Sometimes You Can’t Keep Silent

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31a

52 years ago this year I was born. I was born into an already established family of three brothers and my parents. I was a girl. My status in the family was predetermined – I would be loved and enjoy princess privilege. But the big thing is this: I was born.

I was born and God called it good. Just like you who are reading this were born – and God called it Good. God called this little being knit together inside a safe womb, safe from all the outside factors that could cause danger to the life and development of this little being, God called this “Good”.  Just as someone who knits watches carefully for slipped stitches or a missed pattern, so does God knit us, form us, and watch us, all the time calling it good. The knitter will go back and find the missed stitch, even if it takes a lot of time, to form that perfect pattern that will be the mittens, or the socks; the scarf or the sweater.

And so I can’t keep silent.

The Huffington Post UK edition posted an article “Killing Newborn Babies No Different To Abortion Say Medical Ethicist” and I read on as if I was part of a futuristic psycho-thriller; The Hunger Games or Brave New World. The opening lines are chilling: “A medical journal has called for the acceptance of ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn baby), causing outrage among pro-life campaigners and raising an array of ethical questions.Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Alberto Giubilini from the University of Milan and Francesca Minerva from Melbourne University argue that foetuses and newborns “do not have the same moral status as actual persons”. (Read the rest of the article here)

When I was pregnant with my third child I had a friend come up to me one day. She began telling me her story. Her story of an unexpected pregnancy in a developing country and a plane trip she will never forget to Europe to end the pregnancy. She wept. And she wept. And she wept more. And once we had cleaned up her tears from this story, she told her second story. There was another baby and another country. Another trip and another “safe” abortion. Safe to everything but her psyche.  Like scales falling from her eyes, she told of the realization that these were her babies and they didn’t have a chance to be born, to take that first breath. They didn’t have a chance to be called “Good”. She told me because she watched my growing baby in awe. She was zealous for my safety, my nutrition, my activity – this baby must LIVE. And the baby did live. And he was perfect, just like our first two babies. We called him Micah and my friend held him, and she wept.

Five I have. Five that were called “Good”. Five that came into our lives despite some circumstances that were less than good. Despite some times in our marriage that were less than lovely and far less than perfect. Five that came, not to a wealthy family, not to a family that had it all together, but they came, and God called each of their births good. Annie, Joel, Micah, Stefanie, Jonathan. Knit together by God. Called Good at conception. Called Good at birth.

And so I can’t keep silent when I see an article called “Abortion Safer Than Giving Birth: Study”  with the byline “Getting a legal abortion is much safer than giving birth, suggests a new U.S. study published in January” (Reuters Health). I can’t keep silent when I read the words “Women who are having abortions are having a safe, common surgical procedure or taking medication for the same reason,” she (Dr. Ann Davis) told Reuters Health.

I can’t keep silent because I’ve been told it’s not “common”. I have believed the rhetoric that says “We all agree that there should be fewer abortions”. But if we want fewer, if we strive for less, why are they, as the researchers point out, common?

“Abortion care and pregnancy care should not really be any different from consenting people for any other procedure.” Ah – but there you see is the problem. It is different. Because any other medical procedure doesn’t involve the health of two – it is about the health of one.

My heart breaks for those who feel they have no alternative but abortion. My heart cries out for them. I have wept with women post abortion, and I have wept with women pre-abortion who made a different choice. And I believe in a God who loves. Who forgives. Whose mercy and grace no one can fathom. But I can’t keep silent. This being, knit together in the womb, this is a baby, made in the image of God. This is Good.

I write this blog to communicate across boundaries, to have a voice in a public place, and I know there will be readers that disagree, that may see this as an insurmountable boundary. Those of you who read my blog know I am not a right-wing fanatic. No right-wing fanatic writes in defense of Muslims and Muslim opinion, of arranged marriage, of wanting health care for all. Right wing fanatics don’t do workshops on culture and healthcare for Planned Parenthood. And if you disagree with this post, I respect your opinion, I respect you as a person made in the image of God. But it would be a false pretense if I was not bold enough to write this, if I pretended that I thought this was ok. And so I can’t keep silent.

Personal choice has eclipsed the sacredness, or otherness, of life itself. It is profoundly disturbing, indeed shocking, to see the way in which opinion-formers within the medical profession have ditched the traditional belief of the healer to uphold the sanctity of human life for this impoverished and inhumane defence of child destruction.” Lord Alton, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group

Click here to learn more about Communicating Across Boundaries

Posted by

Third Culture Kid - Grew up in Pakistan, lived and worked in Pakistan and Egypt as an adult. Moved to the United States and learning to live away from curry, Urdu, Arabic and the Pyramids.

42 thoughts on “Sometimes You Can’t Keep Silent

  1. I loved my children when they were smaller than pinheads. i bonded with them. I talked to them all the time, joked with them, enjoyed their movements, even chided them for kicking hard. Its been 24 years since I carried my first born but the memories are still fresh.
    I am anti abortion from a religious point of view but also from an emotional and personal point of view. To me both are interwoven. My feelings for my kids and for all children of humanity woven, with my deep love for God and respect and awe at His creation. Destruction of that Creation horrifies me.
    To me nothing can be more beautiful than the new life that comes into its earthly existence inside you. It is from you and yet it is different from you. it is dependent on you, yet it is an individual. As an individual it must have rights. It is a gift from God a sacred trust. We do not have the right to choose to destroy this sacred trust God entrusts us with. It is God who chooses which womb He will bless with this sacred trust. The womb should feel blessed and accept the responsibility and fulfill it to the best of their ability, not kill it for reasons of their own. Whatever the reason, a life has resulted and that life is precious and a divine gift. Who are we to reject it or hurt it in anyway or destroy that fragile existence.
    In pre-Islamic Arabia called the time of Jahilliya (ignorance) the Arabs who were then idol worshipers, used to kill their new born daughters by burying them alive in the sand. Islam put an end to this horrendous practice. are we now back to the times of ignorance.

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  2. Glad you posted this Marilyn. I had read an article on this just recently and I find it appalling! People need to know this is happening. I can’t believe that they would extend the thought of not knowing ‘when life begins’ all the way to saying that it’s OK even after birth, just because they can’t communicate and aren’t morally aware yet. Even saying this: “the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant”!! Another article on it that I had read is this one: http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/03/06/something-deadly-this-way-comes-after-birth-abortion/ Horrifying. I’m pregnant with our first and can’t imagine such things. It’s insane that they think it’s different from murder or infanticide.

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    1. Esther – I’m so glad you read this. Even more glad (is that proper grammar?!) that you commented. First of all congratulations on your pregnancy. I am so thrilled for you. I think if I was pregnant it would hit me even harder. It’s Thanks for linking the article. I feel like the one good thing could be that it causes an outrage. The depravity surely can’t escape people….and yet we know it will escape some. Thanks again for dropping by.

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  3. Marilyn, thank you for this post.

    When I was conceived in 1966, my mother had been diagnosed with MS and was struggling with depression. My parents’ marriage was on the rocks. During the first trimester of development, she was put in the hospital with an MS attack and was given many different drugs. When she got out of the hospital, she took her chart to her pediatrician and asked about the medications she had been given. The pediatrician confirmed that a few of the medications could cause severe developmental problems if the baby was a boy. With no sonogram technology available, she could only sit and wait.

    Her family tried to convince her to abort me; they had connections and money and could make it happen in those pre-Roe v. Wade days. It would be better for Mom’s health, for her struggling marriage, they argued. She already had four children, they argued. But Mom said no. I was born a healthy, bouncing baby girl. Thanks, Mom.

    And thank you, Marilyn, for standing strong for what is right.

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    1. I am so honored that you have added your story to this discussion – and what a story. It must feel so weird to know that your mom stayed strong in the face of such opposition and that everyday your life is a mirror of that faith and strength. I’m sitting overwhelmed with this picture of you and of grace and of your mom…thank you so much.

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  4. Thank you Marilyn for this post. As a foster mom I have seen some “unwanted” babies in my care, go to families that really want a child, and can now have a child through adoption. A specific case is a drug exposed newborn that we took into our care last April. I was holding him, when he was about 4 weeks old, and my sister commented “Don’t you think it would have been better that he had never been born?” I wanted to scream at her, but I just calmly said,”No, I don’t think that would have been better. We have no idea what life has in store for this little boy.”
    We live in Phoenix, with a huge population, which makes this story even more amazing. Since last names are changed at adoption, it is nearly impossible to locate siblings.Through a series of events with CPS foster care case managers, and adoption case managers, and our own licensing agency, it was discovered that this little baby boy was the brother of two adopted children here in the Phoenix area. Call it a “coincidence” or the hand of God, but the family that had adopted the two older siblings were some of our best friends! At a potluck dinner when the baby was only a week old, this mom held him and cuddled him, and on an occasion when I needed a babysitter she watched him for me, neither of us ever having any idea that this baby would change their lives! At five weeks old he moved in with his adoptive family and is not only a joy to them, but the possibilities that lie ahead for him are endless.

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  5. I just went to the article for a read and am absolutely horrified to read that infanticide is widely accepted and practiced in the Netherlands. It seems that the paper actually, ironically, could be used to argue the pro-life case. The authors may have intended it to argue for infanticide but they seem to make the point that pro-lifers take that there is no difference in human status between foetuses and newborns. I’m also shocked to read this isn’t the first time it has been proposed.

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    1. I felt the same way Sophie. The more I read it, as horrific as it is, it’s a logical conclusion. And if that is logical, then why wouldn’t it be logical to kill a 2-year old when they are bothering you. It’s not about personhood, it’s (direct quote) ” in consideration of maternal and family interests” So my teenager is disobeying, annoying, generally rebelling. In consideration of my maternal and family interests I can do what I will. Scary indeed.

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  6. I must say that, while I do not agree with everything in this post, I most certainly respect it and respect you for having the courage to post about such a controversial topic. You presented your opinion in such a matter that no one is attacked or harmed but your opinion of the matter is made known. That in of itself is a difficult feat.

    This is the first time that I’ve ever heard of After Birth abortions and I have to say, whether a person agrees with abortion or not, at that point, the child is out. There is no question that the baby there is flesh and blood. The fact that this exists is greatly disturbing. I haven’t looked into it further yet but I feel like this has to be a satire.

    At the same time, I’m scared to look more into it and find out that I am wrong…

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting and joining in the conversation – especially in such an affirming, respectful way! I want to sit down and have coffee with you!! So – I so wish it was a satire, I SO thought it was as well – although I thought it would be a bit of a gruesome satire, but the article is real as real in the journal of medical ethics. -n here is the huffpost article: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/02/29/medical-ethicists-propose-after-birth-abortion-law_n_1309985.html Thanks again for the dialogue.

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      1. Haha Marilyn! That would be nice :-) Many of my friends who have different opinions aren’t the greatest at non-attacking statements so needless to say, it’s usually more of an argument than a dialogue (I can’t say that I’m perfect in that sense either, though).

        Thank you for the link! I am at work but have been glancing at the Huffington Post article and all I can really say is, well, wow…

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    2. It is hard to have respectful dialogue when we believe something strongly. Something that has helped me this past year is the phrase “Be egalitarian about people, and elitist about ideas” The person who said it went on to say “That way you treat people equally, but some ideas as better than others” My problem is that I sometimes am elitist about people (treating people better because they agree with me) and egalitarian about ideas….anyway….I still hold that this would all be better over coffee.

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  7. The past few years my views on abortion have started to change, not about the fact that the “thing” growing inside a person is a human being who must be given the chance to live, but on how we treat the issue. Laws are not enough, education is not enough, help must be given. Several years ago, a good friend in North Africa came to me in tears asking me to give her money for abortion. Her no-good bum of a fiancee got her pregnant, (consentual sex), and insisted that she end the pregnancy. This was a “liberal”, Muslim country, so according to the culture she wouldn’t have been killed for her sin, but would have been kicked out of the house, excluded from the possibility of ever marrying a decent guy and possibly jailed for immorality. Since she was illiterate, she probably would have had to resort to prostitution just to survive and her child would have eventually been abandoned and joined the ranks of street children. I wanted to be able to pay for an abortion and prevent this misery. From the beginning, though, I knew I couldn’t kill a baby in order to help an adult. As miserable and hopeless the situation was, God is big enough to find an answer. (Unfortunately, she just got the money from someone else). I have also been reading about how unwanted babies in the 3rd world often end up dying anyway out of neglect and malnourishment. Getting babies born is not enough. Both in the west and overseas, mothers need help, encouragement, support. We can’t just guilt them into not having an abortion and then say, “Good, now you are on your own. My job is done.” I don’t know how I can help or the part God wants me to play in this, but I can’t really say that I am “pro-life” if I simply vote and then do nothing to help those who need it.

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    1. You bring up, as Petra did as well, the importance of action and the story you relayed is such a hard one. I’ve been thinking about it all day. I’m deeply grateful you shared it and reminds me that we live daily in a broken world. The reminder that “getting babies born” is not enough is absolutely true, moms can’t do it alone.

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    2. Tiffany, thanks a lot for speaking so candidly. I agree with your statement, “We can’t just guilt them into not having an abortion and then say, ‘Good, now you are on your own. My job is done.” By the way, this is not an isolated story — a woman being pressured by a man to abort. Only society tends to guilt trip the woman and never the man who often forces her to abort.
      As I read the various posts, my prayer intensifies: Please Lord give us wisdom and enable us to assist the distressed mothers and children. Allow us to shine a bright light, allow this light to be nurturing and a source of hope. Allow each child to experience that indeed “this is Good”. Petra

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  8. Thank you so much for sharing that. I’m part of a ministry working in a nearby city with children/young adults. You would be amazed how often these ‘children’ – by our standards – are asking questions about abortion. They’re living lives they will regret 20 years from now. And the option held out to them? “You can always abort the child if you can’t handle it.”
    It tears at my heart. When did murder ever become an option? I want these girls/women to realize that God gave them a special joy – the joy of bringing children, made in the image of God, into the world.
    And to those who have experienced the agony of a decision to abort, who are dealing with the emotional destruction of that decision – don’t let anybody tell you God doesn’t love you. That God can’t take the pain & hurt from your heart and fill you with joy and peace. He specializes in that work!

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  9. Marilyn, it seems that all to often the wrong questions are asked. As a public school teacher, I often deal with the ugly side of parenthood — kids that are born to unwed mothers, kids that cannot fall back on a support net others take for granted, kids that are born to drug addicts, kids that have been told over and over again “you are not wanted”. When do we as a society fix the system; thus, all kids feel loved, cherished and wanted. We are sooooo far away from it that it is upsetting. I would love to see a post on this topic.
    All to often, I hear churchgoers voice their opinions about abortions and birth control. What I consider troubling — all the shouters never once consider to provide a safe haven for any of the children who have been born and are in desperate need of it. When have any of the shouters offered to adopt a child, provided foster care, or only offered the young, inexperienced mother next door to watch her kids for free. Jacqueline babysits foster kids (for free) when possible and it has been an eye opener to her.
    Let us love, provide support, and not condemn what we may not comprehend. Let us be doers not talkers.
    Petra

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    1. Petra – thanks for your thoughtful comment and reminder of the importance of action. While I think I would have agreed with you a few years ago about churches doing nothing, I have changed my opinion in recent years. The people I know who are most vocal are doing something – one has adopted a little girl, joining in her already large family of 7 and also does crisis counseling; another takes in foster kids; another had an abortion and now directs a crisis pregnancy center that specializes in after abortion care, another leads a group to stop infanticide in China. The list goes on and on. While I know there is still a vocal but heartless group, more and more I’m seeing that people recognize that if all life is precious, we must act in that manner – with homeless, with elderly, with disabled, with the unborn. And as Robynn put so beautifully in her comment – While God longs for us to choose life, he gives us choice and we often choose paths that conflict with that which he loves. Thanks again.

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      1. I would have to agree with you here, Marilyn. Our church is full of families who have adopted and continue to do so…..and for those who are unable to adopt, there is a fund to contribute to for those who need help with the high cost of adoptions. I have friends who have taken in unwed mothers and nurtured them. I have attended baby showers for unwed mothers in my church. I don’t doubt that there are those who do nothing but condemn, but I have seen so much of the opposite.

        The article and and the thinking behind it makes my blood run cold.

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      2. and there are indeed many of us ‘ordinary’ mums who are reaching out to single parents and the struggling parents we know providing meals, babysitting, advice and friendship.

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      3. Marilyn, Janet, and little gumnut,
        it is comforting to read your reassuring post. An Ode to assisting the distressed moms and kids. Trust me I look for the good on a daily basis, and I hold on to it with all might. If I would not, I would emotionally crumple.
        I just think any woman considering abortion has to face a — to her seemingly — hopeless situation to choose such a drastic decision. Some young mothers decide to give birth just to abandon the infant immediately after. It seems the same hopelessness drives the decision.
        What can we do as society to nurture situations where such a hopelessness does not arise but instead women are able to make better decisions not resulting in hopelessness. The hopelessness leading to abortions or abandonment.
        Petra

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  10. Ever since I read the article of which you write, I have been so utterly disturbed that I have been in a sort of emotionally paralyzed state. Thank you for putting a voice to what I feel so deeply. Well done!

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  11. I read your post and am frustrated that my only option is to “LIKE” it. I want to “LOVE” your post. I want to applaud your post. I want to thank you for speaking up for the sacredness of human life. I am blessed by the reading of it. Be blessed for the writing of it! Thank you! ~ Barb

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    1. Thank you so much for the applauding….the affirmation. I can’t take credit as I don’t have this kind of courage by myself. I tend to be a people pleaser….

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      1. Ahhh – lucky for us God sends us out 2 by 2 so none of us have to have courage alone. Again – thanks for the wonderful post and shining light upon the darkness. Never discount your value, your power, or your reach! ~ Barb

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  12. Thank you for speaking for those who have no voice and for so many of us who are unable to articulate our hearts so effectively. Thank you seems inadequate.

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  13. When I started in on this morning’s post I thought you were writing a sweet piece on babies and goodness…And now I find myself so completely disturbed by the concept of After Birth Abortion. I had never imagined a reality that included such obvious ill.

    I am pro-woman. I believe in supporting women, towers of strength in their communities and families, to fully engage the lives they’ve been given. I’ve prayed with women making decisions that will impact their souls. I’ve agonized with women coming to grips with decisions they’ve made. I believe God is pro-woman. He created her and declared that she was good too. He further invited her into the creative process by endowing her with the privilege of housing infants before they are birthed. She gives birth. It’s her’s to give. God gives life. And it’s very good. He’s pro-life. He longs that his created would truly live. His definition of life is so much deeper and richer than ours. His capacity to encourage life goes beyond political confines. He is pro-LIFE.

    The difficulty is that God is also pro-choice. He allows his created to choose, to make choices. He longs for us to choose life but he doesn’t stipulate that we must. He waits and whispers in the core of who we are that there is so much more to living and to life. He cheers loudly in his still small voice for us to choose him…but he’s patient and his love is unending. And God is pro-forgiveness and pro-second chances, He’s pro-mercy and pro-new beginnings.

    In the end, Marilyn, maybe you did write a sweet passionate piece on babies and goodness. I commend you for your honest declaration of your convictions that wreak of the same love for women, for life, forgiveness, second chances, mercy and new beginnings that God shares.

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    1. “He longs for us to choose life, but he doesn’t stipulate that we must. He waits and whispers in the core of who we are that there is so much more to living and to life” these words have stayed with me all day. Thank you for making this post so much stronger with your words of truth.

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