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Extraordinary Stories That Touch The Heart And Challenge The Mind

RIGHT TO LIFE OR RIGHT TO CHOOSE?

When I was very young, it was easy. “Of course I’m against abortion, and I’m against capital punishment, too. I don’t believe in taking the life of another human under any circumstances,” I would say.

It was that simple.

Recently, as I was doing research for a historical novel I’m working on, I read that Margaret Sanger, one of the icons and heroines of liberal women, made a statement similar to that when she was speaking about abortion.

However, if I’ve learned anything over the years, it is that it’s NOT simple. Few things are. All you have to do is scan down the postings of your Facebook page, and you’ll see how conflicted the country is about the abortion issue. On my page, there are as many posts espousing right to life as there are right to choose. That may mean there are plenty of people who have made up their minds one way or the other, but it also means the country as a whole is conflicted.

My own movement from certainty to conflict started after I began my career as a journalist. The first stab at my certainty came when I was covering juvenile court for a newspaper. I was looking at the documents in a case where a teenager was accused of murder. His rap sheet included DWI, drug convictions, and burglary. As I searched his entire file, I saw that both of his parents were alcoholics, both had been in and out of prison, and the boy had been abandoned to the streets at the age of eight. At least two of his siblings had been abandoned as well. The boy's life had been ruined forever.

Later, after the case was closed, I saw the judge in the case and said something like, “Those parents should have never had children.”

With a shake of his head and a worried look, he answered, “I know, I know, but. . .” He never finished the sentence. I knew he was a good Catholic and very conflicted.

My journalism career led me to a hospital where babies of drug-addicted mothers were dying, to shelters where children had been beaten and otherwise abused, and to interview twelve-year-olds who were pregnant and didn’t know how they were going to care for themselves, much less a baby.

Then I see my own children, and now my grandchildren who, need I say, are wonderful. I see children in my neighborhood and church who are healthy, happy, and well cared for. I see pictures of adorable children doing cute things on Facebook and on YouTube, and I ask myself, how could we ever take away their chance to live?
I have known women who choose to abort because they know they can’t raise a child, and I’ve known those who simply don’t want to raise a child. I’ve known women who have chosen abortion after rape. I’ve been pregnant myself and I have KNOWN each time that I was sheltering a SOUL at the earliest stages.

I cannot say what is universally right. I am conflicted. That’s the trouble with being a journalist. We are trained to see both sides, so that in the end, all we can say is, “It’s not that simple.”

In some ways it makes me envious of those who know for sure, one way or the other. Yet, in other ways, it makes me want to say to those on each side, “You just don’t understand.”

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