Dear Mr. President,
I had a conversation with my kids the other day. We talked about the Gosnell case, as we try to talk about several current events. I tried to spare them of the gruesome details and give just the short version. They had so many questions, though. They wanted to know what abortion was. I explained that some mommies don't want to grow a baby just then. I explained, and pointed out how much work babies were. I said that when most women have an abortion, the baby is still forming all of the organs, and not all the parts of the body work outside the mother just yet. I talked about how hard being pregnant was sometimes. I did not want to glorify anything.
My kids understood how hard it was. They've seen me go through it a few times. They understood the work, as we live it day in and day out as a family. However, the reality of what an abortion is...they thought I was making that up. They could not believe that anyone would do such a thing. They have an easier time believing in the tooth fairy. When I told them I was serious, they sat in horror.
I did not show them pictures. I was determined not to villainize my opposing side of view or seek to give them nightmares. But I want to teach my children how to form ideas. I want them armed with facts. I also told them about my experience with a crisis pregnancy center. I told them what some of the woman were like, and the challenges they faced. I talked about how some were forced into abortions by loved ones. I talked about the ones who faced depression, or were unable to ever have children because of an abortion procedure they had years earlier. I told them some women have abortions, and never feel bad about it.
When they asked the big, "why" I was determined to not to say, "because they want to kill babies." I was determined not to say, "Well, Planned Parenthood was founded by a woman who was a Nazi sympathizer and who wanted to limit the population of black people, so she started an abortion clinic that would serve black neighborhoods and prevent as many new black babies from being born as possible. She believed only rich, white families should reproduce." I know that was how it started, but I believe that many people who work there today do not have those intensions, so felt it would mislead them.
I said with as much compassion as I could, "They do it because they want to help woman. You see, some women feel trapped by a pregnancy. Some women want to focus on their jobs, not kids. Some women feel they already have enough kids, and more kids would spread the time and money around the family too thin. Many of them are just scared. Some of them are very sick. Sometimes they know that a baby will not be very smart, or will live his whole life in a wheelchair." I talked about some people at our church who are in wheelchairs, and cannot speak or hold their bodies straight. I said some people think it would be better if they were never born at all, because that's a hard life. I told them that many people wanted abortion to be legal to stop "back alley abortions" which were going on long before abortion was legalized.
Later my daughter asked me when we were alone what a "back alley abortion" was, and as gently as I could, I told her. She cried, and I held her and cried alongside her as her innocence faded. I wish I could prevent them from knowing the truth forever. I wish I could keep them innocent forever, and shelter them from the world. I can't. I can only pray, "Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours." I want them to learn how to think, and I want them to learn how to approach complex situations with compassion.
My kids thought long and hard about it, Mr. President. They were trying hard to see a world where there were easy answers. After some thought, my son said, "I know they are scared, but that is no excuse to get rid of a baby trying to grow." My daughter said, "We must work to stop this from happening to babies not yet born, and we must work to help these women so that their baby no longer feels like a burden."
They were not talking about the government, or passing laws, or by other paying other people to do the work. They meant themselves. They wanted to personally help these woman. They had compassion on those working for women, but felt they were terribly in error for thinking that abortions are a good way to help them. They felt that when the mother had no strength to fight for, and protect her baby's life, that someone ought to help her fight for the little babies.
I even played the devil's advocate. I told them some of these babies didn't even look like babies yet. That didn't matter to them. They were horrified. I told them that science does say that a baby feels pain inside the womb. However, maybe when it is not yet born, it's not really a baby. Maybe it's just an almost-baby. They laughed at the ridiculousness of that idea. They have felt their little brother and sisters wiggle around inside my womb. They would poke my belly, and he or she would poke back. The very idea was illogical to them that a baby wasn't a baby until it was born. I told them that sometimes the babies were so small, they could not even be seen or felt. David quoted one of their favorite authors, Dr. Seuss, "A person's a person no matter how small."
Mr. President, we are at opposing sides. I did not vote for you, but I heard you many times talk about how we needed to come together. Like it or not, you are my leader, and I try. I hold your office in high esteem, and I am called to pray for whoever holds that office. I try to raise my children to at least see the other side and seek to understand it. I believe in education, not indoctrination. Always seek to walk in another's shoes. I don't believe that you need to agree with someone's point of view to have compassion for that person.
I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when I heard your speech recently at a Planned Parenthood event. You did not seek to see our side. I know you don't want to work with our side, but I had hoped that at least you would try to see it. In the speech, you could have said "I'm grateful it wasn't in a Planned Parenthood clinic where Gosnell worked. Your clinics are sterile and safe. He broke several laws put in place for the safety of women, and I hope he is punished to the full extent of the law." That's what I was honestly expecting from you. Acknowledging the horror while holding to your pro-choice stance and still worshipping Planned Parenthood.
Instead, you called out states that would put any restrictions on abortion clinics. Apparently, the laws Gosnell broke were ones you didn't think should have been there in the first place. Those laws were restrictions on abortions to protect women, and you said in this speech that those types of laws were bad. I ask you, Mr. President, do you believe this Gosnell situation was good for women?
That was your statement we've been waiting for. Then you flippantly threw around God's name, and asked him to bless the work of abortion.
You said people sought to restrict women and take away their choices.
Mr. President, I don't believe you understand. I don't believe you want to understand, or seek to understand.
If you sat down with any worker from a pro-life crisis pregnancy center, and listened with an open heart, I'm sure you'd hear something different. You would hear the stories where they counseled a teenager who was pressured into sex, and then pressured into an abortion.
You would hear stories of incest, and then abortion to cover it up in a very tidy way for the perpetrator.
You would hear horrors, and meet the people working hard to stop those horrors.
I'm afraid you are not telling your children the other side of the story. I'm afraid you are telling them that those who claim to be pro-life are that way because they hate women; that they want to oppress women. They want to limit women. They want to bring women back to the 1950s. That is simply not true. I know because I'm unapologetically pro-life and I don't believe any of those things.
Mr. President, I don't hate women. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a woman. I want to see every woman reach her whole potential. I have 3 daughters, and I want to have all of them to be able to have fulfilling lives.
I'll be honest, Mr. President. I'm angry. I'm angry that when you see the Gosnell case, the only thing you see wrong was those laws restricting his doctoring power were there in the first place. I'm angry that you don't seek to understand the other side. I'm angry seeing the most helpless in our nation discarded and ignored. I'm so, so sick of the excuses, because you know what? If you were for women, you'd try to protect them from this horror. Instead you turn your head and call it an option. You seek to paint a picture that is entirely incorrect of the pro-life movement. You talk in your speech how so many states are seeking to limit abortion any way they can.
Do you ever stop to ask why? If so many people are raising their voices over the bodies of dead or scarred women, and dead babies, will you hear?
I understand we view the world differently. I understand you think a child burdens a woman, and that he/she breaks a woman down. I think a child is the greatest gift a woman could receive, and giving birth is one of woman's greatest powers. That doesn't sound very politically correct, though. I know the world is more complex than that. I understand we are fundamentally different.
I have to be honest, Mr. President. When I saw your speech to Planned Parenthood, I did not see a man standing up for women. I saw a president with no intention of uniting, just dividing. I saw you standing up for a company making a profit off of women pushed to desperation, and attacking the millions of voters across the country seeking to protect women at a most vulnerable time.