I recently read a pro-choice argument that really made me think. In it the writer asks, “Why we don’t have 5ks for the zygotes.” There are 5k fundraising races for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease but none for the major cause of death: the miscarriage.* Nobody has 5ks to raise money to stop all the miscarriages.
This argument is supposed to show that people regard unborn babies as not really human, and it’s supposed to show that pro-lifers are hypocritical because they only care about aborted babies and not babies who die through “spontaneous abortion” (the horrific medical definition for miscarriage).
The problem is not hypocrisy but a lack of awareness and logical consistency. Any evil can become unrecognized when it is widespread enough and the victims are silent. The fact that pro-lifers don’t always treat unborn babies like they do babies who are born does not alter the morality of abortion.
But the question remains: Why aren’t there 5ks for the zygotes?
I understand that natural death is less of an immediate concern than murder. A mother being allowed to kill her own child is a more socially urgent issue than a child dying from sickness, but a child dying from sickness certainly still matters. And however small a child may be, a miscarriage is still a death.
But a quick Google search yields the same ambiguous answer — sometimes this just happens. In other words, we don’t know why there are miscarriages, and there’s nothing we can do to prevent them.
I’m sorry, but with all the recent advances in medical science how can that be true? If toddlers were dying at the same rate as 12-week old fetuses, the nation would be up in arms about it. However, we just accept the fact that 10% to 15% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.
Moreover, women who experience them are expected to just “move on” without making a fuss, treating their loss as a dissapointment, not a death. This holds true in the Christian and the non-Christian community, among both pro-choicers and pro-lifers.
This is unacceptable. I’m not a scientist and don’t know the status of present medical research about miscarriage, but I know this: The problem of miscarriage is not a priority in our country. But since unborn babies are human beings, it ought to be.
I understand, however, why we naturally treat the death of unborn babies differently. The pain from the death of a five-year-old feels far more horrendous than that of a six-week-old fetus. After babies are born the attachment increases between parents and children, making subsequent death more painful to experience. But a child is a child regardless of where he is located, and regardless of our feelings towards that child we must treat him as such.
Another reason abortion is a higher priority than miscarriage is the sense that we should make sure our children are not being murdered before we start working on mysterious pre-natal health problems. But how we act about miscarriage directly impacts our fight against abortion. How we treat people who have miscarriages, how we treat those children who died due to miscarriage, and how we approach the epidemic of miscarriage, it all matters.
When my husband and I had a miscarriage last year, we were blessed to have a family priest say a funeral Mass and hold a burial for the little baby. But if our priest hadn’t approached us about it, we would never have known it was an option.
Indeed, very few pro-life Christians I know, even those who have had miscarriages, know about this. Why not? The cultural indoctrination is too strong. In some ways it can be easier to say you’re against abortion than it is to treat a miscarriage like a death. It’s easier to rally against abortion than it is to talk about your dead baby like the baby is, in fact, dead. Extended mourning after a miscarriage might very well earn you the reputation of being “crazy.”
*10-15% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.