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Jewish World Review Sept. 28, 2000 / 28 Elul, 5760

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart
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Consumer Reports

"Mommy, what's abortion?" -- MY 6-YEAR-OLD, the oldest of my three kids, really stumped me the other day. He'd heard some political coverage on the news, and asked "Mom, what's abortion? What's pro-choice?" He really seemed to want some answers.

Wow, was I caught off-guard. Not because I didn't know the meanings of the terms, of course, but because for the first time I realized something that transcended any political argument: I couldn't bear to explain such things to my child. Here is a sweet, loving, innocent little boy who is growing up believing that mothers and fathers are trustworthy because they are full of self-sacrificing, protective love for their children.

So how can I stand to undermine that trust by explaining to my son that instead, there are moms and dads in America who deliberately choose to end the life of their unborn child? That we live in a culture which preaches to many young, scared moms that they really don't have a "choice" but to do so? That there are doctors who make their living by entering a once safe-haven for a child, a mother's womb, and suck, and cut, or poison to stop the beating heart they find there?

I know all about little beating hearts, especially his. When I was carrying the little guy, my first, I was worried about everything. Early-on I thought I'd lost him because I just didn't "feel" pregnant. I tearfully went to my doctor, who did a sonogram. And there was my baby. Just six weeks - six weeks - after conception, I could see his head and body, and his clearly developing little arms and legs. And there was that amazing heart, beating for dear life. (It had actually started beating several weeks earlier.) Sure he was tiny and couldn't survive without me. But wasn't that all the more reason that I should be the one to most vigorously protect him?

Over 1,350,000 abortions are performed every year in the United States, and they are commonly done later than the stage at which I saw my unborn son. Tragically this number includes the particularly gruesome late-term abortions which are, according to the American Medical Association "never medically necessary." Yet some 5,000 times a year in the U.S., this particular procedure means a living, healthy, viable or potentially viable child has his legs delivered before it's skull is punctured and the brain is extracted by the doctor.

And yes, it's all legal. I want my children to grow up believing that all human beings, including the youngest, the oldest, the weakest, the most vulnerable, are precious. But my job sure is harder when our culture so clearly screams otherwise.

As if this wasn't enough, I will in most likelihood eventually have to explain that a pill - a pill - can sometimes do the surgeon's terrible job for him. That a life can now be ended with a "medicine." For by Sept. 30 of this year, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve mifepristone and misoprostol, or RU-486, as abortifacients in the United States. These drugs, if taken consecutively by the seventh week of pregnancy, cause a "medical abortion," sort of an induced miscarriage, in 95 percent of cases.

And so we'll soon be left with the carnage of tiny lives simply "medicated away"; with what is certainly the soul-deadening, conscience-crushing phenomenon for a woman of destroying that life with a pill; and a society that condones and encourages such a terrible thing.

I look at my own children and grieve for all this, and for the culture that surrounds all of our kids and lies when it says both that children are precious - and that unborn children can be done away with if a mother so chooses. For, whatever her reason may be, it comes down to this same fateful truth. Surely by this rationale it would be only logical for the little-ones who make it into this world to someday wonder, "Am I safe even now?" How can our children possibly remain unaffected by such nihilism?

For the time being, these are things I will keep from my young son. I want to preserve as long as I can his sense that people are precious and that the adults in his life are there to protect him and all children. So for now I just tell him that we're pro-life, and that means we especially cherish little-ones and their moms, and believe babies should be carefully protected. I haven't said a whole lot about being "pro-choice." He'll find out too soon anyway.

JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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08/24/00: Family time comes far down the summer schedule
08/16/00: A tale of two wives
08/09/00: The Brady Bill isn't achieving its aim
08/01/00: Attention feminists: How to really keep our daughters safe
07/25/00: Everything is protective: the parents, the gear, the age
07/18/00: Say it ain't so, Ann
07/11/00: Limiting a child's choices
07/06/00: Accounting for your health
06/21/00: It's a bad time to be a boy in America
06/13/00: The state of our unions
06/02/00: Federalizing care of kids
05/17/00: The natural food threat
05/09/00: To stop gun violence, keep families intact
05/03/00: Pass the fat, please
04/25/00: Something just for boys
04/18/00: When toleration goes too far
04/10/00: Women warriors
04/05/00: Confessions of a soccer mom
03/30/00: Getting an education about schools
03/22/00: If you're a parent, act like one!
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03/06/00: McCain not what he seemed at first
02/29/00: An effective answer to social problems
02/22/00: The feminists' newest target: Toys
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01/31/00: It doesn't take a village to raise a child --- it takes a scheduler
01/25/00: Psuedo science and global warming
01/18/00: Socially responsible nonsense
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12/27/99: Sometimes it matters quite a lot what government thinks
12/17/99: Teens have no inherent 'right to privacy'
12/10/99: Buying a minivan and tossing the SUV
12/03/99: On the mommy track
11/05/99:The waste of recycling
11/01/99: Welcome to Harvard pre-school
10/22/99: No disaster for women that Dole is out
10/19/99: 'Humanitarian' hypocrites
10/15/99: On a first-name basis with a three-year-old

© 2000, Scripps Howard News Service