Below is a copy of a story submission from Tet George:
Ten beautiful babies. Ten women empowered to prioritize life.
Our family has cared for ten babies over the last couple of years through an emergency respite care program. We’ve fed countless bottles, carefully avoided intact umbilical cords during diaper changes, and marveled at the preciousness of ten little humans. Each of them had a unique story, but there were common threads. Every baby was not planned for. Every family was in a state of crisis due to the unexpected pregnancy. And without exception, every mother displayed an unyielding and fierce desire to protect the new life. The “wantedness” of these babies did not in any way diminish the priority of providing them with safe and hopeful futures. And the choices these moms were empowered to make honored this fundamentally human imperative.
Many of these mothers may have chosen abortion had they known they were pregnant. Some of the babies we have cared for came from pregnancies discovered late in the third trimester, too late to legally access abortions in most states. One woman found out she was pregnant after going to the emergency room for mysterious pain, which turned out to be the onset of labor. Even in these cases, we have watched women submit their own preferences and plans to the higher call of providing for their babies, either by parenting themselves or choosing an adoptive family.
What we have witnessed in these women should not be shocking. Whether we look inside or outside of ourselves, we know that humans have an innate, primal desire to shield the small and weak among us. The sacrificial and life-giving choices of these mothers remind us of what it is to be human.
Just as central to being human is the freedom to make independent choices; choices on how we parent, what kinds of schools our kids attend, and how we care for our bodies. But in every area where we cherish this freedom of choice, that same freedom is justly limited. A parent does not have the choice to totally opt their child out of an education. We protect a child’s higher right to education by requiring parents to enroll their children in some form of schooling. We can select our own doctors and control our own diet, but we must also abide by restrictions on certain substances. We can choose how we discipline our children, but we cannot choose to withhold physical needs in that effort. If our free choice violates a higher principle, then our choice is revoked.
Unplanned, crisis pregnancies will always lead to difficult decisions, and sometimes heartbreak. But the choices before women facing these challenges must be channeled within the boundaries of our most sacred values. True choices for women honor the fierce desire to defend life that runs through all of our veins. True choices for women do not denigrate our noblest inclinations. When my post-abortive friends tell me how old their lost children would be today, decades later, they bear witness to the haunting effects of prioritizing a right to not be pregnant over another human’s right to live. I grieve with these women as they lament, ironically, feeling that they did not have a choice at the time. If only they had known that there were options that would truly empower them.
Ten beautiful babies. Ten gut-wrenching choices. Choices that rightly revolved around how best to protect the two lives involved, the life of the mother and the life within her.
Tet George lives just outside of Philadelphia with her husband and three children. They often have a fourth child in tow through two short-term care programs.