Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Loving Both Mother and Child: An Open Letter to Carolyn Jones

(Dear Readers: I will be taking off from Gaudium Dei from now until after May 6th, and this will be my last post until then. My co-writer David will be taking over posting for the next five weeks. Posts will have two days between each instead of only one day. I will be taking this time to expand some of my on-campus work concerning religious liberty as well as trying to improve my grades during finals. Please pray for me, as I pray for all of you, and I look forward to returning with gusto in early May. God Bless! - Joseph Jablonski)

An open letter to Mrs. Carolyn Jones, who recently ended the life of her unborn son and publicized the reasons behind her decision and the horrific process it involved her in:
Dear Mrs. Jones,

I have read the article in TIME magazine put out that details your traumatic story. I have also read your story in the Texas Observer. It was very heartfelt, and I begin my open letter by declaring this is not an easy issue to discuss. You are in a deep ocean of emotional pain, for you are not like the majority of women seeking to end their pregnancy, who do so for reasons of selfishness, caring not for their child. For those readers of mine who are not familiar with your story, you are speaking out against the Texas ultrasound law, feeling that it was not a necessary reminder when you decided to spare your disabled unborn son suffering by ending his life. Through the process of determining whether your son should be carried to term, you had two ultrasounds, which were both heart-wrenching, and the third was an unnecessary reminder of the tragedy that had befallen you and your husband - the genetic disorder of your unborn son. As you wrote in your article in the Observer:
Instead, before I’d even known I was pregnant, a molecular flaw had determined that our son’s brain, spine and legs wouldn’t develop correctly. If he were to make it to term—something our doctor couldn’t guarantee—he’d need a lifetime of medical care. From the moment he was born, my doctor told us, our son would suffer greatly. 
Your son would suffer greatly. Pro-lifers recognize your unique words. You had acknowledged truth: You recognized the humanity of your child. Surely, we pro-lifers can recognize you did not choose your son's death out of selfishness. That statement that you make above was after your first ultrasound. After the second ultrasound, confirming that your child would be disabled, you write:

Our options were grim. We learned that we could bring our baby into the world, then work hard to palliate his pain, or we could alleviate that pain by choosing to “interrupt” my pregnancy. The surgical procedure our counselor described was horrific, but then so seemed our son’s prospects in life. 
Nick Vujicic, a man without limbs from birth, now speaks regularly about
the joy of Christ and how invigorated his life is.  
This moment is not unfamiliar to many pro-lifers and to many people of true joy and true love. Time and time again it is heard for many different pains. Maybe its genetic disorder, like was your situation. Maybe it is Down Syndrome. Maybe it is another disorder that is diagnosed prenatally, one that suddenly shocks a parent's life. Many women, many heroic families, in these circumstances when they recognize that suffering will exist everywhere if a child is brought to birth, if they even can be brought to birth, drive through the pain and choose life, for life always finds ideal, even if the life is imperfect. May Hayley's smile speak to all of us as an ideal, or the ideal joy of the parents of Baby Adam. On this blog, I celebrate the love and joy of all: even those who suffer for life, but yet suffer in life rather than out of it: Down Syndrome children, mentally and physically disabled, and even the above, more extraordinary cases. They experience life, and with life comes encounters of love. I'd say that we, in our comfort and our security, do not experience love as deeply as they do, though one should never wish this upon anyone. But if anyone is conceived with a suffering aliment, destorying their life would not only spare them from the torments but also spare them the graces that God can enjoin upon us when we live. Sparing your son from the suffering also disconnects him forever from true joy.

Which is why my heart sinks as you proceed:

In those dark moments we had to make a choice, so we picked the one that seemed slightly less cruel. Before that moment, I’d never known how viscerally one might feel dread. 
The article continues. The rest is a complaint against the supposed cruelty of the ultrasound laws that exist in seven states, particularly your Texas, and the eighth that will be soon put to law in Virginia. You go into detail how you suffered from the ultrasound law, and believe that you have a right "not to know" more about the child that was in your womb. It put you through pain to have to experience a third ultrasound, as mandated by the government. You felt it was not necessary.

However, I believe the ultrasound law isn't the problem here. You weren't upset because of the law; you were upset because you were being constantly reminded of a reality that couldn't exist, even though there was in fact no requirement, no forced reality that required you to end your child's life. Many pro-lifers take that moment in the ultrasound room as a moment to love, as I described above. In fact that is the only way to love, since love rejoices in life, not death. Why did you not choose life? Why didn't you decide to even try to bring the child to term? Have I not already shown that a suffering life can still be a joyful one?

Do I blame you in your overflowing woe? Why should I; this would be cruel and farthest from attempting to embody joy in this caustic situation. Yet there is blame, and it falls on the corruption and fault of our fatally realist society, for it was your doctor that suggested termination. This has happened all too frequently, for parents are encouraged to spare children both suffering and life in one quick stroke. In this, a new suffering is born: the suffering of one who kills.  He cared nothing for trying to bring joy to your son, and in those moments when you were weakest and needed the counsel of life, you were encouraged to a false, empty love in the counsel of death. You are not to blame. The culture of death that believes that we should "put the suffering out of their misery" is the cause for your pain because, throughout the excruciating events that followed, it was not the ultrasound law that caused you to feel upset, and caused you to cry and weep throughout the process of abortion: It was your conscience of life. 

My words are far from comforting, but in reality this isn't as much a letter to you as it is letter to that doctor who suggested termination, and a letter to the society that believes as he does. I love you, and I love your son, and his blood and your tears cry out how twisted this society is: a society that advised you to love through death. I will never kill for love, only die for love, for I am pro-life. 

I don't hold you guilty for any death, but instead I place this society on trial. A society where people encourage false love in death, rather than life for the child and sacrificial love for the parent. That, Mrs. Jones, is only where we will find joy.

And if I am to experience such joy as having a disabled son or daughter, let me choose life, in order that my whole family may rejoice forever. 

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