Culture of Death

Who would have thought, when Roe v. Wade was decided, that we'd all get used to living in a culture of death? But every once in a while, a story comes out of that culture that breaks your heart and makes you realize just how far we have fallen. Like the story of baby Rowan. Rowan's mother, Angele, is a divorced mother of two who, in her words, had been "terrorized." Like many women, she thought abortion was her best option -- but she wanted the method that was "most painless" for the baby. She wanted to hold him and "grieve him." Her desire to do the best she could for her child, even as she went to have his life ended, betrays her confusion and guilt. Columnist Maggie Gallagher writes, "You can hear in Angele's words all the instincts of motherhood at war with the culture of death, the social pressures that tell so many women abortion is their only real choice, the best, the responsible thing to do. Motherhood lost." But something went wrong, so to speak. After completing the two-part procedure, Angele delivered her child in the clinic bathroom. And then she saw him moving. Accounts differ on what happened. The autopsy found no air in Rowan's lungs; this could indicate a stillbirth. But Angele told Maggie Gallagher, "I'm not a doctor, but when his fingers clutched my hand, when I saw his legs move, when he 'startled' when I screamed for help, I assumed his heart was beating." Seeing that flicker of life, Angele begged clinic workers to call 911. Her requests were ignored. She finally went to find her cell phone and call for help -- too late. Angele recalls, "After a few minutes I realized for certain that he was gone. I picked up my son. I held him to my chest. I rocked him and prayed. I could not stop crying. I felt so bad. I felt so helpless. I had been so wrong to come here." Angele has filed two complaints against the clinic -- not only for refusing to help Rowan, but also for shoddy medical procedures that could have endangered her as well. The damage, sadly, is done. Yes, the case may hold clinic workers to stricter standards, and should. (There's a law, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which mandates that such children must be given life-saving treatment. Clearly, the clinic workers either didn't know about the law, or just didn't care.) But no matter the outcome of the case, it can't bring Rowan back. It can't take away his mother's pain and shame. But Rowan will not have died in vain if this story is remembered and talked about as a cautionary tale: This is what happens when you deny the natural created order. It's the natural instinct of a mother, you see, to want the best for her child. But the culture of death does everything it can to destroy that instinct. All too often, the culture of death wins out -- yet this mother's anguish over her child shows what so many mothers know deep down: that the promise of abortion is a betrayal and a lie. Her story reminds us why we must keep working to create a culture that offers real help and real hope to mothers, instead of inducing them to destroy their children. The battle for life has gone on for thirty-two years, and it gets tiresome. But don't give up. Don't stop fighting until we make it safe for the Baby Rowans of this world to be born and welcomed in life.


Chuck Colson


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