"The issue of human life and its preservation and development is one that begins with conception and ends only when God calls a person back to himself in death. If we are consistent, then, we must be concerned about life from beginning to end. It is like a seamless garment; either it all holds together or eventually it all falls apart." Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, 1975

Thursday, February 18, 2016

How Perinatal Hospice Helps Parents Cope

Helping parents who want to continue a pregnancy despite baby's terminal illness.

by Shannon Firth, ContributingWriter, 
When a baby is given a prenatal diagnosis of a life-limiting illness, providers often suggest termination. That isn't always what parents want.

Over a decade ago, Amy Kuebelbeck -- book author, freelance writer, and former reporter for the Associated Press -- was nearly 6 months into pregnancy when she learned that her baby would be born with a fatal heart condition.
She spoke about her experience at the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists conference on Sunday.

In 1999, the concept of bringing a baby with a fatal illness to term wasn't well recognized. Still, Kuebelbeck knew it was a legal option.

"We really created a perinatal hospice experience by the seat of our pants, without ever having heard the term," she said. In the last 15 years, the practice has grown exponentially. On Monday, she added the 240th listing to the international roster of perinatal hospice and palliative care programs she maintains at perinatalhospice.org.

Kuebelbeck is the author of two books about perinatal hospice. "Waiting with Gabriel: A Story of Cherishing a Baby's Brief Life," and "A Gift of Time: Continuing Your Pregnancy, When Your Baby's Life Is Expected To Be Brief."

For her second book, Kuebelbeck and her co-author Deborah Davis, PhD, a psychologist, interviewed or received written narratives from more than 100 families.
Many families perceived that they were being pressured to terminate, said Kuebelbeck. "I think that in a lot of cases that option is offered out of compassion," she said, because providers assume termination will be easier for parents psychologically.

Also, physicians are doers and problem solvers. "Waiting doesn't feel much like doing," she said, but it is. "Waiting can be a profound and healing form of doing."

One of the things that Kuebelbeck learned through her own experience is that hospitals don't need an entire care team for a family to feel supported. In her case, a single nurse shepherded her family through that period.
"The most important thing she did for us was that she affirmed that we still had a profound opportunity to parent our baby, that even through our time was going to be short that we could make tremendous memories during that time," Kuebelbeck told MedPage Today.

Annette Klein, RN, who works in parent education and support at United Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., is the nurse who guided Kuebelbeck through this traumatic time.
Kuebelbeck took Klein's advice to heart. She and her husband brought their son, still in the womb, to a baseball game -- even though Kuebelbeck hates baseball. They took him fishing, swimming, and to concerts. "We consciously thought of it as our summer with Gabriel," she said.
Years later, she met other families who understood her approach, who recognized "that's your time with your baby, it might be your only time."
The second most critical thing that Klein told Kuebelbeck was none of the families she met regretted continuing their pregnancies despite their child's fatal illness. Having her decision validated meant a lot to Kuebelbeck at the time.

Klein also helped Kuebelbeck create a birth plan. Klein arranged a conference with the caregivers involved and together they discussed "what might happen and what they hoped would happen," Kuebelbeck said.
For Kuebelbeck, these plans included photographs to memorialize the birth. She also wanted the baby to be baptized.
Klein told MedPage Today that Kuebelbeck's family was the first family that she had guided through perinatal hospice, however informal it was. Before that time, providers didn't realize that photos might be important or that a mother could still hold her baby, she said.
Today, she recognizes how unusual and clear-sighted Kuebelbeck was. "She had wisdom beyond what most people do at that point in the journey," Klein said.

Since that time, Klein has helped dozens of families and provider teams through this healing experience.

One father told Klein he dreamed of having his son outside with him in nature to "feel the sun on his face." Because Klein spoke with the team in advance and let them know that certain rules and regulations were no longer important, the father got his wish. Once the mother was stable, they wheeled her and the baby out into the hospital's garden for close to an hour, she said.

"That was very meaningful to that father," Klein said.
Klein saw Kuebelbeck's own experience as "just a beautiful, beautiful birth and death." Kuebelbeck, her husband, her parents, and her daughters were all there to support her. Asked what she remembers, she said, "I remember love."
Advice for Caregivers and Families

Nothing is more uncomfortable than talking about dying, and a dying baby is even worse, said Kuebelbeck.

"It seems so frightening and so overwhelmingly sad that people don't want to talk about it, but sadly it happens, and parents need support when it does."

Providers need to be conscious of their language choices. Parents are very aware of "shifts in terminology" -- for example, using the word "fetus" the moment a problem is discovered.

If parents have chosen a name for the baby, Kuebelbeck said, providers should use it.

Klein said, over the years, she has learned that parents' first instinct when their child is given a fatal diagnosis is a "head in the sand" response. They think blocking out the problem will make it easier and the fewer memories they have the better.

But she's found the opposite to be true. Mothers who chose to embrace their baby as present in their life could say, "She only lived for a short time or she only lived inside of me, but I was really a good mom."

Providers should allow families 24 hours or even a few days before they decide what to do about a prenatal diagnosis.

Memory-making is also incredibly important, said Klein.

She reminds patients that even in the womb, the baby can hear. She suggests parents read books, talk to their babies, and let their other children know they can talk to the baby too.

What You Don’t Know About the Abortion Fight Before Roe v. Wade

The battle was already raging, but the divisions didn't fall where you might think they did
In New York, the state with the highest number of legal abortions, the polarization was especially acute. It had been a Republican legislator and Republican governor who had been chiefly responsible for the legalization of abortion in the state two years earlier, and many of New York’s Republicans—including Governor Nelson Rockefeller—were still strongly supportive of abortion rights. But it was also a Republican who was leading the charge to reverse their actions. Democrats were equally divided.

The media portrayed the pro-life movement as a Catholic cause, but by 1972, that stereotype was already outdated. In Michigan, for instance, the fight against a referendum to legalize abortion was spearheaded by three Protestants—a gynecologist, a white Presbyterian mother, and an African American woman who was a liberal Democratic state legislator. In Minnesota, the leader of the state’s pro-life campaign was a liberal Methodist whose physician husband was a member of Planned Parenthood. In Massachusetts, one of the leading pro-life activists was an African American Methodist physician who had been the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School. And even in New York, where Catholics accounted for the vast majority of the movement’s activists, there was more religious diversity than the media often acknowledged, partly because Catholics had joined forces with Orthodox Jews. In fact, one of the keynote speakers at the April 16 pro-life rally in Central Park was an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who served as president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. One of New York City’s most vocal pro-life advocates was a liberal Lutheran minister who was best known for his protests against the Vietnam War and his advocacy of civil rights.

Perhaps most surprisingly, at the time the protest took place, the pro-lifers were winning. Only a few years earlier, their campaign had looked like a last-gasp battle against the forces of progress. They faced opposition from the women’s rights movement, newspaper and television media, the medical and legal establishments, mainline Protestant denominations, ecumenical religious organizations such as the National Council of Churches, and political leaders in both major parties. Yet the pro-life movement had figured out a way to defy the international trend toward abortion legalization and defeat several efforts to liberalize state abortion laws.

The right-to-life movement had faced nearly insuperable challenges in the late 1960s, when a wave of sixteen states legalized at least some forms of abortion within a three-year period. But then the pro-lifers regrouped, changed their strategies, and figured out how to win legislative battles. In 1971, twenty-five states considered abortion legalization bills. Every one of them failed to pass. In 1972, the pro-life movement went on the offensive and began campaigning for measures to rescind recently passed abortion legalization laws and tighten existing abortion restrictions. In the wake of the Central Park protest, the New York state legislature voted to repeal New York’s liberal abortion law and was thwarted only by Governor Rockefeller’s veto.

The size of the backlash against abortion legalization surprised many supporters of abortion rights. What had happened? How did a small, beleaguered Catholic movement manage to create a massive ecumenical coalition of grassroots activists and stop the march of abortion legalization?

. . .If the opponents of abortion had based their opposition merely on religious teaching or the seemingly arcane principles of natural law—as Catholics had when campaigning against contraception—it is unlikely that the pro-life cause could have withstood the forces of the sexual revolution, the feminist movement, and the social changes of the 1960s. But because the pro-life movement grounded its arguments in the language of human value and constitutional rights, it was able to attract a politically and religiously diverse coalition that actually gained strength over time. The pro-life movement succeeded because it drew on the same language of human rights, civil rights, and the value of human life that inspired the struggle for African American freedom, the feminist movement, antiwar protests, and the campaign for the rights of gays and lesbians.

Reprinted from Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-life Movement before Roe v. Wade by Daniel K. Williams with permission from Oxford University Press, Inc. Copyright © 2016 by Oxford University Press.

Pregnant Women’s Rights Must Be Fully Protected by the Criminal Law

by Denise M. Burke April 15, 2014 5:15 PM
Recent media misinformation, perhaps deliberate on the part of left-leaning commentators, currently casts a cloud over efforts to give women more protection when they are forced to defend themselves and their unborn children.
Imagine being pregnant with quadruplets and having your babies’ father viciously punch you in the stomach during an argument. You remind him that you are carrying his children and warn him not to punch you in the stomach again. Tragically, he doesn’t heed your warning and instead comes at you. Fearing for your children, you grab a knife and stab him. He later dies, and you are charged with homicide.
At your criminal trial, you want to argue to the jury that your actions were legally justified because you were acting in defense of your unborn children. However, the judge determines that state law does not permit you to make that argument, and you are ultimately convicted and sentenced to prison.
This is not just a hypothetical. It actually happened to a Michigan woman in 1999. Her conviction was later reversed when an appellate court determined that Michigan law did, in fact, permit a woman to use force in defense of her unborn child.
Notably, this was the first time a court had extended the “defense of others” theory to the defense of an unborn child. Courts in Texas and Illinois had previously refused to do so, despite the significant and ongoing problem of pregnancy-related violence including violence specifically directed toward unborn children.
Each year, thousands of cases of unlawful violence against pregnant women and their unborn children are reported. These incidents continue to underscore the urgent need to ensure that our criminal laws protect both the woman and her unborn child, and that they also affirmatively provide legal protection to a woman who must resort to force in defense of her unborn child.
The Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act, model legislation developed in 2008 by Americans United for Life, is designed to amend a state’s existing criminal code and provides that a woman may use force — even deadly force — to defend her unborn child from unlawful violence or a criminal attack.
Attempts by some in the media to distort the intent and impact of the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act and to smear Americans United for Life as encouraging violence against abortion providers represent thinly veiled, politically motivated attacks that blatantly ignore the stated intent of the model legislation. The legislation is intended simply to ensure that a pregnant woman and her unborn child are protected from unlawful criminal violence and that a woman’s decision to carry her child to term is respected. They also reveal a fundamental — and perhaps willful — misunderstanding of the express terms of the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act, the scope and application of criminal law, and the purposes and intent behind this model language.
MYTH: The Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act will “legalize” or “incite” violence against abortion providers.
TRUTH: The Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act applies only to situations in which unlawful force is being applied or imminently threatened against an unborn child. Moreover, under the narrow tailoring of the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act, only the child’s mother — and not a third-party — may be justified in using force to defend the unborn child.
Under well-established criminal jurisprudence, a person is justified in using force in the “defense of another” when unlawful force is being applied or threatened against that other person. Arguably, a “person” includes an unborn child under federal criminal law and the laws of 38 states that recognize an unborn child as a potential victim of violence.
In this instance, examples of the use of unlawful force would include punching or beating a pregnant woman with the intent of causing a miscarriage or damage to the pregnancy or threatening the use of a knife or other weapon against the unborn child. Notably, the force applied in response to the threat must be “reasonable” or comparable to the threat. Thus, deadly force can be used, although only in cases of extreme peril.
The provisions of the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act come into play only when unlawful force is being applied or threatened. It does not apply to lawful activity.
Abortion is legal in the United States and a woman must consent to an abortion before it is performed. Thus, under no reasonable reading of the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act can it be construed as applying to the provision of abortion (which is a legal act and not unlawful force) or as justifying or excusing criminal violence against those who perform legal abortions.
This narrow application of the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act is confirmed by the Michigan appellate decision noted earlier where the justices specifically said:[BLOCK]The distinction between the abortion cases and the instant case is straightforward. The United States Supreme Court has held that the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to personal privacy and that this right encompasses a woman’s decision whether to terminate her pregnancy. The “defense of others” theory is available only if a person acts to prevent unlawful bodily harm against another. Because clinics that perform abortions are engaging in lawful activity, the “defense of others” theory does not apply. . . . Our holding . . . does not apply to what the United States Supreme Court has held to constitute lawful abortions.[BLOCK]
 MYTH: The Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act is part of a “campaign” to target abortion providers.
TRUTH: AUL drafted the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act in 2008 in direct response to the well-documented threats of violence faced by pregnant women and their children. Moreover, in keeping with its pro-life convictions, AUL has always denounced violence against abortion providers and would never promulgate model legislation that could reasonably be construed as calling for or excusing such violence.
As detailed in the legislative findings section of the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act, evidence has shown that violence and abuse are often higher during pregnancy than during any other period in a woman’s lifetime. Based on studies conducted between 1995 and 1999, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that at least 300,000 pregnant women are abused each year. Moreover, according to the March of Dimes, one in six pregnant women has been abused by a partner. Similarly, a 1998 household survey determined that pregnant women are 60.6 percent more likely to be beaten than women who are not pregnant.
In fact, a pregnant woman is more likely to be a victim of homicide than to die of any other cause. And case after case has demonstrated that husbands or boyfriends are often the perpetrators of pregnancy-related violence, and this violence is often directed at the unborn child or intended to end or jeopardize the pregnancy.
It is precisely these threats that AUL seeks to address with the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act.
MYTH: The protections provided by the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act are unnecessary and are not supported by existing law.
TRUTH: The Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act is a logical extension of existing federal and state criminal laws that provide for the right to use force in the “defense of others” and other criminal law provisions that recognize and protect unborn children.
All 50 states permit the use of force in specified circumstances: for self defense, in the defense of others, and when a person reasonably believes that unlawful force is being used or will imminently be used against him/her or a third person. “Self-defense” and the “defense of others” are affirmative defenses raised by a criminal defendant that, if proven true, can provide a complete defense to criminal liability.
With that in mind, it is easy to see that the application of the affirmative defense of “defense of others” to cases where a mother uses force to protect the life of her unborn child is a natural extension of accepted criminal jurisprudence including existing unborn victims of violence protections (i.e., fetal homicide laws and fetal assault laws) that recognize the unborn as potential victims of criminal violence.
The federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act (more commonly known as “Laci and Conner’s Law,” after Laci and Conner Peterson), as well as the laws of 38 states, recognizes an unborn child as a separate victim of criminal violence and treats the killing of an unborn child as a form of homicide. In addition, 22 states define non-fatal assaults on unborn children as criminal offenses.
Thus, it is clear that recognizing the unborn as “others” for purposes of the “defense of others” theory in no way diverges from current federal and state criminal law. If under a state’s criminal code an unborn child is recognized as a potential victim of homicide or assault, then that unborn child can be protected through the use of force when warranted.
Recognizing this, Oklahoma, in 2009, became the first state to enact AUL’s Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act, explicitly expanding the affirmative defense of “defense of others” to include instances where a pregnant woman uses force to protect her unborn child. Arkansas and Missouri have also enacted this protective legislation.
MYTH: The Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act is simply another tool in the “abortion wars.”
TRUTH: The “Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act” is not an abortion bill and attempts by some in the media to subsume the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act into the debate over abortion do a grave disservice to abused women and vulnerable unborn children who are often the targets of criminal violence.
The Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act does not contain the word “abortion” anywhere in the text of the model legislation. (In fact, the word “abortion” is used only twice in the policy guide accompanying the model legislation, where it is used as an adjective in the term “abortion provider.” Notably, in this context, “abortion provider” is used when noting that the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act cannot legitimately or honestly be argued to condone, promote, or incite violence against abortion providers.)
Finally, there is a good reason for the absence of the term “abortion” in the AUL model language: The bill is not about abortion. As detailed above, the bill is intended to ensure that a pregnant woman is able to protect her unborn child from criminal violence. In doing so, it also protects her individual decision to carry her child to term — her choice for life.
— Denise M. Burke is Americans United for Life’s vice president of legal affairs.

When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense

by Frederica Mathewes-Green January 22, 2016 4:00 AM
At the time of the Roe v. Wade decision, I was a college student — an anti-war, mother-earth, feminist, hippie college student. That particular January I was taking a semester off, living in the D.C. area and volunteering at the feminist “underground newspaper” Off Our Backs. As you’d guess, I was strongly in favor of legalizing abortion. The bumper sticker on my car read, “Don’t labor under a misconception; legalize abortion.”
The first issue of Off Our Backs after the Roe decision included one of my movie reviews, and also an essay by another member of the collective criticizing the decision. It didn’t go far enough, she said, because it allowed states to restrict abortion in the third trimester. The Supreme Court should not meddle in what should be decided between the woman and her doctor. She should be able to choose abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

 But, at the time, we didn’t have much understanding of what abortion was. We knew nothing of fetal development. We consistently termed the fetus “a blob of tissue,” and that’s just how we pictured it — an undifferentiated mucous-like blob, not recognizable as human or even as alive. It would be another 15 years of so before pregnant couples could show off sonograms of their unborn babies, shocking us with the obvious humanity of the unborn.
We also thought, back then, that few abortions would ever be done. It’s a grim experience, going through an abortion, and we assumed a woman would choose one only as a last resort. We were fighting for that “last resort.” We had no idea how common the procedure would become; today, one in every five pregnancies ends in abortion.
Nor could we have imagined how high abortion numbers would climb. In the 43 years since Roe v. Wade, there have been 59 million abortions. It’s hard even to grasp a number that big. Twenty years ago, someone told me that, if the names of all those lost babies were inscribed on a wall, like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the wall would have to stretch for 50 miles. It’s 20 years later now, and that wall would have to stretch twice as far. But no names could be written on it; those babies had no names.
We expected that abortion would be rare. What we didn’t realize was that, once abortion becomes available, it becomes the most attractive option for everyone around the pregnant woman. If she has an abortion, it’s like the pregnancy never existed. No one is inconvenienced. It doesn’t cause trouble for the father of the baby, or her boss, or the person in charge of her college scholarship. It won’t embarrass her mom and dad.
Abortion is like a funnel; it promises to solve all the problems at once. So there is significant pressure on a woman to choose abortion, rather than adoption or parenting.
A woman who had had an abortion told me, “Everyone around me was saying they would ‘be there for me’ if I had the abortion, but no one said they’d ‘be there for me’ if I had the baby.” For everyone around the pregnant woman, abortion looks like the sensible choice. A woman who determines instead to continue an unplanned pregnancy looks like she’s being foolishly stubborn. It’s like she’s taken up some unreasonable hobby. People think: If she would only go off and do this one thing, everything would be fine.
But that’s an illusion. Abortion can’t really turn back the clock. It can’t push the rewind button on life and make it so that she was never pregnant. It can make it easy for everyone around the woman to forget the pregnancy, but the woman herself may struggle. When she first sees the positive pregnancy test she may feel, in a panicky way, that she has to get rid of it as fast as possible. But life stretches on after abortion, for months and years — for many long nights — and all her life long she may ponder the irreversible choice she made.

 This issue gets presented as if it’s a tug of war between the woman and the baby. We see them as mortal enemies, locked in a fight to the death. But that’s a strange idea, isn’t it? It must be the first time in history when mothers and their own children have been assumed to be at war. We’re supposed to picture the child attacking her, trying to destroy her hopes and plans, and picture the woman grateful for the abortion, since it rescued her from the clutches of her child.
If you were in charge of a nature preserve and you noticed that the pregnant female mammals were trying to miscarry their pregnancies, eating poisonous plants or injuring themselves, what would you do? Would you think of it as a battle between the pregnant female and her unborn and find ways to help those pregnant animals miscarry? No, of course not. You would immediately think, “Something must be really wrong in this environment.” Something is creating intolerable stress, so much so that animals would rather destroy their own offspring than bring them into the world. You would strive to identify and correct whatever factors were causing this stress in the animals.
The same thing goes for the human animal. Abortion gets presented to us as if it’s something women want; both pro-choice and pro-life rhetoric can reinforce that idea. But women do this only if all their other options look worse. It’s supposed to be “her choice,” yet so many women say, “I really didn’t have a choice.”
I changed my opinion on abortion after I read an article in Esquire magazine, way back in 1976. I was home from grad school, flipping through my dad’s copy, and came across an article titled “What I Saw
at the Abortion.” The author, Richard Selzer, was a surgeon, and he was in favor of abortion, but he’d never seen one. So he asked a colleague whether, next time, he could go along.
Selzer described seeing the patient, 19 weeks pregnant, lying on her back on the table. (That is unusually late; most abortions are done by the tenth or twelfth week.) The doctor performing the procedure inserted a syringe into the woman’s abdomen and injected her womb with a prostaglandin solution, which would bring on contractions and cause a miscarriage. (This method isn’t used anymore, because too often the baby survived the procedure — chemically burned and disfigured, but clinging to life. Newer methods, including those called “partial birth abortion” and “dismemberment abortion,” more reliably ensure death.)
After injecting the hormone into the patient’s womb, the doctor left the syringe standing upright on her belly. Then, Selzer wrote, “I see something other than what I expected here. . . . It is the hub of the needle that is in the woman’s belly that has jerked. First to one side. Then to the other side. Once more it wobbles, is tugged, like a fishing line nibbled by a sunfish.”
He realized he was seeing the fetus’s desperate fight for life. And as he watched, he saw the movement of the syringe slow down and then stop. The child was dead. Whatever else an unborn child does not have, he has one thing: a will to live. He will fight to defend his life.

The last words in Selzer’s essay are, “Whatever else is said in abortion’s defense, the vision of that other defense [i.e., of the child defending its life] will not vanish from my eyes. And it has happened that you cannot reason with me now. For what can language do against the truth of what I saw?”
The truth of what he saw disturbed me deeply. There I was, anti-war, anti–capital punishment, even vegetarian, and a firm believer that social justice cannot be won at the cost of violence. Well, this sure looked like violence. How had I agreed to make this hideous act the centerpiece of my feminism? How could I think it was wrong to execute homicidal criminals, wrong to shoot enemies in wartime, but all right to kill our own sons and daughters?
For that was another disturbing thought: Abortion means killing not strangers but our own children, our own flesh and blood. No matter who the father, every child aborted is that woman’s own son or daughter, just as much as any child she will ever bear.

We had somehow bought the idea that abortion was necessary if women were going to rise in their professions and compete in the marketplace with men. But how had we come to agree that we will sacrifice our children, as the price of getting ahead? When does a man ever have to choose between his career and the life of his child?
Once I recognized the inherent violence of abortion, none of the feminist arguments made sense. Like the claim that a fetus is not really a person because it is so small. Well, I’m only 5 foot 1. Women, in general, are smaller than men. Do we really want to advance a principle that big people have more value than small people? That if you catch them before they’ve reached a certain size, it’s all right to kill them?
What about the child who is “unwanted”? It was a basic premise of early feminism that women should not base their sense of worth on whether or not a man “wants” them. We are valuable simply because we are members of the human race, regardless of any other person’s approval. Do we really want to say that “unwanted” people might as well be dead? What about a woman who is “wanted” when she’s young and sexy but less so as she gets older? At what point is it all right to terminate her?
The usual justification for abortion is that the unborn is not a person.” It’s said that “Nobody knows when life begins.” But that’s not true; everybody knows when life — a new individual human life — gets started. It’s when the sperm dissolves in the egg. That new single cell has a brand-new DNA, never before seen in the world. If you examined through a microscope three cells lined up — the newly fertilized ovum, a cell from the father, and a cell from the mother — you would say that, judging from the DNA, the cells came from three different people.
When people say the unborn is “not a person” or “not a life” they mean that it has not yet grown or gained abilities that arrive later in life. But there’s no agreement about which abilities should be determinative. Pro-choice people don’t even agree with each other.  Obviously, law cannot be based on such subjective criteria. If it’s a case where the question is “Can I kill this?” the answer must be based on objective medical and scientific data. And the fact is, an unborn child, from the very first moment, is a new human individual. It has the three essential characteristics that make it “a human life”: It’s alive and growing, it is composed entirely of human cells, and it has unique DNA. It’s a person, just like the rest of us.
Abortion indisputably ends a human life. But this loss is usually set against the woman’s need to have an abortion in order to freely direct her own life. It is a particular cruelty to present abortion as something women want, something they demand, they find liberating. Because nobody wants this. The procedure itself is painful, humiliating, expensive — no woman “wants” to go through it. But once it’s available, it appears to be the logical, reasonable choice. All the complexities can be shoved down that funnel. Yes, abortion solves all the problems; but it solves them inside the woman’s body. And she is expected to keep that pain inside for a lifetime, and be grateful for the gift of abortion.
Many years ago I wrote something in an essay about abortion, and I was surprised that the line got picked up and frequently quoted. I’ve seen it in both pro-life and pro-choice contexts, so it appears to be something both sides agree on.
I wrote, “No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.”
Strange, isn’t it, that both pro-choice and pro-life people agree that is true? Abortion is a horrible and harrowing experience. That women choose it so frequently shows how much worse continuing a pregnancy can be. Essentially, we’ve agreed to surgically alter women so that they can get along in a man’s world. And then expect them to be grateful for it.
Nobody wants to have an abortion. And if nobody wants to have an abortion, why are women doing it, 2,800 times a day? If women doing something 2,800 times daily that they don’t want to do, this is not
liberation we’ve won. We are colluding in a strange new form of oppression.
And so we come around to one more March for Life, like the one last year, like the one next year. Protesters understandably focus on the unborn child, because the danger it faces is the most galvanizing aspect of this struggle. If there are different degrees of injustice, surely violence is the worst manifestation, and killing worst of all. If there are different categories of innocent victim, surely the small and helpless have a higher claim to protection, and tiny babies the highest of all. The minimum purpose of government is to shield the weak from abuse by the strong, and there is no one weaker or more voiceless than unborn children. And so we keep saying that they should be protected, for all the same reasons that newborn babies are protected. Pro-lifers have been doing this for 43 years now, and will continue holding a candle in the darkness for as many more years as it takes.
I understand all the reasons why the movement’s prime attention is focused on the unborn. But we can also say that abortion is no bargain for women, either. It’s destructive and tragic. We shouldn’t listen unthinkingly to the other side of the time-worn script, the one that tells us that women want abortions, that abortion liberates them. Many a post-abortion woman could tell you a different story.
The pro-life cause is perennially unpopular, and pro-lifers get used to being misrepresented and wrongly accused. There are only a limited number of people who are going to be brave enough to stand up on the side of an unpopular cause. But sometimes a cause is so urgent, is so dramatically clear, that it’s worth it. What cause could be more outrageous than violence — fatal violence — against the most helpless members of our human community? If that doesn’t move us, how hard are our hearts? If that doesn’t move us, what will ever move us?
In time, it’s going to be impossible to deny that abortion is violence against children. Future generations, as they look back, are not necessarily going to go easy on ours. Our bland acceptance of abortion is not going to look like an understandable goof. In fact, the kind of hatred that people now level at Nazis and slave-owners may well fall upon our era. Future generations can accurately say, “It’s not like they didn’t know.” They can say, “After all, they had sonograms.” They may consider this bloodshed to be a form of genocide. They might judge our generation to be monsters.
One day, the tide is going to turn. With that Supreme Court decision 43 years ago, one of the sides in the abortion debate won the day. But sooner or later, that day will end. No generation can rule from the grave. The time is coming when a younger generation will sit in judgment of ours. And they are not obligated to be kind.
 — Frederica Mathewes-Green is the author of Real Choices: Listening to Women; Looking for Alternatives to Abortion.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430152/abortion-roe-v-wade-unborn-children-women-feminism-march-life