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But for the Grace…”

by | Aug 7, 2013

Editor’s note. This story from the March 2002, edition of National Right to Life News is the latest in our year-long “Roe at 40,” where we reprint some of the best that has appeared in NRL News going back to 1973. This particular column weaves a number of separate stories together in pursuit of the goal of making us realize how many victims that abortion destroys, beyond the helpless baby. I hope you will post this on your social networks.

From an e-mail sent in response to an edition of National Right to Life News Today

“The children I aborted will never appear in our family photos or at family gatherings. They will never be there for my son to love, know, play with, call when he needs someone to look to for guidance…. So the faces of my aborted children haunt me constantly every day of my life. Yet, I miss them greatly and long for them absolutely every day.”

From a talk by Vera Faith Lord

“I am nobody’s anything…no one’s daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, niece, or wife, but most of all I am nobody’s mother.”

philmccombsFrom “Remembering Thomas,” by Phil McCombs

“For some instinctual reason, or just imaginatively, I’ve come to believe that it was a boy, a son whom I wanted killed because, at the time his existence would have inconvenienced me. I’d had my fun. He didn’t fit into my plans. His name, which is carved on my heart, was Thomas.”

From a letter that appeared in the Arlington (Virginia) Catholic Herald

“That’s a moral lesson [in Dr. Seuss’s “Horton Hears a Who”] that is quite easy to understand and put into practice. If you’re bigger and stronger than someone else, you have a duty to protect that someone else if he’s in danger, and care for him if he can’t take care of himself.”

The goal of every edition of National Right to Life News is the same as that which we seek with our daily web feature, National Right to Life News Today. Simply put, our mission is to tell the truth compassionately and faithfully, but also with the sure knowledge that there are millions of hurting women out there, some of whom will read what we have to say.

“Choice” is the default idiom for people who either don’t know what they are talking about or who cannot come to grips with what they have done to their unborn children. But “Choice” fares poorly in the middle of the night when a woman is covered by a blanket of guilt and pain, regret and sadness.

There are women (seemingly) untouched by an abortion, but I suspect that such emotional neutrality is an aberration. Abortion often plunges a woman into a cycle of despair from which it is enormously difficult to extract herself. Courageously, more than a few women are using the lessons of their own tragedy to warn the rest of us.

We’ve written before about a talk given by Vera Faith Lord, the director of Alpha Omega Life, the newly formed pro-life outreach to the Greek Orthodox Church. Vera is an unforgettable speaker, a woman whose eloquent testimony to abortion’s soul-rending power is conveyed not just in words but in her whole existence.

Like so many aborted women, her lost child is a constant companion. After all these years, “Gabriel” is less the “ghost” that so many women speak of than a source of strength that she can reach out for when pressures are overwhelming.

But her statement quoted above still sends chills up and down my spine:

“I am nobody’s anything…no one’s daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, niece, or wife, but most of all I am nobody’s mother.”

It is a testimony to her strength of character and to her faith that she is able to share her story time and time again.

The woman quoted above who e-mailed me in response to a piece I did on a pro-abortion ad campaign would seem to be not nearly as far down the road to healing as Vera is. The entirety of her e-mail is enough to break your heart. It is such correspondence that makes it impossible for me to forget that abortion really does have two victims.

Upon reflection, however, we see that the train of destruction extends beyond even mother and child. Phil McCombs’s classic 1995 piece, “Remembering Thomas,” written for the Washington Post, reminds us that the pain of abortion often wraps itself around the father’s heart as well.

McCombs “instinctively” imagines that the unborn child whose death he so cavalierly ignored was a boy. He writes of many things, such as the summer vacation he will never take with “Thomas” and the questions his son will never ask him.

Although he is told not to be too hard on himself, McCombs says, “I feel like a murderer, which isn’t to say that I blame anyone else, or think anyone else is a murderer. It’s just the way I feel and all the rationalizations in the world haven’t changed this.”

Indeed, years later, “I still grieve for little Thomas. It is an ocean of grief.”

There is one other dimension that even pro-lifers often overlook. An unborn child has a mother and a father, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles. He or she is part of an interconnected web of relationships.

I shall never forget a talk I heard years ago at a National Right to Life Convention delivered by a psychologist. He spoke movingly of a child who had overheard his mother on the phone talking about the child–his unborn brother–whom she had aborted.

The emotional devastation was overwhelming. But since his mother had no clue her son knew of his sibling’s death, she could not figure out for the longest time why the child was suddenly skittish, distant, and emotionally detached.

There are countless reasons why abortion rips our heart, shreds our souls, tortures our imaginations. Maybe one of the most important is among the least spoken out loud.

It was captured in the letter to the editor of the Arlington Catholic Herald which included this line

“If you’re bigger and stronger than someone else, you have a duty to protect that someone else if he’s in danger, and care for him if he can’t take care of himself.”

And when we don’t–when we put our consciences on automatic pilot, when we trick ourselves into believing that the more helpless someone is the freer we are to be brutally unjust—it can be very difficult to live with the knowledge that we have failed the ultimate test.

Let us forgive freely those who have made this ghastly mistake and work even harder to protect every little one from the ultimate child abuse.

For after all, perhaps, there but for the grace of God, go I.

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