Kathryn Jean Lopez: Mourning and second chances
“This pain will come as a thief in the night. It will take away your peace if you let it; it will drag you into the harsh darkness of the misery of loss,” Maria Grizetti writes about the pain of losing a child.
And what if no one is mourning with you? What if you’re told there is nothing to mourn?
As undercover investigatory videos have surfaced revealing some of what goes on behind the scenes of the abortion industry, a lot of people are suffering, reliving choices made and thinking about the care and support they wish they’d had.
News about and political debates on these intimate issues can pour salt into wounds. But this is the opportunity for something better. We can help women and men mourn and together build a civilization that is more hospitable to life, one that protects and defends our most vulnerable and their mothers and fathers and families, who are often quite vulnerable too.
On the day of the release of the first video from the Center for Medical Progress, which showed a Planned Parenthood doctor, over wine and a salad, talking about harvesting the organs of aborted children, one woman posted this to Planned Parenthood’s Facebook page:
“I am simply sick. And to casually have this conversation eating and drinking wine. I have been an advocate a long time. … I consider the decision I made at 16 to have an abortion at (P)lanned (P)arenthood. Was my baby for sale?”
“The reality of abortion is harsh, and the sorrow people who have been involved with abortion carry is often hidden,” Grizzetti tells me. “The videos reveal the hidden tragedy of each abortion. This is reason for greater compassion. As a nation we must be more truly compassionate. We must not hide behind euphemisms to cover the harsh realities. The more we know, the more we can do for those who suffer in silence.”
“It may be that you’ve succeeded, mostly, in putting it behind you,” Dr. Grazie Christie, a Miami radiologist, wants to say to anyone one who needs to hear it. “It may be that you’ve gone well down the road to forgiving the young woman you were then, and are filled with compassion for her.” But now these videos, she says, “have shocked you and sent you tumbling back. But take courage!” she urges: “Do not go back, but rest in the knowledge that He knows how frail we are, and pities us with all His tender heart.”
“We mourn with you,” Serrin Foster, executive director of Feminist for Life, says. “We love you unconditionally.” She offers an additional word of welcome, on behalf of “the pro-life movement”: “Later, when you are in a better place, you are welcome to help us move forward to systematically eliminate the reasons that drive women to abortion through resources and support.”
We don’t have to be the pro-life movement and the pro-choice movement. We can be generous Americans helping one another flourish, protecting the most innocent and vulnerable, whoever they may be.
And one other thing: If you are pregnant right now and need help, there are people who will help you. Visit a Women’s Care Center or similar organization. When I dropped by one in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Ann Manion and Anne Koehl emphasized to me their agenda: They are there for what a woman needs. They are there to help. Not to lecture. Not to proselytize. Not to judge. Don’t feel ashamed or be afraid. With that approach, they’ve gone from handing out diapers to saving lives.
Eleanor McCullen has been going to Planned Parenthood in Boston for 15 years. She stands outside with a grandmother’s smile. She’s there to say that is another choice. She offers her number and help, as well, to the women who walk out, having left something precious behind. “We’re a generous country,” she once told me. “But we’re not generous to the child in the womb” who is often “the poorest of the poor.” With these latest videos, and the pain they expose, there is an opportunity to give what has been denied by law and culture: Hope, love, and mercy.
There is freedom in being hidden no more.
And there is a future for life.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a nationally syndicated columnist.
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