Two little girls have recently been in the public eyelittle girls who, by modern standards, could not be more different.
One of these children was so wanted by her parents that they jumped through nearly every hoop to conceive her, including years of health-endangering infertility treatments, in vitro fertilization, and finally surrogacy. (Peggy Orenstein, the childs mother, tells the story in her new book, Waiting for Daisy.)
The other child was so unwanted that her mother, Jennifer Raper, is filing a wrongful birth suit against the doctor who botched her abortion and another doctor who failed to discern that she was still pregnant afterwards.
Two little girls, nothing in commonthats how our society would perceive these children. But our society would be wrong, because both of these stories have the same focus: the adults. Its all about their rights to get what they want, or, as the case may be, not to get what they dont want. Thats what these two cases have in common: The baby who should be at the center of the story becomes a thing to which a price tag is attached.
Peggy Orenstein herself tackles that fact with rare and searing honesty. She looks back on her rocky path to parenthood with ambivalence, acknowledging that the effort threatened her health and nearly destroyed her marriage. In an essay adapted from her book, she writes, You dont notice your motivation distorting, how conception rather than parenthood becomes the goal, how invested you become in its achievement.
Despite her joy over her daughters eventual birth, Orenstein also felt so guilt-ridden that for the first time in more than twenty years, she found herself at the Jewish temple on the Day of Atonement. There she prayed for what she calls the strength to forgive myself for the sins against my marriage and my own heart that Id committed . . . [the] betrayal of my deepest self.
At least Orensteins daughter, unlike Jennifer Rapers daughter, will not have to go through life with the knowledge that her mother believed she had no right to be here. But what else can we expect when we have trained people to believe that the most important thing about a baby is whether or not it is wanted? The Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey infamously stated, At the heart of liberty is the right to define ones own concept of existence. Tragically, what this means is that our concepts of existenceour desires and needs and wishes and beliefsnow define our childrens lives. We have our rightsso-calledbut what happened to theirs?
Orenstein, however hesitantly, believed she had the right to have a child at any cost. Raper believed that she had the right not to have a child if she did not want one. Both children, different as their situations are, demonstrate the reality in our culture today: the tragic reality that children have become mere commodities to meet our needs, or, if they dont meet our needs, things to be discarded.
Now more than ever, Christians need to proclaimand live outthe truth that children are indeed good. And they are good not because they meet our needs, but because they bear the image of God and propagate the human race. Thats our God-given task: Be fruitful and multiply.
From BreakPoint®, March 26, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. BreakPoint® and Prison Fellowship Ministries® are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries