21 Jan Choose Life and Compassion
Today the House is set to vote on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill, and frankly, the outrage surrounding this bill is heartbreaking—it has been called an “assault” on women’s reproductive rights and a “dismantling” of reproductive freedom. There are many angles to this story—women’s rights, the child’s rights, how to define the beginning of a human life—but I’d like to write on something rarely mentioned: compassion.
I am a new mom. My son was born just 8 weeks ago, and when he is sleeping (which is rare) I like to gaze at him and watch his little chest rise and fall as he breathes. He is just 8 weeks old—a tiny, ten pound human person—and I’ve loved him from the second I found out that I was pregnant.
I’ll never forget the joy and excitement that my husband and I felt during the 20 week anatomy scan. We watched in awe as the ultrasound technician waved her wand across my ever-expanding belly. We saw all of his major organs—his heart, stomach, brain. We were especially in awe of his spine; we could see every tiny little bone. It was breathtaking.
But pregnancy is not perfect. Mothers and fathers receive devastating news about their child’s development in utero. Children are conceived through the violence of rape. Children are conceived by single mothers, by women without any support system. As with all things in life, what is a source of boundless joy for one can be an unspeakable challenge for another.
But in spite of it all, why must it be legal in this country to take the life of another human being? And why must it not only be legal, but be trumpeted as this great right belonging to women? Can we not be people of compassion—people who care deeply about both the mother and child? Why do we insist that the rights of mother and child be mutually exclusive?