In a crisis pregnancy, a mother can find strength in her child
October 16, 2020 (Love Unleashes Life) — On a recent call-in radio program I did with Catholic Answers Radio, the lines were open only to people who support abortion in order to have on-air debate with me; one caller, who was defending abortion, referenced the pregnant woman as a mother. Which led me to ask what a mother is.
The reality is, not all females are mothers. The term mother doesn't simply imply having two X chromosomes. Instead, it also implies having offspring. Which leads to the next important question: What do civil societies expect of mothers in relation to their children?
The obvious answer is that we expect mothers to care for their children, not harm them. That is why abortion ought to be rejected — it is a brutal betrayal of the nature of a parent-child relationship.
The protective role of parents was brought to light in a powerful story I recently learned about: In June 2019, a father, his 7-year-old son, and the father's friend endured a harrowing, near-death experience. Maike, Julian, and Stephen went fishing off the Caloundra coast in Australia. They planned for something they had done before — an overnight trip, sleeping in their little boat, anchored but surrounded by the vast ocean. In the darkness of the night, their resting bodies awoke to water around them as their boat rapidly sank. For more than 6 hours, the three souls bobbed amidst the freezing waves, hanging onto two air-filled buckets that just barely kept them afloat. The documentary of their ordeal, and interviews with each person, reveal just how close to death they were. What struck me most was the love of the father for his son.
Maike Hohnen did what he could to preserve his son's life, treading water while holding onto his body, which was unconscious for most of the time. When a helicopter finally arrived, Maike's predominant thought was that his son be taken first. Rescue crews considered Julian dead but did CPR. When he was miraculously brought back to life, they thought he could have brain damage. But he was perfectly fine.
Like Maike Hohnen, a woman in a crisis pregnancy may feel like she's drowning. She may feel overwhelmed by the waves of life crashing around her, seeming to threaten her very existence. Abortion tempts her to let go. But Maike Hohnen demonstrates that love teaches us to hang on.
When Maike, Julian, and Stephen's boat first capsized, Maike said of his son, "[He] calmed me down. He said, 'It will be alright, dad.' He actually pointed towards Caloundra and said, 'We just have to swim that way, dad.'"
They weren't able to swim "that way." But, as the child predicted, everything was alright. Because the father knew to hang on. And therein lies the lesson for the mother in a crisis pregnancy: To hang on. To realize that she is not alone; that there is the presence of another; that the other is her child; and that her child needs her. With that insight lies the power to calm her down until rescuers arrive who, by their actions, affirm that her life, and her child's, is worth fighting for.
Postscript: In an interview, Maike said that if Julian had died in his arms in the ocean, he would have let go and drowned himself because he wouldn't have wanted to go on living without his son. His emotional reaction is understandable because his love was so great. Having said that, it doesn't mean that such a course of action would have been correct. And so, there lies another lesson here, which is that our ultimate love must be in Creator and not creature. Even when our most beloved of relatives depart from this earth, God still has a purpose for us who are left behind. There are others to love and be loved by, and even when we face excruciating suffering like the loss of a beloved, as Holocaust-survivor and psychiatrist Dr. Viktor Frankl observed, we should seek to find meaning in suffering so as not to despair.
Published with permission from Love Unleashes Life.
Note: The author is scheduled to debate prominent pro-abortion philosopher Peter Singer. Find more information here.