By Jean Garton
Editor’s note. Jean Garton is best known to pro-lifers as the author of the classic, “Who Broke the Baby?” But over the years she has also contributed a number of wonderful essays for National Right to Life News and National Right to Life News Today.
One of the most frayed and tattered books in my office is a treasure I found at a garage sale. It was in a dirty cardboard box filled with dusty old volumes. A scribbled sign read, “10[cent] each.”
My bargain book is a 60-year-old copy of Roget’s Thesaurus. Unlike the newer copy on my shelf, the old one contains words which, in current usage, sometimes have been emptied of their meaning. When I need an alternate word for a speech or article, the old version is a valuable resource.
One day when I was seeking a synonym for the word “failure,” the thesaurus provided the following options: “successlessness, blunder, defectiveness, abortion….”
Abortion? A synonym for “failure”? Pretty wretched company, especially since so many people today associate abortion with such benign and positive words as “choice,” “privacy,” and “rights.”
The results of abortion are indeed wretched, as most women know who have experienced this first hand. But, we might ask, if abortion is another name for blunder and defectiveness (and failure and pain and disappointment), why don’t more women tell other women?
One reason victims are reluctant to “go public” with their “choice” is because often concealing an abortion quickly becomes their highest priority. These unfortunate women have learned to their everlasting regret that yesterday’s “solution” has become today’s (and tomorrow’s) ever-present problem. Managing guilt, suffering, and loss can absorb all their energies. But the conspiracy of silence is not limited to the grieving woman whose child has died.
After all, she has a family, friends, and the baby has (had) a father. How do we explain the unwillingness of others around her, including those who are personally pro-life, to “go public” with what they know to be true?
Perhaps part of the explanation is that while it is unborn babies who die as a consequence of abortion, a nation’s moral imagination – – its ability to empathize – – can also be killed. To think that we can kill without something very important in us dying is a dangerous illusion.
I recall one column that glowingly touted the chemical abortion pill, RU-486. The author dismissed concern for the unborn child as insignificant. After all, she said, what is involved is “no larger than a grain of rice.”
She didn’t mention that RU486 is used at a time when the unborn child has a beating heart, spinal cord, two brain lobes, internal organs, and even a face. After decades of pro-life education and legislation, how is it possible for people to be so ignorant of reality? Perhaps it is there are “none so blind as those who refuse to see.”
But in the end, because the pro-life movement has gone public with the truth, despite the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that was supposed to have “settled” the abortion question, abortion remains today the most unsettled question in our public life.
Looking back over lo these many years, it is obvious that my old 10[cent] Roget’s Thesaurus had it right. Abortion IS a failure – – a failure to care, a failure to protect, a failure to help.