My March

This might be heavy.  It also might sound political.  I promise it is as personal as I can approach a thing.

In light of yesterday’s March for Life, the 45th edition of the collection and peaceful demonstration, speaking to my experience on both sides of this issue, and in the middle, felt like something I had to do.  The march for life, sponsored and attended by those who believe abortion ought to be eradicated from the earth gather in our nation’s capital on the third Friday of January and spend the day listening to a great many speakers, while also marching the streets of the capitol to display the mass of their movement. I’ve never been.

Growing up Catholic, it was just a fundamental truth that abortion was wrong and that conception of a child meant only deliver or miscarriage. It was never specifically discussed with me beyond the basic tenants.  I received no defense training of our position as a culture.  It was not until I began expanding my circles that I encountered those who differed.  There were a wide variety of reasons; abortion is a health-care issue, I was told.  Abortion is a woman’s right to choose, because pregnancy requires the mother to endure countless changes to her body, psyche, lifestyle and future.  Abortion is merciful to a child who would otherwise be unwanted.  The one that got me the most; abortion is not a man’s domain because it he has no choices to make, no changes to endure, beyond conception.  As a youth and then a young man, too timid to wade into those waters, I accepted my obsolete opinion, and stowed myself on the fence.  I lived there for many years.  In many ways not able to understand my true roll in the debate until my daughter was born.

At the height of my indifference and confusion, I had ended a relationship with a girl I’d dated for nearly two years.  Knowing I did not want a long-term relationship with her, yet unable to find an alternate relationship that took hold, she and I began interacting with each other merely on a sexual level.  My world shattered on the day she told me she was pregnant.  Prior to even gaining my footing, she told me she wanted an abortion.  I recall feeling relieved, as the alternate would require a commitment on my end I desperately did not want to make at that point in time.  I was able to trade self-respect and accountability to my actions for the elimination of my offspring.  For some time, I felt as though I escaped that crisis on top.

I am not sure where to start to turn the coin here, but I’m absolutely certain I lost – that I created an eternal crisis to escape a momentary one.  Given that it was a direct desire of mine to avoid accountability and honesty from the age of seventeen to the age of twenty-three, its a wonder this event didn’t occur more than once.  I think about what my 10 year old child would have done for my life.  I think about who he/she would be.  I am ashamed I didn’t speak up, that I allowed myself to be persuaded by tertiary concerns to spite primary issues.  Although true that I ultimately could not have held the final decision, perhaps it would have changed the course of events had I possessed the vantage point I hold now.  I am sorry that I ever allowed myself to believe that fatherhood was less vital to a child than motherhood.  I am sorry that I forgot the role my father, his father, and so many other strong men played in my life.  That none of them ever sought to recall their integrity for the course of expediency was a gift I benefited directly from.

Now, nearly thirty-three years of age, I now have three beautiful children with my wife.  Even if they weren’t so stunning, I can’t image ever not wanting to protect their life and dignity with fierce obstinance and pride.  As a Catholic, I value the just law of Jesus to protect and defend every life.  But had I never come across Jesus’ teachings, and somehow still had the three children I have now, I would still know in my heart that these miracles turn every argument for abortion on its head.  I know now that abortion does nothing to advance or protect society, the mother, or the baby.  Abortion, and the arguments for it, have numbed generations of men to the salvation that is a loving and committed family.  The culture of interpersonal communication between men and women in romantic settings has simplified due to the immediacy contact can occur and then be severed, both between man and woman, and the offspring they create.  Culture has plunged with the “me first” mentality that has invaded the public persona of the individual on the path to “enlightenment.”  It isn’t just obvious through abortion.  Countless avenues of human interaction have taken a hit in the past 50 years with the ripening of socialist-styled government programs.

From what I have seen, I feel even more for those young men and women just now coming to the age I was when I traded everything I’d been taught for the immediate freedoms that are delivered when we sit on a fence.  I worry  that those too insecure to properly weigh justice and mercy may overwhelmingly choose the side of mercy, afraid to stand up to pluralism, globalism and the dawning of the age of American Politi-theocracy.  Perhaps they aren’t even afraid.  Perhaps they’ve been convinced that “it doesn’t matter if its true, you just can’t say that sort of thing to somebody.”  These are things I see growing – and they feed the pro-choice argument.  Moral relativism negates the ground held by pro-life proponents.  Secular society demands we separate church from state, even when the framers of the constitution merely wanted to avoid a state-sponsored religion.  The fact that someone publicly proclaims Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of  all is not exclusive of those who would not share the same claim.  It is not hate speech, and it does not foster an environment of discord.  Jesus Christ was the authority of inclusivity, thoughts on love and environments of peace and understanding.  Refusing to agree does not make it less true.  He, and all of His teachings were designed to include those on the margins.  Respect for life, dignity and individual agency are chief among the ways we can include others.  Outlawing abortion would only bring us closer to those ideals.

I’m not sure I have much faith in abortion ever being overturned in this country.  Perhaps I am too cynical, but progressive legislation and jurisprudence seems to be on the down-hill portion of the slippery slope.  I regret contributing a child to the hideously enormous list of children killed at the hands of their parents.  I believe it will be the major sin I will have to do penance for when I meet God in Heaven.  I can only hope that perhaps, someone out there can learn from my mistake.  That they can understand that trading accountability and truth for a pliable moral reality always means we make the least harmful decision for us in the moment, yet very frequently the most harmful choice for our long-term outlook.

Yours in the Pursuit and Growth of Happiness,

Will O’Connor

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