Today in Washington D.C. hundreds of thousands of people are expected to participate in the annual March for Life. They come from all around the country and the world to stand up for the sanctity of life in the womb. They will bundle up to protect themselves from the frigid temperatures; they will raise their signs and their voices. They will stand in solidarity for life. What a beautiful show of God’s ultimate love, protecting the innocent and those without a voice of their own. It is what God calls all of us to do.
There are many arguments for keeping abortion legal. I am not capable of addressing all of those arguments in one article, but I can talk about one reason people often cite when arguing that abortion should be kept legal. Many argue that when a mother’s life (or the child’s life) is in danger abortion should be a viable option. They say that a mother should not have to risk her life, especially if she has other children who rely on her. They say that her life is more important than the child’s life. Oh, how wrong they are!
I know, I know, you are probably thinking that it’s easy for me to say a mother should risk her life for her child when I am not in that situation. The truth is, it is easy to say that while I am not pregnant or risking my life. However, going into my last pregnancy I knew I was risking my life by even being pregnant. My previous pregnancy ended in a catastrophic uterine rupture, and I was told that if I ever got pregnant again I would not only greatly risk my life, but it was almost guaranteed that my baby would die, too. While I recovered from my emergency c-section, the doctor impressed upon us over and over again that I should never, never get pregnant again. Those words pierced my heart like a finely sharpened dagger. But I knew he was right. I couldn\’t risk my life for another pregnancy, because I had so many who needed me here. My husband and I were diligent, within our faith guidelines, in our efforts to avoid pregnancy. After all, there was no way I would put my life at risk on purpose when I have ten other children who rely on me, and who desperately need me in their lives. Still, a mere five and a half months later, despite all our intense efforts to avoid pregnancy, I found myself expecting again. To say I was terrified is be a gross understatement!
I knew what the doctors would say, and I was right. I was advised to abort. When I refused, I was dropped as a patient. I was “too great of a risk”. As I called around, trying to find a new doctor, no one was willing to take me as their patient. No one wanted the risk of a woman who stubbornly would not abort her child in favor of saving her own life. I contacted our diocese and asked for help to find someone, anyone, who would help us. We found no one. Finally, after weeks and weeks of searching, and hard talks with this one doctor, we were accepted as a patient.
That pregnancy was terrifying. I thought about dying all the time. I was driving down the road and worrying “what if today is the day my uterus ruptures and I die?” I was doing dishes and thinking, “Will my baby make it to my arms?” My mind never stopped racing. What would happen if I died and the baby lived? What if the baby died and I lived? What if we both died? How would my family go on? Would they understand why I knew I couldn\’t put my life over the baby’s life? The strain was constant, and my heart was heavy so much of the time. However, I knew, without a doubt, that there was no other choice to make.
Our Catholic faith tells us that no one life is more important than another. In fact, Christ reminds us in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” If we are willing to lay down our lives for our friends, what more are we called to do for our children? Of course, we only have to look at the cross and Christ’s sacrifice for us to know the answer.
Often, what God asks of us is not easy. Christ even cried out three times to the Father, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Undoubtedly, we will also doubt. We will be scared. We will cry out to God for mercy. It is normal to have all those feelings. However, even though we feel all those things we are still called to follow Christ’s example. Every life is matters. Every life is worth dying for. Every life is worth saving. Christ showed us this when He chose to give His life for each of us, all sinners, none of us innocent.
For me, there was never a doubt of what my decision when I found out I was indeed pregnant again. I knew that I would gladly give my life for any of my children who were living outside of my womb, and I knew that there was absolutely no difference for the child living in my womb. From the moment of conception, this child was mine; a gift from God for me to love and cherish. He was growing and forming and living. It was not up to me to take his life. It was my duty as his mother to protect him as fiercely as I did all the rest of my children. It was my duty as his mother to give him everything he needed to grow and develop. It was my duty as a mother to love him so much that I would gladly give my life for him just as I would for any of the other ten children who call me Mama. And so, that is exactly what I did.
When we went to deliver our baby via a scheduled c-section, I worried what would happen. The mood in the operating room was somber and heavy. As the doctors began to work, the mood lightened. They couldn\’t believe what they found. My uterus, so catastrophically damaged just fourteen months earlier, was completely healed. There were no signs that I had almost lost my life delivering my tenth child. There were no signs that we were in jeopardy with this child. I was healed. They couldn\’t explain why it happened, but I felt like I could. I was told that if I wanted to have another child they would be happy to follow my pregnancy. How did we go from “you will die if you have another baby” to “you can have number twelve if you wish?\” It doesn\’t make sense if you look at it purely from a medical standpoint. However, if you look at it from a religious one it makes perfect sense.
Doctors can be wrong. They were wrong for me. I know they can also be right, but in my case they were wrong. Even if they were right, how could I have lived with myself if I had aborted the baby that God so graciously gifted to me? How could I have looked in the eyes of my other children, and told them that not all my children were worth fighting for? How could I stand before God and tell Him that while Christ could die for me, a terrible sinner, I was not willing to put my life on the line for someone so little, so innocent, and so perfect? I couldn\’t.
Standing up for life, especially when it means you may lose your own, is hard to do. However, we are called to do just that. My life as a mother is no more important than the life of my child, born or unborn. We are each precious in the eyes of God. We are each here for a reason. That reason will never be known if we dispose of the life that God bestows upon us. We have to fight for each life. We have to be willing to lay down our own lives for the lives of others. We have to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. We must lift our banners and our voices, and proclaim that from the moment of conception to natural death life is sacred and should be protected.
I have written in depth regarding my journey through my pregnancy with my last child at the CatholicSistas website. You can find my story there if you\’d like to read about it. The first article in the three part series is called, \”No Greater Love Than This.\”
© 2014. Michelle Fritz. All rights reserved.