Jonathon van Maren

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I thought I hated abortion as much as I could. Then my wife got pregnant

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Feb. 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) - A few months ago, my wife surprised me when I got home. She said something was different, and asked me to guess what it was. I don’t like guessing, but she insisted. Half joking, I gave it a shot.

“You’re pregnant?”

“Yes.” She was smiling enormously, with a few tears threatening to spill. I sat down pretty hard.

That first realization, that abortion isn’t another abstract evil but is real children with real arms and real legs being twisted off by real cold, steel instruments is a crushing and clarifying moment. It is a horror that demands a response.

I now know the meaning of the phrase “an ordinary miracle.” Millions upon millions of people a year get pregnant and have babies. But when I realized that there was a brand-new human being in the room with me, that I was sitting next to two souls, and two heartbeats, and that the little boy or little girl was half me, and half Charmaine—it was simply incredible to contemplate. Terrifying, too. But incredible. I wish everyone who discovers the presence of a new person could and would feel the same happiness and sense of wonder.

As we began to share our news, a lot of people asked the same things: Does knowing you have your own baby change pro-life work for you? Does it make it a lot harder?

I know why they ask. Working in the pro-life movement brings us into nearly constant contact with the ugliest undercurrents of our society. Life’s cruel paradoxes are often up front and difficult to process. On one hand, there are people who desperately want children, and would do anything to be given the opportunity to love an “unwanted” child. And of course there are many, many parents who greet the news that they have a son or daughter with unmitigated joy. On the other hand, every day parents traipse into government-funded clinics and pay adults to transform their developing sons and daughters into piles of shredded flesh.

The contrast really hit me when I attended the Women’s March on Washington, and watched hundreds of thousands of girls and women cheering wildly every time abortion on demand was mentioned, and hoisting signs celebrating the rejection of children they deemed inconvenient. The speakers declared that nothing and no one could stand between them and the right to whatever pleasure they deemed necessary. It was a celebration of selfishness, the glorification of sterile sensuality, and a demand for fruitless love. Something Peter Kreeft once said crossed my mind as I watched them, shaken: “Feminists are feminine like cannibals are chefs.” It was a rejection of the feminine, and a rejection of children.

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I saw many men standing next to their partners quietly, some pushing strollers, and wondered what they were all thinking. How many of them would beg his wife or girlfriend not to have an abortion if their valiant attempts at sterility failed? Not everyone welcomes abortion as a “way out.” I know men who were pro-choice until they knew, instantly and without a doubt, that what they had conceived with their partner was a baby—and begged, even on their knees, to be given a chance to raise their child. But fathers have no say over their children until they are born, and their love is legally irrelevant. Their faces are twisted with pain when they tell their stories, even years later.

Dealing with the issue every day, I sometimes forget how bizarre and unnatural and inhuman abortion really is. But when I saw our baby moving around on the ultrasound screen for the first time, I couldn’t fathom, in my wildest imagination, wishing harm on that kicking, squirming little one—our little one. I didn’t even think further about it for awhile, because the thought was too horrifying. Why would anyone want to hurt a little person so innocent and helpless?

It reminded me of something that happened last summer. Each year, we hold several internships, training dozens of young people how to do pro-life outreach and persuade people that abortion is a human rights violation. We also deliver hundreds of thousands of pro-life pamphlets from door to door, with pictures of babies in the womb, and pictures of babies killed by abortionists. As the team was putting everything away after activism, my colleague Devorah heard a thump downstairs where the postcards were kept, and then heartbreaking sobs. When she went downstairs, one of our interns was sitting amidst a pile of postcards, crying. “What’s wrong?” Devorah asked her. “Whose idea was this, anyway?” the girl asked through her tears. “Whose idea was it to tear up babies?”

Sometimes it takes a simple, powerful question to nearly knock you off your feet and remind you that we should never, ever get used to abortion. We should never accept it as part of our society. As long as it happens, we should never stop fighting it, never stop trying to persuade people to make a different choice. Many times, when we take university students to an abortion clinic to show them what happens and try to reach out to a few people, I see girls and guys standing there with tears streaming down their faces as parent after parent arrives at the clinic to drop their children off. That first realization, that abortion isn’t another abstract evil but is real children with real arms and real legs being twisted off by real cold, steel instruments is a crushing and clarifying moment.

It is a horror that demands a response.

And yes, realizing that you have a little son or daughter, as alive as you are, that has no rights whatsoever—that’s jarring. It did make abortion more personal for me than it already was. To realize that children the age of your child are being pulled from the womb and tossed away is heartbreaking. It reminds me again that those of us born after 1969 - and even more so after 1988 - are the survivors of a poisonous ideology and a brutal industry and a cold society.

And it also gives me one more reason to push forward anew. For as G.K. Chesterton once said, the true warrior fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

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Jonathon van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.

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