February 01, 2019

One in a million: reflections on NY's Reproductive Health Act

By Katie Trudeau *
Credit: Thanatip S/Shutterstock.
Credit: Thanatip S/Shutterstock.

Has anyone ever told you in life, “you’re one in a million”? For me, that sentence has a whole new meaning after last week.

Being in utero in New York in 1995, my life was somewhat protected under statutes if my birthmother was killed, as by a weapon or in a vehicular accident. Nearly two decades later, a unborn baby in the state is completely unprotected at any stage. In fact, women and unborn babies are in even more danger. From the moment of conception until one minute before being born, an unborn baby can be wiped from existence in the world due to the passage of the Reproductive Health Act.

I used to be proud to say I was adopted from New York. As of last week, I have nothing but sorrow for my home state.

At the age of 23, I may never know the circumstances that brought my birth mother to a delivery room, but I do know that she chose life under difficult circumstances. She seemed to have been the perfect candidate to procure an abortion: a young, middle-class, well-educated, white woman.

I survived her thought of a deadly procedure to stop my heart from beating, or to halt another brainwave, just after six weeks. I survived her enduring thoughts and pressures from society for a young woman to make her situation easier by erasing my existence, and never telling a soul.

One in a million odds seems rare, right? A miracle if anything.

In 1995, I survived both U.S. and New York state law on abortion. These laws took 1.2 million unborn children that same year, according to the CDC. Abortions have only increased in New York since Roe v. Wade with 239 unborn babies stripped of the dignity of life each day.

A procedure that was once intended to be safe, legal, and rare, has now more dangerous (with respect to late-term abortions) and more frequent.

New York state law isn’t all that shocking to most involved in the pro-life movement. New York has always been the sanctuary abortion state, whether the mothers were minors traveling across state lines or desperate third-trimester seekers. In 2003, partial-birth abortion was condemned by federal law and surrounding progressive states, yet New York maintained a voice for so-called “choice”. Between 1975 and 1995, the number of adoptions dramatically dropped by roughly 60,000 adoptions each year.

The root problem with legislation like New York’s new allowance of late-term abortions de-regulation comes from a larger division in today’s political climate. In 1971, Massachusetts' Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy spoke against legislation such as this: “Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized – the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.”

Today, some Democrats support the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion and fist-bump each other on state and federal Senate floors, blocking the right to life of an unborn baby at the gestational age of 20 weeks — even when scientists have overwhelmingly told us “they feel pain!”

Not only do some support late-term abortion, they also believe that if an infant is breathing after a failed abortion, literally born through natural delivery, they should be left to die on a stainless tray in a back room or closet of a hospital.

No longer is it a universal belief that if a human being survives an abortion procedure, their life is worth saving. Our civilized neighbors in some states stand against hospitalization and adoption or foster-care protocol. Instead, like ancient Romans, they lawfully choose to leave the infant, anywhere above 20 gestational weeks old, to suffer and die on a cold stainless tray like an animal of lesser worth than something wanted in this world.

If you want to offer real “choice”, why leave a human baby on a tray to starve or suffocate to death? After procuring, or attempting to procure, an abortion, nobody is faulting a woman for feeling overwhelmed, scared, lonely, or ashamed. However, someone will be faulted leaving a living baby on a tray to die slowly, painfully, by itself in a dark room.

Do we really want to be the type of people who kill our own kind, at viability, strictly based on whether the baby is “wanted”?

No law will change the emotions overwhelming an unwed woman (or married woman with a handful of kids already) who finds herself holding another positive pregnancy test crying on the bathroom floor, locked, with the shower running to drown out her tears. Some women will continue to have abortions. Some will choose adoption.

But how can we choose to impact our families and communities to choose life?

First and foremost, we must love our neighbor. The shame a woman feels in this position is traumatic. Love her (be she your daughter, sister, mother, aunt, best friend, or a stranger). Support her (offer encouragement, a hand to hold). Help her (financially or spiritually).

Mother Teresa used to say: “May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.”

Maybe it’s time your heart truly broke for a woman in need, because love requires sacrifice.

After all, you may just save the next child who grows up to realize they were the lucky one in a million.

Katie Trudeau is a recent graduate of Ave Maria University. She works as a political communications consultant for both state and federal representatives, and candidates nationwide.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.