Between the two of us, my sister and I have five (going on six) kids. For a couple of mornings a week, we try and make it over to the local abortion clinic to pray--taking three of those kids (ages three and under) along.
[Insert joke here about herding cats, squirrels, whathaveyou.]
Our one and only goal is to complete a lightning-speed rosary while maintaining a semblance of control over our little rascals. Since it's the fall campaign of 40 Days for Life, there's always a handful of other people there too, either praying peacefully or doing sidewalk counseling.
On one such morning full of kid wrangling, rushed Hail Marys and lots of hip swaying on my part to try and convince my bladder that I didn't need to IMMEDIATELY find a restroom for the third time that hour, a sidewalk counselor sweetly asked when I was due. I told her I had about another month.
"Oh!" she said, "well, it'd be wonderful if you could be out here on Wednesdays or Thursdays, because that's when they do abortions, and you'd be a terrific witness for people to see."
I know that she was not trying to be funny--and that hers was a honest, heartfelt request--but I had to stifle a laugh. Because really, ma'am? I don't feel like a terrific witness. I feel like a NFP-mom who's heavily pregnant at the time of her life when she's still chasing after another baby-like person, and doing so with little to no grace or elegance. I feel like a walking billboard for motherhood in the trenches. I feel...like I need to pee.
Not exactly inspirational.
During our conversation with her, Amby found the "Women Do Regret Abortion" sign that leans against our stroller while we pray. The sign is just about as tall as he is, so when he holds it up, all you see of him are two shoes and 10 clenched little fingers around the edges.
Him holding the sign made me uncomfortable. I don't like my kids wearing clothes with words on them in general, and I especially don't like those words to deal with adult issues.
Images of the showdown in Texas this summer (over a proposed late-term abortion ban) flashed through my mind. In that setting, pro-choicers had children hold signs like, "If I Wanted the Government in my womb, I Would f*** a Senator!"
Don't forget the six-year-old holding a coat hanger sign, too.
Using kids as political props isn't new. But is that what's happening, when Amby holds a pro-life sign? Am I using him, or letting him unknowingly be used, as a mouthpiece for what I believe?
Maybe I'm asking the wrong questions. Children are, by their very nature, witnesses to life. They already are little pro-life billboards. And when it comes to showing the humanity of an unborn child, you can't always show someone an ultrasound picture--but you can show them a child of any age, full of spunk and sweetness and life.
Life is precious.
Smile! My mom chose life.
Women do regret abortion.
I think the rub comes with the actual word "abortion," because the word signifies such violence--and the sort of violence that seems inconceivable (and emotionally unexplainable) to children. I tell both of my boys that we go "pray for the babies" at a "bad doctor's office." I do not say that within those walls, unborn children have their skulls crushed, their little limbs ripped from their bodies, their organs sucked out of their mommies with a hose. They're not ready for that reality. None of us should be.
But you know what kind of reality they are ready for? The reality of what's happening in my body, right now.
They are ready to testify to this kind of pro-life positivity. Their exuberance for babies, children, and all things innocent are what give the pro-life movement its youth, its energy, and its unparalleled grassroots activism--something the pro-abortion lobby would desperately like to replicate.
This week, Amby and I are going to get some poster board and cover the back side of my "Women do regret abortion" sign.
In big yellow letters, we're going to write up his own little message. It will say "We love babies."
It will be covered in dinosaur stickers.
And I will be so happy to see him holding it.