  She carried through with the pregnancy and chose to parent her daughter, who she is so grateful for.  In fact, Lianna was so traumatized by the sexual assault itself that she considered suicide—but didn’t kill herself because she didn’t want to kill her child.  In effect, then, the child conceived in rape became her motivation to continue living, and she credits her daughter for saving her life.

     Certainly there is no denying not everyone will react the same way in the moment.  Consider the Rwandan genocide where mass rapes occurred—one estimate being over 200,000 women raped and approximately 20,000 pregnancies as a result.  One survivor, Jacqueline, was gang-raped and became pregnant with her daughter Angel as a result.  Although she was initially so traumatized by the assault (as well as the murder of her husband and children) that she tried to poison herself and Angel when her daughter was a baby, she eventually entered counselling and “started to love her” and now feels Angel came from God.

     With the right support and help, it is possible to distinguish the innocence of a child from the guilt of a father.  After all, what does the test of time show us when it comes to the presence of children conceived in rape?

     Another question to consider is this: Will abortion un-rape a rape victim?

     The answer to this is obvious.  When I once remarked that whether a victim of rape gets pregnant or not, that the assault itself is a trauma that an abortion won’t take away, a child-molestation victim said in response, “Yeah, 10 years and counting.”

     So the next question to consider, then, is this: What is more difficult to come to terms with: Being an innocent who is hurt, or hurting an innocent?

     My friend Nicole Cooley got pregnant from rape and she had an abortion.  Nicole said, “For me, having an abortion was like being raped again, only worse—because this time I had consented to the assault.”

     Or consider Penny Ann Beernsten: In 1985 she was raped while running along Lake Michigan.  Unfortunately she incorrectly identified an innocent man, Steven Avery, as her attacker.  He was imprisoned for 18 years until the actual rapist, Gregory Allen, was identified using DNA-testing technology. 

     Penny wrote, “The day I learned of the exoneration was worse than the day I was assaulted. I really fought back when my attacker grabbed me. I scratched him, I kicked him. I did not go gently. After the DNA results came back, I just felt powerless. I can’t un-ring this bell. I can’t give Steve back the years that he’s lost.”

     While both these women went through horrifying traumas no human should ever have to endure, they acknowledged a worse pain when they realized their decisions hurt other people.  Of course, there is no denying the impact their traumas had on their judgement, and the failure of those around them, who were emotionally removed from the situations, to better guide them, but the point still stands that it is more difficult to come to terms with hurting an innocent than in being an innocent who is hurt.

     Since the child conceived from rape will ultimately need to come out of the rape victim’s body one way or another—which is better, to remove the child dead or alive?

     In a survey done of 192 women who got pregnant from sexual assault, almost 80% of the women who had abortions reported that abortion had been the wrong solution, and of the women who gave birth to their children, none of them expressed regret and none of them said they wish they had aborted.

     The documentary “Allowed to Live: A Look at the Hard Cases” shares powerful stories of a) people who regret abortions after rape, b) people who are grateful they carried their children to term, and c) people who are thankful their moms protected their lives.

     Which brings to mind my friend Ryan Bomberger.  Ryan’s birth mom was raped and he was conceived.  As it says in his biography, “He was adopted at 6 weeks of age and grew up in a loving, multi-racial Christian family of 15. With siblings of varying ethnicities, he grew up with a great appreciation for diversity. Ten of the thirteen children were adopted in this remarkable family. His life defies the myth of the ‘unwanted’ child as he was adopted, loved and has flourished.”

For the Spanish translation of this article, click here.


Final Note: Live Action has an excellent, short response to abortion in cases of rape here.  Moreover, years ago I wrote here about a Chilean case involving pregnancy from rape.



The Second-Last Word, by Stephanie Gray


     I recently had yet another exchange with an abortion supporter who argued abortion is justified from the perspective of a woman’s “bodily rights.”  I have written pro-life responses to this argument before, such as here and here.  It occurred to me that when the bodily rights argument is raised it is often perceived as more challenging, but at the end of the day our simple proposal ought to be this: Let’s focus on a parent's responsibility to her child.  It is easy to lose sight about what we are actually talking about when bodily rights is raised, and that is this: relationship.  And not just any relationship—the relationship of a strong party to a vulnerable party.  And not just any strong party and any vulnerable party.  We are talking about a mom and a child.  I therefore need to call out the bodily rights argument for the horror that it is: a profoundly brutal attack on the nature of the parent-child relationship.

     What element of the Rwandan genocide was more horrifying than other human rights violations?  It was that colleagues, neighbors, friends, and even family were turning over and killing people that they knew.  It was not just a matter of strangers killing strangers (as horrific as even that is).  Consider the story of Monica: She is a Rwandan woman whose own father and brothers brutally executed her Tutsi husband and children in front of her eyes.

     Her father and brothers did more than attack her spouse and offspring.  They attacked their bond with her.  They attacked their relationship.

     Or consider the story of Penny Boudreau who killed her 12-year-old daughter Carissa.  The young victim's last words as she appealed to the woman who birthed her were these: “Mommy, don't.”

     There is something horrifying about her second-last word in the context it was said: “Mommy.”  That little girl made an appeal without realizing it; her use of the term “Mommy” was a call to the nature of who Penny was: a mom.  “Mommy, don't” was more than “Don’t kill me.”  It was a cry from the very depths of her being: “Mommy!  Do what mommies do!”

     Why do we need a mommy?  What are mommies for?  What do mommies constantly assure their children who wake up from nightmares?  “Mommy is here.  Mommy will protect you.  You're safe with me.”  Certainly, it is nice if a stranger helps a scared child, but we sure know that of all people who should help such a sad soul it is this: a mom.

     And so, I would suggest that abortion, and the corresponding bodily rights argument to justify it, is entirely sinister because it is about a mom killing her child.  Not just any child.  Her child.  Not just any woman.  A mother.

     I feel pain writing that.  I feel it for two reasons.  The first is because it is so sad.  The second is because so many moms have unfortunately already made this permanent, deadly choice.  I have several friends who have had abortions, and met countless other women who have done the same.  And sadly, I cannot bring their babies back.

     What I can do is point the wounded in the direction of hope, which, as an anonymous quote I once read said, “is like a bird that senses the dawn and carefully starts to sing, even while it is still dark.”  What I can do is tell about my friends like Anita, Angelina, Debbie, and Elizabeth, who have found forgiveness and healing from their abortions, and who have redeemed their pasts by warning others to learn from their mistakes rather than make new ones.  What I can do is show that even in the most unthinkable of situations, reconciliation is possible, which is what Monica from Rwanda, mentioned above, managed to achieve with her brothers.

     We cannot undo the mistakes we've made in our past, but we can inspire people to act different from us in the present.  We can also inspire people to follow the example of those who have done the right thing.  That’s why I believe it’s worth focusing on another mother, a single mother I met on a college campus several years ago.  Veronika told me,

     “The picture I have enclosed of Amelia and I does not fully show my face but it's an important picture to me. Amelia became very ill with respiratory problems around seven months which meant a lot of nights of dealing with fevers, congestion, pain control and a sad little baby who kept waking up due to having trouble breathing in her sleep. I took this picture one night when I decided to let her sleep on my chest instead of in the crib and she slept throughout the night. I did that every night until she was better. To me, it represents what we do as mothers, that we stop looking at ourselves as individuals with needs and we begin to look at how we can serve another and therefore love another, and with that comes learning to love ourselves.

     When I mentioned that in being faced with a “bodily rights” argument we ought to make a proposal about a parent’s responsibility to her child, I think there's a better way of saying that:

     Our proposal, ultimately, is love.