Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Daughter's Essay

Hey T, I'm glad you finally trimmed your bangs after that photo was taken. Now I can see all of your lovely face again.

Our second-oldest daughter will be going into the 9th grade in September. Last semester her Social Studies teacher asked everyone in his class to prepare both a written essay and an oral presentation on an issue that they felt particularly strong about.

To my surprise, T decided to present a pro-life argument on abortion. Anne and I are both pro-life without apology, and everyone else in the family is too, to varying degrees of intensity, but even though our views are clear and well-known, Anne and I aren't constantly hammering away at the issue the way we know it occurs in many anti-abortion households.

As far as I can tell, T shaped her own opinions about this topic (like she does with a lot of other things) almost entirely on her own. In fact, I can recall her being full of passionate intensity about this as far back as to when she was old enough to realize what abortion is. She's involved in her Catholicism, wears it and bears it proudly, but from what I could see, embracing the pro-life position seemed self-evident to her as soon as she was old enough to pick up on the message she took out of Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who when she was just a little girl. "We are here! We are here! A person is a person, no matter how small..." By the way, when Horton Hears a Who was released as a movie (starring Jim Carrey) in 2008, there was controversy around the pro-life movement's use of Horton... as a parable for their cause and "a person is a person no matter how small" as a rallying cry, with Dr. Seuss's widow claiming that he meant so such thing. Since Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) himself is dead and seems to have said nothing specific about it (other than a claim by his biographer that he threatened to sue a pro-life group for putting his words and images on t-shirts), I don't know what anyone can say for sure about the meaning of a book that was written in 1954, quite some time before the abortion issue was such a divisive topic in America, but people on both sides are bound to take out of it what they want to regardless...

When a boy in her class decided to write his presentation advocating the pro-choice position, and heard that T would be arguing the other side, he said to her "OK, it's on!! This is basically just going to come down to a religious argument, isn't it?" That got under her skin a bit, because while she's glad that her religion teaches the same thing she believes, she says she'd feel the same way about it whether she was religious or not. She found the comment to be dismissive, condescending, and presumptuous, so she was determined to make her case without resorting to religious arguments and language.

As she was getting prepared the night before her presentation she called me over to the computer. She asked me if I thought it would be a good idea to include in her presentation some photos from a Google image search on "aborted babies." As I looked at the gruesome images, I was taken aback, not only due to the graphic nature of the images themselves, but because it surprised me that she would even think of performing a search on that. Anne and I both told her that we didn't think it was a good idea, and would more likely backfire on her than persuade anyone. This was also around the time of the murder of Dr. Tiller too, so this just wasn't a place to go, we advised.

She'd probably be mortified if she new I was posting this, but here it is.
“All men are created equal.” These are the words of our founding fathers in the United States Constitution, our law, and our duty to uphold. How would you react if you were told that every year over 45 million breathing, thinking, living people are killed legally? Where is this loophole in our system? How is this possible?

Forty-five million children per year are surgically aborted. That’s not including chemical abortions and medicines used even more regularly than expensive operations. Many people are still on the edge of being pro-life because they aren’t well informed. Here are some facts that will clear up common myths about abortion:

- Only one percent of abortions per year are from cases of rape or incest, meaning all other abortions are of unwanted children.

- Abortion is extremely dangerous to a woman’s health; it dramatically increases her chance of breast cancer by a minimum of 50%, risk of cervical cancer up to five times more likely, and after an abortion many women have serious issues with the liver, ovaries, and pelvis to name just a few possible casualties.

- Common myth that having baby will be too traumatizing; an abortion doesn’t make the situation less traumatizing. Women who have had an abortion have many more and longer lasting emotional issues.

- There is statistically a 154% higher risk of death from suicide from abortion patients.

Abortion centers do not show women the ultrasounds of their babies before they are aborted. Why? Because what the ultrasound shows is a human being. Babies in the qualified age group for an abortion have fingers, toes, eyes, legs, arms, tongue, a beating heart- all the major body parts are there, and the details are beginning to form. Babies can be seen with the hiccups, laughing, kicking- and thinking. Brain waves can be monitored only 40 days after conception. A baby is usually aborted somewhere around 3 months, and sometimes even later, meaning that baby has already developed a mind for thought. Science has proven that a baby’s entire genetic code is in the very first cell.

An abortion is an operation. If these babies have all these body parts, and they take the baby out of the mother’s body, then what do they do with all those little limbs? Well, they must be disposed somehow, right? Some abortion centers decide to chop up the little limbs and take them somewhere to be “disposed of properly.” One abortion clinic owner said, “We put them down the garbage disposal. Some second and third trimester babies' muscle structure is so strong that the baby will not come apart, so they must be disposed of through trash receptacles.” Others decide to burn them, or use them for medical testing. (Just searching aborted baby on Google images will bring up incredibly disturbing yet real pictures. After seeing these, it’s impossible to deny a fetus is a human being.)

Many people are pro-choice because they think abortion is just in rape situations. Its important to acknowledge that the amount of abortions for rape and incest added together equals less than one percent. But, of course, there still are girls who have been raped unfairly, and are not ready for the responsibility of being a mother. I read the book "Why Pro-Life?" By Randy Alcorn. There was an interview with a girl who had had two abortions but also had one baby by rape that she put up for adoption. She, along with many other women, said that the abortions were much harder on her than having the baby. Years later, she feels guilty and horribly responsible for the death of a person that would have been someone’s parent, sibling, friend, or spouse. Every baby killed takes that person out of someone else’s life, something that is hard for us to conceive. Imagine all the people we could have potentially met if it was not for abortion, all the people who could have made a difference in the world. The rape wasn’t her fault, but it wasn’t the baby’s either. Neither should have to take punishment, but whether she likes it or not, the situation cannot be put in the past. An abortion may take the baby away, but not the memory. Knowing that one of her babies is alive and safe is a comfort to her, and that her child got the chance to live their life.

Many pro-choice activists raise the point that a disabled person or child that was adopted might be living a horrible life. But isn’t it unfair for the parents to decide because their child’s life might be hard they should die? Dying is obviously worse than not having a chance to live. That’s like saying it’s justified to walk around a heavily impoverished area shooting people because they didn’t have great lives. It doesn’t make it right. Look at all the important people who came from a horrible start! No one should determine someone’s life from before they are born.

Anyone who was adopted instead of aborted would find the question, “Do you wish your mother had decided to kill you at birth so you wouldn’t have to be alive right now?” to be completely ridiculous. Everyone has a chance to live a wonderful life. There is also the preconceived notion that children who are adopted not aborted will be left on the streets .For every child aborted, there are forty eligible couples waiting for a child to adopt, so there is always the chance for any child to live a happy life.

It it’s true that having a baby means many difficult sacrifices for a mother. But it is irresponsible and unjust to take a mother’s mistakes out on another human being. Either way, the situation cannot be put in the past and forgotten, and no matter how much pain it may mean to one person, everyone deserves to live. Don’t deny the murder, if you feel like you couldn’t explain abortion to a little kid, you know that the situation is wrong.

Here is how you can help:

Continue researching. It’s hard to form an opinion until you are well informed. There's tons of interesting music, articles and books on the subject. I highly recommend the book, “Why Pro-Life?” By Randy Alcorn. Join the Pro-Life movement. Help protest outside abortion clinics, or walk for the pro-life movement. Signing for a mailing list on most pro-life sites will send you information on dates for rallies near you.
The next afternoon, I asked her how it went. She said that even though her teacher disagreed with her (no big surprise there), he gave her a pretty good grade. His only real criticism was not the same one I offered her (that it seemed to end rather abruptly, without much of a concluding set of statements), but that he thought it was a weak argument to state that "Anyone who was adopted instead of aborted would find the question, 'Do you wish your mother had decided to kill you at birth so you wouldn’t have to be alive right now?' to be completely ridiculous." Neither T nor I can figure out why he thought so.

I asked her how it went over with her classmates. She said it was fine, but she seemed subdued and wistful afterwards. Despite what we'd counseled her, I think she regretted in a way that she hadn't included any images, saying "People just don't think it's anything real, dad... they think it's just a blob of tissue." It's the sanitation of it, the refusal to face what it is, that really bothers her.

I know that most of the people who participate here don't necessarily agree with all this. I'm not looking for a debate and I'm not trying to hide behind my daughter for a debate. Whether anyone agrees with us or not, I'm proud of her for taking what she knew would be an unpopular stand in a public school setting. I don't write about abortion much here. I can't think of a lot to say that hasn't been said ad nauseum elsewhere. It almost always turns into a slanging match. Having seen the warring sides at clinic protests first-hand, I've seen how ugly it can get... I've tried more to find common ground here and to cover other things that don't get discussed and debated as much, but maybe I've tried too hard not to offend. T, on the other hand, likes to debate. To turn an old phrase slightly, youth rushes in where old fools fear to tread.

P.S. The image above is a staged photo from her digital art class, and has nothing to do with the presentation.


Maria said...


That was beautiful. You have a bright, beautiful and amazing daughter. It heartens me to see that she is so passionate about this.

I thought her essay was very good. It's obvious she took the time to research and support her theory. There are not a lot of young people her age who even care or have an understand about this subject.

I remember you mentioned her essay in my pro-life post a while back. Thanks for sharing it, I got a bit teary eyed reading her essay. You should be proud.

Jeff said...


Thank you very much. You're very kind. Yes, that was the essay I mentioned at your place before.

Mike McG... said...

Excellent job, T!

And courageous too. Taking the prolife position deep in Blue America could have been costly. Was there any blow back, directly or indirectly?

I'm reminded of a girl about T's age that wore an McCain for President T-Shirt to school in the very progressive Chicago suburb of Oak Park last fall. The response was extraordinary and nationally publicized...very blunt criticism and widespread repudiation by fellow students and at least one teacher. The paradox: the next day she wore an Obama for President T-Shirt. She had designed the experiment to test for tolerance and found it wanting.

You should be very proud, Jeff.

Jeff said...

Thanks, Mike. I thought she had a pretty good insight when she wrote "if you feel like you couldn’t explain abortion to a little kid, you know that the situation is wrong." Out of the mouths of babes...

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for such an encouraging post. May the Lord bless T with peace in her courageous witness. Amen.

Jeff said...

Thanks, Brother Charles.

By the way, I enjoyed reading about your retreat at St Joseph's Abbey in Spencer a little while back. I hope that you were able to draw from it everything that you needed. I love that place. It's been a while since I've been there.

Please keep us in your prayers.

Steve Bogner said...

That's a good essay! As I was reading it, as well as your notes, I was nodding my head. My younger son is going into 9th grade this year, and he has much the same attitude about abortion as does T.

Jeff said...

Hi Steve,

Maybe he'll write an essay on it too if he gets a chance!