I have a little sister. There isn’t much not to love about that kid. She’s smart, she’s fun, she’s sensitive, she’s loving, she is beautiful. Every once in a while I like to dream up special things that I know she’s never done before, because when we do new things together, she always gives me a new perspective. One night, we were the only ones home. She was reading, I was reading. And then a thought popped into my head.
“Jess, have you ever gone for a walk in the dark?”
She looked up, her blue eyes wide, she shook her head no.
We put on our coats. She slipped her hand into mine, and even though she’s ten years old, I feel like we’ll never get too old to walk like this, sisters, hand in hand. We stepped out into the ﬁeld and her ﬁngers tightened around mine. It was dark, after all. We walked in silence until I stopped her, far away from the road, from the house, from everything.
“Look up,” I whispered.
She drew in a sharp breath, we lay on our backs on the damp grass and just looked. I pointed out the Big Dipper. Her eyes reﬂected the light of the stars.
Then I jumped up, and we ran to the swings. We swung higher and higher.
“Now look up,” I said, “and let go.”
She did, her blond hair ﬂying out behind her.
“What star are you ﬂying to, Jess?” She pointed.
“Let’s go there together.”
We never told anyone. It was our secret. And that moonlit trip to a faraway star was everything I thought it would be. It was beautiful, and I’m so happy that I was able to be the one to share my little sister’s ﬁrst star walk. I love introducing her to new things. I love being able to teach her about things. Beautiful things. Exciting things. I never wanted to talk to her about abortion.
The ﬁrst time she was introduced to the subject was when she was around ﬁve years old, in my brother’s car, when she picked up a stray pamphlet he had missed when he had gathered up the rest of them and thrown them in the trunk. She looked at it in silence; he held his breath, as he watched her eyes go wide, as she took in legs, blood. A face, mangled. And a word: “choice.” She looked up and asked.
“What happened to the baby, Jonathon?”
I’m sure he could have snatched the pamphlet away from her. He could have told her to look away, he could have not answered her question. But I wonder how that would have made her feel. I wonder if she would have been able to go to sleep that night, when questions about choice and dead babies still rattled around in her little head, unanswered.
So what did he do? He told her the truth, because that’s what she deserves. He told her that some doctors don’t take care of babies like they’re supposed to. Sometimes these doctors hurt babies when they’re still inside their mommies, but she’s safe. Mom loves her, Dad loves her, we all love her and we’re going to try and make sure that we stop those doctors from doing that to babies.
She nodded. It made sense to her. She needed some extra reassurance, some extra hugs. It wasn’t easy, of course, I’m not pretending that it was. Seeing a dead baby isn’t easy, shouldn’t be easy, for anyone.
In our house, talking about abortion happens a lot, especially with my brother and I both doing pro-life work. So she hears, and even though she’s older now, it isn’t always easy. She doesn’t ask much, but she knows. She’s seen me come home from work, go sit on the swings and stare at the grass and the sky and the clouds. She’s seen me sit there and cry, and when she stepped up beside me, slipped her hand into mine, and asked, “What’s wrong, Stina?” She heard me answer, “Sometimes I just need to remind myself that there is still some beauty left.”
Seeing abortion victim photography, and seeing it with her has really changed something in me, and I know that it has really impacted others as well. Many parents get angry, an anger that often frightens their children, who wonder why Mommy is yelling at someone. Some parents get upset, which often scares their children, wondering why Daddy is swearing. Some parents look down and jerk their children along as fast as possible, telling them to look at their feet, and these children never get their fears soothed or their questions answered. The reactions, understandably, vary. But even as people ask us why we are willing to supposedly “assault” children, we stand our ground.
We stand our ground and say: It is time for us to stop allowing others to shred their children, and it is time to stop lying to ours.
My little sister, my little cousins, my friend’s children coming into contact with abortion victim photography didn’t make me want to cover the pictures, to hide the truth, even if it did make me want to cover their eyes. It made me want to ﬁght. Fight so that children will never have to see pictures like this again. Fight so that what happens in the pictures will never happen to children again. Fight for the light, for the innocence of children forced to grow up in a society that did not value them from the moment they came into existence.
I ﬁght. I ﬁght for beauty, and innocence, and all things good. I ﬁght so that my children will never have to ask me, “What happened to the baby?”
Reprinted with permission from Unmasking Choice