It is the only definable and unarguable line between nothing and life. It is at that moment that a human being is created. All other measures are subjective and unsubstantiated - heartbeat, viability, x number of weeks, stage of development, and so on. Conception is the only solid, objective point that marks that distinction.
And from that single moment grows this incredible human being. We carry that life inside of us for a time and then we nurture it through the years, stopping every so often to marvel over tiny pink toes, sleeping cherub faces, a child's perspective, the thrill of new discoveries, the joy of growth, and the ever-evolving relationship between a mother and child. It is a journey not without hard times, but ultimately filled with unspeakable joy and love, stretching us, shaping us, changing us for the better.
This is what we are robbing women of when we tell them it is acceptable to take the life of a child growing inside of them. We are hurting our own. We leave behind not only the bodies of countless babies, but a lifetime of pain for the women who were lied to, who were told their actions were okay because it "wasn't really a baby" and it was the "best decision given the circumstances", who live with the pain and regret as they realize, too late, that you can never forget the child who would have been.
I have never heard someone say that they regret the choice to carry their child, whether they decide in the end to raise the child themselves or place it with someone who can.
But over and over I hear women say that they do, deeply and daily, regret the choice they made to end that life - and yet, illogically, often continue to support the right of other women to make the same painful and irreversable mistake. Why do we continue to lie to women, telling them it's okay, even after realizing for oneself how horrifyingly untrue that is? We support them and support them and support them in their decision to take the life of an unborn child, and then leave them to pick up the pieces, floundering in the painful aftermath of their tragic decision.
Yesterday was Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, a day set aside to celebrate the intrinsic value of all human life. January is recognized as Sanctity of Human Life month, with SOHL Sunday held on the Sunday in January that falls closest to the day on which the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. President Ronald Reagan declared the first SOHLS in 1983.
But the sanctity of life doesn't end when a child is born. Life should be valued not only in the unborn child, but in babies, children, adults, and the elderly. This should give us pause to consider not only the travesty of abortion, but that of child abuse, inadequate health care, domestic abuse, elder abuse, and euthanasia. It should be reflected in the way we care for orphans and widows, for our children and our aging parents, for the homeless and victimized. It should affect our buying practices and the use of our money, time, and skills. It should be blind to borders, race, gender, age, religion, health, incomes, and lifestyle.
Our respect for the value of a life should show in the way we treat others, extending love and charity to all.
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
~ from Psalm 139