You Will Teach Your Children the Word Abortion Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
We will all teach our children the word abortion someday. But what will we say about it?
The conversation happened in the car. I can’t remember exactly why the abortion doctor’s name was mentioned… I think it had something to do with an article my husband and I had read in the news… but our curious children in the backseat wanted to know more.
“What are you guys talking about?”
“Did you say someone was bad?”
“Why are they bad? What did they do?”
I had thought they weren’t listening. I was wrong. They don’t miss a thing. Our kids never miss a thing. They’re always listening. (Something we should always remember.)
I did my best to change my tone from the serious whispers I had been exchanging with their father.
“Oh. Daddy and I were just talking about a man who did some not so good things,” I offered, hoping it would be enough to satisfy their often relentless questioning. It wasn’t. I should have known. Like most children, they always want more information.
“What not so good things did he do, Momma?” My daughter asked.
I wasn’t prepared to answer her. How do you begin to explain abortion to children? How do you “sugar coat” it? Is there a version appropriate for kids? Is there a way to gently explain to children what is happening in those clinics?
I looked up in the rearview mirror.
Innocent. Completely innocent. Abortion is a word they’ve never heard. In their world, abortion doesn’t exist. The word has no meaning. No value. No fear or disgust or lament attached to it. It’s just a string of letters… Abortion.
I studied their faces until the light turned green. They waited. Silently. It was as if they could tell whatever I was about to tell them was important.
“Momma? What did the man do?”
I took a deep breath.
“Well, he takes babies out of mommies tummies…. But not like the doctor I went to see when I had you guys. He takes them out when they’re not ready to be born yet. He takes them out early.”
I waited. I could see my daughter thinking about what that would mean. Just a few years earlier I had been pregnant with their younger brother. They lived through the terror of frantic trips to the hospital as I tried to keep their baby brother safe inside my tummy longer. They knew how hard and important it had been to keep baby brother from coming out of my tummy early.
“Why does he do that? Why does he take babies out early?”
I paused, searching for some other truth. Some other reality I could share that wasn’t so terrible… something other than what really was…
“Because the mommies don’t want the babies in their tummies anymore. They don’t want the baby, or they are afraid the baby won’t be healthy when it’s born, or they just don’t want to be a mommy. The man takes the babies out of the mommies’ tummies because the mommies want the babies out.”
“So… what do they do with the babies?”
I looked in the mirror again. My daughter… my precious girl… the same age I was when my momma told me… How? How and why was this conversation still real? Why is this something we must teach our children at some point?
“They get rid of them, honey. They get rid of the babies. They can’t live when they’re outside the mommy’s tummy. So… the babies die.”
Silence. It hung in the air for a few minutes. I could feel the reality settling in around us.
…Mommies go see a man who takes babies out of their tummies and the babies die…
It was horrible. And worse… it was true.
We were almost home when my son broke the silence.
“Momma? Is there a way to stop them? Is there a way to stop that man? *pause* Is there a way to stop the mommas from having their babies taken out early?”
And I wish that I could say that I answered profoundly. I wish that I could say I came back with some eloquent response about the way the world works. But I didn’t. I just said,
“We can try, sweetheart. All we can do is try to save the babies.”
There were children who participated in the Women’s March on Saturday, and while the march was not exclusively a discussion of reproductive rights, it was certainly a central theme. There were children adding their voices to the ones demanding the right for abortion to continue. Children holding signs. Children marching. And I think about the conversations that were had with these children explaining to them what was happening… explaining why they were there.
I wonder if they talked about the babies. I wonder if when they spoke to these children of their future right to decide, to have a safe procedure, to govern what happens to their own bodies… I wonder if they told them the truth about abortion. I wonder if they told them about the babies, too.
– Because we cannot say women should get to decide without addressing the removal of human life from her womb.
– We cannot discuss that a woman should have the right to a safe procedure without discussing the procedure is the removal of a human life from her body.
– We cannot talk about a woman having the right to govern her own body without mentioning the other human life that dies as a result.
The discussion of women’s reproductive rights cannot be held without mentioning the other human rights involved. Because the baby’s basic right to live outweighs the woman’s right to not be pregnant anymore.
And when we begin to teach our children that there are things we should honor above another person’s right to live… we are all in danger.
This Friday will be the next annual March for Life in Washington, and today is Tuesday. We are right in the middle of the two marches. We are standing squarely between the two, and our children are listening.
They don’t miss a thing. Our kids never miss a thing. They’re always listening.
My question is… what are we telling them? What will you tell your children about abortion? And can you teach your children the word abortion without also telling them about the babies?
To read more of my thoughts on abortion: