Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roe v Wade -- A sad anniversary

Forty years ago this week the Supreme Court voted to legalize abortion in the US.

Way back then, in 1973, I'd never even heard about abortion. That is until the day when a classmate in the Catholic high school I attended came up to me in the cafeteria. She looked right then left, and slid a manila folder across the table to me. I couldn't imagine what she had to be so secretive about.

The folder held black & white photographs of a dead woman lying in a pool of blood after an abortion.

I was horrified, of course. But at the same time I couldn't imagine that much desperation. Surely there had to be another way to deal with a temporary situation. My heart has always gone out to those in desperate situations, by my heart has also gone out to babies who were denied life.

Back in 1973 -- and for several years after -- I was a modern thinker, believing it was up to each woman to decide the fate of her child.

Since then I've changed my mind. In the meanwhile I've known many women and men who have bitterly regretted the decision to abort their babies.

One day about 30 years ago as I was letting myself into my home, a townhouse, my neighbor's ex-husband was walking to her door. I recognized him from the many times he'd come by to pick up their middle-school aged son. I knew my neighbor and her son were away on vacation, so it was odd that her ex showed up.

He told me she was killed in a car accident. His son was staying with relatives, and he was cleaning out the townhouse. He was selling a lot of the furniture, and I ended up buying a picnic table. We'd chatted, and it was clear he was heartbroken over her death. I offered to make us lunch.

We ended up sitting at my picnic table for lunch every day that week. Mostly, I listened as he talked through his grief. He regretted his divorce, and a few years earlier had asked her for a reconciliation. Unfortunately it was too late. She'd already moved on.

One day at lunchtime he came to my patio clutching what looked like a thick journal. He was so overcome with emotion that it took a minute before he could speak. The journal was a secret one. It was all written to "Alice." Alice was the name she'd given to the baby they both decided to abort ten years earlier.

At the time she became pregnant they had a toddler, and their careers were heading upward. All the worldly reasons told them to dispose of this unplanned pregnancy. They discussed the situation, and she aborted. They never spoke of it again, and he thought she'd moved on. But apparently not. The journal spanned the years from the abortion until my neighbor's death. Her ex-husband was horrified that she lived with such guilt and grief that had never been shared -- partly because he had the same emotions.

You don't hear much about post-abortion grief. Perhaps it's not PC to discuss, but it's there. Abortion doesn't just kill babies, it wounds men and women.

The woman who was at the center of the case, "Roe," is Norma McCorvey. She speaks out now against abortion and has pledged her life to overturning the decision.

Right now Ireland is in a political battle to keep abortion illegal. I pray they'll prevail. This week there was a pro-life demonstration that drew the support of 40,000 people.

I found this article thoughtful. It's from an Irish newspaper but references American thought on abolition.

Abortion is a scar on our culture. It makes me sad. It causes pain and death to more than the babies who are swept away.

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