Exposed for harvesting the organs of aborted fetuses for profit – often in the most grotesque and inhumane ways imaginable — Planned Parenthood has recently been trying to drum up support for itself on social media with a new hashtag stunt called #shoutyourabortion.
The point is to encourage women to talk about their abortions, preferably in positive ways.
I agree with the hashtag’s creators that abortions are not always easy to discuss. Although I have never chosen to terminate a pregnancy, just last week, I had a miscarriage.
No, it isn’t easy to shout about this loss of life from the rooftops. The pain of carrying a child and then losing him is much more than just physical discomfort; it’s a sorrow that I’ll hold in my heart, possibly for the rest of my life.
#Shoutyourabortion proponents want to downplay abortion by defiantly celebrating it. I want to shout for another reason: I want the world to know that even though I won’t be posting a cute pregnancy announcement on Facebook — or sharing pictures of a happy birth, or experiencing the privilege of parenting him for years to come — this child of mine is still important, still has added something immeasurably precious to my life.
We already loved him, you see, and his value did not depend on whether or not we wanted him; his value was intrinsic to his humanity. Just like my husband and me, and like our two sons, this child was a unique human being, and he had a contribution to make to his family and to the world.
We had plans to experience his whole life within our family; we had the privilege of doing exactly that, but for a briefer space of time. I am physically recovering, but the emotional wound of delivering my little tiny baby and saying goodbye is still very present.
But a funny thing happened amidst our grief. My husband and I began to see the gifts that our baby had brought to us, in just the short time we had together.
What a difficult moment it was to explain to our 3-year-old that there was no longer a little baby in Mama’s tummy.
“He’s born?” he asked when I said the baby was gone.
“No,” I replied, my heart beginning to flip flop, “He’s with Jesus and our angels in heaven. He’s happy there, but we miss him.”
Our son’s eyes began to water, “I miss him,” he said then, and has repeated since.
This was his first lesson about death and, while painful, it has been a blessing to be able to share this undeniable truth about life with him.
Our second gift is one we have been continuously grateful for: the overwhelming support of friends and family. We knew that people would be sad for our bad news, but we were unprepared for the number of people who shared our grief. Friends who brought dinner over with sorrow in their eyes as they remembered their own lost babies. A friend who didn’t judge me when I got overwhelmed at a parish festival, but rather took my sons in hand, fully understanding what my husband and I were going through.
Our house is full of flowers. At first, I was disturbed; it seemed like a funeral home, in here. Then, I realized that this was exactly what our community was telling us: “A life has been lost and we are grieving with you.”
So often, people keep their miscarriages private, and I understand why. For us, that was impossible as we had already starting telling people I was expecting. While the initial announcement that our baby was gone was difficult, the outpouring of love and support has given us new appreciation for the beauty and depth of our friendships.
The loss of our little child has begun to teach me a lesson I’m sure I will struggle with for the rest of my life: that God’s ways are not our ways. From the moment I started to miscarry, I could not get the Scripture verse out of my head, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!”
Have you ever wondered how Job could say that, when all that was dear to him was taken away? I have, yet with the verse on my heart for the past week, I see how true it is. The Lord gave us our child and He has taken him away. But whether we acknowledge it or not, God has blessed us.
Our child is no longer with us, but in our shared eleven weeks — filled with prayers and love — we have gained and grown from his life. We have forged closer bonds with family and friends, and have learned that we can count on them. This is a small seed of gifted wisdom that I pray will continue to grow in my heart.
So, ultimately, I agree that people should #shouttheirabortion — not because ending a life is a good thing or that it somehow represents women’s liberation from the tyranny of maternity – but because the life of an unborn child is worth proclaiming. If parenthood is refused in abortion, its reality is no less true: an unborn child has parents.
Proclaiming the child brings the child’s life forth as a human reality, beloved of God. I pray that this realization may be, for many, an unplanned-for consequence of Planned Parenthood’s #shoutyourabortion campaign.
Caitlin Bootsma is the editor of Human Life International’s Truth and Charity Forum, as well as the Communications Director for Fuzati, Inc., a Catholic marketing company.