bioethics

The Little Ones

Planned Parenthood is making money off abortions. No surprises there, just the method of how they are making money is becoming increasingly sinister.  Planned Parenthood is defending its actions. No surprises there, just how much they are deluding themselves and the public is increasingly disheartening. The media bias covering the story is utterly ridiculous. No surprises there, just the degree of how much they are defending this institution is increasingly discouraging.

But the most recent videos and stories about the abortion industry at Planned Parenthood is nothing new. It should not be shocking nor surprising. The information has been out there. One can read the testimony of former employees like Abby Johnson. One could read the proceedings of a typical abortion procedure (without the extra care in order to sell aborted fetus body parts). One can look at the foundations of Planned Parenthood and see its twisted roots. (Its root trace back to Margaret Sanger who wrote in Woman and the New Race, “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”)

A glimpse of sanity has entered the world, and Planned Parenthood is being investigated. I’m tempted to breathe a sigh of relief, hope the elected members of government will be rational individuals and fully investigate without bias on either end, and blissfully go on about my life.

But I cannot. I cannot help but think of all the small ways I have promoted abortion though I call myself pro-life.

How many times have I snickered and stared at an unwedded pregnant woman? How many times have I gossiped about someone pregnant out of wedlock? How many times have horrible thoughts entered my mind when seeing a large amount of ill-behaved children and a clearly worn out mother? How many times have I looked down upon my fellow sister who has had an abortion and pretended I could never understand her, never be her? How many times have I contributed to a culture that looks down upon an unexpected, inconvenient, unwanted child?

Countless times I have done that. Those comments, those conversations, those thoughts come from a very deep fear of motherhood. I’ll be completely honest: I am scared of motherhood. I am scared of the idea of caring about someone more than myself. I’m scared I don’t have what it takes. I’m scared of the lack of sleep, the needing to pick a good school, the looks I’ll get from other people when my kid has a breakdown because I’m being an awful mother and not giving him or her candy, the judgements I’ll get from other mothers when I don’t have the “right” car seat, clothes, etc. I’m scared of motherhood, and I have little doubt that fear and the comments, judgements, and shaming of others drives many women into the seemingly compassionate and comforting arms of Planned Parenthood.

Countless times I have thought myself better than these women, these women who both procure and assist with abortion. I’m deluding myself: I’m no better. I have the same fears, and I have the same temptations. If anything, I would be even more tempted because I have judged them so harshly, and I would judge myself all the harsher. If anything, I am worse because I claim to be a follower of Christ, and yet my very actions do not show His love and mercy.

I humbly come to the words of Christ from Matthew 18:10:

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

The passage deceiving looks to be like a quote from when Jesus gathers the little children to Him and tells His disciples not to send them away. In reality, Jesus says this before introducing the story of the lost sheep, the parable of the shepherd who leaves his flock of ninety-nine to go after the lost one. No rational shepherd would do this, but Jesus’s love and mercy for His beloved, His little ones, is irrational and infinite.

So, too, is Our Father’s love and mercy for us sinners today. His love and mercy abounds, no matter what. As St. Paul wrote, “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more (Romans 5:20).” However grave, sinister, and horrible the sin, Jesus is still there, offering His love and mercy, offering a way back to life, love, and Himself.

St. John Paul II wrote in his encyclical “The Gospel of Life”:

“I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.”

-St. Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 99

“With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people.” Have I been welcoming? Have I been friendly? Have I been open enough to have her open up? Have I even offered advice, or just my opinion? Have I been open to listening, to actually hear her pains and fears?

As Jesus’ hands and feet in the world today, we have a responsibility to our neighbor to be the vessel of mercy, the conduit of compassion, the outpouring of love. Disgust, disdain, and deluding ourselves into thinking we could never understand this other person leaves no room for love.

How can I not see myself in her? How can I not see how she aches to know she’s enough, aches to know she’s loved, aches to know she has what it takes, aches to know that she’s up for the challenge, aches to know everything will turn out more than fine, aches to know what to do? How can I not see how little she feels? Have I never felt small, lost, alone, scared?

How brave, how courageous, how strong, how heroic are these mothers who find little support in the world, who have the trust, strength, and courage to become a mother when so many people and things tell them they are not enough. We have a grave responsibility to accept them, love them, care for them as much as we care for their little ones. These women are our friends, our neighbors, our sisters in Christ, the little ones of Christ. As Pope Francis wrote in his newest encyclical (quoting Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical in the process):

“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away” (Caritas et Veritate, 28)”

-Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 120

Pregnant mothers are just as vulnerable as the life they carry within them. Unlike the child who cannot fully comprehend the cruelty of the world, pregnant mothers can. Every harsh word, every snide comment, every judgmental glance is felt and contributes the many facets of their decision to carry their child to term.

I may not have any say into what happens with this Planned Parenthood investigation, litigation surrounding Roe v Wade, or any major decision regarding abortion because I am small, insignificant, and little.

But I can do a lot of small things to promote a culture of compassion, mercy, and love.

I can look more tenderly at the unwedded pregnant woman, at the clearly worn out mother with ill-behaved children, at the woman who vehemently defends her right to abortion. I can speak more charitably about women I know who are unexpectedly pregnant, about single mothers, about fatherless children. I can look deep within myself, see my fears, and unite myself with my suffering brothers and sisters. I can do many small things and slowly learn to not despise one of these little ones.

The actions we hear of are despicable and disgusting, yes. But sadly, they are nothing new. Those committing these actions are loved by Christ as well. They, like us, are His beloved little ones, in need more than ever of His compassion, mercy, and love.

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