Cassie Bernall. Perhaps that name means nothing to you. For me, that name changed the way I think about many aspects of life.
Bernall was killed in the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo. in 1999. Although Bernall was among 12 other students murdered that day, Bernall’s mom wrote the book “She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall.” As the story goes, one of the shooters held a gun to Bernall’s head and asked if she believed in God. She responded yes— hence the title of the book. It was later revealed by detectives that this exchange between Bernall and her murderer likely never took place. However, that story, whether fact or fiction, has since been engrained in my memory.
Having grown up in a Christian home, it has been my conviction that I would proclaim my faith regardless of the circumstances, even if put in a life-threatening situation. I hold to that conviction— but would that actually be reality in the face of danger?
The truth is, none of us really knows until we are put in that situation. When the unexpected happens in life, it’s all too easy to lack bravery or fail to do what we may deem as “right” in that situation. This applies to abortion, too.
To be as transparent as possible, I will express that I believe abortion to be a sin. One argument often given for why abortion makes “sense” is because individuals could be bringing a child into a situation where the couple cannot care for the baby. Although understandably hard, we, as Christians, are not promised a life filled with ease and goodness. Instead, our gift is life itself, and no one should be able to take that from us.
Having said that, I don’t know what I would do if I had gotten pregnant in high school, out of wedlock or before I was financially prepared to have a baby. I’d like to say now that if that had happened to me in high school, I would have carried the child to term and either given it up for adoption or accepted that as my new life. Realistically, I probably would have been so terrified to tell my parents that abortion didn’t seem like the worst idea any more.
I won’t pretend to know how hard that decision would be, so although I think it to be a sin, I do not judge or look down on anyone who decides to abort a baby. My heart instead breaks for the decision those individuals had to make. A news story in Florida, however, takes the heated abortion debate to a level I am not comfortable with— the right to abort a child after it has already been birthed.
Although the Born Alive Infant Protection Act invokes “legal status on an infant living outside of a mother’s womb regardless of gestational age and obliges doctors to pursue lifesaving measures to protect abortion survivors,” Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Alisa LaPolt said that the organization believes that the fate of a child who survives a botched abortion should rest with the mother and her doctor. I could not disagree more.
Once the child is born, it is the doctor’s job to “consider the benefit of my patient and abstain from whatever is harmful or mischievous,” as stated in the Hippocratic Oath. At that point, the baby is just as much the doctor’s patient as the mother is— regardless of what the mother may wish for her child.
I will not pretend to know what a difficult experience it can be to have a child unplanned. However, the option for abortion should cease to exist once the child is born. The option for adoption is still open if an individual chooses not to keep the baby.
I have no idea how I truly would have responded if I were Bernall— if that exchange even happened. And I won’t pretend to know confidently how I would respond in the face of an unplanned pregnancy. What I can say with certainty, though, is that once a child is born, my decision to end his or her life no longer exists.