Why I Chose Life

With all the news about protests over a possible overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, I could not help but be reminded of all the grief I had trying to conceive a child. I can still recall the anguish I suffered when I lost my first baby to miscarriage, otherwise known as a natural abortion. Meanwhile, I was also a happily married woman with plans to have a family. The disappointment was difficult to bear for both my husband and me.

I understand that many young, unmarried women have unwanted pregnancies due to unprotected sex. Abortion solves the problem, at least for them. Except it is not just their bodies that are involved.

Among some of the exchanges during the recent protests, I heard someone say that a “fetus is not a person.” So now we are playing disingenuous word games. According to some, if the unborn child cannot breathe outside the womb entirely on their own, they do not deserve the legal title “person” with all the rights and privileges that go with that term. I wonder if that distinction also applies to people of any age who depend on respiratory assistance without which they could not breathe. Are they therefore less of a “person”? Is unassisted breathing of fresh air the new criterion for the right to life? Allergy sufferers beware!

Much of the debate over abortion centers on the misuse of terms. While others may refer to the unborn as a clump of cells, I choose to apply science. I call it human conception or the beginning of human life.

Here is what happens before and after conception is complete: The sperm and egg unite in the fallopian tube to form a single cell zygote that soon starts to form more cells. The zygote contains a complete set of chromosomes, half from the ovum, half from the fertilizing sperm, and thus all the genetic code for a brand new individual.

That is how life begins for all human beings. From that point on, the zygote enters the uterus, develops into an embryo, then a fetus, which continues to grow in the mother’s womb according to the DNA inherited from both parents, including gender and race. At every stage of this development, the 100% human organism is alive. At birth, the fetus is called a baby who is most certainly a person.

When protesters use terms like “my body, my choice,” they are completely forgetting that pregnancy includes another human body. It may be small and dependent for survival on the safety of the uterus, but that does not make it less human. As time passes, it develops its own unique characteristics, senses and abilities.

It took a while, but I was able to get pregnant again, at which time, my doctor ordered me to be confined at home with plenty of bed rest. I was considered high risk so was permitted to take a medical leave from my teaching job. At every moment of that pregnancy, I was aware of the growing life within my body. I felt my daughter move around. I heard her heart beating. I even sang to her in case her hearing was starting to develop. The day she was born was the happiest day in our marriage.

So let’s please stop pretending that abortions are no more than simple procedures that involve only one person ridding her body of unwanted tissue. Science, not religion, determines that human life begins at conception and develops inside the mother’s body until the baby is able to emerge with all senses intact and a tummy ready for feeding. Let Roe v Wade fade away, and let each state determine the best way to deal with unwanted pregnancies including those rare cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother.

My suggestion is to use prevention rather than cure. Choose life over abortion.

Gloria C. Endres