On January 22, I will join hundreds of thousands of others at the March for Life in Washington, DC. Experiencing the miscarriage of my first child has influenced the reason why.
For as long as I can remember I have been pro-life. My mom recalls the time when I was very young that I overheard the word “abortion” on TV. When she attempted to explain the practice my face turned to horror. “Why would anyone do that?” I asked.
I remember seeing a picture of my newborn cousin who was in neonatal intensive care after being delivered prematurely at about 25 weeks gestation, right around the ever-shifting point of “viability.” To give a sense for how small she was, my uncle had slipped his wedding ring on her arm. It stopped just below her elbow. This was my first personal experience with the reality of life in-utero.
Most recently my convictions have been founded in science, philosophy, the law and policy. Specifically, Robert George of Princeton University and Scott Klusendorf of the Life Training Institute have convinced me that abortion is a moral, ethical, and scientific failure. The courageous work of Lila Rose of Live Action and Steven Ertelt of LifeNews.com sheds light on the barbarism against women so commonly practiced in the abortion industry. The young entrepreneurs at Save the Storks and Students for Life encourage me with their innovative approach to assisting women in need and with their bravery. Political leaders like Sam Brownback inspire me with his heroic work on the policy front and his example of personal integrity through adoption. My aunt reminds me of the critical work on the front-lines through her work at a crisis pregnancy center.
Losing my own child has added something new.
Though she was very early in our pregnancy, my wife had bonded with our child in that mysterious way only a mom can know. Her tears were not for dashed hope and expectation, but for the loss of a person she knew. A person she loved.
I was shamed by my wife’s grief. As I sought to be the husband she needed, I evaluated the situation: ”She feels like we lost an actual child.” Because we had. My wife’s authenticity and courage taught me that this was the loss of our baby, a person we will someday meet in Heaven.
Before ours, I did not realize how common is miscarriage. (Studies show between 10 and 25 percent of pregnancies end this way.) Chances are we all know someone who has experienced at least one. Do our responses to miscarriage conform to our convictions about abortion? How many women and men have not been afforded the space to grieve appropriately, even by those who are devoted to life?
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This may be especially difficult for men. No matter our level of devotion, we are on the sidelines of pregnancy. Miscarriage is a cognitive experience, not a physical one. To overcome this challenge and ensure that my actions and belief are square, my new test will be asking this question: Am I responding as if this couple had lost a toddler? It is the same loss.
The loss of every life is tragic. Science and philosophy and ethics – and, now, my own experience – convince me that the unborn are alive. Therefore, like all human beings, they have rights. That’s why this year I’ll march for the child my wife and I lost. Our child, now in her permanent home surrounded by fellow saints, including the millions whose lives were taken unjustly in acts of abortion.
LifeNews Note: Eric Teetsel is the executive director of the Manhattan Declaration. His column originally appeared at Patheos and is reprinted with permission.