A new children’s book arriving this fall intends to normalize abortion by teaching kids that it simply ends a “pregnancy.” But pro-lifers are creating alternatives that appreciate the unborn for who they are: human persons of inherent dignity and worth. One such book comes from pro-life author Brendan Lyons.
Lyons recently collaborated with illustrator Missy Johnson to produce a book called I Can Hear Music, which was published in January. The colorful pages and rhythmic wording follow an unborn baby as he or she begins to hear in the womb – something that can happen as early as 18 weeks. In an interview for this piece, Lyons reveals his inspiration for the book and what he hopes to accomplish with its message.
From the beginning, the story shows a pregnant mother and her unborn baby encountering music everywhere, from a band playing outside to a church choir. But the little one’s first – and favorite – song is the mother’s beating heart.
“The love you hold in it sings to me from the start,” the book reads.
The story ends with the baby, now born, listening to music in the crib.
“Sing to me Mommy, sing fast and sing slow,” the words continue. “And I’ll sing with you sooner than you know.”
Lyons, a Catholic husband and father, serves as associate editor at the National Catholic Bioethics Center and co-host of the comics and Catholic ethics podcast, “Super Humanae Vitae.” His own baby – and love of music – inspired the book, he said.
“During my wife’s pregnancy, I did what most fathers do and followed along with What to Expect to see what was happening with my child,” he explained. “My wife and I are both musicians, so when I found out how early a baby can hear sounds from outside the womb, I was really excited to share music with her and talk to her as well.”
“Then I thought,” he added, “why not encourage other people to do the same?”
He wrote the book with “new moms or young children with a sibling ‘on the way’” in mind.
“I think it’s important for everyone to know that emotional bonding with an unborn child can start well before the baby is born,” he urged. “This book was written to encourage that bond.”
He challenged children’s books that attempt to normalize abortion and go so far as to call abortion “when someone decides to stop growing their pregnancy.”
“I think it’s telling that the only way they can present abortion as a reasonable act is by using euphemisms,” he said. “The good news is that kids ask questions and eventually, someone is going to have to admit to them that what’s growing in the ‘pregnancy’ is a person.”
He continued, “One of the nice things about writing I Can Hear Music, and really anything pro-life, is that there’s no need to dance around the truth.”
As a pro-life advocate, Lyons said he “can’t fathom the idea that some people don’t deserve a chance at life.”
“My mother has worked with people with developmental disabilities my entire life and any suggestion that they are somehow ‘less than’ other people is sickening,” he stressed. “But when someone says they wouldn’t bring a child with a disability into the world – or a child destined to grow up poor, for that matter – that’s exactly what they’re saying.”
Lyons hopes that his book will make a difference, especially at pregnancy centers – centers that provide resources at little to no cost for pregnant women and new moms in need.
He wants to provide copies to these centers partially “because of the attitude that the abortion lobby pushes – that there’s nothing to connect with during your ‘pregnancy.’” He credits illustrator Missy Johnson for coming up with the idea.
“When a mother goes to a [pregnancy resource center] and receives an ultrasound, she gets a literal look inside her womb at her child and, if there was any doubt in her mind that her child is very real and very much alive, it’s gone,” Lyons said. “I wanted to provide them with a figurative look that they can take with them and share with their child.”
“But also,” he added, “if I’ve learned anything from fatherhood so far, it’s that you can never have too many children’s books.”
Some centers already have the book.
“One near where I live in Eastern Pennsylvania called Legacy of Life – a supporter of theirs purchased copies for the mothers there,” Lyons said. “There are also five in Southern California that members of the Knights of Columbus there purchased in conjunction with their ultrasound machine program.”
But he still wants more centers to access copies.
“My main goal has been to find supporters of the centers interested in purchasing the books at a discount and donating them to the center,” he said.
His book not only presents a story, but also provides facts about the unborn. At the end, the book lists citations for “Facts About Sounds in the Womb.” These facts include when unborn babies can hear their mother’s heartbeat (week 16) lower tones (week 24) and higher tones (week 30).
As science progresses, Lyons said, it only reveals more of the humanity of the unborn.
“There’s never been a science-based discovery since Roe that pertained to what’s happening in the womb that didn’t point toward the reality of fetal personhood,” he said, referring to the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide. “Everything we have learned from ultrasounds, dopplers, prenatal medicine, genetics, and anything else that has advanced our knowledge of fetal development has just confirmed that we are talking about a life from the moment of conception.”
It’s a note that his book centers on and plays – both for readers and little listeners.