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Jewish World Review August 10, 2001 / 21 Menacxhem-Av 5761

Dayle A. Shockley

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My daughter was not aborted -- ON a cloudless morning, my husband and I carried our newborn daughter home from the hospital and marveled at her day and night. She was a miraculous answer to years of praying and waiting.

Though I never met my daughter's biological mother, I am most grateful for her contribution to my life and for her decision to give birth. She could have chosen to have an abortion.

On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court granted pregnant women in America the right to choose whether they have conceived something to celebrate or something to obliterate.

If a woman chooses to give birth, her doctor will say, "Congratulations! You are having a baby." She and her unborn baby will be treated like royalty by relatives and strangers alike. Once born, her baby will be handled like a precious jewel: exhibited, caressed, photographed and even wept over.

If she chooses not to give birth, her doctor will utter ambiguous terms like "tissue" and "product of conception." An abortion will be scheduled, and the "tissue" will be disposed of, using one of several barbaric methods.

With the nod of her head yes, I am having this baby; no, I am not having this baby, life or death is decided. Nobody else has a vote. Forget the father, the relatives and the thousands of childless couples. Their opinions are irrelevant.

Such exclusive power in the hands of anyone but G-d is alarming. And whenever I consider that my own child would have been denied life had her birthmother so chosen, I tremble. Instead, this woman took the high road, considering her child instead of herself. And in so doing, not only was a child born, a family was born.

My daughter's life is recorded on the pages of photo albums and writing journals. On lazy days, I enjoy thumbing through the memoirs, remembering again the miracle of her existence.

There she is at age 4, unraveling nature's mysteries. "Raindrops," she emphatically informed me, "are G-d's kisses falling on us." And those jagged flashes of lightning? Fear not. They are G-d's fingers writing in the sky how much he loves us.

When she was 5, I took her to kindergarten and sobbed all the way home. She rewarded me with folded papers bearing crooked letters of the alphabet.

At 6, she sang her first solo in a Christmas musical. When she timidly waved to me from the stage, my heart leaped. How blessed I was to be her mother.

At 7, she was obsessed with writing notes, most of which I still have. One day, I found this one taped to the refrigerator: "I am glad I am living. I am glad my mom and dad are living. I love you G-d."

At 8, she left home for a week to attend summer camp with her cousin. I ate little and slept less. It felt as though my heart was missing.

At 9, she made her first major purchase a new bicycle using money she had saved all year.

At 10, her beloved grandmother lay dying. I never will forget how she patted MeeMaw's frail face and, in quiet sobs, sang "I Just Called to Say I Love You" just hours before her grandmother slipped away.

At 11, she decorated her bike for the neighborhood's Fourth of July parade. In the photo of her holding a mammoth first-place ribbon, she looks both thrilled and embarrassed.

The year she turned 12 brought changes. I watched in awe as she entered that fascinating season between childhood and adulthood.

My daughter is now 15. Her room overflows with trophies and awards earned since kindergarten. Her life is without price, and I can't imagine not having her with me.

Yet the undeniable fact remains that had her birthmother elected to abort her pregnancy, this child never would have lived. This is the tragic finale of abortion: It eliminates a life.

Since 1973, more than 36 million unborn babies have been denied birthdays and discarded like scraps in trash bins across the nation. Imagine the talent and potential of 36 million people, wasted!

Still, we close our eyes and ears to this horrible reality. We don't want to be told that abortion stops a heart that began beating only 24 days after conception. We go to our homes at night and wash our hands. But we will never get them clean.

Where is our shame when we value the insignificant eggs of a sea turtle more than the embryos of our own sons and daughters? What have we become when the heartbeat of an unborn elephant is more revered than the heartbeat of an unborn child?

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of the late John F. Kennedy, has been a fierce leader in the effort to improve the lives of people with mental retardation for more than three decades. She is the founder and honorary chairman of Special Olympics International, the founder and chairman of Community of Caring and executive vice president of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation.

In 1968, an article in McCall's magazine debated the legalization of abortion an article that every American should read. Mrs. Shriver brilliantly wrote the opposing viewpoint, stressing that accepting abortion on demand ignores the root problem and sentences children to death before they are born. She offered proposals for constructive solutions to unwanted pregnancies. But, ultimately, her plea fell on deaf ears.

In her poignant conclusion, Mrs. Shriver declared her belief that G-d is the Creator of life commanding us to respect it at every level and that he hasn't given us power over other lives. "Having sure knowledge of the uniqueness and potential of the life within a mother's womb," she wrote, "I cannot grasp how we can righteously claim authority to destroy it."

Perhaps women who can't conceive know best the incalculable worth of an unborn child and the enormity of just one abortion. My prayer is that someday we all will.

JWR contributing columnist Dayle Allen Shockley is a Texas-based author. To comment on this column, please click here.

073/0/01: The surrendered parent
07/06/01: Beauty can be a disguise


© 2001, Dayle Allen Shockley