I Was Pro-Life-ing All Wrong

It was May 26th, and I woke up feeling sick. My husband, Sean, had already left for work. I took the dollar store pregnancy test, hopped in the shower, then peaked at it 3 minutes later. I never thought two lines could cause such a panic. I got back in the shower to finish washing my hair and tried to do the math: 9 months meant December, no wait um February, no January . . . I gave up. Counting to 9 seemed just too impossible. I didn’t wait to tell him in some cute way; there were no cakes, no balloons, no romantic dinners, no surprise presents with the positive test inside, but instead Sean got a panicked phone call. He was excited, scared, but excited.

We didn’t plan Elijah John. Sean had just gotten into grad school for psychology. We planned that he would pay for schooling with his job and we would have to pay the rest of the bills on my teacher salary. But sometimes your cycles are irregular and being extra cautious isn’t your thing, so you get a baby and you change all of your plans.

I’m not claiming to know what it’s like to be an unwed mother or to have a child conceived from rape or to have a husband or boyfriend who wants me to get rid of the baby, or to still be in high school or even trying to finish my doctorate. But I do know what it’s like to have your plans changed suddenly. I do know what it’s like to be living with little money and working 12 hour days when this hidden blessing enters your life and to see your husband give up his dreams for the good of the family. I know what it’s like to throw up in the morning and then again after work, to have constant headaches, and heartburn so bad you want to tear out your insides. Mostly importantly I know what it’s like to be pregnant and scared.

But now, I also know what it’s like to love a child. I know what it’s like to have life growing inside me. I know what it’s like to put my hope, my future, my love into a child who is no bigger than a lemon. I know what it’s like to have good compassionate friends who want to help. And I think I finally understand why exactly I’m pro-life.

Before pregnancy, I was pro-life because I was Catholic. And before that, I was pro-choice because my family was. (And before that I was like 12.) And though I think it was good for me to be pro-life, whatever my reasons were, I was never passionate about the issue. Sure I would argue that a person’s life begins at conception. I’d also always figured that aborting babies had nothing to do with women’s rights. And I was always extremely compassionate towards friends or stories of women who have had an abortion. But I had never understood just how interconnected the babies life and the mother’s life really are. I never understood that being pro-life really means being pro-pregnancy as a whole, but also pro-person as a whole.

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The laws surrounding abortion won’t change until our society can learn to genuinely love one another and care for one another as we would care for ourselves. Until I care about the education of children living in the ghetto as much I care about my child’s education, abortion will remain legal. Until I share my food with those who have none, Planned Parenthood will win. Until I seek to comfort the mourning the way I would comfort my mourning husband, babies will die. Until I clean the house of an overworked, underpaid mom of three, we will continue to live in the culture of death. When I found out I was pregnant, I felt an intense need to serve in the same way that the Blessed Virgin Mary served her cousin, Elizabeth. So I’d drive an hour each summer morning to a trailer park in the ghetto of Atlanta where I’d play with the street kids and pray with the Missionaries of Charity. It is there that I myself found hope. I firmly believe that just because you are in the pro-life movement, it does not mean that you are living the authentic “culture of life” that Pope Saint John Paul II calls us to live.

If I who have faith and support and health care struggled to trust that everything will work out for my family and my unborn child, how then can I expect the trust that it takes to carry a child for 9 months from a mother who has lacked those three essentials? I cannot. Abortion will win until we all live out a culture of life, where the death of the innocent is an inconceivable horror. Today, let’s choose to live a compassionate life of service and prayer dedicated to the unborn child, the mother, and the father who face hard decisions and scary and uncomfortable futures.

Katherine Mitchell. Learn more about her here.

This blog post was original published here and reprinted with permission from the author.

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