If we want to change the way people think, talk, and act toward unwanted
unborn children, we will need to change the way they think, talk, and act about
wanted unborn children. Our approach to them either conveys the presence of
a person or, well, of something less than a person. Take four simple examples.
First, even the best pro-life people will be heard saying, "I m expecting
a child." But if you are "expecting" someone, that person hasn t arrived
yet. Our message is that the unborn child is already here, and is fully a
person. A pregnant woman is already a mother who has a child. "I m carrying a
child" is more appropriate, and in counting how many children she has, the child
she carries counts as one, not as a "half" or one "on the way."
This leads to the issue of naming the child. A pregnant mother is
often asked if she has "picked out a name yet." In the Culture of Life, every
person has a name. Delaying the practice of naming until birth only reinforces
the idea that we don t have a person there until birth. A name should be
chosen and used as soon as one discovers she is pregnant. The practical
problem, of course, is not knowing the child s gender right away. I recommend,
then, choosing two names. But the key is the timing of the decision. In other
words, the names are definitively chosen by the time pregnancy is
discovered. They are not just possible names. As soon as the gender is
known, one of the two will stick.
Another very common practice reinforces the notion that a person exists only
at birth. Notice how we celebrate birthdays, but do not celebrate
Firstdays. Actually, the Culture of Life should be distinguished by its
custom of celebrating the day the person began to exist, which, of
course, is nine months prior to one s birthday. True, we do not know the day
with exact certitude, but that should not mean we ignore it altogether. We all
existed, lived, and grew prior to our birthdays, and the celebration of a "Firstday"
nine months before our birthday would send a meaningful message to our culture.
Finally, the sad reality of miscarriage is common. The Culture of Life
recognizes that miscarriage is the loss of a child who is a whole person. It is
not the loss of a concept or of a possibility, but of an actual
child, who has a body. Where possible, of course, baptism is administered, even
if conditionally, in case the child may still be alive. Every reasonable effort
should be made, furthermore, to take the bodily remains of this child and commit
them to the earth by a proper burial. Here we need the generous collaboration of
cemeteries and Churches so that this practice becomes more common.
Babies in the womb are real, full persons. These four steps would be good
ways to continue to waken our culture to that simple fact.