July 9, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The New York Times recently published an opinion piece by Beth Matusoff Merfish, entitled “My Mother’s Abortion.” I sure could relate to the story Merfish told – there are a lot of similarities between our mothers. They were both college girls in Texas when they got pregnant in the pre-Roe v. Wade years. Neither was ready to be a mom then, though they are both now celebrating 40+ years of marriage and motherhood. They both later recounted their cautionary tales to shocked adolescent daughters as a warning about what not to do with the newfound freedom of high school (me) or college (Merfish).
That’s where the similarities end. Both women passed on their core values to those daughters, values which were on full display in the absolute opposite way they responded to their youthful crisis pregnancies.
Merfish writes that her mom was 20, engaged to her dad, 21, both co-eds at Texas’ “public Ivy,” the University of Texas at Austin. My mother, Terry Cavnar French, was 18. She couldn’t afford to go to an elite college, and instead, lived at home and worked her way through the local commuter college, the University of Houston. She didn’t have a fiancé to lean on (the father was not in the picture), and was barely acknowledged by her dysfunctional parents. Her ninth month was spent at a home run by Catholic Charities.
Merfish writes that her parents, though about to graduate from college and marry, were simply not ready to be parents. They drove across states lines for an abortion. My mother wasn’t ready to be a parent either. She could have driven to another state, too. Instead, she drove to college, sitting in traffic every morning with the windows rolled down to try to beat the Houston heat in those pre-air conditioning days. Merfish writes that her parents were made to “feel like criminals” by the abortionist they visited. My mom was made to feel morning sickness-induced nausea from traffic fumes during her commute, often pulling to the side of the road to throw up and then back on the road to class.
Merfish writes with pride about her mom’s choice to kill her brother or sister because he or she was a few years early for her parents’ taste. Today, I’m writing with pride about my mom’s choice to save my brother’s life and give him a loving, intact family that could provide him the life he deserved. Merfish’s mom had to endure the judgmental attitudes of the abortionist. My mom had to endure months of morning sickness and ten hours of labor and delivery. Then she endured the pain of letting another woman, a woman who was ready to be a mom, take her baby boy home.
Merfish writes of the solidarity she felt with her mom while the two of them shouted down a Texas bill that would protect unborn babies who are old enough to recognize their mother’s voice, and would require unregulated Gosnell factories to meet the same hygiene standards as medical facilities in the state. Today, I’m writing of the solidarity I felt when my mom and I recently prayed at the hospital bedside of my sister’s baby. He had just been diagnosed with a genetic disease that would cripple and kill him in a few years. If the diagnosis had come a few months earlier, when he was still in the womb, many physicians would have handed my sister an abortion referral along with the test result. We later found out that the diagnosis was wrong. Luckily for him, he has a family that celebrates his life instead of a family that celebrates the killing of children on the altar of Almighty Convenience.
Merfish’s mom married her dad shortly after her abortion. They finished college and went on to have better-timed children and, presumably, successful lives. My mom later met a dashing grad student at that commuter college. They married, graduated, had two daughters, successful careers, and are now approaching a secure retirement. Choosing life, no matter how inconvenient, doesn’t have to end anyone’s chance at the American Dream.
Merfish’s mom taught her that the right to kill an inconvenient child is sacred. Merfish ends her piece in The New York Times with a call for more such “bravery.” My mom taught me that every child, no matter the inconvenience, is sacred. She made a heroic sacrifice to give my brother the life he deserved; she offered her suffering and sorrow to protect an innocent child’s rights instead of her own. Memo to The New York Times: that’s bravery worth celebrating.
Katy French lives in Washington, D.C., where she is an epidemiologist who works on anti-malaria programs in Africa.