Life: A beautiful choice

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Jan. 1, 2015

January 22 marks the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that created a constitutional right to obtain an abortion through the third trimester.

January is also a month of new beginnings and of resolutions. For many, the year begins with hope and anticipation; others face the new year with anxiety and trepidation about what the coming months might bring. The topic of “life” and abortion can encompass all of these emotions — joy, hopefulness, anxiety, and trepidation. As thousands plan to descend on Washington D.C. for the annual March for Life, the NewBostonPost will take up the challenge to cover a topic that has divided this country for half a century.

Unfortunately, “pro-lifers” and “pro-choicers” today remain bitterly divided. There are, of course, many areas of common ground – and most Americans fall somewhere in the middle on this complicated topic. A May 2015 Gallup poll showed that 55 percent of Americans either opposed abortion entirely or approved of some limitations — in other words, “not banned, but not on demand.” Only 29 percent of respondents believed that abortion should be legal under all circumstances.

And yet, many efforts to carve out a public policy based on compromise are often defeated by those who refuse to yield an inch to the other side. It is a sad testament to this country’s political culture that such a crucial topic is so often simplified and reduced to talking points and sound-bites.

Last year’s videos of Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal body parts provided concrete imagery of late-term abortions. What many defenders of late term abortions had justified as mere abstraction was suddenly revealed as gruesome reality. Yet public opinion seemed to stand behind Planned Parenthood, with 65 percent of Americans opposing legislative motions to defund the organization. And, to the great disappointment of Massachusetts defenders of life, the local petition drive to amend the state constitution to allow the legislature to end taxpayer subsidies for abortion failed to collect the 64,750 signatures necessary to make it onto the ballot.

But pro-life advocates can claim some successes:

Many women, persuaded by the arguments of the pro-life movement and by the evolving science of fetal development, are today choosing to keep their babies even when the pregnancies were not initially wanted.

Indeed, since 1990, the abortion rate in America has fallen by over a third, and since 2010 it has fallen by 12.

Moreover, the emotional shockwave set in motion by the Planned Parenthood videos last summer demonstrated that the issue of abortion is not a closed book.  Indeed, the shock has led even some advocates of abortion rights to question Planned Parenthood’s motives and even to rethink the entire practice of late-term abortions.

Abortion is, of course, closely tied up with other big issues of our times, such as the position of women in our society, the economy and the cost of living, welfare, health care, and education. It is far too important to be reduced to a vehicle of scoring political points based on whether a candidate is “for life” or “for choice.”  It is a topic that needs to be addressed and discussed with sensitivity and wisdom in order to reach a working national consensus.

At the NewBostonPost, we plan to shed light this month on the beauty of new life, while taking a broader look at some of the other issues with which abortion is intertwined. We will bring you positive stories about efforts to economically and emotionally support unwed mothers, stories that bear witness to the power of love in families that care for special needs children, and stories about mothers who had the courage to “choose life” in the face of overwhelming challenges.

It is not our intent to gloss over or sugarcoat the challenges of choosing life, especially for those who face difficult or unwanted pregnancies, and who feel lonely or abandoned. On the contrary, we believe that the issue of “life” cannot be addressed without also addressing the many challenges that come with it.

We chose the term “beautiful choice” to describe this month’s theme not because accepting a child into this world is always easy, but because true beauty has teeth. In contrast to the term “pretty,” beauty awes us and challenges us to see beyond ourselves, inspiring us to reach beyond our daily lives hampered by petty concerns. Welcoming a child into our homes truly turns our world upside down. We will never not be a parent again and any parent knows that parenthood ultimately comes to inform our identity and everything else we do. To some women, a child means the end of professional dreams or the prospect of financial hardship and the loneliness of single parenting. Some families may feel terrified by the prospect of caring for a special needs child. “Choosing life,” therefore, is a truly “beautiful” and awesome choice, one driven by courage and, ultimately, the courage to love another person unconditionally and completely.

As we hope to show, a “triumph of love” will always dwarf the challenge of reordering one’s life, of changing plans, and of having one’s life turned upside down. Life is full of beautiful surprises – give life a chance.


Why I became a pro-life activist

Pro-life movement veterans recall the early days in Boston

Boston pro-life host O’Connell uses TV for advocacy

Students for Life starts to build on Northeast campuses

An interview with Rick Santorum about ‘Bella’s Gift’

Babies or parts: What science do we want?

Choice and coercion

All Black Lives Matter

A triumph through remarkable trial: The story of one Catholic athlete

Why one radical feminist changed her mind on abortion