It is no secret that I love the gift of life. Anyone who has read my writings, heard my prayer intentions, or simply read the brief, sidebar introduction on my blog in the past year alone would have to be completely oblivious to somehow miss the fact that I love life and consider it a precious gift from God. Now that I'm married, have experience practicing NFP, and am happily 19 weeks pregnant, I cannot help but constantly think about and notice all of the beautiful lives around me...especially the precious one God has blessed Michael and me with inside my womb.
As I've grown older, learned more deeply the beautiful teachings of the Catholic Church, and had various life experiences, I have become more adamant about life issues - striving to protect and support those who do not have the ability or opportunity to stand up for themselves.
I have no intention of getting into a political discussion here, but I have every intention of sharing some firsthand experiences that have shown me how valuable and beautiful life is, so please bear with me.
I have several friends or acquaintances who believe that abortion should remain legal and think that in some situations it is the "best option." The interesting thing is that several of these people honestly think this way because they believe it is the most loving response to an unplanned pregnancy. The people I know personally that think like this are well-intentioned, caring Christians - trying to sympathize with the mother's situation and support her. Misguided and twisted as I think those thought processes and justifications for murder are, it never ceases to amaze me when one of these people goes so far as to throw the "quality of life" argument at me - as if I surely and clearly should be on board with their viewpoint that abortion is the most loving option for women in poverty or children who are at high risk for birth defects or illness...because the quality of life for that child would not be "good" or "tolerable."
I won't get too far into the topic of how this human-concocted definition of "quality of life" is arbitrary, prideful, and tries to play the role of our Creator, but I would like to focus on one obvious fact that these people are somehow missing:
There are so so so many people in this world with disabilities, little money, severe medical conditions, or other things that a "pro-choice" individual would use to justify aborting the child...who have a far superior quality of life than most other people I know.
For years I participated in my university's "dance marathon" (the first of its kind!). You can read more extensively about it at my former blog (here and here), but the gist is that we raised over a million dollars each year to benefit Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana. The fundraising culminated into one 36-hour dance marathon during which dancers could not sit down or sleep (and yes, there is a lot of dancing involved!). It sounds crazy and extremely difficult - and I won't deny that it was either of those things - but there is a reason I kept going back for more each year. "Riley families" (who had benefited from the medical care there) made appearances throughout the entire weekend and shared their miraculous stories. Not only that, but the children would often stay to meet and play with us as we struggled to stay on our feet.
Through the 4 dance marathons I participated in (sophomore year through my 5th year), I met and heard the stories of several children who were often the very children my supposedly well-meaning and caring pro-choice friends would have said should be aborted because they would "not have a good quality of life" and that simply "isn't fair" to them. While some of the children had illnesses that could not have been detected or anticipated before birth, many of the little boys and girls couldn't walk, had Down Syndrome, were missing limbs, or had other handicaps that certainly may have been detected when they were still in the womb. And these boys and girls were joyful. They were inspiring. They were filled with love, light, and gratitude that they were alive.
|Money fundraised For The Kids (FTK) at Riley Hospital in November 2010|
Most recently I've been reflecting on all of this because of a fellow parishioner I've noticed at our church. Although I don't know him personally, I see him every single Sunday because he is one of two men who always assists during the offertory. I see him first extending the collection basket to each pew and then bringing up the monetary gifts (along with whichever family brings the bread and wine to the priest in preparation for the Eucharistic liturgy). Then I see this same man assist as an usher during communion - cuing each pew when it's their turn to join in the line. Because of this, he is one of the last people to receive communion each week, which means he is one of the few people I see receive communion (after I'm done praying with closed eyes I usually open them just in time to see the final recipients and watch Father put the precious body back into the tabernacle).
This man receives the body of Christ on his tongue and because he is the final person (and the priest walks away to clean up the altar), he then kneels before the tabernacle on one of the few steps that leads up to the altar. He clearly says a brief, silent prayer and before he stands to walk away he slowly kisses his fingers, touches them to the steps, and makes a sign of the cross on the stair. I have nothing more to say about this man other than the fact that he is one of the most reverent people I see receive the body and blood of Christ each week (and we attend a parish filled with extremely reverent individuals who often receive the Eucharist on their knees)...and this man has Down Syndrome.
Every time I see this man receive communion and what he does next I am nearly brought to tears (usually I do cry and have to quickly pull myself together for the closing prayer). Even from my pew I can sense the love and joy this man experiences each time he receives the body of Christ. And every single week I immediately think to myself, "I cannot believe that people would actually abort someone like this man simply because they have Down Syndrome." I believe these people are foolish to think someone with Down Syndrome (or anything of the like) cannot have a good quality of life - because I'm pretty sure that this man knows Christ in a deeply intimate way and has an incredibly rich and joyful quality of life - perhaps even more so than almost everyone I know who was not born with Down Syndrome.
So there you have it. These are a few of the many reasons I don't buy into the "quality of life" argument from those who attempt to justify ending a life - and can honestly say that I absolutely never will.
On a related note, let's all "spread the word to end the word." Words can hurt people - especially the "R" word.
Although March 6th was considered the national awareness day for this campaign, its message is relevant all 365 days a year...so keep passing it on!
"For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well."