Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Sadness We Ignore.

I came of age in the wake of Roe v. Wade. I entered high school in 1976. I'd say it was a pretty crazy time. The "if it feels good do it" attitude was still going strong from the 60's and we didn't have AIDS yet. It would be 4 years before Reagan reminded us of what it means to be an American and that maybe an unborn child deserved a right to live. The sonogram, the window to the womb, came about a decade too late.

I remember high school and college as a time where I had one foot in the world and one in heaven. My parents were not religious, although they were very moral. I had to find my own way. I loved having fun and I loved the boys. Luckily for me I was already charting my spiritual journey and had a pretty good prayer life going. I was no saint, nor a nun, but I stayed away from the "deadly sins" including sleeping with anyone. A good girl in a crazy world. Thank God for that. Because any woman who grew up when I did knows that the phrase "except for the grace of God go I" can be attributed to any of us who had friends who had abortions.

Sonograms weren't widely in use at the time. The womb was a mystery and the pro abortion crowd took full advantage of that. Jenny was a girl at my high school. Pretty, but wild. We weren't close friends, but I was friendly with everyone and I knew her pretty well. Gossip flew that she was pregnant and we all wondered what would happen. A week later I was at a concert. I happen to be passing by the boy's restroom and one guy stopped me and said, "There's a girl in there, you might want to help her out." I rushed in and saw Jenny leaning against the wall. She was very drunk. I helped her out and took her to a corner. she sat on the floor while tears flowed silently down her face.

"Jenny, what's wrong?" I asked.

"It's gone." She mumbled. "My baby is gone. I killed it."

I knew exactly what she was talking about. She wasn't the first at my school to have an abortion. I assured her that it wasn't a baby yet. (I was a good Democrat) I tried to comfort her, but it was no use. I sat with her until her boyfriend found us.

The following year I watched as Jenny spiraled down into promiscuous behavior, drugs, and eventually dropped out of school. A few years later when God was bugging me about the abortion issue I looked up fetal development at the college library. Jenny had told me that she was 4 months along. I stared at the 16 week old fetus and realized that I had been so wrong. It was a baby. Of that, there is no doubt.

I could tell you many stories like Jenny's. Over the years I have heard more than I ever imagined I would. For a few years I helped at my Church with The Rachel project, which helped women and girls who were dealing with their abortions. During group sessions the grief would become so palpable that it was emotionally draining to listen.

Such grief. Such loss.

Recently a study in New Zealand came out linking mental illness and depression with having had an abortion. It was based on data from a 25 year longitudinal survey that followed more than 500 girls from birth to age 25. The National Institutes of Health here in the United States admitted that there were "no studies of comparable methodological rigor published." "It seems that on the single biggest social change in this country's history the government research bodies and their social science agendas have studiously avoided studying its effects."

I think it's about time we did. Pro-life or pro-choice, we should all be interested in what this has done to our society and how it has affected women in the long term.

I think women like Jenny at least deserve that. Don't you?