I've been doing a lot of thinking about abortion and premature birth lately. It's nothing I haven't thought about before--when I researched abortion for a pro-life speech in high school, my mom commented on the pictures of aborted babies bigger than I was when I was born. There are still at least some areas where abortion is legal in this country even up to week 36. A baby born at this point is considered full-term! Only three states have laws against aborting a baby that could survive outside the womb, according to an article posted at the Ohio Right to Life site.
Sarah's story begins July 13, 1993. She had spent 36 peaceful weeks in her mother's womb before the needle filled with poison stabbed her in the brain three times. By all odds the assault should have killed her, but something inside Sarah refused to give up. Two days later she was born in a Wichita, Kansas, hospital.
Sarah's birth mother signed away her rights to her daughter almost as soon as the seven-pound, five-ounce abortion survivor was born with visible puncture wounds above her left eyebrow and at the base of her skull. Without knowing her whole story or the extent of her injuries, Bill and Marykay Brown obtained temporary custody of the little girl within 24 hours of her birth and adopted her 30 days later. The Browns heard about Sarah from a pro-life attorney who knew they wanted to adopt a special-needs child.
The site goes on to discuss Sarah's life with permanent disabilities which resulted from the procedure until her death at age 5. She could have otherwise been a healthy child!
What can we say to these people to sympathize with them and rationalize abortion at the same time? "We’re sorry that you’re missing a limb as a result of that failed abortion, but that abortion attempt was in your mother’s best interest as well as yours and society’s and the world's"? Or, "Your injuries are awful; better technology and skill should have been available to abort you correctly so that you would not have lived to either 'enslave' your mother or suffer yourself"?
Much of the debate seems to revolve around the question, "What is a person?" Why does this matter so much to me? The New American, January 19, 1998, quotes from Gianna Jessen's testimony before the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on 04/22/1996:
I am happy to be alive. I almost died. Every day I thank God for life. I do not consider myself a by-product of conception, a clump of tissue, or any other of the titles given to a child in the womb. I do not consider any person conceived to be any of those things.
I have met other survivors of abortion. They are all thankful for life. Only a few months ago I met another saline abortion survivor. Her name is Sarah. She is two years old. Sarah also has cerebral palsy, but her diagnosis is not good. She is blind and has severe seizures. The abortionist, besides injecting the mother with saline, also injects the baby victims. Sarah was injected in the head. I saw the place on her head where this was done. When I speak, I speak not only for myself, but for the other survivors, like Sarah, and also for those who cannot yet speak....
Today, a baby is a baby when convenient. It is tissue or otherwise when the time is not right. A baby is a baby when miscarriage takes place at two, three, four months. A baby is called a tissue or clumps of cells when an abortion takes place at two, three, four months. Why is that? I see no difference. What are you seeing? Many close their eyes....
The best thing I can show you to defend life is my life. It has been a great gift. Killing is not the answer to any question or situation. Show me how it is an answer.
I am not an abortion survivor; but I am a person with disabilities, some of which are the result of premature birth. What is the difference between the "me" who was inside the womb and the "me" who was outside? The debate goes on as if speaking about two separate beings; yet I am only one "me." As a person with a dissociative disorder, I struggle with feeling that the person who experienced one event from my life is separated from the person who experienced another event. But logically I know that there is only one "me," just as there was only one "me" before and after birth. How does birth change me? Like Gianna, I do not understand the difference. I would have still been the same person if I had stayed in the womb except that I would be able to see. Certainly that would have changed who I grew up to be; but even birth doesn't set the course of a person's personality development in stone. It is only a milestone. But a beginning...?