The following is a continuation of the thoughts on life that were shared with us by a physician. (See previous blog) Through both his professional and his personal life, he has a unique view of life.
In a day where we talk much about lives mattering, his words should shake us to our core. Do ALL lives truly matter to us?
My experience in training
While in my medical training as a resident in pathology, we were required to examine everything that came out of the operating room. This included breast biopsies or mastectomies, brain biopsies, colectomies, thoracotomies and even little tiny babies. Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, tiny little babies were sent down to the lab not from labor and delivery, where they should have been, but from the abortionist’s suite on the 4th floor. They were not wrapped in little pink or blue blankets but rather in plastic buckets filled with their own blood and formalin. They were in multiple torn pieces: an arm, a leg, a spinal cord, internal organs like livers and spleens each torn asunder, separated and divided violently by the abortionists tools of torture and death. They died a silent death with no one to protect them. They screamed but no one listened – or cared, for that matter. They were torn asunder and no one paid attention or gave their death a thought. And there I was, as a part of my residency, documenting their suffering and death. I would record and measure a femur at 2 cm or a skull that had a circumference of 3 cm when the pieces were reconstructed, and on and on it went Tuesday and Thursday, week after week, for four years. Each week the dread would start in on Monday morning because I knew what would come on Tuesday afternoon. First I tried to get out of the service, but then realized that one of my colleagues would just have to do the work. Then I sought to stop the procedures from being performed but quickly found out how powerless I was against departmental and hospital policies and the large amount of revenue tied to these procedures. Finally I resolved in my heart and brain to carefully and respectfully go about my work seeking to impart whatever dignity I possibly could to this now lost little life created by God, our Father in His very own image. Maybe by gently and respectfully cradling this little body, whose life was so violently ended, there could be some good, some redemption, some blessing knowing that this life may well already be with her loving Father in heaven.
At times I must admit I felt like a United Nations peace observer in a massacre site; unable to do anything constructive to prevent death, I was left to only observe the horror and take down the victims names. I was simply a witness to their unspeakable suffering and dark, lonely death. If these acts had been done to these babies after birth, the perpetrators would have been arrested and tried for murder. But, in the twisted logic of our current legal construct, this death was not murder at all but rather the result of some vague “right” of the mother. These memories haunt me still; little ones torn asunder with no defender and no protector; alone in silence their screams unheeded and unheard. These little ones inside their mothers are uniquely vulnerable. They cannot protect themselves and are completely reliant on their mothers for all things. This should be the safest place on earth, but it is not. Western culture has decided instead that it is a woman’s right to end her child’s life if it conflicts with her life. It was Mother Theresa who said famously “[I]t is a great poverty that in order for one to live life as they wish another must die”.
In the end, I really did nothing, nothing at all to help them, to protect them, to comfort them or even hear them. I simply held them, measured them and cried silently, as a witness to their suffering. I am so very sorry for this. I have often thought in the intervening years of the quote that has been attributed to Edmund Burke: “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” I am afraid that, in the end for these precious little babies, I did perhaps only the slightest bit more than nothing.
Discovering help and hope
But the story does not end here, thank God. In these few last few years, my wife and I, as well as our family, have become acquainted with some real everyday heroes in a story badly in need of heroes. Real heroes are those among us who are just like us, but they step up and do the right thing even when it hurts and is inconvenient or painful – when it requires sacrifice. You see, thankfully God did not leave me alone in my sadness and failure to act. He has opened my eyes and “put a new song in my heart.” (Psalm 40:3). A few years ago a dear friend introduced us to the Advice and Aid Pregnancy Center. Here for the first time I saw the healing love of Jesus in humble service to pregnant ladies who neither planned for or wanted a pregnancy. At Advice and Aid, Ruth and her team of servants love and care for ladies (and men) who are at this challenging and fearful juncture in their lives. They unconditionally love, listen to, and support each woman’s decision. These are the real heroes in my eyes, for they are not accepting this evil, but stepping into the breach on behalf of these frightened moms and helpless, defenseless little ones. But let me say that there are even more heroes – the mommies and daddies who reject the narrative that they have no choice, no option but to abort their baby. They choose life over death, and hope over fear. I have seen with my own eyes these beautiful little ones growing up strong and vibrant and healthy under the care of these courageous mommies and daddies. Some of these children are raised by their biological mom and/or dad, others are raised by adoptive parents. Regardless, each precious child is given the opportunity to live, run, jump, and play. They may be the future doctors who care for us, the teachers of our children or grandchildren, the policemen who protect us, or friends who visit us. So you see, God did not leave me alone in my failure and grief from so many years ago. He has saved me to Himself and, in the process, restored my hope in the beauty of courage and life itself.
So as we continue this debate in our culture, let us be clear about a few things. Abortion is not “safe.” It is a deep, deep evil leaving one precious little life violently ended and another, her mother, deeply wounded. Abortion is also not rare with 1.1 million lives violently ended each year. Let us declare loudly and freely that every life matters!
Each life is uniquely valuable not because of what they do or accomplish but because they are uniquely created by God in His image. Each life is also a unique image bearer of God Himself and when a tiny one perishes, a tiny part of that image goes away along with that life. It was Mother Theresa again who said, “Saying there are too many children is like saying there are too many flowers.” We cannot have too many flowers, neither can we have too many children, for each bears the very image and joy of God. The psalmist said, “Behold children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior so are the children of ones youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5) Where does value come from? Our value comes from God himself. We each have unique value because He, our loving Father, has given that to us.
The choice is yours
Each of us has a choice to make today. Will we stand with life and its God-given, God-ordained value or will we choose death? The choice is as simple as that; it is not complicated. (In our culture we may argue over rights; in the United States we talk all the time about rights – the right to work, the right to speak, the right to bear arms, etc. We also speak about the right to life, or the right to our bodies. What exactly does the right to life entail? Do we or do we not have a unique right to life?) For this moment, we must simply choose life or death. Joshua, at the end of his life on earth put it this way: “Choose today whom you will serve…But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) The choice is ours today – let us not shrink back in fear or intimidation, rather let us step into the battle for life and its defense. In choosing life over death, we not only declare that all lives matter – we equally declare that every life is indeed a unique creation of God that declares His glory. Amen.
Note: Since 1973, approximately 54 million unborn children have lost their lives through abortion in America. One organization in particular (which resides directly across the parking lot from Advice & Aid Overland Park), has led the way (approximately 1/3rd) with tax payer support.
We would all say loudly, “All lives matter.” And we believe it. But do we act on it?
The doctor who wrote this has been intimately, profoundly impacted forever by the violence and horror of abortion. He has taken than experience and turned it into action, become the hands and feet of Jesus to the men, woman and babies who need it most.
What about you? Is there something you could do to back up your claims of all lives mattering? Perhaps its a donation to help keep the doors open. Perhaps its volunteering in one of the many positions that Advice & Aid needs filled. Perhaps its in committing to pray daily for the men and women who are working to reach the hurting among us.
How can you show that all lives –
even those of the unborn and
their frightened, hurting mothers
(and sometimes fathers) –
really, truly matter?