By Anna DeBernardo
As I was sitting in my living room brainstorming ideas for this month’s column, my thought process was interrupted multiple times by my 2 year old cousin, John, who was fascinated by the off button on my iPad. I would explain to him that the button was off limits, and in response, he would look at me with a knowing, mischievous smile and, without breaking eye contact, reach slowly over to the button and shut it off once more.
What began as mild frustration transformed into a really incredible revelation. In my initial impatience, I decided to briefly give up and have a serious staring contest with my cousin. I found that the more closely I examined him, the sadder I became. He looked so blissfully happy as he stared back at me upside down on my living room floor. To think that 57,762,169 babies could have enjoyed life as my cousin was doing so in that moment was unfathomable. How was it possible that they had been deprived of a chance to live and laugh and love as we do every day?
Last week, I traveled with about 50 classmates, teachers, and parents from my school to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life. This was my third year attending and I find the trip tremendously rewarding. Many people question the genuine motives behind a teenager’s desire to attend youth groups and pilgrimages, rather than a weekend home with family, or a night out with friends. Many times, people have accused me of going solely for the social aspects of the retreats.
It would be dishonest of me to deny that; however, I understand where those people are coming from. It’s an incredibly special thing to gather in an arena full of young people worshipping together as one. Sometimes it’s really easy to feel alone in faith, but that night on the march, I had never felt so close to my company.
I truly believe that’s part of what’s so amazing about these events. You get to grow so close to people who you might not have normally been acquainted with outside this intimate experience. If only for an instant, you’re united in your beliefs and the result is a feeling unparalleled by any other.
Seeing 700,000+ people coming together to fight for life reminds me year after year that community is a vital part of faith. Everyone puts their prior quarrels and conflicts aside and works together to be heard. In these three days, thousands of people from across the globe represent the voices of those 57,762,169 lives who might have been our neighbors, friends, and brothers. I understand that for many, this is an extremely sensitive subject as there are situations where a new addition to the family is not always welcomed. But inconvenient timing and misguided behavior leading to conception do not invalidate the life that has been created. Every life matters. If one living person at this moment in time had never been conceived, the world would be a completely different place. Someone would have been deprived of a sister, a mother, or perhaps a country deprived of a president or a queen; 57,762,169 is a frighteningly large number. Every group we gather in today would be three times as large had those lives been given the chance.
Fighters for the Pro-Life cause don’t exist to scorn mothers who have had abortions, or judge those who consider the possibility. We simply exist to defend those who cannot do so for themselves. To be Pro-Life means to recognize the dignity in every human being; to see that no person is superior to another.
Who is justified in thinking any less of a child born with Down’s Syndrome than one born healthy? A supporter of life would see an extra chromosome as an extra motivation to love and nothing more.
I don’t write these things to express hatred towards those with different beliefs, or those who have found themselves in sticky situations. On the contrary, my only wish is to convey hope to anyone willing to accept. I realize that life doesn’t always come when expected or necessarily when desired, but I can assure you that it does come for a reason.
I am confident in this because I know the creator of every living masterpiece. I know Him because He is also yours and mine. And He says, “Life is always an option.”