It’s nearing the anniversary of my nephew Joshua’s birth and subsequent passing. A lot has been bringing it to mind, not just the looming anniversary, but also conversations I’ve been in lately on abortion.
I’ve always been against abortion. But after Joshua’s summer, my views changed on a deep level.
Prior, I’d been against it, but not fully, intensely committed to it. It was a belief I held that did not personally effect me.
What changed? I’ve asked myself that question hundreds of times since. It came to me this morning while frying eggs for my grandmother’s breakfast.
I had loved someone whose very humanity was denied by a significant portion of the population. People I lived near, worked beside, voted with, they denied that he was human.
I was there, holding my sister’s hand as she struggled to give birth at 23 weeks…17 weeks short of what it should have been. I’ve been privileged to attend quite a number of births, but none were so emotionally difficult. When he was born there were no lusty cries. Only the sound of clicking machines, quiet voices as the eight or so nurses were crowded around his little body, working with quick movements to do what they needed. I don’t remember the few moments after his birth very clearly…I remember that I stayed by my sister’s bed as she finished her labor. I could not hold Joshua. Neither could my sister….I prayed passionately for her….giving birth to one so young, who so desperately needed love, but she could not express it in the normal process with hugs and cuddles.
I spent a few days with her before I had to head back up to my friend who I’d been visiting when the call came, and who had graciously lent me her car to drive four hours in the middle of night so I could be there. I spent hours sitting by his crib, talking in whispers, watching him, willing him to live, praying longingly for his life.
Joshua passed away a few weeks later. I never was able to touch him. But I loved him. He was a full, little human. Complete. Deserving. Entitled to all our love and care.
When I hear babies described as a ‘fetus’ it makes my blood boil. Do NOT remove their humanity. Our culture is obsessed with ‘being who we are,’ yet somehow with the passage of a law, we strip an entire segment of the population of their most basic defining point – their humanity.
So don’t talk to me about autonomy, free choice, difficult choice, self expression, loving others, acceptance, and tolerance when you won’t grant the fundamental right behind all those ideas – that of life.
ETA: My sister reminded me of this. Joshua was born three days before he would have been granted legal status as a person.