The Respect Life Committee at Saint Maria Goretti Parish (Hatfield, PA) held a pro-life essay contest for middle school and high school students. Here is the winning essay among high school students, written by Julianna Jones, a recent graduate of Bishop Shanahan High School who will be starting her freshman year at Immaculata University:
The gift of life is a right given to each and every human created by God. As soon as the sperm penetrates the egg, a brand new individual is formed. This new life is completely unique and will grow into a beautiful and wonderful human being if given the chance. Unfortunately, the CDC reports that over 850,000 American babies each year are deprived of that opportunity because of abortion. Abortion is the reason mothers never get the chance to look into their child’s eyes or hold their newborn baby in their arms. Abortion is the reason they never get the chance to wrap their baby up in a warm blanket and shower them with kisses. They never even get the chance to tell their child, “I love you.” These women lose those precious opportunities that mothers enjoy and value the most when raising their offspring. Instead, the decision to end the life inside their womb all too often becomes their “choice.”
Why would a woman choose abortion over carrying her baby to term? According to data reported by the CDC, unmarried women account for 86% of abortions. A survey conducted by the Guttmacher Institute in 2004 revealed some insight into the reasons women have for aborting their babies. Of the women surveyed, 23% indicated financial difficulties as the main reason to abort. Health problems of the baby (3%), and maternal health complications (4%) were other reasons listed. However, the main reason expressed by these post-abortive women was that they were “not ready for a child.” Armed with this data, the pro-life movement can work to foster assistance programs for women that both support her financially and foster her self-esteem and confidence as a parent.
Since abortion became legal in 1973, the pro-life movement has been working tirelessly to provide assistance to women facing crisis pregnancies. Additionally, much work has been done to foster a culture of life in our society. One of significant importance is the Heartbeat Bill, a bill that prohibits abortion after a heartbeat is detected. This is a wonderful achievement and a huge step in our movement. Lives may still be lost to abortion before a heartbeat is heard, but hopefully, the message will resonate within our culture that the unborn baby is a person deserving the right to life. Hearing her baby’s heartbeat for the first time is often the catalyst for a mother’s instinct to protect and nurture the innocent child living and growing inside of her. A heartbeat is the reality that life exists.
Many times in stories and movies, hearing a heartbeat is a celebratory victory. When a character is shot or injured, another character typically rushes over to listen for a pulse. Once a pulse is felt, the characters erupt in joy and relief. In the world today, hearing a heartbeat is not as victorious for abortion supporters as it is for pro-life supporters. Now, when a woman desiring an abortion hears her baby’s heartbeat, she cannot legally kill it and must turn to other measures or perhaps travel out of her state to terminate its life. Instead of rejoicing in the reality that her baby is alive and well, her thoughts may sink to despair and “now what do I do?” The pro-life movement must grow in its capacities to meet the needs of these women and offer them alternatives to the out-of-state of “back alley” abortion.
As many abortion supporters would chant, it is “her choice” and the human life can be terminated if the mother cannot support it or her own life becomes threatened. I am proud to say that my mother’s life was threatened during her first pregnancy but she trusted in God’s plan and refused to have an abortion. Her doctors warned her that she could ultimately die from this pregnancy and the baby would have less than a 1% chance of surviving. Nineteen years later, the baby born from that ectopic pregnancy is my older brother Kevin, a perfectly healthy Division I football player standing at six feet, seven inches tall and weighing three hundred pounds. If my mother had listened to her doctors and taken his life to protect her own, perhaps myself or my two younger siblings may have not even been born. But most tragically, he would have been deprived of the wonderful life he now has and my mother would have to live with her decision.
In my opinion, under no circumstances is murdering an innocent life ever acceptable. No matter what obstacles the mother has to face during her pregnancy, there is always a way to seek help and guidance. So many women struggle with infertility and pray each and every day that God blesses them with a child. For many, this does not happen. While they are mourning the possibility of going through life without any children, other women are mourning because they are pregnant with a perfectly healthy baby and do not necessarily want it. What an unfortunate dilemma that exists in our culture!
As much as we would like it to, the heartbeat bill will not end abortion. The law passed in Alabama which went further in punishing the abortionist and providing no exceptions for rape or incest will also not bring an end to the killing of children. In order for abortion to completely cease forever, mankind must have a change of heart. Women must be willing to fully recognize that if they become pregnant, they become the mother to a being that is truly human, just as they are. That human child, even though small and unable to speak, deserves the right to live no matter what the circumstances around them are. As my own mother said after refusing her abortion, “If the life of your child isn’t worth risking your own life for, what is?”
(Note: A portion of this article was published in the Pro-Life Union’s July 2019 newsletter update.)