I was asked to write an article about my views on abortion for the January issue of New Christian Woman. This is a welcome invitation, as I will turn 70 this year and I have a long history of writing about abortion. Rarely are my views on abortion requested for publication.
When I was growing up, abortion was illegal. Doctors swore to the “Hippocratic Oath” when they graduated from medical school, vowing not to perform abortions as a part of their pledge to “Do no harm”. Only “therapeutic” abortions were legally permitted, supposedly reserved for the most difficult circumstances that threatened the lives of both the mother and the unborn child. In those days, the “fetus” was always called an “unborn child”.
On January 22, 1973, all of that changed with the U. S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. With a quick stroke of the pen, the unborn child lost his or her protection as a human being with a right to life. The unborn lost their right to be protected from the conflicting interests of his or her parents and the medical and legal community, who were no longer charged with the protection of our most vulnerable citizens.
I was having babies in the 1970’s. It took me a while to wake up to what had happened in our country. After my first two babies were born, I had conscientiously transferred from a local hospital to a city hospital, Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, so that my husband could be with me and witness the birth of our next child in the delivery room. After I made that change, I discovered to my dismay that my doctors were part of a medical practice that performed abortions at local abortion clinics and late term abortions at Magee Women’s Hospital. When I questioned one of the doctors to see if this was true, and he defended the practice, I decided to return to my local hospital for my subsequent deliveries. Happily, the local hospital now allowed the father in the delivery room … and the hospital did not permit the practice of abortion.
Now, my father was a surgeon and family doctor, my mother was a nurse, my husband was a lawyer and I had studied and taught child development, but it took a mutual friend of my husband and I, attorney Rick Givan, to question why I didn’t take a stand against abortion. Rick was a newly re-born Christian with a brilliant mind, and he recognized the threat to both our laws and to our spiritual welfare as a nation to allow this practice to be legal. Rick showed me a drawing of the cross, with an unborn child pictured at the cross bar and “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” printed across the bottom. In that simple drawing, I saw the Innocence of the unborn child attacked, just as Jesus’ Innocence had been attacked, and I knew that I must act.
On January 22, 1980 I joined Rick with a busload of people from our community to participate in the March for Life in Washington D.C. to protest against the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision and the deaths of 1.5 million unborn children that were now destroyed by abortion each year in our country. I marched on January 22 with my children, friends and friends of my children for the next twenty years.
After my first March, I submitted an article to the Sons of the Academy Bulletin to call our New Church men to action. I submitted an article, “The Least of our Brethren”, to the Theta Alpha Journal, and I eventually wrote a monthly column for our local newspaper, the Valley News Dispatch.
In response to my effort to take action, the editor of the Sons of the Academy Bulletin called me with a warning that I may “never live down” the article I wrote, but he agreed to print it. The Theta Alpha Journal put a “moratorium” on articles about abortion before I could respond to the dialogue that arose about the subject, and the Valley News Dispatch limited my submissions on abortion to one column a year. Oddly enough, I was asked to speak to an Academy high school assembly during the week of the Minister’s Meetings one year, and I was told that it had been decided that I could speak about anything except abortion. I spoke on “Callings” and shared my “calling” to speak out against legalized abortion.
I am sharing my story to give a background for the abortion debate that continues to this day. Most of the young women reading this blog were probably born after the sea change that occurred with the Roe v. Wade decision. The debate has become so polarized now that the major news outlets will not cover the hard facts of legal abortion or the trial of the abortionist, Kermit Gosnell, and one party will not accept a candidate for national office who takes a stand against abortion. Many laws have been passed in individual states attempting to restrict abortion, but, after 43 years, the 1973 ruling has become a “settled” law, and is therefore more difficult to change, much less overturn.
I am well informed about the medical, legal, political, moral and religious issues in the abortion debate, but I am no longer interested in debating the issue. In your 70th year, you know what you know.
My prayer is that legal protection will eventually be restored for unborn children. After all, the brutal institution of slavery was outlawed after 300 years of legal sanction in our country. All of the attitudes toward those who opposed the economically “settled” existence of slavery in the 19th Century exist today in the distain expressed toward those who seek to shut down the multi-million dollar abortion industry in the 21st Century.
I am encouraged that many factors are coming to the aid of our unborn children. Ultrasound images give us a view of the unborn child actively moving in the womb. Young doctors are refusing to perform abortions, even without the prompting of the Hippocratic Oath, which is no longer required to practice medicine today. And a young woman is no longer scandalized by choosing to keep her baby, or give her child up for adoption, when faced with difficult circumstances.
But lastly, and most importantly, I have faith in God and His love for these little ones. We are taught that the purpose of Creation is a Heaven from the human race. All of the Lord’s power, through His love and His highest angels, who love these little ones as their own, will surely work to serve His purpose … to find a way to protect and rescue His tiniest people.