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  • Life — A Baby’s Best Start

    by Kate Wicker

     
    In my BC ("before children") days when I was still a full-time working girl, I was on the staff of a regional women’s publication that was decidedly left-leaning. When my boss (whom I also considered a friend) asked me to do a write-up on a pro-choice event, I declined, explaining that I was pro-life and refused to promote anything that was in direct conflict with my belief system.
     
    I’m not sure how this would have panned out had I been working on the editorial staff of some glossy based out of New York City, but my colleague was respectful of my position and didn’t force me to write about the event — and, in fact, didn’t publish anything about it in the end.
     
    My pro-life revelation sparked an ongoing dialogue between us about why I was pro-life and, conversely, why she was pro-choice. Like so many of my pro-choice friends, she stressed that she would never think of getting an abortion, but that she just didn’t feel like it was the government’s right — or anyone else’s — to tell a woman what she should do with her body.
     
    But therein lay the irony: This same woman was a devoted mom and lactivist. Aside from working on the women’s publication, we also collaborated on a parenting publication where we both wrote numerous pro-breastfeeding articles. My colleague practiced extended breastfeeding with all of her children, and she worked tirelessly to support breastfeeding in the workplace, including promoting a support group for working, breastfeeding moms and helping to get a designated pumping room in one of her previous places of employment. But more than that, she was one of the most loving, attentive, and selfless mothers I’ve ever known.
     
    Since becoming a mother myself, I’ve encountered many devoted moms like her who are vehement defenders of babies, children, and their needs. Some of these same women are also pro-choice. It’s a juxtaposition that confounds me: These women often have no problem with shaking their heads over moms who don’t breastfeed their babies, or those parents who allow their little ones to "cry it out" alone in their cribs. But they see no reason to give babies in utero any defense whatsoever.
     
    "Breast is best!" and "Give babies the best start and breastfeed!" they shout from the rooftops. But isn’t life the best start of all?
     
    I look at these admirable moms who ply their tots with nothing but organic food, read endless board books to stimulate their babes’ burgeoning minds, and do everything in their power to give kids of all ages a voice — and I can’t help but wonder why they don’t see the need to do the same for the most helpless children of all.
     
    Why does our society only advocate for the children who make it safely out of their mothers’ wombs, or those lucky "fetuses" who become babies as soon as the woman carrying them decides they are wanted? How is it that so many of us can be passionately concerned with a baby’s entitlement to be breastfed or to be nurtured in a loving, sensitive way, but completely disregard her entitlement to life?
     
    Why is it that, before a child is in her mother’s arms, she is nothing more than a disposable commodity, a choice — not a human being that deserves respect, love, care, and above all, the chance at life?
     
     
    I’ve asked these questions over and over, sometimes to my friends who have different views, sometimes during prayer, sometimes in the silence of the night when I’m watching one of my children sleep or cradling a nursing baby to my chest.
     
    One day, my colleague and I were talking about the challenges of nursing and why it was so important to encourage and support breastfeeding moms. At the time, I was pregnant with my first child and knew I wanted to breastfeed, and I agreed with my supervisor’s strong views on the subject — but something struck me that day listening to her impassioned speech on why breast is best.
     
    I asked a not-so-innocent question: "What about the moms who have all the support they need? Maybe they’re at-home moms who don’t ever have to worry about pumping, and they don’t experience any real problems with nursing, but they just don’t like it. What do you think about them?"
     
    My colleague suggested that women who don’t breastfeed only because it’s not convenient or easy or something they enjoy were being selfish.
     
    She had fallen right into my trap. "But it’s their body, their breasts," I retorted. "Don’t they have the right to do what they want with them?"
     
    "Not when it’s at the expense of their baby," she said. "Babies deserve better."
     
    My point exactly. Babies do deserve better. They deserve life.
     


    Kate Wicker regularly writes for Catholic media, including
    Canticle magazine, Catholic Mom, and Faith & Family magazine. She blogs at www.KateWicker.com.
    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • PJC

      Dear Ms. Wicker, thanks for the article.

      You draw a very interesting discussion question. My wife belongs a newly organized holitic moms network. Those that do not hold to their views are seen as not caring about their baby and his/ her well being. They are so dedicated to the baby while in utero and outside, but still hold that they have choice. Makes no sense to me. This kind of choice is human positive law run amuck.

      Thanks
      Paul

    • Kamilla

      Oooh, good retort. How did your colleague respond? Or did she not realize what she’d just said?

    • j.

      That is so amazing… she couldn’t see the hypocrisy in that… it seems like such a small leap to becoming pro-life if she already can see that this one lifestyle ‘choice’ was based upon selfishness.

    • Jennifer

      Awesome, Kate! So, how did she reply? I’m dying to know!

      Terrific article, and you make an excellent point. The hypocrisy of pro-choice moms leaves me stunned. I hope your colleague finally saw that for herself.

    • Kate

      For those of you wondering about my colleague’s response: She was very charitable and open to hearing my beliefs. If my memory serves me right, I didn’t use the exact words of my conclusion (“My point exactly. Babies do deserve better. They deserve life,”). I don’t think I even had to say anything before she realized what I was getting at and grew silent for a moment and then agreed in her own way that I did make an interesting point. I don’t think she ever officially changed her stance while I knew her; however, this exchange did open up an ongoing dialogue between us (we actually talked about why I was pro-life many times) and at least got her thinking about her pro-choice philosophy and how it just didn’t hold up in light of her strong (and I believe noble) parenting convictions. It also gave me the courage to use this arguement with other moms/friends who are devoted parents and/or child advocates yet maintain a pro-choice position.

      Let’s keep the dialogue going and keep up the good fight! Blessings.

    • Kate Wicker

      Speaking of babies, I’m pregnant with my third and noticed my oversight in my previous comment, which I will blame on my pregnesia.

      Arguement = argument. smilies/smiley.gif

    • Mary

      Wonderful article!

      I look at these admirable moms who ply their tots with nothing but organic food, read endless board books to stimulate their babes’ burgeoning minds, and do everything in their power to give kids of all ages a voice — and I can’t help but wonder why they don’t see the need to do the same for the most helpless children of all.

      We (humans) overcompensate when we know we are wrong.

    • Ann

      I love this article. You have hit the nail on the head.

    • mike

      just ban this practice from the dark ages .god bless the US.Learn the ST Michael Prayer it will work wonders for you.

    • Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

      I love this article, Kate. Thanks so much for promoting breast feeding, for promoting nurturing our children, for promoting LIFE!

      May God bless you and your precious unborn baby!

      God bless,

      Donna-Marie

    • Lindy

      I, too, have noticed this disconnect among many pro-baby, pro-breastfeeding, attachment-parenting women (of which I am one of.)

      Paradoxically, I have noticed this anomaly carrying over in to the natural birth movement. I’ve encountered a number of women who promote natural and “gentle” birth with midwives who then go on–in the same breath–to support a woman’s “right to choose.” I always counter with the fact that abortion is not “gentle.”

      I would prefer to start at the foundation, and ensure that babies live long enough in order to be “gently” caught by a midwife in the first place.

    • Valerie Jones

      Very cleverly conveyed and may you be blessed for speaking about it so beautifully to your colleagues.