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Abortion and the rejection of relationship

“In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” Matthew 2:18

Last week, just a few days before Christmas, I was standing outside an abortion clinic, praying and singing. The weather was abysmal – it was very cold, and sleeting. It was the first time I’d ever been the only one outside the clinic while it was open. I hadn’t intended to stop there, but I was doing something else in the area and had to wait for someone to pick me up. I sang Christmas carols and hymns and prayed aloud.

A woman walked quickly down the sidewalk, covering her face from the ice and rain, and headed towards the entrance to the clinic. I started to tell her about the crisis pregnancy center just across the street, but I was immediately cut off by escorts who planted themselves between us and helped her into the clinic.

I began to sing the Coventry Carol, a haunting song remembering the massacre of the Holy Innocents in Bethlehem, recorded in Matthew’s Gospel:

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

It struck me later that the most tragic part of the abortion holocaust is this: that the aborted children are completely, utterly rejected, abandoned and alone. From the very moment of their existence, they are unwanted and unloved. This is the most extreme sort of rejection I can imagine: the entire world has completely rejected them from the beginning. They are outcasts. They are not wanted, so they are not loved, and their humanity and personhood are completely denied. It breaks apart maybe the most basic and primary of all human relationships: the relationship between a mother and child. The very term “motherhood” implies a relationship. But in abortion, this relationship is shattered. The aborted children are not related to anyone; they are completely unloved. They are abandoned, outcast, and isolated.

This becomes the very basis for rejecting their personhood: they becomes “its.” To be a person is to be in a state of relationship. Because the concept of love is completely denied, the foundation of relation is denied, and so their personhood is denied. Love, the gift of self, of self-donation, is rejected by abortion. What right does the fetus have to be in relation, when “it” is unwanted and unloved?

Monica Miller, in her astounding and deeply moving new book Abandoned, says:

Just beyond a closed door in my apartment lay the dismembered bodies of unborn children. I began to know their isolation and understand that it is caused by the triumph of another individual in isolation – a lonely monadic self who must secure its own identity and power by suppressing or annihilating all who threaten to be in relation to it. Here lay these silent bodies, taken from a loading dock by the hands of a stranger, sitting quietly in a strange place. They were apart from their mothers, apart from their fathers, apart from the towns where there they had been conceived. In them I knew the denial of mankind’s most intrinsic bonds. Roe v. Wade was based on the premise – indeed on the philosophy – that the woman stands alone. Abortion isolates the woman from all other human beings in the world. Under Roe, no one, not parents or boyfriend or husband, and much less a stranger has any claim on the woman and her baby. In the philosophy of Roe there are no inherent human relationships.

Abortion marks the most extreme isolation of human beings and the rejection of human relationships, the dignity of human life, and love. The aborted are cast out of society, of relationship, of love. The whole world does not want them, and so they are forced out of this world. More than any others, the aborted are completely alone.

Somehow, reflecting on my experience outside the abortion clinic, this thought gave me hope. There I was, outside the abortion clinic, alone. And the baby inside the woman who walked into that clinic was horribly, profoundly alone. But because of my presence there, I was undoing that. That baby was no longer alone, because I was there, fighting for him or her, telling the world that I wanted that child to live. I was probably the only one in the whole world to do something to truly love that baby before he or she was destroyed and cast out of the world forever. Because of that, I had brought that baby into a relationship. As far as I know, that baby is dead. But he or she was not unloved and will not be forgotten.

Grave for 1,200 aborted children at Holy Cross cemetery in Milwaukee, WI

Despite all of our failures to restore a legal right to life for the unborn, despite all the deaths that happen regardless of our efforts, I believe that the pro-life movement is doing something very beautiful in challenging abortion. Heroic men and women are standing up to the world, looking it in the face, and declaring: these children are not unwanted.

The heroism of men and women who stand day after day outside abortion clinics, who tirelessly work to educate the world on the horror of abortion, who fight legal battles, who sat blocking the entrances to abortion clinics and went to jail for it, who expose the corruption of the abortion industry, who day after day commit themselves to ending abortion…this heroism achieves something very profound, through daring acts of love for the unborn babies threatened by abortion. In some small way, these children are not alone, their humanity is not wholly rejected, and they are loved and wanted.

This gives me hope. No matter what, we will love these children. We will take upon ourselves a radical self-identification with the unborn, by sharing in their rejection, in the hatred of the world. We will pray for them and fight to protect them, because we believe in their humanity and personhood. Each of them is worthy of love and worth fighting for. In the end, they will not go unloved.

  • Julia

    Beautiful

  • http://www.facebook.com/GrannyGrump42 Christina Dunigan

    “It struck me later that the most tragic part of the abortion holocaust is this: that the aborted children are completely, utterly rejected, abandoned and alone. From the very moment of their existence, they are unwanted and unloved”

    I don’t think you’re correct in most cases.

    Yeah, the hardcore selfish “feminazis” treat their unborn children that way, but women entering abortion mills often ARE in relationship with their unborn children. They have thought about them, dreamed about them, but then for some reason torn themselves away from that relationship — or at least tried to.

    I think it’s a mistake for the prolife movement to focus only on the small number of conscienceless aborters. Yes, they need to be dealt with. They are the ones who champion abortion and who stand poised to do everything in their power to ensure that no matter how the world around them changes, one thing will remain: Abortion.

    But the bulk of the women going into the mills are not like that.

    We need to recognize that there are different kinds of prochoicers, different kinds of women who abort, and develop strategies that address ALL of these populations. To do otherwise is to try to “cure cancer” when it turns out there isn’t “cancer.” There are many kinds of cancer. And there are many different kinds of abortion cancer, each one requring a different approach.

    • James Egan

      Forgive me if I came across as implying exactly that. What I meant more to say was that abortion causes a complete isolation of relationship. Read the quote I posted from Monica Miller – it goes both ways (for the mother and child).

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509270298 Kristen Adkins

        you should adopt all of the babies of the women u harass outside of abortion clinics. if you’re not able to do that, then why do you insist on making a horrible situation for the woman even worse?

        • James Egan

          I may not be able to adopt every single child, but I’d sure be willing to do my utmost to find a family that would, which is what I tell them. Why don’t you adopt the babies? Or is it just easier to have them killed?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509270298 Kristen Adkins

            because i am in bad health and don’t have the money to do so. i don’t feel the need to harass people about things that are none of my business. and, you are a man, what makes u think u have any right to preach and harass women about things u know nothing of. if men were the ones to get pregnant, there would be morning after vending machine dispensers on every corner, and abortion rates would skyrocket. u should find something better to do with your time, instead of stick your nose where it doesn’t belong and making a fool of yourself. if it was me walking into that clinic, i woulda pulled out my pepper spray and doused u, then kick u in the balls. 1 of these days you’re gonna harass the wrong woman, and she will give you what your dumbass deserves. btw i’m not pro-abortion, i’m pro-minding my own fucking business.

          • Basset_Hound

            So you’re saying that men are nothing but selfish animals with no regard or respect for the vulnerable?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509270298 Kristen Adkins

            no i’m saying since men do not have a uterus or vagina, you should not have any say in the abortion debate. most men seem to be against abortion, until they knock up the girl they were cheating on their wives with, then the attitude changes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.doey.73700 John Doey

    Amazing. If only pro-life conservatives would have the same compassion for the poor, isolated, and downtrodden living beings in this country that they do for an unborn embryo instead of classifying them as parasites on the nation’s tax dollars.

    • LoveTheLeast8

      Maybe that is why studies have shown that conservatives give more to charity than liberals.

      “Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.”
      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/opinion/21kristof.html?hp

    • James Egan

      I agree. But this begins at understanding them each as individuals worthy of love and dignity, not as a block mass of a vague abstraction “the poor”.

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  • http://twitter.com/distinctlyelan distinctlyelan

    Why, if the author and other pro-lifers care so much about the “unwanted,” (which is another argument entirely.. as other commenters have said,they are not all unwanted) does she not adopt as many other “unwanted” children as possible? Why is it so difficult to adopt, and why are there so many children that remain without families?

    • Sarah

      Our foster care system, combined with the fact that many parents aren’t willing to completely surrender parental right to their kids even when they are in foster care, makes it very difficult to adopt older children from this country.

      For newborn babies, there a couples on waiting lists, longing for a child.

      You are right, though, we pro-lifers don’t do enought, but that doesn’t mean that our cause is wrong.

      And, since when is being unwanted cause for being killed? This is what happens in an abortion.

  • Richard

    Imagine debating a pro-abort type person, and while in the midst of impeaching you they cite facts and statistics from THEBLAZE.COM. They proclaim “you are wrong because THEBLAZE.COM says this…”. How would that make you feel as a pro-life person? Would you feel a sense of validation that your position has merit? When the opposition uses your side for reference, you absolutely would.

    Getting to the truth is the most important part of any issue. And if both sides cite the same source, I think we’re in agreement the source is true.

    A contributor to this site,

    Calvin Freiburger

    http://rightcal.blogspot.com/

    while supporting his pro-life position on December 8, 2012, cited the Guttmacher Institute. Here is their most recent video:

    Here is Mr. Freiburger’s quote:

    “Your premise that “women” per se is who we’re talking about is yet another lie, when the truth is that we’re merely talking about one subset of women. Guttmacher says a little less than a quarter of pregnancies end in abortion, and women are often *more* pro-life than men. That means the clear majority of women ARE smart, strong, and just enough to see through the lie and do the right thing. The subset who consider abortion consists of those who either have been lied to by your side about what abortion does and what their baby is, are in circumstances where they’re not thinking clearly, or are so callous that they don’t care that they’re murdering their offspring”.

    Mr. Freiburger has, therefore, decidedly given credibility to the statistics supplied by the Guttmacher Institute, consequently giving it respectability in the eyes of the pro-life movement.

    The next time you are told the elimination of Planned Parenthood is a just act, consider this video..

    Mr. Freiburger gives you his blessing.

    http://www.lifenews.com/2012/12/21/guttmacher-institute-stands-by-misleading-abortion-study/

    http://www.guttmacher.org/

  • Thorien

    Thank you for reminding me of this beautiful song. Maybe caroling outside clinics could become a new tradition?