My name is Richard Gerard Evans. I mention that because my middle name is based on St Gerard Majella, one of the premier “pro life” Saints within the Catholic Church. I do not know to this day if my mother knew this when I was named, but I do know that my parents, devoted Catholic Christians, produced 8 children in a family where money was scarce and almost any alternative would have been easier.
For the amazing story of this great young Saint, read below please:
But now I must make a correction–there were 9 of us. When I was conceived, it was just a few months after my mother had suffered a miscarriage. She once told me that I was the one blessing from that event, in that she and my father would not have conceived me if that other child had lived. So not only do I have a sibling in heaven who I have never met, but I owe my life to that unknown and unnamed sibling. I also owe my life, the youngest of 9, not 8, to the fact that Roe v Wade was yet 17 years in the future at the time of my birth. While I do not believe my parents would have considered abortion, they certainly could have done so when I was still a “clump of cells” in an over-used womb which had produced 7 living children and finally a miscarried one. If there had been a “logical reason” to recommend abortion this certainly would have been a classic case. Instead, my parents not only had me but I was baptized and given the name of a patron who obviously prayed for me then and still does so.
A few years ago I has posted a number of “pro life” articles on my Face Book page. As a result, I was told that I as a middle-aged white male had “no right” to even have an opinion on the issue. I think I do. I think we all do. Half of the children aborted are male. And I might easily have been one of them. Add to that, this was not the first time I heard a similar argument. When I was 14 or 15, I stated my pro-life views to another family member, and was shot down by the suggestion at that time that “I was too young” to have a view on the issue. So I was “too young” then, am “too old” now, have always been the wrong gender, even though it takes both a male and female set of cells to produce a child and always will, and on top of it all I am “white” and could not possibly know what poverty and desperation are like. Guess again on all counts.
As to the first listed of those reasons why my voice does not matter, I would not pretend to have first-hand insight on that one. I have never been a woman and have no intention of gender re-assignment in the near or distant future. But I do have a couple of closely second-hand experiences that I am pretty sure a number of people do not realize or know about, and I would like to bear my heart and share those right now.
When I was 18, I met a lovely young woman who I began to care about very deeply. Although not a practicing Catholic at the time, I had made a serious and strong choice to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ and spent a fair amount of time sharing what this meant to me with her. I also had a certain amount of attraction to her, but we had no formal commitment to one another as such due to the difference in our beliefs primarily. So although seeing me from time to time, she was concurrently dating another man and eventually realized that she was pregnant by him. He left her, and fast. So now it was my turn. I was able to pray with her, and she surrendered her life to Jesus as Lord and Savior. But she was still pregnant. So, the summer after my senior year in high school, my commitment to this young woman deepened, and I made some calls and contacts with an early Crisis Pregnancy Center who was willing to take her in while she prepared to give birth to her child and then decided what to do about his or her future. Arrangements were made, and then…we had to tell her father. I again offered to be there during that difficult conversation, as well as a local evangelical pastor known by her family. We went there knowing she might be facing a tough sell–as this would be her second abortion and her dad had been behind that one as well.
We explained to him the arrangements that had been made, and I can still recall the shock and utter frustration with this man, a widower, who actually wanted his then 21 year old daughter to abort again, even though she had clear and huge support and was attempting to follow Christ this time around. Sadly, he won the battle in the end. But later she was so very, very sad knowing she had ended the life of her child, and did not have to. And I wonder where her father was then. The irony of it all was that, had she kept that child, I very likely might have married her eventually, and raised that child as my own with no questions asked. Would that have been best decision for me? I do not know. But the opportunity was never given, because she had been abandoned by the biological father, and her own father, her one living parent, pressured her daily until she caved in. So do men have a voice? Obviously so. But which voice do we have?
My next experience was when I was married, and my former wife and myself had repeated (4 total) miscarriages. Each of those situations were heartbreaking to us. To us both. I mention that because, even then, so many rallied around Shirley (for which I am deeply thankful) but in the process nearly or even totally forgot me. These children were mine too. And I held one of them, born far too early to live outside the womb, but yet still intact within the sac. I touched, as did Shirley, our first-born. But once we went to the doctor, there was no more contact as the “specimen” of only 2 months was collected by the Dr (ironically a Catholic by the way) and was never seen by either of us again. This was in the early 1980s, and today we might have been able to request our precious child back for a quiet funeral, but not then.
Skipping ahead we eventually went through a case study for possible adoption, but just 10 short years after Roe v Wade there were simply no infants available except in foreign nations. And those adoptions were far beyond our financial resources. Another barrier was that, although we were willing to adopt an older child, and/or a biracial one, we were literally blocked by a movement among African-American social workers at that time who did not wish white couples to adopt “their” children. While I can understand the reasoning to a large extent, we were a couple who had not only been exposed to numerous minorities, but had directly lived and intensely worked with those of a wide variety of backgrounds during our very interracial ministry. We would have taken pains to expose whatever child we adopted to their own races and cultures, but that did not matter. The door was thus closed to us, financially and culturally. And yet many of the children who we could have adopted instead grew up in foster homes and were given no stability, all for the sake of a small group’s political views. I can only hope that those children, adults now, do not follow suit.
So what has “pro-choice” done for me? It robbed me of initially raising or at least helping to place an infant into a Christian home at age 18, it robbed me of the chance to later on adopt an infant after our miscarriages, and it caused me to feel for over 20 years that I was not a “real” father, even to the child I held in my hands that now long ago fateful day. Perhaps if I had not seen that sac intact, I could have explained it away as “tissue” but, like the ultrasounds of today, I could simply look and see that my child was real, and not just subjectively. Each of them in fact were objectively a combination of the love of two people, and the only “clumps of cells” in our world which can claim that distinction.
My 4 children would be just over 30 years old now. Instead of buying gifts for my grandchildren, I collect records and books. I want you to know that I would trade every original Charlie Parker record or old Bible I own for one chance, one moment, to hold any one of those children, while they still lived. But one day I will. When I returned to the Church I found out how much was now being done for those of us who had experienced miscarriages. My four children finally had a funeral at St Stephen’s Catholic Church here in Minneapolis, and I know I will one day have the opportunity to hold and hug each of them. They now have names–Bethany Rachelle, Nathan Joshua, Jeremiah Joseph, and Mary Delores. And I am at last a father.
So please do not tell me I do not understand the pain of women who face the pain of unplanned pregnancies. I at least have some idea. And I will never, never not be “pro-life” or call it by some other name. And do not expect me to be silent. I won’t be.
- Finally, Honest Words From the Pro-Abortion Society (redstate.com)
- 40th Anniversary of a tragic decision (juneauempire.com)
- Messages from bishops mark 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade (osvdailytake.com)
- ‘Pro-life’ position gaining support (dispatch.com)
- Noted Pro-Life Author, Anthony Horvath, Reaches Out to Parents Who Were Told the Worst, But Children Were Born Healthy (prweb.com)
- On anniversary, Obama praises Roe’s ‘guiding principle’; Aborted children can’t write letters (twitchy.com)
- Salon: Yeah, abortion takes a life. So what? (hotair.com)
- 6 Reasons Why Men Can Speak on Abortion (patheos.com)
- Vatican Official Says US Pro-Life Marches Have Global Impact (jean2010.wordpress.com)
- Denver Archbishop: I became pro-life after stumbling on the body of an aborted baby in a sink (lifesitenews.com)