In the announcement of their wedding in the New York Times last week, Faith Rein and Miami Heat player Udonis Haslem talked about an abortion decision they made early in their 14-year relationship.
"Despite the pregnancy, she was busy with track meets and helping him complete homework. The timing was bad," the Times reports. "I am not a huge fan of abortion, but we both had sports careers, plus we could not financially handle a baby," Haslem said. "Udonis appreciated that I was willing to have an abortion," Rein said, noting it was a "difficult time" and attributes Haslem with being "caring" and "supportive" during the process.
It's hard not to ask questions. What about that lost motherhood, the fatherhood? What is the relationship between career and convenience and human dignity? What if they had made it work? Do you ask "what if"?
Writing from Australia, Anne R. Lastman, a counselor who works with women and men who are struggling with the aftermath of an abortion, sometimes years and even decades later, talks about a cultural "sense of loss" and a corporate/community sense of guilt in the air, at a time when abortion can seem expected. It's a culture where women and men come to understand "their intrinsic worth" as "gauged upon their worth in the marketplace rather than upon their worth as uniquely created beings."
"It would be easy," Lastman writes, "to lay the blame for abortions at the feet of the aborting mother, father, or abortionists." That's the level of so much of our public discourse. Even as opponents of legal abortion lead with compassion (see so much of the work of so many of the leading national and local activist and service organizations, crisis-pregnancy centers, and maternity homes), what makes headlines tends to be something else.
Writing in her book "Redeeming Grief," Lastman asserts: "If it becomes licit to take a human life when it is weakest, wholly dependent on its mother, on its parents, on the strength of human consciences, then what dies is not only an innocent human being but also conscience itself."
Now, I understand that the likelihood of getting into questions of innocence, death, and conscience aren't likely to be explored in a New York Times wedding profile. But if we're going to tell the truth about life, maybe what Rein and Haslem said in the Times serves as an important milestone, however incomplete, in confronting what Lastman describes as a culture of "abortion trauma" that all too often is "quietly simmering" in the lives of women and men; it has unmistakably "produced a new mentality, a new understanding of how things should be."
During an event this summer at the Vatican reflecting on Pope John Paul II's "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life") and the gravity of our moral responsibilities in the modern world, American Cardinal Raymond Burke reflected on the essential need for "a new proclamation of the truth regarding women and motherhood." Citing JPII, he stressed that "the indispensible requisite for an authentic cultural change" is realizing that we need women who are open to life, who protect life, who sacrifice for another, who "first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health."
We have a ways to go to reconcile our lives with life. In very different ways, Rein and Lastman are helping us take baby steps.
Kathryn Lopez is the editor-at-large of National Review Online nationalreview.com.