Tuesday, December 29, 2015

John 13:34 and the Abortion Debate in Online Comments

** I wrote this some time ago and shelved it. Now that we are in the thick of 
4 years ago today loss thoughts, I've decided to publish. (4 years ago today we received amnio results- T18 was confirmed.)

I read an article about a woman who chose to end her pregnancy due to a fatal abnormality.


In summary: Baby Violet was diagnosed with lethal skeletal dysplasia. Lethal because due to her extreme smallness, her lungs wouldn't have room to inflate upon birth so she would suffocate and die.

I think back to the birth of my son Kins and I crush under the weight of this thought: "suffocate and die". 

I think of swimming too deep and rocketing to the surface lungs burning for air "suffocate and die".  

I imagine the terror of birth, forced into a bright, chaotic, unfamiliar environment: being touched may be wiped off with towels before going to mom. Familiar and unfamiliar. Overwhelming I think without the addition of not able to breathe. "suffocate and die"

Then I read the Comments. Why do I do this? I know that I get upset. Not about my own decision, but by the horrible things that are said.

I know not everyone supports my decision. I know that I don't support every decision in all cases (to terminate or to CTT). I believe in being compassionate and treating people the way I would want to be treated. Why tell someone I disagree with their choice when it has been made? Why even critique a choice when in the decision process? I am not YOU and you are not ME. I am not in your family. I don't know what you believe.

Where is the love, 'Loving Father'? He said:
First I would like to extend my condolences to you and your family on such a heartbreaking loss. Second by being a man I have no idea what women actually go through during pregnancy and labor, but I do know of the wonderful gift it is in assisting to bring to life a new person into this world. As a teacher I like to ask my students to always ask why and to think of the outcomes of every situation had they chosen a different path. In this case what if they baby would have lived longer then the prognosis of a few hours. I know that I would give my life to see the eyes of my new baby even for just a few minutes, I mean who am I to say how long my child lives, that’s not my job. Everyone suffers and pain is only perceptive of nerves sending the signal to a brain. But love tell me how does love work? If it’s not through the self inflicting pain of watching what was carried to term and letting God decide if she lives or dies. If none of this makes any sense then simply ask yourselves what if the baby was still fighting to live when your water broke and she was strong that it took the Dr a skull crush to “terminate the pregnancy.” What if the baby was born alive and they crushed her little head because of a “decision.” In no way I’m saying I was there and that happened, but what if. 
Clearly, though ID'ing himself as a teacher, missed reading that the baby was given a fatal injection on day one of the two procedure- long before water break or delivery. That aside, what is to gain by that line of musing? If you are in a situation where you are terminating a pregnancy because of a fatal diagnosis you're already playing a game of "pick the least horrible case". Should my child die by my own hand before we have a chance to meet him/or OR should the child, in this case, suffocate and die? Is Loving Father aware that in L and D abortions, women are induced too early for the child to survive and the child lives as long as they are able without intervention? I know women who went in for an abortion in this manner and had their child live for a short time (minutes). No skull crushing was involved. 

Loving Father would be happy to know I did consider the alternative for my Blue Sunday- though I don't know anyone who received a fatal diagnosis and just said "well, termination it is!" Without considering what life would look like (though I DO know may women who received a fatal diagnosis and proudly proclaim "we never even considered 'the-decision-which-must-not-be-named' " though that's a whole different topic.) For me, death after birth looked more difficult for my child than death before birth. Like Loving Father I would give my life to see my child's eyes, BUT I won't gaze on those eyes without cost. It was not an option to give my life for that moment. The real cost of that gaze would have been seeing the eyes of tragedy, of suffocation, of confusion and pain and then death. Pain for my child, confusion for my child. This was not the least horrible case in my mind. I have written about this before. 
There was another comment, the one that actually sparked this post. This was by another man (the only two comments clearly by men (that loaded) were negative, along with only one other comment.  This is from 'Roger':

Every life has some suffering and then there is eternal life. If a child is born alive it can receive the Sacrament of baptism and be assured of the vision of God for all eternity. This is exactly what God made all of us for – to know and to love Him in this world and to be happy with Him in the next. If you let your child be born and then born again through baptism you can be assured of having a little saint in Heaven praying for you for the rest of your lives, joyfully grateful to you for having given her this place in the bosom of the Father.
Unbaptized infants, according to the traditional teaching of the Church go to Limbo, a place of natural happiness but without the vision of God. It is not Heaven. It is not Hell. There is no suffering there. But they are separated from God.
Every person who accepts suffering for the love of God receives good from it. It is redemptive when it is joined to the sufferings of Christ. Baptism is exactly that – a sacrament that joins the soul to the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To reject the notion that any good can come from suffering is to reject Hope – and Faith that Christ suffered and died for Love of us.
Satan loves abortion. It thwarts the good hope that God initiates when He forms the soul at conception – that this soul will be united with Him for all eternity.
Please don’t be deceived out of sentiment. Abortion is an absolute evil.

Yes Roger, every life has some suffering, but this life would have been almost exclusively suffering. Yes, feeling a parent's love is a wonderful moment, but not something that child had not felt in utero. And if we're being honest when suffocating it's difficult to gaze into someone's loving eyes. 

I hate when people take their own religion and impose it on everyone else. This Catholic-centric view of life and the after life is one I was brought up in. Some of it still resonates with me, if I'm being honest but I am not particularity fond of people who tout their own religion as the one and only right choice. It is interesting to me that he says this: "If a child is born alive it can receive the Sacrament of baptism and be assured of the vision of God for all eternity. This is exactly what God made all of us for" What about the children lost to miscarriage? Were they not meant for the world? Are they forced to limbo, even the lost children of deeply faithful Catholics? Roger says that god forms the soul at conception- so a child lost to miscarriage was created by him. Since Satan loves abortion, does he also love miscarriage? Was that Satan's plan? Or did god create Violet and Blue Sunday intentionally not to survive.  Are all the babies that are miscarried intended for limbo?

That seems unspeakably cruel. Especially for someone who is supposed to embody love and hope. 

From my Catholic upbringing, the most loving, useful and translatable teaching is John 13:34 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." Commonly translated to "Love others as god loves you" or, by the secular "love- and treat- others as you would like to be loved/treated". This is a breathtaking, beautiful, difficult teaching. 

Imagine really living up to this- treating others as you would like to be treated, love them the way you would liked to be loved: family, friends, strangers, other drivers, work rivals, opposing teams' fans, people you just don't like. 

It would change the world.

I still believe that I did the best thing I could for my child. I did for my child what I would want for myself. That is not what everyone would do, or would want. The world will probably never agree on the topic of abortion- but may be we could agree that people are doing what they think is best (in most cases) and especially in the case of termination for medical reasons. May be people could try and respect the decisions of those they don't agree with the way they would want their own decisions respected. 

We don't all have to agree, but we don't have to be cruel either. 

Oh life, it's bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me
REM, Losing My Religion

1 comment:

  1. Years ago, I approached a priest for consul after learning a dear friend had attempted suicide. He listened to me pour out my worry before telling me that she was a sinner and she should repent for attempting to end her life. 2 years later, his 17 yr old nephew succeeded in taking his own life.

    I remember vividly that same priest finding me after mass one day and embracing me. He apologized for passing judgement and choosing not to step outside himself. He told me that it wasn't until he walked that path that he could understand what was being asked.

    I think the same holds true here. These are people who have never faced such a decision. They've never even considered that the baby they so dearly wanted may not live and they are faced with determining the best way to help that child pass. To pass judgement means you've never been down that road.

    I'm so sorry you had to make that decision. It's a decision no parent should have to make.