This letter is written in response to Aliza Worthington’s “Open Letter to Pro-Lifers” which you can find here.
by Bryan Baise
I hope this letter finds you well. We have never met, but my name is Bryan. I was searching the Internet (specifically, Patheos) and came across your open letter to pro-lifers. After reading it twice, I wanted to write a response letter from a passionate and convictional pro-lifer. I hope that you don’t mind such a response, and my ultimate hope is that this can begin a conversation between not just the two of us, but the larger movements of which we both identify.
First off, I want to thank you for your honesty in talking about an issue that gets lost in venomous words, seething anger, and bumper sticker slogans (we’re both at fault here, let’s be honest).
For every one conversation that occurs in careful, judicious, “assume the best of the person” conversations, there are happenstances like this one or this one that–while part of passionate advocacy–do very little to actually advance our causes. So, I thank you for your candor in this letter.
I also want to thank you for casting pro-lifers in a respectful light. You showed respect for a position that you clearly disagree with, and did so in a way that this pro-lifer appreciates. Thank you, it makes the conversation far less adversarial.
You open your letter with a series of situations that do not apply to you, but one that does: a 42-year old mom, married to the same man for 21 years with 3 wonderful children. You write that while you would be able (financially, emotionally, etc) to support a 4th child if needed, you may very well not want to have another child. You ask whether or not you should be afforded the option of a safe and legal abortion. You write:
What if I didn’t want to have another child?
Should I be forbidden access to a safe and legal abortion?
Should the potential of the embryo inside me to grow into a human being and be born and bring light to the world and cure cancer and colonize the moon outweigh my desire?
My desire to cherish and spend as much time as possible with the three children I already have before I blink and they are out of the house with families of their own?
My desire to keep the undefinable, debilitating exhaustion of new parenthood relegated to a distant memory?
My desire to not have a car seat and stroller at this stage of my life?
My desire to nourish myself, now that I finally have some time and something creative and productive to do with it?
My desire to have two free hands and a clear mind as I prepare my daughter for college, my first son for high school, and my youngest son for his first season of swim team?
My desire that my days of volunteering in pre-school be over?
My desire that one day soon I will be watching what I want on TV?
Can you look me in the eyes, and tell me that my desire for all these things, and how hard I’ve worked for them, are less important than the potential clump of cells in my uterus?
I can understand and sympathize with much of this.
I have a 3 year old daughter (Madelyn) and a 9 month old son (Collin) at home. The “undefinable, debilitating exhaustion” is reality.
Just last night our 3 year old awoke with nightmares (now for two week straight) and I had to sleep with her (she didn’t sleep a wink). Our 9 month old is teething and has decided that means he will wake up every hour.
I am a PhD student, husband, dad, professor, teaching assistant, and a part-time editor. I completely understand that exhaustion, and everything that goes with having little ones (car seat, stroller, “sipees”, diapers, snacks, a change of clothes…..just to go out for dinner).
I get it.
Your desires are good, and I think every parent has them. I would not say that your desires for all these things are less important, only that they are not mutually exclusive with pregnancy. I’ll explain later.
As I continued to read, I could not help but wonder if there is something that you may be missing.
I understand why you consider a growing blastula, embryo, fetus an absolute miracle, a cherished life form, something to be protected. I feel the same way. I understand your religious and moral reasons for feeling passionately about this life form, such as it is. I respect your feelings, your zeal, your advocacy.
I simply feel that I should have the right to put myself, and my already alive family ahead of the potential life of a non-viable fetus.
I won’t quibble here about “potential life” or “non-viable” or “already alive” (save that for our next hopeful correspondence?). What was left out I’m certain was not intentional, but it may not immediately come to mind: adoption.
This was not mentioned as an option for you, and yet it gloriously is an option.
Aliza, all of those desires you have (again, they are not bad desires) can be acquired. I am concerned that you have fallen prey to the mindset that it must be “keep the baby forever or get an abortion.” No. There are thousands upon thousands of families incapable of having children that would take your child in a second: no judgment, only gratitude.
Why believe that this baby will be the end of your dreams and desires? It doesn’t have to be, per se. And it doesn’t have to end in abortion.
My wife and I suffered several miscarriages between our 2 children. My wife has a pretty bad case of Endometriosis, so we weren’t even sure we could have children before Madelyn. I can promise you, if no one else would take your child we would. I promise. No judgments. Only gratitude.
The lie that is constantly fed by feminists and pro-choice activism is that this child will take away everything you’ve worked for so far (job/career, financial security, etc.). But it’s not true. Sure you’ll be pregnant for 9 months, and you might have to take a few more naps. But all of those things you so desire to do, you can still do all of them while you’re pregnant and afterward. And you’ll be able to help families who are unable to have children. You’ll be giving the gift of life to someone. How great of a story would that be to tell your kids, that you were able to help a family in a way no one else can.
I’m not going to plead with you (and your potential, non-existent pregnancy) with big signs and quippy slogans. We both know that incites more than compels. I do however ask that you consider “doubting your doubts.”
In this case, doubt that another baby will end this life you want. Doubt that another potential pregnancy spells disaster for everything you’ve worked so hard for. In reality it does not, and there is a third way. Until next time, I respectfully submit this third way for consideration.
And I’m dead serious, we’ll take your (potential) baby.
Looking forward to hearing from you,