Thursday, October 25, 2007

Explaining Abortion to Children

One day late last October, my then-nine-year-old daughter came home from school and told me about an informal poll that had been taken in her fifth grade class.

If they were able to vote in the next Presidential election, whom would they vote for? She said most of the children raised their hand for Hillary Clinton. I do not know who else was offered as a “candidate”, but I was shocked at the support for such a person in a Catholic school.

“Oh, she’s horrible, horrible – evil, even!” I exclaimed.


I could have gone into a thousand reasons – the shocking things she has gotten away with throughout her years in public service. The one that stood out the most in my mind, at that moment, was her stance on abortion.

I quickly weighed in my mind whether or not I wanted to bring this subject up at this juncture. Would I shatter her innocence by letting her know such evil existed? How likely was she to hear the term “abortion” elsewhere in the next year?

I decided to sit her down and explain what abortion was. She had just been through my pregnancy, so she understood what I meant when I said a woman decided to “terminate” her pregnancy.

“But why would someone want to do that?”

I explained that sometimes a woman might feel like she had no options – no husband, no support from family or friends, nowhere to turn. My explanations of procreation had been so entwined in marriage that she didn’t understand how a woman could become pregnant without being married!

She was sad but calm. “Well, at least there is one good thing, the baby gets to go to heaven,” she said.

This past summer, we came across a mention of abortion in the most innocent of movies, “The Singing Nun”, starring Debbie Reynolds. A young woman fainted at a church dance and said, “Don’t worry, I’m just pregnant. I’m not having the baby though. I’m going to have an abortion.” The freshman nun, shocked, yelled at her for even thinking of such a thing, calling it “murder”. “How dare you say such a thing to me!” returned the young woman. The young nun was rebuked by an elder nun, saying she had to find a gentler way to express herself if she didn't want to "lose" the people. It was lost on my six-year-old son. My eight-year-old daughter turned to me and asked, “What is abortion?”

So I quickly and gently explained it to her. As my mom always said, she’d rather I heard about these things from her than from the world. Middle school seems to be the time to explain such matters to our children so they have it in the context of our values.

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Virgin and Child before a Firescreen
Oil on wood, 1430
National Gallery, London

1 comment:

Len & Heather said...

Well done. If we don't explain these things to our children (within the context of faith) some one else will. Bravo!!!