Growing up in the age of abortion
No matter how the Senate Democrats handle the judicial earthquake of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the word on everyone's mind during the hearings will be abortion. Pro or con, the media will turn to women in this national discussion that is so personal to them. Yet shouldn't we be asking how this issue affects our school-aged children? What does it really mean to grow up in a society that allows mothers to make "the choice"?
After almost 50 years of Supreme Court–sanctioned abortion, most Americans can only wonder what it was like to grow up before Roe v. Wade. I've been wondering just the opposite. And I fear the answer.
Even at a fairly young age, I felt there was some mysterious meaning to my life, despite my mother's strictly held atheist views. How amazing it seemed that Mom had brought me into the world and that somehow Dad was involved. This was as wondrous to a child's mind as imagining a never-ending universe. And it only grew more wondrous to a teenager in the 1960s.
Although God was not in the picture yet, I sensed that my birth had purpose — that I was on a journey outside and well beyond the control of my parents.
After all, I knew they didn't control my creation. I knew that sex didn't always lead to pregnancy. They could "try" to have a baby, but ultimately, it wasn't up to them. I knew that some couples couldn't have children no matter how hard they tried. So I sensed that my birth was dependent on something else, that there was a precious mystery to my existence — an undiscovered purpose — and this pointed to a life wild with possibilities.
I fear that our abortion-permissive society steals the "mystery of being" from children, denying us a journey related not to our parents, but to something greater, which points the way to discovering a self-worth uniquely our own.
I worry that many of our social problems, especially with youths, are connected to this loss of mystery.
Think about the remarkable innocence of children, which lets them see life simply and in stark terms. They grow up in a society that leaves the decision of life itself to the mother. She is going to have a baby but decides not to. She ends a developing life — and now it is gone, erased from this world forever.
We adults have grown numb to the fact of abortion. But ask yourself, how do children absorb this knowledge?
And remember, this is not about incidental legal knowledge, which a child may or may not encounter, but rather a pervasive truth filling our daily lives — from sex education in school to messaging in every media format.
Simply put, we live in an abortion culture. Do we comprehend its meaning?
As the nation reconsiders abortion, opponents will naturally focus on the terrible loss of lives, counted in tens of millions, and the scientific fact of the baby's development before birth, pointing to his humanity. But remember also the millions of children who survived those months of danger in the womb. They'll soon learn the truth.
Imagine how children react as they grow to understand the significance of abortion law — that they are alive because their mother allowed it and for no other reason.
It's worth thinking about in just these terms. In Roe America, mothers have the power of life and death — like God. For the surviving children, now including Americans well into middle age, Mom gave a thumbs-up to their existence. But still they know, whether aged 14 or 40, that it could have been "thumbs down."
How does this understanding change a child's sense of personhood, and how does it affect his youth and adulthood? Perhaps these people will come to know God's love and reconnect to the wonder of their journey. But if not, what impact is there on mental health, from depression to anxiety to outright despair?
Logically, those growing up in the age of abortion have suffered a disrupted capacity to thrill at their own mystery, to wonder at their existence on this earth.
We need a national awakening to the fact that we live in an age where a child owes his life to his mother's frame of mind at the time of her pregnancy.
Some survive, and some don't.
How like the age-old question that haunts battlefield veterans: why did this soldier die, yet I live? Even for teenagers, that question can make life seem arbitrary and meaningless. Who could blame them if they react with anger or despair at the hard calculus of their mothers' reproductive rights?
If the high court returns the abortion question to the voters of each state, then once again, as it was in 1973, the people will get to define the culture in which they live.
Let us then remember our own searching questions about life as children. If we do, we might have a change of heart on abortion and thus seek to return the mystery of existence back to its rightful owners.
Bob Just is the founder and president of Concerned Families [www.concernedfamilies.org], which has been recognized in the Congressional Record, by the Bush 43 White House, and by local law enforcement. He is a veteran national talk show host and can be reached at bobjust.com.
Image credit: Pixabay public domain.