All great human rights efforts of every era have been anchored in the stories and faces of their victims and survivors, giving them meaning outside of an abstract concept, and awakening the human mind to truth through the voices of survival. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. literally “gave face” to the Civil Rights movement; Elie Wiesel humanized the inhumanity of Auschwitz in a way that could no longer be ignored. The list of “faces” is exhaustive. When a victim – a survivor – stares you in the eye and tells you their story, a paradigm shift takes place that cannot be conveniently forgotten, and which has the power to transform everything.
Pro-life members of Congress are again trying to bring the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to the floor for a vote. This legislation essentially mandates criminal penalties for doctors who refuse to care for a newborn after it survives an abortion, and requires hospital transport for the baby, as well.
These are basic human rights for anyone, for any child. Some babies survive abortion and live to tell about it – in fact, I tried to tell many of their stories through a Super Bowl ad that was rejected by FOX Sports. The human faces of “choice” were apparently too much for the executives at the network to handle.
Historically, we have often sought to separate the humanity from those who make us uneasy, as a means of sanctioning what would otherwise be unthinkable. Nazi Germany assigned the Jews to a subhuman category to justify blatant genocide; slaveholders on our own continent made similar assignments to those they called not a person, but “property.”
What’s the solution? How do we emerge from the fog that is not only suffocating our own souls but desecrating the very essence of our humanity?
My organization exists solely to ask our brave, new world to finally come face to face with the reality of choice. Members of Congress who reliably bring up the Born-Alive legislation every year are trying to give these victims the voice they deserve and to protect innocent babies from otherwise certain death.
Laws mandating the protection of any child born through normal circumstances or after a failed abortion shouldn’t be controversial. Both deal with a baby outside of its mother. The only difference is the originally-intended fate of that baby, which indicates that abortion has moved far beyond any purported notion of “bodily autonomy.” This is the aftermath of a society with such arbitrary criteria for defining personhood.
One nurse, Jill Stanek, sounded the alarm that babies who survived abortion were being left to die. She held an infant in her arms who was refused treatment after surviving an abortion until he took his last breath. How heartbreaking that those whose bodies somehow reject abortion instruments are still being left to die. Words fall short in describing such horror.
In September of last year, the bodies of 2,411 aborted children were found in the house of a former Indiana abortionist who had died earlier that month. The behavior exhibited by this abortionist is consistent with that of serial killers or rapists, who keep the remains or mementos of their victims to revel in and relive their crimes. Our cultural heartbeat only seems to skip a beat when situations like this are exposed, but let's take a moment and check our cognitive dissonance: were abortion only about women's health care, and were it not the murder of an unborn child, then the discovery of the bodies of thousands of dead children in the home of an abortionist would be a heartwarming reminder of his legacy of helping women, not a window into a black soul and its house of horrors...or into ours as a culture of death.
The key to changing the cultural conversation about abortion is within the voices of the survivors. Their very existence deems them worthy of a voice. They are not unwanted or unloved, and their personhood is as real as that of everyone else who shares human nature. Their figures are emerging from the fog; real, tangible, and far from imaginary. They are flesh and bone, spirit and truth: they are survivors of abortion, and they must be given their voice.
Lyric Elizabeth Gillett is the founder and executive director of Faces of Choice, an organization birthed to bring awareness to a demographic of survivors that have gone largely unnoticed: those who were aborted, but survived. Learn more at www.facesofchoice.org