By Jonathon Van Maren
I remember vividly the first time I saw a victim of abortion with my own eyes. It would be wrong to say I saw the tiny human being face to face, for she no longer had a face. What had once been a perfectly formed person had been reduced to a bloody smear on a blue terrycloth, and the only body part still identifiable after being suctioned through a plastic tube was a single, translucent arm. The arm was probably no more than half or three-quarters of an inch long—it is hard to remember, exactly—and the fingers were perfectly splayed. I remember thinking she seemed to be waving, and felt somehow reproached.
I thought of that little arm and the person it had belonged to again after reading a magnificent piece from the Irish journalist John Waters in First Things. Titled “Don’t Sanitize Abortion,” Waters explains why he believes that people must often see abortion before they will reject it—and he describes his own reaction after seeing a video of a child who had been aborted:
Someone recently sent me a video of a child of perhaps two months’ gestation. The child had survived a botched abortion and been born alive. The still living body is in a petri dish and two women inspect it. One of them prods and mauls the child’s body with white-gloved fingers while the child seeks to evade them, moving his hands to cover his face as if already suspecting everything of the evil of the world. Rarely has Kahlil Gibran’s evocation of “Life’s longing for itself” been so heartbreakingly illustrated. What I felt watching it was not merely horror or pity, but a sense of metaphysical affront at having to observe a fellow human being in this unspeakable situation.