Culture

The Brutal Pain of Hidden Maternity

(Cheryl Davis/Dreamstime)
It’s long past time for American generosity.

‘This pain will come as a thief in the night. It will take away your peace if you let it; it will drag you into the harsh darkness of the misery of loss.” So writes Maria Grizzetti on her Incarnation and Modernity blog about “hidden maternity.” She writes in the context of miscarriage.

A child has been lost. No pain can compare.

And what if no one is mourning with you? What if you’re told there is nothing to mourn?

This is a time for mourning.

As undercover investigatory videos have been made public, revealing some of what goes on behind the scenes of the abortion industry, a lot of people — women and men — are suffering, reliving choices made and pressure felt, and thinking of the information and support they didn’t have.

News and politics on these intimate issues can pour salt into wounds, as so many of us are comfortable with the “side” we have taken. But there is an opportunity for something better. We can help women and men mourn and together build a civilization that is more hospitable to life — one that protects and defends our most vulnerable and their mothers and fathers, who are often quite vulnerable, too.

I know I don’t speak only for myself in saying to any woman watching these videos, hearing this or other news, who is regretting that which cannot be undone, when I say:

I am so sorry. That we cannot go back to that moment and get you the help you needed, the information you wanted, the hope and love you craved. I am so sorry about what you’re learning now, what you’re seeing, what you’re reliving. Our culture didn’t let you mourn — we pretend you weren’t a parent, that you’re not. What’s hidden is laid bare. Know you’re loved and not judged. I’m so sorry the law let this happen. I’m so sorry we let this happen.

RELATED: A Former Planned Parenthood Worker Speaks Out

Videos are being released by the Center for Medical Progress, showing undercover conversations with Planned Parenthood executives about the harvesting of the organs of children who largely were aborted late in pregnancy, when the organs are so developed that with a little care taken that the killing goes just right, they won’t be damaged and can be used for medical purposes. With compensation for Planned Parenthood affiliates. One of the conversations was with a senior director for medical services at Planned Parenthood over a wine and salad lunch, as if it were a most routine conversation.

On the day that first video was released, one woman posted this to Planned Parenthood’s Facebook page:

I am simply sick. And to casually have this conversation eating and drinking wine. I have been an advocate a long time. Right now I’m drinking wine as I consider the decision I made at 16 to have an abortion at Planned Parenthood. Was my baby for sale? I am damn near suicidal

Cheryl Calire, who helps women in Buffalo, N.Y., is sensitive to feelings of “deception” that women may be feeling, believing abortion to be an act of choice and freedom, as they had been told by not just Planned Parenthood but by a culture that’s tried to keep details in the shadows. She points to the Project Rachel post-abortion healing work she’s involved in. “Seek mercy,” she says, and “plead for it for others.”

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“The reality of abortion is harsh, and the sorrow people who have been involved with abortion carry is often hidden,” Grizzetti tells me. “The videos reveal the hidden tragedy of each abortion. This is reason for greater compassion. As a nation we must be more truly compassionate. We must not hide behind euphemisms to cover the harsh realities. The more we know, the more we can do for those who suffer in silence. Compassion: suffering with.”

Grizzetti adds: “In the end the greater reality, the reason for the hope within us, is that life always triumphs over death. Washed in grace, we are made new.”

“It may be that you’ve succeeded, mostly, in putting it behind you,” Dr. Grazie Christie, a Miami radiologist, wants to say to anyone who needs to hear it. “It may be that you’ve gone well down the road to forgiving the young woman you were then, and are filled with compassion for her.” But now these videos, she says, “have shocked you and sent you tumbling back. But take courage!” With faith, she urges: “Do not go back, but rest in the knowledge that He knows how frail we are, and pities us with all His tender heart. Rest.”

“We mourn with you,” says Serrin Foster, executive director of Feminists for Life. “We love you unconditionally.” She offers an additional word of welcome, on behalf of “the pro-life movement”: “later, when you are in a better place, you are welcome to help us move forward to systematically eliminate the reasons that drive women to abortion through resources and support.”

We don’t have to be the pro-life movement and the pro-choice movement. We can be generous Americans helping one another flourish, protecting the most innocent and vulnerable, whoever they may be.

And one other thing: If you are pregnant right now and need help, there are people who will help you. Visit the likes of a Women’s Care Center. When I dropped by one in Fort Wayne, Ind., Ann Manion and Anne Koehl emphasized to me their agenda: It’s yours. They are there for what a woman needs. They are there to help. Not to lecture. Not to proselytize. Not to judge. Don’t feel ashamed or be afraid. Come as you are. With that approach, they’ve gone from handing out diapers to saving lives.

#related#Eleanor McCullen has been going to Planned Parenthood in Boston for 15 years. She stands outside with a grandmother’s smile. She’s there when a woman is headed in, a sign to some that there is another choice. She offers her phone number and help as well to the women who walk out, having left something precious behind. “We’re a generous country,” she said one cold January day outside the Supreme Court, as a buffer-zone case she was a plaintiff in was being argued. She ran down a litany of generous acts, then added: “But we’re not generous to the child in the womb,” who is often “the poorest of the poor.”

With these videos, and the pain exposed, there is an opportunity to give what has been denied by law and culture, to your neighbor or your sister or you: hope, love, and mercy.

By removing the veil — showing what’s been buried in euphemisms — there is opportunity for healing.

There is freedom in being hidden no more.

And there is a future for life.

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