Susan Ciancio is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and has worked as a writer and editor for nearly 19 years; 13 of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently, she is the editor of American Life League’s Celebrate Life Magazine—the nation’s premier Catholic pro-life magazine. She is also the executive editor of ALL’s Culture of Life Studies Program—a pre-K-12 Catholic pro-life education organization.
A recent article in The Guardian opened with this line: “By the time Chasity Dunans learned about her pregnancy, she had already lost the right to end it.”
In that short sentence, readers understand where The Guardian is going with this story. It presumes a “right” that isn’t actually one, as ending the life of an innocent preborn baby is not now, nor has it ever been a right. Though some states allow this killing, we cannot consider the end result of this law a right, as in this sense a right is “the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled.” To fully understand that definition, we should look at the definition of just—“acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good.”
Thus, taking the life of an innocent human being—regardless of his or her stage of development—is always a grave evil and can never be considered morally good or a right.
Yet articles like this one want to play on the heartstrings of this couple’s financial difficulties to justify the killing of their baby. Instead of devising ways to help both mom and baby, it perpetuates the lie that the only—and best—solution is abortion.
Throughout the article, we read about Dunans’ financial struggles and about the “hardship” she faced because she lives in Georgia and found out about her baby after the time when abortion is legal there. So she and her boyfriend traveled to Virginia for an abortion.
At the abortuary in Virginia, on the day she was there, so many women waited to kill their babies that the staff had to stay late. Imagine the carnage in that building as multiple babies’ bodies were torn apart, families were destroyed, and the abortion clinic got richer and richer.
Sadness was the pervasive theme throughout the article. As pro-life people, we know there is a better solution to a surprise pregnancy—one that preserves the life of the innocent baby and that seeks to better the life of his mother.
And as pro-life people, we want to use the wisdom of our years of experience and of our knowledge to help moms and babies. We not only educate, but we equip mothers with the tools necessary to improve their lives.
We cannot change what happened to Dunans and her baby, but we can—and must—work to save the lives of others. If I could have spoken with Dunans before she had her abortion, this is what I would have said:
1. Pro-life people hear you and understand your fears.
Oftentimes, someone in the midst of a crisis pregnancy feels trapped. With the world shouting that abortion is an easy fix, it’s only human nature to want to believe that. Listening and understanding are the hallmarks of counseling a pregnant mother. Only then can we find viable solutions that respect both the mom and baby.
2. The preborn baby is a human being from the time the sperm fertilizes the egg.
The science of embryology teaches this fact, though the world chooses to ignore it. Dunans referred to her baby as an “it,” but her baby’s sex had already been determined. Her little boy or little girl was growing by leaps and bounds every day. At the time of Dunans’ abortion, her baby—who was 14 weeks old—was about four inches crown to rump, regularly moved his arms and legs, and was already developing hair and eyebrows.
3. There is so much help available.
Pregnancy care centers, nonprofit organizations like Let Them Live, Catholic Charities, local churches, and more are staffed with people who truly care about both the mom and her baby. They offer financial, emotional, and even educational support so the mom does not feel alone in her decision to raise her baby and so she has the means to accomplish this.
4. Adoption is a loving option.
Thousands of families unable to conceive their own child would welcome someone else’s. A mother can choose an open adoption, where she maintains some form of contact with the child, or she can choose a closed adoption, where she has no contact with him. Giving a child the chance to live and grow up with a family is a selfless act that affirms his right to life and his dignity.
5. The preborn child has a right to life.
Dunans stated, “You should have that choice to determine how your life should go, especially if you cannot handle a child.” What she meant was the mother should have a choice, not the child. Too often, people fail to think about the rights of the preborn child because he cannot speak for himself. Whether the mantra is “bans off our bodies” or “my body, my choice,” this mentality dismisses an entire class of human beings and tells the world they have no value. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
6. Many moms feel psychological pain after an abortion.
The staff at Rachel’s Vineyard understand the sadness that mothers feel after aborting their babies. This anguish may come a week after the abortion, 30 years after the abortion, or anywhere in between. They offer retreats and counseling to help post-abortive moms and dads heal.
In a sad twist of irony, when The Guardian article described the décor around the office of the abortuary in Virginia, it referred to a quote stenciled on one of the walls. The quote said: “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.”
Indeed, I agree, but not for the reason originally intended. In every abortion, a baby loses his life. Violently. To say that abortion is a travesty of epic proportions is not an understatement. This is why we fight every day to educate, assist, and create a culture where all human beings are cherished and protected.
Abortion is not a right; it is murder.
So I think we should amend that quote and say instead, If you are not outraged by abortion, you are not paying attention.