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.

  • Lynn A. McNeill
    Posted at 07:43h, 03 February

    True words, John. I agree. Children do not have a choice to be born or not. From the moment of birth they are thrust into a world that they learn to survive. Some have loving parents, some do not. Some are abandoned I am always amazed at the strength and tenacity of our living spirit.
    We all need to do what we can to support all children who live in this world They are our future.
    The best option would be to have each infant planned and brought into a family that willingly accepts the responsibility to love, support and raise the child into adulthood Wouldn’t that be a lovely world?

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 11:06h, 03 February

      That would be amazing, Lynn. Unfortunately, that is not the reality for millions of kids. Why was I born into a stable home with a comfortable life while so many kids are born into danger and violence, abandoned and unloved? Luckily, that’s where we come in. Let’s not forget these kids.

  • Bill Rapier
    Posted at 08:21h, 03 February

    Thx John for insights that only you can put to such powerful words. You have seen the hurt and are doing something about it! Way to go!!!

  • Clifton Shipway
    Posted at 08:50h, 03 February

    Oh my gosh. This is you best blog post yet. My heart resonates with this message so much. Oh my. What an amazing post.

  • Meredith Jordan
    Posted at 09:25h, 03 February

    Beautifully said, John, as always!

  • Alison Hawkes
    Posted at 10:29h, 03 February

    Once I was visiting a friend at Maine Medical Center when I had to pass through a group of 7 or 8 men holding some really disgusting signs with…you can probably guess, they were pro-lifers. I was outraged by the signs. It was a beautiful day and forcing their ugliness on me seemed so cruel. But my message was similar to yours. Why don’t you go and become a Big Brother to someone who was an unwanted child? GO AND HELP!!! I might have had some other choice words like they should be ashamed of themselves, etc. But I remember this incident so vividly.

    My policy for the US is every child a wanted child, but more importantly, everyone in the whole country should have one less fortunate child they are somehow responsible for, be it monetarily, or spending time with them.


    • John Marshall
      Posted at 11:03h, 03 February

      I totally agree, Alison. I’m not saying people have to accept abortion or forget the unborn. But let’s all remember the millions of children, not just in America, but around the world, who are actually born and waiting for someone to fight for them. Where is the outrage and the protesters? Where are the rallies and the marches? The actual living children are worth our best efforts.

  • Tony Nicholas
    Posted at 14:45h, 03 February

    Thank you, John. Whatever ones personal stance, views and emotions this is a very thought provoking piece.

  • Betsy Pearson
    Posted at 18:55h, 03 February

    John, thanks for your wise and inspiring words. It does no good to argue with others over their views on abortion. What does do good is to reach out in whatever way you can and love on a child in need. this Blog is a powerful call to action! Thanks.

  • cindi bartlett
    Posted at 21:40h, 03 February

    Thank you John. A thoughtful and powerful truth. I ask these questions all the time. I want to help in some way.

  • cate brockbank
    Posted at 04:43h, 04 February

    Yet again JM, you have retrieved the thoughts of many and put them so eloquently into words. Those numbers are astonishing. It is true, the unborn do not have a choice, but nor too do the born. No choice but to be left helpless without the love, care and parental guidance that so many of us take for granted. Those that have found homes in place like the #GoodShepherd are the lucky ones. There are many in Trump’s America who will not survive to adulthood. So we should ask him. What is worse. A death with suffering or one without?? I would choose the latter if given the choice.

  • Susan L Miller
    Posted at 14:07h, 04 February

    Many years ago, I spoke to a woman who was sitting alone, looking very sad. I felt drawn to ask her if everything was OK. She turned to me, tears falling, and blurted out that she’d just had an abortion. Her grief was a wake up call to me that abortion is not only about the unborn child, but also the woman who had to take this step. That being said, I fully support the right to have one, and not bring a helpless baby into a world where it will not have everything it needs to live and thrive.
    It would be great day when everyone who is against abortion would be assigned the care of an orphan until adulthood!
    Let that reality be the way to help their outrage be justified. I thank you, as always, for so eloquently expressing these thoughts, John. Many blessings to you and all the children who you represent.

    • John Marshall
      Posted at 01:38h, 07 February

      It’s true, Susan. To be pro-life while not actively fighting for the children already here seems to be missing the point entirely. But then there is a lot of this misplaced outrage these days. It’s like fighting for the rights of the rich when they aren’t the ones suffering. Or fighting for the rights of whites who already have so many advantages. Or demonizing the poor, the immigrants, the refugees at a time when so many are in need. I guess all we can do is pick a cause we feel passionately about and stand up for it. My cause is orphaned children and I’m happy to play a small part in telling their story and improving as many lives as possible. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  • Ana Katsuya
    Posted at 06:50h, 23 February

    This is a beautiful post John, and so very true.
    Thank you for awakening us to other matters equally important.
    Ana from Singapore