29 Jan The Born
I’ve heard a lot of talk since the U.S. election about what could happen to abortion rights in the years ahead.
President Trump already reinstated the so-called “Global Gag” rule, forbidding US-funded health groups around the world from providing or even discussing abortion with their patients. Vice President Pence recently appeared at the March for Life rally in Washington, declaring that “Life is winning again in America!” And soon the Supreme Court will probably become more conservative and may even overturn their 1973 decision that made abortion legal across the country. Some people think this would be wonderful. Others think it would be terrible.
But the whole discussion has had me thinking about something else.
According to the best numbers I can find, there have been more than 59,000,000 abortions performed in the USA since Roe v. Wade, the case that decided the issue 43 years ago. Fifty-nine million! This number goes up by an estimated 3000 every day! That’s one abortion every 29 seconds! Now if these numbers have you heartbroken and ready to fight for the unborn, I urge you to consider another number, as well.
This is the number of orphaned children actually alive and breathing in the world today. Right now. There are around twenty-two million in India alone! Ten million in China. Eight million in Nigeria. And around the globe we go. One hundred and fifty-three million! According to Unicef, this number goes up worldwide by an estimated 5000 every single day! That’s one new orphan every seventeen seconds!
I present these two sets of numbers side by side not to imply that one set is worse than another. And I’m not in any way suggesting you shouldn’t care for the unborn. I’m simply hoping the pro-life community (and the pro-choicers for that matter) will reserve a portion of their outrage for the living children as well.
It’s not enough for a child to reach the light and breathe the air. That’s the easy part. The hard part, as so many orphaned and abandoned children know, is everything that comes after that.
In fact, by comparison (at least as I see it), the unborn actually have it pretty good. They live in a kind of primordial paradise. A muffled world of darkness and liquid, dominated by the thrum of a protective heartbeat and the constant gentle tide of breath. They are never alone. They’re never hungry. They’re never cold. They do not know fear or panic or exploitation. They do not yearn for love or worry about the future. They are suspended, connected, waiting for something to begin.
And again, this is not to discount them. If they call to you, fight for them. Please respect their mothers, but fight for what you feel is right.
All I’m saying is: The unborn are often far luckier than the born. Unlike their as-yet emergent brothers and sisters, the born have seen the world in its harshest light. For the orphans of the world, they know hunger intimately. They know cold. They know loneliness and fear and worry and pain. There is no soft breath to lull them to sleep anymore. There is no heartbeat nearby to count on. With their eyes, they see the hopelessness around them. In their bones, they know the world has forgotten them. They are not connected to anyone or anything. They are cut loose, aborted by societies that cast them aside like trash.
Having met many of these children, having fallen in love with them, having seen their potential and their desire for love, their hunger for hope, I urge us all not to forget them. Wherever you stand on the abortion issue, whatever the Supreme Court decides to do, let’s not be so busy defending life or protecting choice that we neglect the ones who are already here.
Wherever they are, in India or China or Africa or right next door. Let’s find them and love them and let them know that their birth is only the beginning of something that really matters to us.