I’ll never forget the day I had to tell my then-six-year-old daughter what the word “abortion” means.
We are blessed in my parish with priests who preach on the topic regularly, so she’d heard the word many times. It was October 2008, and her school was participating in an online program that allowed kids to vote in a mock presidential election. As we rode to school (all of our most important conversations seem to happen in the car), she proudly told me she’d voted for Obama, but that a classmate had warned her that Obama favored abortion.
So the sentence came: “Mama, what’s abortion?”
I decided in that moment not to distract or hedge. I said, “It’s when a doctor kills a baby inside its mama’s tummy, on purpose.”
Silence, until I could hear quiet tears. And then her first verbal reaction, a frightened, almost panicked question: “Oh Mama, they’re not going to do that to Mrs. T., are they?” Mrs. T., a family friend, was expecting her third child.
I immediately noted the implication in her question. She assumed that abortion was something that was done to a baby without its mother’s consent. As we continued a halting discussion, she absolutely could not fathom that a mother would choose to kill her own pre-born child. She kept asking why, over and over again, because any answer one can give simply doesn’t compute in the mind of a six-year-old.
Me: “Because the mamas don’t feel they’re able to take care of their babies.”
Me: “Because they might want to do something else with their lives instead.”
Her: “Like what?”
Me: “Like work.”
And so on.
I have to believe that most young children, even those of pro-choice parents, would react similarly to the concept of abortion even though it would likely be presented to them in a less than honest way. I’m guessing many pro-choicers simply choose not to present the topic at all. How could they when every excuse rings hollow to an innocent mind?
On this anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, please consider sharing below your child’s first reaction to learning the truth about abortion.
Copyright 2014 Sharon Rayner