If you are reading this, you had a mother who gave birth to you. Similarly, your mother had a mother, and generations upon generations of mothers who came before her. Going back thousands of years, all mothers hold at least one choice in common: the decision to bring life into this world. These collective decisions by my mother and all the mothers who came before her, to have children, is why I am alive today. It’s the same decision your mother made, your grandmothers made and why you are living to read this right now.
Today, we celebrate motherhood. The work of the mother is at the core of every family and, therefore, our society, and I would contend such work is sacred work. To become a mother is a gift from God. Yet, in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court declared in Roe vs. Wade that pregnancy was not a gift, but instead a burden so insurmountable as to justify the systematic killing of unborn children. In that decision, made by nine men in black robes, the United States became, and remains, one of the most radical countries on Earth as it relates to abortion policy.
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The results are stark. Since 1973 in the United States, 63 million babies have been aborted in their mothers’ wombs. One in four pregnancies end in the death of the child due to abortion. And yet, public opinion in America has seen a remarkable and recent shift toward pro-life positions. A recent national survey shows that a significant majority of Americans were more likely to call themselves pro-life (55%) than pro-choice (38%). At least 80% of Americans now also call for various restrictions on abortion. Interestingly, and perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, the growth from a pro-abortion view towards a pro-life position comes almost entirely from Democrats and younger individuals. Nearly the same number of Democrats under 45 years of age (47%) now consider themselves pro-life rather than pro-choice (48%), a striking reversal from previous years and generations.
Why the sudden shift? The answer, I believe, is two-fold. First, a majority of Americans now reject the antiquated science of the 1970s in favor of what modern science has now unequivocally proven; namely, that a child in utero is not a clump of lifeless cells as was assumed by “leading experts” in the 1970s. Instead, we have come to know that through the advancement of ultra sound that an unborn baby is in fact a human baby that can feel pain, can hug a twin in utero or suck its thumb, and has a beating heartbeat. As is often the case, what our faith taught us decades ago has been proven by modern science and medicine.
Second, recent efforts by some state governments to legalize late term abortions, even past the point of birth, are repulsive to most Americans. Despite clear cut science and a growing sentiment towards the pro-life cause, some states have become the battleground for what have become the most radical abortion laws of any country on Earth.
In New York, a bill recently signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and cheered on by the New York Assembly would allow the killing of a baby in the birthing room through the full term of a pregnancy. The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, recently endorsed the concept that a doctor could perform an abortion after birth. Proposed legislation in Vermont and Illinois would provide a right to abortions for any reason through a full pregnancy term on par with the rights to free speech or to practice religion.
Rather than the oft cited health exception to the mother, these extreme policies are designed to make radical late term abortion policies a new fundamental right. The right to take the life of a newborn infant.
And the American people are responding: Enough is enough!
States such as Arkansas and Utah signed bills that limit abortions to 18 weeks and seven states including Georgia that would draw the limit at the sound of the fetal heartbeat, as early as six weeks. In Alabama there is a proposed bill that would limit abortion to two weeks after conception.
We, as a society, should strive to celebrate life, not death. In our founding documents, we as a people declare proudly that all “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Life being first among our unalienable rights.
The vocation of motherhood, and parenthood, are perhaps the most important work that is accomplished on earth. We raise children that will become adults, impact the world and touch so many lives. For most mothers, it is a truly fulfilling role. And we should do our part not only to oppose the abhorrent practice of abortion, but to update our laws to reflect a culture that celebrates life and families. Our country needs to update laws on maternity care, parental leave and child and day care. First though, we must turn the tide on the killing of our unborn and now living children.
On this Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers. So, in addition to sending flowers and thanking your Mother for being a good mother, I encourage you to also thank her for the profound choice she made. Thank your Mother, wife and family members for choosing life. Thank her for making the selfless decision to be a mother.
Carolyn Ketchel is an Okaloosa County commissioner, Christian radio talk show host and most importantly a mother and a grandmother.