Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Double Standard in the Pro-Life Community

A Mother announces her pregnancy to family, friends, and over social media. We rightfully rejoice this new life, and all its possibilities, alongside the expectant mommy. 

What happens to this support when she miscarries her baby at 8 weeks, 10 weeks, or even at 12 weeks? 

Pro-Life supporters shout from the roof tops that life begins at conception. The National Right to Life website states: "The life of a baby begins long before he or she is born. A new individual human being begins at fertilization, when the sperm and ovum meet to form a single cell." Men and women preach it, breathe it, and believe it. 

I have had an overwhelming number of girlfriends miscarry in their first trimester and an unsettling theme continues to reappear in my conversations with them: Lack of support from the Pro-Life community. 

Instead of coming along side the grieving parents and supporting them emotionally or in tangible ways, many pro-life supporters choose to distance themselves  or respond by making hurtful comments such as, "You're young, you'll have more kids," "That is so sad," and "At least you were only __ weeks along". If we truly believe that life begins at conception, then a miscarriage is the death of a human being, Why do some of us decide it's easier to avoid or minimize the grief of these parents whose babies have died?

My friend Susan who had a first trimester miscarriage shared this with me, "The biggest point is the fact that no matter what point the loss occurred, we lost what could have been. That takes its toll forever, in big and small ways. In the quiet moments when you're by yourself and wonder what it would have been like or are taken off guard by the thoughts of what would he/she look like now a year and a half later; how would he/she be different than the wee one I currently hold in my arms....would he have green eyes like his daddy; would he/she have been a snuggler and want to sleep in mommy and daddy's bed unlike Samantha? Those thoughts catch you so off guard. "Sad" hasn't ever, and even now, still doesn't even begin to cut it. It is such a neutered word for the breadth of emotion that is experienced. "

Just because these mothers' didn't lose their children in the second or third trimester, doesn't make their babies any less important. The end result is still the same. They will never see their babies first steps or giggles. These parents lose Christmas mornings, loose teeth, and first days of school. They will never see the person their child would have become. They lose it all.

This double standard in the pro-life community must be replaced with love, support, and encouragement towards the parents who are dealing with the tragedy of a miscarriage. Grief is as individual as a fingerprint and while some parents may grieve openly, others may want to do so privately. Some ways to support the individual couples include:

  • Acknowledge the life that was growing in the mother's womb, even if it was brief. You won't make the pain worse by talking about her loss. Silence sends the message that you don't care.
  • Give or send a gift, keepsake, or memento to memorialize their baby whose life ended too soon. Etsy is a wonderful resource.
  • Send a card or note of encouragement, particularly on special days ( due date, anniversaries, Mother/Father's Day, etc.).
  • Take the initiative.....whether it be dropping a meal off, grocery shopping, delivering coffee, cleaning their house, watching their children, etc. 
    • Note: Don't say, "Let me know if you need anything." That puts the burden on the grieving parents to ask for help. Just do it.
  • Pray for them. Or better yet, send an email, text message, or leave a voicemail to let them know you are praying for them.
  • Be with them, Offering a hug, listening ear, or a simple, "I'm sorry" will mean so much.

Every life matters.