Making it Personal

by Reita S.

In early September, a family I grew up with suffered a horrible tragedy. Their 17 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver as she was pulling into her family’s driveway. When I saw a newspaper article about the accident, my first reaction was ‘What a shame. Who’s drunk on a Thursday night?’ Then I saw the girl was from my hometown – Emily, someone I knew. The article mentioned her parents and sister; people who I had known for years. I had been in a play with Emily; I think we went to the same summer camp. Suddenly, an impersonal accident became a tragedy.

A similar situation occurred to me when I was fresh out of high school. A boy in my class, Travis, had spent the 4 years I knew him talking about nothing but his desire to join the army. Then, a week after his graduation from basic training, he and another soldier were thrown from a vehicle and killed because they weren’t wearing their seatbelts. He was 18 years old.

We hear about soldiers being killed and injured in the news so frequently, but it so often seems to be nothing but a statistic. In fact, even though two other young soldiers were involved in the accident, Travis’ is the only name I remember.

What impressed me most about both of these situations was the futility of the death. These were not people who were old, sick, or in some adverse circumstances. They were healthy young people who had just as much chance of getting up the next morning and continuing on with their lives as I did. Through some seeming cruel twist of fate, their lives were cut short.

Sadly, though they are no longer with us, those of us who knew them can think about what they were, what they could do, what they could have become. I look at those young people and I see squandered potential. Emily and Travis had their whole lives ahead of them – they could have been so much more than statistics.

If they had lived, I often wonder what they would have been. Would Travis have made it to Afghanistan, where he always hoped to “defend the people who need to be defended”? Would Emily be like my own sister, poring over her post-secondary applications and waiting for her acceptance letters? What have we lost? What could they have become? Been to us?

So often in the pro-life movement, we think of a faceless mass of ‘The Unborn’. They are some nameless entity that we feel it is our religious, moral, or civil duty to protect. Just this year, a friend’s sister-in-law lost her baby at 8 months of pregnancy. When the baby was delivered, she was physically perfect, but was strangled by her umbilical cord, a move none of the doctors could have predicted. Despite my pro-life convictions, I find that I have been moved 100 times more for the death of this child, through an unavoidable accident, than I have ever been for an aborted child.

An abortion is not the result of medical condition, an accident, or a tragedy. It is result of a society that has degraded the position of the unborn to such an extent that we don’t even stop to grieve their absence.

As pro-life supporters, we need to be conscious that we are not supporting some ‘idea’ or ‘collective’ – we are representing individual children, who become adults. They are endued with gifts and abilities that we haven’t had the opportunity to experience. For every child aborted, we should look with sadness and regret at someone who never had the opportunity to be. Just as we wonder what Emily would have pursued after high school, how Travis could have protected the disenfranchised, what that tiny baby’s first words would have been, so too we wonder what sex each of those children would have been, what colour their eyes would have been, what their names and occupations and gifts and talents could have been.

Abortion is a tragedy. It should never just be a statistic.

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