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Monday, September 25, 2017

The Ewing Family's Story


[Today's guest post by Feleica Langdon is part of our paid blogging program. Feleica is a provincial pro-life speaker in Newfoundland and the regional coordinator in NL of Campaign Life Coalition working alongside the provincial coordinator, Margaret Hynes.]

When Jeannie Ewing was pregnant with Sarah—her second child with her husband Ben—everything seemed to be progressing normally. The Ewings opted out of the amniocentesis and nothing abnormal showed up on ultrasounds. When their daughter was born, it was discovered that she had Apert Syndrome.

Upon physician consultation they were told what Apert Syndrome was and the challenges they and their daughter would face.

Apert Syndrome is a condition that causes people's skull and facial bones to harden prematurely, which means they don't have the soft spot (fontanelle) as babies on their heads. Their skulls are already fused at particular sutures. These sutures need to be opened up in order to allow the growing brain room to expand. Because of this, people like Sarah have very distinct facial features and often misshapen heads. They have droopy eyes, a small nose, protruding forehead, and small mouth.

Throughout their lifetime, people with Apert Syndrome undergo on average between 20 and 60 surgeries. It's a very mysterious disease and there is still much research to be done. Some people with this condition die prematurely from complications of surgeries and undiagnosed secondary conditions, like seizures or heart ailments. It's a very sneaky disease.

The couple was shocked! They didn't know how long that they would have with Sarah or even what their lives would look like, but their love for her surpassed any prognosis they were given. They certainly didn't want a life full of surgeries and therapists and specialists, but she was their precious baby girl!

Sarah's life has taught them to never take time for granted and that every person has a special purpose in this word. No one on earth is guaranteed a long life.

The Ewings have gotten to know other families of children with Apert Syndrome; tragically, three of those children have died prematurely. The Ewings weep for those children taken far too young, and their parents who are left with unfathomable grief. They also reflect on their own daughter and are faced with the question of if the condition will cut their little girl's life short too.

Apert Syndrome is a fragile condition; it is like a sniper that attacks seemingly at random. As with many diagnoses, Apert Syndrome  doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care how old you are, how many loved ones will be left behind to grieve, or what great moments that will be missed out on. It is because of Sarah that her family hold their loved ones that much tighter!

Their big-hearted warrior has also taught them that we all have our own unique attributes, challenges and imperfections, all of which should be embraced. Every challenge we face has something beautiful to teach us and the world. Jeannie says:
Sarah, because she looks different, reminds people who encounter her that we are all fallen and broken in some way. She wears that on her face, while some people's brokenness is hidden. In her brokenness, there is beauty. There is joy. There is love. She is very social. She accepts everyone wholeheartedly and allows people to be comfortable in who they are around her. It is because of that I have had incredible conversations with perfect strangers when her and I are in public. Sarah gets to the heart of what matters to people.
Families who are faced with extra needs need extra support. The Ewings' hearts fill with gratitude for all of the help they have received. They had several friends who helped keep house, offered free babysitting, helped with fundraisers, sometimes made monetary or gift card donations, and prepared meals after surgeries. Jeannie's friend, Julie, has also been there for her personally:
I think, when you are a caregiver, it's easy to get lost in the person for whom you're caring. But my friend saw that and frequently came to our house to check on me, not Sarah. She asked if I was getting enough rest, if I needed anything, how I was coping, etc. She brought over "mommy" care packages with dark chocolate, nice lotions and soaps and local honey.
In addition to this, a gentleman named Brian Sapp made cherished videos of the Ewings. He is a professional videographer/photographer and teaches media to middle school students. He spent hours interviewing the family and putting together a video for their website.

If you have been given a prenatal or post-natal diagnosis, reach out to life-affirming and supportive resources around you. Get educated, connected to support groups, and accept help from your inner circle. Embracing life knowing you are supported EMPOWERS!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rock you like a hurricane

Your president Kelsey Hazzard here with a quick personal note. I am in the path of Hurricane Irma and need to devote some time to prepping. Also, while I'm reasonably confident about my physical safety during the storm, reliable internet is probably too much to ask. Therefore I will be on hiatus for a bit. SPL's co-admins in California may have time to contribute a blog post or two, and they'll still be sharing items of interest on the SPL facebook page, but expect less activity. Your patience is appreciated.

Meanwhile, if you haven't already done so, I encourage you to contribute to the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort. Please give money, not stuff. Well-meaning people who give random items from their closets often make things worse. I'm aware of two pro-life organizations in Texas taking financial donations; they are on the ground and know what items are needed:
Thanks,
Kelsey

Being pressured to abort? Pro-lifers want to help.


[Today's guest post by Adam Peters is part of our paid blogging program.]

The Supreme Court said there’s a right to abortion. However, it also said there’s a right not to have one, and that right applies to minors. Unfortunately, this is something many won’t accept: mothers often feel pressured to abort, and can face blackmail, financial coercion, and threats of violence when they refuse. If you're in this situation, then there's a lot to worry about. The good news? Pro-lifers want to help.

The Justice Foundation created its Center Against Forced Abortions “to provide legal resources to mothers who are being forced or coerced into an unwanted abortion.” It provides letters that can be given to partners, parents, and abortion staff detailing the potential legal consequences of a forced abortion. You can get additional information or contact an attorney by calling (210) 614-7157 or sending an email to info@txjf.org.

Similar organizations include Alliance Defending Freedom, the Thomas More Law Center, the ACLJ, Liberty Counsel, the American Freedom Law Center, Life Legal Defense Foundation, and The Foundation for Moral Law. Of course, if you or someone you know is in physical danger, call law enforcement immediately.

Legal assistance might not be the only support you require; for practical aid, try going to a pregnancy care center. Among the largest pregnancy center networks is Care Net; its local affiliates offer free pregnancy tests, pregnancy related information, adoption counseling, and material resources. Some locations also provide consultations with licensed medical professionals, ultrasounds for pregnancy confirmation, and testing for sexually transmitted infections. Information about other centers and maternal housing can be found at OptionLine.com or by texting the word “HELPLINE” to 313131.

Regardless of whether you're being pressured to abort, finding affordable health care can be tough. To help with that, a coalition of pro-life groups created GetYourCare.org. It's a website showing your nearest federally qualified health center, which accepts patients regardless of ability to pay.

And finally, even if you've already started a chemical abortion, you may still have options. For more information,visit AbortionPillReversal.com and call (877) 558-0333. The line is staffed 24 hours a day and can put you in touch with a doctor who's ready to help.

Sadly, the choice to have an abortion is frequently made under duress. That’s something pro-lifers want to fix.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Transcript: You call this reproductive justice?

[This is a video transcript. For the video, click here.]

Hey everybody, Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard here. I want to talk to you about an article, and normally this kind of thing would appear on our blog, but I just don't think that the written word can quite capture how I'm feeling about this.

But for those of you who are deaf or hard of hearing, or just watching this at work (naughty naughty), there is a link to the transcript in the description, as well as a link to the article that I'm talking about.

So there's this photojournalism piece with the journalism contributed by, I'm going to butcher this woman's last name sorry, Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, with photos by Carolyn Van Houten. It appeared in the San Antonio Express News in late July, and more recently a version of it was published in the New York Times.

It's about abortion in Texas, and there's a lot to dislike about it; like, it's a very obviously biased pro-choice piece. Among other things, they refer to babies being "saved" from abortion, in scare quotes; like, are you suggesting they would have survived? I mean, that has happened, but it's extraordinarily rare, and I don't think that's what you were getting at. You were getting at... something weird.

Right out of the gate they've got their claim that one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, which is a blatant lie that has been debunked repeatedly, including by the Washington Post.

And they also found the most religious people they could possibly find, although to be fair, it is Texas.

But let's set all of that aside, because I want to talk about one aspect of this article that really leapt out at me, and it came from an interview with a young woman named Renee Rivas. Renee is described as being a student at the University of Texas where she is involved in a group called URGE, or Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity—which sort of like the pro-choice counterpart to Students for Life of America. #ProLifeGen

URGE is one of these "reproductive justice" organizations that tries to make abortion more palatable by attaching it to every other cause you can think of. So for instance, URGE has a parenting page on its website where it talks about the need for "affordable prenatal care, accessible child care, quality jobs and financial and moral support to continue their education," all of which sounds awesome.

Let's see how cynical you are. Let's see if you can guess where this is going.

We have a lovely picture of Renee, and it is captioned that she had an abortion because, without it, she would not have been able to pursue an internship with URGE.

If you really want to support mothers in the workplace, you might, I don't know, start with your own friggin' internship. Now, from the article, it's unclear whether she came to URGE with her unplanned pregnancy and they flat-out told her she needed to get an abortion—which would be illegal—or if she just, through her years of campus advocacy on behalf of the organization, knew that it wasn't worth asking... and actually, the latter is more damning.

Either way, she did have her internship this past summer, at the cost of one human life. Shame on you, URGE. Just... shame on you.

"Encounter Youniverse" launch party to feature sneak peek of "Only Human"

An excerpt from Only Human, the life-affirming screenplay by SPL president Kelsey Hazzard, will be displayed as part of the Encounter Youniverse launch party for Create|Encounter!

The event will take place during the Life/Peace/Justice conference on October 20-22 in Pittsburgh.

Encounter Youniverse is a project of Rehumanize International (which also organizes the L/P/J conference). Its mission is "to uphold human dignity by sharing human stories," building empathy and breaking down the barriers that cause dehumanization. Encounter Youniverse is throwing the launch party for its newest initiative, Create|Encounter, which (as you might guess) advances this mission through creative works.

Only Human is a perfect fit. It is a story about what a sidewalk counselor has in common with the abortionist she protests; about radical openness and love for women facing crisis pregnancies; and about a unique ethical dilemma highlighting the fundamental tension between compassion and justice.

It's early, so we can't be more specific than that just yet. For all the latest updates, like Only Human on facebook.

P.S.—The launch party will also feature other artistic works, selected from over 100 submissions to the Create|Encounter contest earlier this summer. A full list is not yet available, but keep your eyes open.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Parents should not be allowed to kill their obligations


[Today's guest post by Adam Peters is part of our paid blogging program.]

Ever hear that consenting to sex doesn’t mean consenting to a baby? If you’re discussing abortion, then it’s likely to come up. When women invoke that principle, they’re often lauded for defending their “right to choose.” When a man does the same?

He's a deadbeat.

Non-custodial parents (the overwhelming majority of whom are men) are expected to pay child support. This responsibility stands regardless of if a man used a condom or even if he only had sex on the condition that his partner would abort. When you point that out, expect to hear how child support requirements don’t compare to pregnancy because they don’t limit bodily autonomy or carry physical risks. Many are adamant when they insist this.

They’re also wrong.

The money to pay child support is typically earned using one’s body, and if you don’t come up with it, your body gets put in jail. Incarceration carries a serious risk of sexual assault and other forms of violence, something Rafael Solis’ family knows all about. Solis went into custody for failing to pay child support.

He didn’t come out.

But incarceration isn’t the only consequence of not paying child support. Some states will suspend your driver’s license or revoke other certifications as well. These things clearly impact autonomy, and they last for eighteen years, not nine months. Nevertheless, most people don’t see this as unjust: they understand that helping to create a child also creates a responsibility to support said child.

What doesn’t make sense? That this principle is only applied following birth.

Now, some will respond that a fetus is actually part of her or his mother’s body. It’s a claim Neurobiologist Dr. Kawaljeet Anand’s research doesn’t support: his work suggests a fetus can feel pain at twenty weeks. Neither does the fact that a preborn girl can be observed sucking her thumb at fifteen weeks. Her fingerprints were visible at twelve weeks and her heartbeat became detectable at six. Her unique DNA profile? That goes back to conception. Saying that one person has two neural systems, two hearts, two sets of fingerprints, and two DNA profiles just doesn’t hold up.

Of course, having a baby doesn’t mean having to raise one. People hoping to adopt outnumber available infants, and they aren’t hard to find: the website Adoption.com allows those who’ve been vetted by a licensed adoption agency to create a profile, and they can be searched by location, age, religion, or other factors.

However, children do come with some expectations. The most basic? You can’t kill them to keep from providing support. That shouldn’t just start at delivery.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Whatever happened to PASS?


When I first got involved in the pro-life movement as a college student about ten years ago, I heard a lot about PASS: Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome (or sometimes PAS, for Post Abortion Syndrome). I've noticed that discussion of PASS has faded away in recent years. There are still plenty of active post-abortion groups out there, but the terminology has changed; they generally emphasize regret, grief, and healing rather than a syndrome.

I think this change in language is for the best, for two reasons.

PASS and the DSM
I am not a psychologist, but I did receive my bachelor's degree in psychology and know the basics, so bear with me. Psychological disorders are defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM. (The DSM is typically referred to by its edition, such as the current DSM-5, but since the time period I'm talking about involves multiple editions, I'm just going to say DSM.)

Importantly, DSM classifications are symptom-based. A patient presents with symptoms, which a psychologist or psychiatrist checks against possible conditions in the DSM. For example, the DSM will offer a list of ten symptoms and state that if seven out of the ten symptoms have been present for more than X amount of time, then the patient has Condition Y. It's not perfect—what possible catalog of the human mind and emotions could be?—but this standardization is well-suited for a clinical setting, where symptoms and their treatment are the central concern.

Contrast that with PASS, which is cause-based. One woman with PASS might present with PTSD-like symptoms, such as nightmares or panicked reactions to seeing babies. Another might present with clinical or subclinical depression. Still another might have symptoms consistent with generalized anxiety disorder. The only thing they have in common is the cause of their symptoms: abortion.

Since PASS is cause-based and the DSM is symptom-based, PASS was never going to make it into the DSM. This created an opening for abortion supporters to declare that PASS didn't really exist; it was just a fake disease made up by those unscientific anti-choice loons! Of course, the logical fallacy is easy enough to spot. Just because something isn't in the DSM (which has a narrow, clinical purpose) doesn't mean people don't experience it, and you must not have a high view of women's intelligence or honesty if you believe that tens of thousands of women created and joined support groups for a non-existent phenomenon. But with the help of the media, the "PASS is fake" narrative caught on and the damage was done.  

PASS and Pathology
The second reason I'm glad to see PASS go is that it pathologized women who should not be pathologized. Outside the womb, if a parent kills their child (whether deliberately or accidentally), grief is a common, normal, healthy reaction. Abortion kills a child too, so shouldn't negative reactions to abortion be considered normal?

Calling post-abortion grief a "syndrome" suggests that psychologically healthy women wouldn't experience it. From a pro-life perspective, that's totally backwards. If anything, I worry about the psychological health of women who celebrate their abortions.

Post-abortive healing is incredibly important, and I admire the work of organization like Abortion Changes You that help mothers through that process. I'm hopeful that abandoning the language of PASS for a more holistic view will allow the pro-life movement to reach many more post-abortive mothers in the years to come.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Upcoming Events

September is quiet, but October is going to be very busy.

Friday, October 6 and Saturday, October 7 is the Vitae et Veritas (Life and Truth) conference at Yale University. Secular Pro-Life will have an exhibit table with free literature. Come say hi!

Saturday, October 14 is the Students for Life of Illinois conference at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where we will also have an exhibit table.

Friday, October 20 through Sunday, October 22 is the Life/Peace/Justice conference in Pittsburgh, hosted by our good friends at Rehumanize International with help from the pro-life student organizations at Duquesne and Pitt. Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard will speak on "Maximizing the Pro-Life Reach: Pro-Life Apologetics from a Secular Perspective." (Also, it's not set in stone yet, but we may do another Sunday morning "infidelicious" breakfast!)

Finally, it's not too early to be thinking about Roe v. Wade anniversary activities in January. As always, there's the March for Life in Washington, D.C. and the Walk for Life in San Francisco, and the respective Students for Life of America east and west coast conferences.

Also in D.C., the Cardinal O'Connor Conference on Life (which I probably don't have to tell you is Catholic) has invited us to participate in a panel on this year's theme: "(Ir)religiously Pro-Life: The Future of the Movement in a Secular World." That will take place on January 20, which is the same day as the Students for Life of America east coast conference. To solve the two-places-at-one-time problem, we anticipate needing more volunteers than usual this year. If you're interested in helping out, please email info@secularprolife.org with the subject line "January volunteering."

Good times at a previous Life/Peace/Justice conference

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Nobody is pro-abortion? These people are.

[Today's guest post by Adam Peters is part of our paid blogging program.]

When you’re debating abortion, there are a few lines that tend to come up. One of the most common? “Nobody is pro-abortion!” It’s also one of the easiest to disprove.

In an article for Salon, Valerie Tarico said that she’s “pro-abortion, not just pro-choice.” Tarico isn’t the only one who feels that way, either. Katie Klabusich declared, “Actually, I love abortion.” Meanwhile, Amelia Bonhow started the #ShoutYourAbortion campaign after announcing that her abortion “made me happy.”

Of course, there are plenty of other people who appreciate abortion. Sexual abusers do; they know it’s a great way to destroy evidence. That’s why Edgar Ramirez, Gary Cross, Luis Gonzalez-Jose, Andrew King, John Haller, Adam Gault, Grey David Woods, and John Blanks, Jr. all brought their pregnant victims to America’s largest abortion chain. Rescuing those girls wasn’t a priority: when Timothy Smith brought his thirteen year-old stepdaughter to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, no one called the authorities. As one staffer later admitted, “being thirteen and pregnant alone is not a red flag” there.

Abusive partners like it too. Abortion helps them avoid child support, which is why women have been smothered, shot, stabbed, burned, and beaten to death for refusing to have one. That’s something else Planned Parenthood isn’t eager to change: it opposes legislation to protect women from coercion and violence.

Human traffickers also like abortion. A survey of trafficking victims published in the medical journal Annals of Health showed over half had at least one abortion while being trafficked; some had over a dozen. As one woman put it, “No one ever asked me anything anytime I ever went to a clinic.”

And there’s another group of abortion fans: racists.

Black children make up a disproportionate share of those aborted, something former KKK leader Tom Metzger approves of. He calls abortion “non-white population control,” telling his followers to “invest in ghetto abortion clinics” and “raise money for free abortions.” Planned Parenthood has been happy to accept their help: in 2008, the group Live Action caught staff agreeing to take donations from people who said they wanted black kids aborted.

 

Federal funding for Planned Parenthood started under President Richard Nixon, a man who favored aborting mixed race children and thought abortion could “control the negro bastards.”

Whether it’s sex predators, abusive partners, pimps, or racists, plenty of folks are indeed pro-abortion. If you’re not a fan of their agenda, show it by supporting anti-coercion laws (Planned Parenthood opposes them). You can also tell Congress that Planned Parenthood’s federal funding should be redirected to federally qualified health centers and community health centers instead; they’re more accessible and offer non-violent services Planned Parenthood doesn’t.

Children face too many threats; your tax dollars shouldn’t be one of them.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A pro-life activist's unplanned pregnancy story

Above: an adoptive parent and child participate in a pro-life rally
[Today's guest post by Debby Wakeham is part of our paid blogging program.]

I was 27 years old, living in the UK and bringing up two children single handed after my divorce. I was also running a small secular feminist pro-life group called Women for Life, which had enjoyed some media attention (when we could get past the censors who always want to stereotype pro-lifers as male, misogynist religious fanatics!). So it was no real surprise when there was a knock on the door one afternoon and a man stood there, saying he was a journalist sent to interview me by my friend and fellow Women for Life member, Ellen (not her real name). My five-year-old came to the door with me and the man said: “You are lucky to have children, I can’t have any.”

The man introduced himself and seemed quite knowledgeable about the abortion controversy and claimed familiarity with mainstream pro-life groups which, in the opinion of Women for Life, could be counterproductive with their religious underpinning and opposition to contraception. We got on quite well; he said he was Jewish and had been in a concentration camp. He said he had seen some horrible things and I felt sorry for him.

Time passed and evening drew in. We decided to go for a drink – luckily I lived in a flat and babysitters were not hard to come by. He ended up staying for 3 days, during which time he claimed to be fatally ill and I was not to worry if one day he disappeared.

I became increasingly uneasy about him. Though there was no hint of aggression or violence, intuitively I knew something was not quite right – especially when he claimed to be making a telephone call to the Guardian newspaper in Fleet Street. I knew the Guardian was not in Fleet Street.

I was relieved when he went and immediately had the locks changed. I told Ellen about his visit and it turned out that he was not a journalist; he was in fact her current boyfriend and she had not given him my name and address or encouraged him to interview me. She thought he must have stolen it from a letter from me in her handbag. I apologised profusely for what had happened but she realised it was not my fault as I didn’t know; he had lied to me.

I began to wonder what else he had lied about – sterility for instance? I was not in a relationship at the time so I was not taking the pill. Neither did he (being ‘sterile’) offer to use a condom. I had been at the most risky time in my menstrual cycle, so it was a case of Wait and See – or as it turned out, Wait and Not See.

A short while later, I visited the doctor about an infection. My older child was at school but I had to take the younger one with me. I asked the doctor to tell me if I were pregnant as I did not want any treatment that would harm the baby. He examined me and said I was. On learning that the pregnancy was accidental, he said something which made me think he considered me to be naive and solely responsible for the pregnancy. I said: “What – no word of condemnation for the man?” He then said: “I want you in hospital before you are 8 weeks.” I said: “What for?” He replied: “If you’re going to have a termination...” That is as far as he got. I told him in no uncertain terms that I was not and that the child would probably be adopted.

When I got outside the surgery, I felt nauseous – he had made his lethal offer in front of my five-year-old.

I made a list of pros and cons of keeping the child versus adoption. It was not particularly helpful; it came out 50/50. I decided on adoption but resolved to keep the child if s/he were disabled. I was lucky in that I knew about adoption at first hand; I had myself been adopted as a baby and my parents had wisely told me very early on that they had chosen me specially. I remember the day my sister (also adopted, no blood relation) arrived – a tiny baby in a large pram!

The weeks passed; I continued with pro-life activities and my boys went to school. As I began to show, my older son suspected and soon it was time to tell them. I said that some people were very sad when they wanted children but were unable to “grow their own.” I was having a baby and was going to make a couple very happy by giving them the child they so badly wanted. I did not want the boys to feel insecure and that I might one day decide to have them adopted so I explained that because this one was going to be adopted, I would be better able to look after them. They accepted this and the older boy said, approvingly: “That proves you’re pro-life if you’re having an adoption.”

I moved out of the area about half way through the pregnancy and found schools for the boys. I arranged for them to go into temporary foster care when I was due to give birth and they stayed with a very nice family. I was careful not to refer to the growing child as their brother or sister and decided that it would be better if they did not see him or her. I asked the older boy to choose a girl’s name and a boy’s name, and explained that s/he would have to have a name when I registered the birth.

During the pregnancy, I encountered varying reactions to what I was doing: Some people thought I was “wonderful” or “unselfish” – not so. There was a lot of legitimate self-interest. In the circumstances it was best for me and best for the child – and I had prepared the boys well. Other people, even pro-lifers, said: “How could you give up your own child?” My mother thought it was sad that I had to go through pregnancy and have nothing at the end of it; she meant this kindly. I told her it was not sad – it was very positive and someone had had to go through it so that she could have me. Very few, if any, people could handle the fact that I was actually happy about what I was doing.

Women giving children for adoption are always assumed to be under pressure to do something they don’t want to do – and desperately unhappy as a result. I accept that this can happen (though hopefully not so much as it did in the past) and it is totally unacceptable.

I do believe, however, that women have the right not to be mothers, provided this is achieved non-violently – either by preventing conception or, if conception occurs, ensuring the best possible future for the child. I hope my own birth mother made her decision freely – I would rather she had not wanted me than been heartbroken at having to give me up.

I arranged the adoption through the (now defunct) National Children Adoption Association; I chose this organisation because it was secular. I also wanted the child brought up, like me, knowing that s/he was adopted. As s/he was conceived after the passage of the 1967 Abortion Act, I wanted the child to grow up appreciating and affirming the right to life.

The Director described prospective parents to me and said I could choose those I liked the sound of. I was so certain of my adoption decision that I did not want the child fostered beforehand, though this was an option for those who were undecided. I wanted the child to go straight from hospital to new parents. The Director offered me the chance to meet the parents I chose and I said yes. I could change my mind at this point if I wanted, and any time in the ensuing three months, after which the adoption would become legally binding.

The birth was at the due time and was quick, as if the baby wanted to cause me minimal inconvenience. I had decided that I would see the baby but not feed or look after him, in order to minimise bonding. I looked at him and immediately fell in love – but it was not a possessive love, my decision remained unchanged. Just after the birth, a nurse asked me if I was having him adopted because I wasn’t able to get an abortion. She meant well. I told her my reasoning and she respected my decision as it was my “right to choose.” Pleasant though she was, I felt she had somewhat missed the point.

My breasts were bound to dry up the milk. I was in hospital for a week, during which time I saw him often and even fed him once and changed a nappy. It felt strange bottle feeding after having breastfed the others. Many friends came to visit and the time passed quickly. A photographer came and I ordered a picture; the baby was then 4 days old or, as I said when asked, “nine months and four days old.” The picture was beautiful; he had a Buddha-like appearance and a Mona Lisa smile.

There was an unpleasant incident one lunchtime: Some of the other new mothers said: “How could you give up your own child – why didn’t you have a termination?” So I told them, in graphic detail.  I think the image of him being “chopped up in bits and thrown into the incinerator” turned their stomachs. They said: “Ugh, can’t we talk about something else?” To which I replied, “I was asked a question and I must answer it.” It was not until years later that I thought I understood how they could be so irrational. They had obviously bonded with their babies and probably perceived me as cruel and heartless for (as they saw it) for abandoning him – utterly unable to see the fatal flaw in their position.

The Director of the adoption society came and we planned that I would meet the baby’s new parents in her office. I would leave him in the hospital when I was discharged and we would all converge at the office the next day.

I arrived wearing a large badge with a picture of an unborn baby surrounded by the words; “Give life a chance” so his parents would be under no illusions as to my ethical framework. They arrived with their older child (also adopted) and the baby was brought in. I said to the little girl: “Have you seen your brother yet?” and she bent over the cot, looking at him with interest.  His new mother had bought the most expensive baby milk you can buy and they promised to look after him very well. His father said to me: “Some people make me very angry.” I can’t quite remember the conversation up to that point but I remember feeling certain that he was referring to the tragedy of babies being aborted when they could have lived to be adopted.

I left feeling very happy that he had such a wonderful family who would bring him up with integrity and love. I wished we could have been friends, but confidentiality meant that there would be no direct contact. They said they would keep the name I had chosen as the child’s middle name, just as they had with their daughter. I told them I was adopted and that it had never been a shock to me; I had been brought up knowing – they said they would do the same. Indeed it must be so, as they had involved their older child in the first meeting with her little brother, who was 7 days old. They had said: “We love him already.”

At the postnatal examination, the male doctor (a different one) asked me how the baby was.  I said I was sure he was fine; he had been adopted. The rather predictable response was: “Oh, have you accepted it? Couldn’t you get a termination?” to which I replied: “No, I don’t believe in killing.”
I resumed life with my boys, who appeared then (and ever since) to be unscathed by the whole series of events. I was visited by a social worker, a kind of intermediary between me and the child’s new parents. I guessed the 3-month cooling-off period would be agonising for them, so I asked the social worker to assure them that I was not going to change my mind.  He said that he would. He was excellent – very professional and we got on really well. In due course the adoption went through and my baby was legally the child of his new parents.

Four months later, I got a beautiful photograph of him sitting in a high chair, with a lovely note from his parents saying he was getting on very well and now sleeping through the night.

I continued with my pro-life activities. His parents had been told that I sometimes appeared on television or had letters/articles published and they were fine with this. I had a letter published in a national newspaper in response to some article on abortion. I wrote of my experience and said that children were not disposable. This prompted one of their journalists to contact me with a view to doing a full page feature. I went to her house for the interview and was also photographed. I was very pleased with the published article; she had not distorted anything I said and reported true, including the fact that I was atheist and pro-life and the sadness of women (like a friend of mine) who have abortions and say: “My child would have been six years old” – and the fact that if women are sad after having babies adopted they can in all probability derive some consolation that they can say: “My child is six years old.”

Six years after the adoption, another journalist whom I knew, Mary Kenny, wrote an article in the Sunday Telegraph entitled “Adoption: Too few babies to meet the demand” in which she told my story. Imagine my delight when she wrote to me to say she had had a letter from my child’s adoptive father. He had read the article and was very moved by it. They wanted her to tell me that the child was getting on very, very well and they were going to keep the article and one day they would show it to him when he was grown up.