Recently, I’ve watched two fathers, each with two living children already in their lives, accompany their partners to our state’s only abortion facility to abort their third.
The first had his toddler in tow. After he dropped off his wife, I approached to offer him a brochure on “lost fatherhood” and healing.
He was pleasant enough, and gentle with the child in his arms. But as we talked, I heard the shallow justification of why he’d seen it fit to abort his youngest. “It’s just the way of the world,” he said, shrugging.
To think we would abdicate our responsibility to protect our young because “it’s the way of the world.” I can think of many “ways of the world” we’d be wise not to heed.
As he talked, he kept looking at his toddler, saying, “It’s going to be okay,” as if trying to convince himself. He then remarked, “I saw this one being born,” noting that once the baby is born, of course, you’d do everything for it. But not necessarily before.
The logic is illogical. Even my friend Ramona Trevino, who left her job at Planned Parenthood after coming back to her Catholic faith, admitted that at one point, she felt babies who would not have a “good” life would be better off aborted. “At least they’d be in heaven.”
A few weeks after meeting the father with the toddler, another strode up to the facility with his partner. Though firm in his stance, he took a few moments to engage with us, revealing a rather shocking mindset.
“We have two others,” he said, “but this one was an accident.”
“It’s not easy having children. I have five,” I said. “But they’re all gifts. What about adoption?”
And then he dropped the bomb. “Adoption? No, to me, adoption is a sin,” he said.
Though his partner had already slipped into the facility, noticing our confused looks, he seemed intent on at least explaining.
In belabored English, indicating exposure to a different culture, he said, “If I bring a child into the world, it is my responsibility to raise it.”
“But you’re okay with your baby dying?” I asked.
At that, another shrug of resignation came, just before he was whisked inside by the mother, visibly impatient with his delay.
Reflecting further, I think of my aunt, given to us through adoption. If her biological parents had bought this twisted logic, she wouldn’t be here, nor would her two sons, nor their four beautiful children – not the oldest, a dancer; not the two middles, lively soccer players; and not the youngest, whose squeals and smile light up the world and sends his two big dogs running to protect him.
Though our third baby died in utero, we named our third living child Elizabeth, “Gift from God,” because of our gratitude, giving her the middle name Grace.
Without that gift, there’d be no “brown-eyed girl” leaf twirling on our family tree. But this father’s third child may never be given an earthly name, and the parents will never know the color or shape of their third child’s eyes – nor the beautiful light shining forth from them.
Contrast this with the post-abortive dad I met on Twitter who, after a discussion that began contemptuously with him defending the abortion industry, ended with him admitting grief over the child of his, aborted against his will – though he still sees the mother’s action as her right alone.
As the tenor of that conversation shifted to something more hopeful, I dared to suggest he name his son or daughter. And surprisingly, he – the Planned Parenthood defender – admitted he already had. “Can I ask what?” I asked. “Damnum,” he replied. “Means ‘my loss’ in Latin.”
There are times when what we hear in response to the decision of abortion leaves us utterly speechless, with no possible retort. Other times, the heart reveals itself, and we are speechless again, but in another way.
I share these encounters to remind us that even when the logic of the world takes hold, and leaves us without words, we can be assured God has not abandoned us. He alone will be the arbitrator of actions and hearts.
As Christians, however, it is up to us, when we hear, “It’s just the way of the world,” to witness to another world – the land of the living, that City on a Hill – and continue reaching for it day by day, prayer by prayer.
[Note: I write about my experiences on the sidewalk Downtown Fargo on Wednesday, the day abortions happen at our state’s only abortion facility, for New Earth magazine — the official news publication of the Fargo Diocese. I hope you find “Sidewalk Stories” helpful in understanding the truth about abortion and how it plays out tragically each week here in Fargo, N.D. The preceding ran in New Earth’s April 2018 issue.]