PROCTOR: Lifers for choice

If you tuned into ABC’s evening news last Friday, you would have made an alarming discovery: Subway’s footlong subs are in fact sometimes only 11 inches long. The March for Life, on the other hand, an annual protest of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which drew several hundred thousand protestors to Washington, received no mention.

Braving 20-degree weather and falling snow, we were among 25 Yalies who attended the march to protest 40 years of legalized abortion in the United States. In an eddy of protesters, most of them young people, the blue “Choose Life at Yale” banner bobbed down Constitution Avenue, making its way toward the Supreme Court. It was a day of joyful sorrow, as marchers celebrated the beauty of life while lamenting the silent and institutionalized murder of the unborn.

Abortion is the issue that Americans avoid. Media outlets often ignore it. Presidential candidates talk around it. And we are blind to the stunning reality — a third of our generation is missing. Since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, abortion has claimed the lives of over 55 million unborn children in America. That means over 3,000 children a day have been taken from our midst — children who from the moment of conception are biologically unique human beings, with their own DNA distinct from their mother’s, with the color of their eyes already determined, many of whom have a beating heart when they die.

But what we do not see does not disturb us. We do not grieve for the missing third. Instead, we focus on apparently more important political issues like the debt ceiling. Why is no one asking what happened to the millions of absent children? They were not merely lost. They were with us for a time and were actively taken and destroyed. They haven’t been annihilated, disappearing into thin air without a trace. They’ve been taken — violently, forcefully ripped from the womb.

At the rally, we joined mothers who had suffered through the procedure — mothers who had watched their children emptied through a tube into a waste bin, as a vacuum several times stronger than a household cleaner had to remove all “products of conception.” In a later stage of pregnancy, they might have had a procedure involving forceps-facilitated dismemberment. An abortion survivor shared her story about how she survived a concentrated saline injection into the womb. After thrashing for her life for several hours in the womb, she was born as what her mother thought was a stillborn child. But a nurse later discovered her whimpering, still alive.

These are not merely potential children. These are people. To deny that unborn children — biologically unique human beings — are not people is to imperil the foundation of our society. If personhood is predicated on secondary characteristics of human beings such as their intelligence, viability or productivity, what is to stop us from eliminating those people who do not satisfy society’s definition of a person? To claim that personhood is anything other than an intrinsic characteristic of a biological human is to threaten the most vulnerable members of society — the physically and mentally handicapped, the elderly and the unborn. For if society can grant personhood, it can just as easily take it away.

If you think there is even a possibility that the embryo is more than a clump of cells, we should be giving far more attention to abortion and its implications — for society, for the family, for the mother. Our responsibility is to the child and the mother.

The choice of the pro-choice movement is no choice at all. To abort one’s child is not an act of empowerment. To be truly pro-choice is to offer a supportive option for a mother in crisis to bring her child into the world, to offer dignified alternatives to abortion like compassionate adoption. We need to provide more material, emotional and spiritual support for women before and after they give birth, so that never again will we call a child unwanted.

Ryan Proctor is a freshman in Saybrook College. Contact him at ryan.proctor@yale.edu . 

Dan Gordon and Courtney McEachon contributed writing.

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