Janet A. Morana is the executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, the world’s largest mobilization of women who have had abortions. A native New Yorker, she was a public school teacher before becoming involved in pro-life work. She co-hosts the Defending Life and Catholic View for Women series on EWTN, and is a frequent guest on other TV and radio programs. She is the recipient of Legatus’ Cardinal John O’Connor Pro-life Hall of Fame Award. Her first book, Recall Abortion, was published by Saint Benedict Press.
Mainstream media outlets generally avoid stories that have a pro-life moral, but this week there has been wall-to-wall coverage of a high school senior who was not allowed to walk at her graduation from a Christian high school because she is pregnant.
Leave it to the mainstream media to pounce on an opportunity to highlight hypocrisy in a religious school. If the young woman had just chosen abortion, in secret, she would have been able to toss her mortarboard with the rest of her classmates at her pro-life school.
I’m angry about the treatment of this young woman, but I’ve seen worse.
My three daughters attended an all-girls Catholic school in New York City. The year one of them graduated, there was a similar situation. A young woman had gotten pregnant, chose life, and was not allowed to graduate with her class. She sat in the audience with her mother and the baby, watching as another young woman who also had been pregnant walked across the stage. That student chose abortion for her child.
Maybe the media did us a favor in pointing out this issue, because clearly it needs some attention. What a mixed message we are sending our girls.
We need to get this straight.
Christian and Catholic schools work very hard to instill morals and virtue in their students, but like all of us, these students are human. They are growing up in a hyper-sexualized culture that reinforces the belief that anything done in the name of pleasure is OK, even recommended. Planned Parenthood goes so far as to school kids in deviant sexuality. Prime time television is full of overt sexual content and as for the internet, anything – literally anything – goes.
Kids stray. It’s regrettable but it happens. When a pregnancy is the consequence of this trip off the narrow path, we cannot punish young women who choose life.
What schools should be doing is educating students – girls and boys – about the truth about abortion. Some women die in abortions, others are injured and sometimes left infertile. Many, many women regret their abortion experiences and spend years, even decades, leading lives of quiet desperation or noisy dysfunction. Alcohol and substance abuse, eating disorders, promiscuity, depression and even suicide far too frequently follow abortion.
Boys too young to be fathering children find they regret their lost fatherhood after an abortion and it doesn’t matter if they coerced the abortion, went along silently or protested against it.
Teaching students about the dangers and consequences of abortion might not be enough to stop them from becoming sexually active, but it’s a start. The vital next step is to support young women who do become pregnant, and this is something we all can do, inside and outside the classroom.
Thanks to Roe v. Wade and 44 years of legal child killing, the first question many people ask a woman with an unplanned pregnancy is “What are you going to do?” This is an anti-life question. We need to swallow those words, because they are an invitation to abortion. Instead we should ask her how we can help. Something as simple as the words we use to react to the pregnancy can have a real impact on keeping abortion-vulnerable young women away from the killing centers. Most women who walk into Planned Parenthood pregnant walk out as the mother of a dead baby. We need to make sure they never even contemplate such a thing. Every one of us can play a role in making abortion unthinkable.
If we consider babies a blessing, no matter how they were conceived, we begin to give the new mother the emotional support she needs to realize that life is the only choice. Not an easy choice, by any means, but the only choice.
Certainly it is not optimal to have pregnant girls walking the halls of a high school – or worse, a middle or elementary school –but it is much, much worse to punish girls who choose life or to suggest by our actions that abortion might be OK just this once. School officials need to rethink their policies. Not only are pregnant girls being punished, but their friends and classmates are watching it happen. Should they find themselves pregnant, some of them may choose abortion because they see it as the path of least resistance.
In Christian and Catholic schools, students are taught that every life is sacred, every life is valuable. We can’t leave our girls wondering why they and their babies are seen in a different light.