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The Egyptians had a hieroglyph for the number one million. It is a kneeling man, or god, with both arms raised in a posture that communicates just how overwhelmed the poor figure is.That is how I feel every time January 22 rolls around again.
Forty-one years. Two generations. As hard as it is to count the innumerable blessings we receive every day, it is even more difficult to fathom the grim harvest we have reaped from legalized abortion. What we have lost as a nation in the years since Roe v. Wade is beyond our ability to calculate or even imagine.
Our oldest children have always cared deeply about the unborn. For them, abortion has been an unconscionable evil in the world they've grown up in. But our youngest kids seem to take the issue more personally. I think it's because when you're the sixth or seventh child, (or even the fourth or fifth), you realize how easy it is to take your own birth for granted. And if you became part of your family through adoption, you understand how deeply the choices one person makes can affect another.
I used to think about the children who were missing because they had never been born. But on the eve of the March for Life, one of our sons observed that a single abortion does not result in the death of only one unborn child. It ends that child's whole line of descendants. Every empty crib invariably cascades into many empty homes and hearts.
To support abortion is to cast a vote against our own existence. That is the bottomlessness of the tragedy. Families in crisis, economies in decline, pervasive violence against children, the sick, the poor, and the old, rampant depression and suicide, infertility, divorce, sex without meaning, these are the bitter fruits of 1973. Still, abortion continues to be supported as a civil right, and touted not only as a social necessity, but as a societal good.
Abortion, however, is everything but good. And like anything that denies the value of human life, it dehumanizes everyone involved. Abortion has a long line of victims: doctors who compromise their calling to heal, men who advocate the destruction of the children they are charged to provide for and protect, women who make an appointment to end the life they are created to nurture and bring into the world. But we must never forget that the greatest losses are those we don't experience as losses. It is difficult to grieve the death of someone we've never known--even when over fifty million someones fit that description.
We cannot know all that God intended for this world when so many of us have been prevented from being born into it. Nor can we begin to tell what differences could have been made by lives unlived. Nations that find it expedient to dispose of their children, unwittingly choose a kind of poverty from which the world does not recover. Not every child is a Mozart or a Mother Teresa. But each and every great musician and missionary saint was once an unborn child in his or her mother's womb.
For the sake of all those who have come before us and for those who will come after us, we ought to remember those who have been lost to us all. Whatever gifts they had, whatever contributions they would have made were prevented by the darkness of fear, selfishness, and ignorance. We can only pray that we will have the strength to stand against the enemies of life, those around us, but also those within us.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an inspirational author, speaker, musician and serves as an Associate Children's Editor at Pauline Books and Media.