This year marks the 39th anniversary of the landmark decision in Roe vs. Wade, the court case that ruled that the right to privacy under the 14th amendment extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion (with some limitations, still), and states may not keep a woman from exercising that right. Though abortions occurred legally before this decision, and will occur legally even if the decision is reversed, the case and the date of its ruling, January 22, are memorialized by pro-choice supporters as a day of victory, and mourned by pro-life supporters for the part Roe v. Wade has played in the destruction of so many innocent lives, as well as the devastation abortion has caused in the lives of so many women who were falsely led to believe that abortion was an answer they could live with.
There are a number of annual pro-life marches that take place on the weekend of January 22, including a very large march in San Francisco, which I had hoped to attend last year. Circumstances didn't allow me to participate last year or any previous year, but I couldn't have known on January 22, 2011, that I would be asked to be a walking, talking billboard for the pro-life movement just one week later.
After Gabriel's initial diagnosis, I gave myself two weeks to hope. For the two weeks leading up to the advanced ultrasound that would or would not confirm a diagnosis of anencephaly I allowed myself to believe that the initial diagnosis was wrong. I made a promise to God that if our worst fears were confirmed, I would accept Gabriel and his fate with grace.
I like to think I did a pretty good job of representing the decision to choose life. People who learned of Gabriel and his story before he was born, knew that Ben and I had chosen to carry him, though he might not even be born alive. I never dreamed that Gabriel would be so brave and bold and far-reaching in his earthly mission.
Gabriel's life is not somehow more meaningful or valuable because he lived significantly longer than many anencephalic babies. Ultimately, he would share their fate. Before Gabriel was born I was advised by others who had walked in my shoes to remember that anencephaly would claim Gabriel's life, not something that I did or didn't do. Now, I give others taking this journey the same advice.
But as Gabriel held on, day after day for ten days, he showed so many people that his life is worth fighting for. Yes, he was here in part because I believe with all my heart that abortion is a moral wrong, an irreversible and destructive choice, and a plague in this country. Gabriel taught the world so much more about life, though. He taught us that it is worth fighting for. Life is not ours to take. And living is worth doing.