Can a man have an opinion about abortion? I think so. As sure as a woman becomes a mother at the moment of conception a man becomes a father. If ever there was something worth fighting for, if ever there was a hill to die on, it is the battle to protect the helpless and innocent. Even men are a part of generation, a part of the human story.
Life is a series of developments, one no sooner completed than another looms ahead. Who are we to say which development must be completed before someone is a real human being?
The anxieties of modern life—the toll of too much noise and too much speed, too few trustworthy relationships, and too many uncontrollable events—will not be solved by killing the unborn. Women who have had abortions and the men in their lives have not escaped these burdens and insecurities. They do not know peace, and their freedom is always mixed with sadness.
I am only a man—what do I know? But when the mob is swayed to take human life into its own hands, even by killing it when it is so innocent and green, even men can rightfully take a stand, even if the killing is considered a woman’s right.
(A deep sexism lurks in pro-choice ideology. To construe abortion as a woman’s right is to prejudice the male role in procreation, to marginalize the male contribution in begetting, to deny the man his natural right as father.)
I am not an expert. I have never bothered to count the cells of a zygote, have never measured fetal spines with a millimeter ruler, or compared the human gestational period to that of camels or domesticated cats. The development from the second trimester to the third, brain activity, the size of the feet at any given week—it is a closed book to me. What I know about human life is from living it. I’ll never forget when we found out we were going to have a baby, or when I felt our son kick inside the womb, or when I held my wife as she writhed and screamed and pushed our son into the world. My interest in unborn human life has been one of fatherhood and respect.
That’s why I am convinced that life begins at conception. When you look back over the innumerable years and down the path all men and women have come you see clearly that no person stands alone and that every single person, no matter how small, no matter how young, is a part of humanity.
I know what people say, that a fetus is not actually human because it just a mass of atoms and cells, and it is all very professional sounding, but today that explanation leaves me cold. I am a man, not an alien from outer space studying men.
Equals sign bumper stickers and rainbow profile pictures are a simple way to share an anthropology. These symbols communicate, vaguely but effectively: “I believe a human person is thus and such.” Why isn’t there a sticker or profile picture that can quickly and vibrantly communicate a different anthropology? Especially when it comes to the pro-life message, where is the icon that can share the news that life begins at conception?
One day I was trying to write something positive and fresh and pro-life when suddenly the @ sign seemed to leap off the keyboard. It’s the letter a with a swirl around it, an a curled into the fetal position, just waiting to be born. And the letter a stands for the beginning.
“This is a symbol for a new generation,” I told my friend Sam Guzman of The Catholic Gentleman. “It’s simple, almost beautiful.”
“I like it,” Guzman said. “Life begins at conception.”
Everyone has a story, and every story has a beginning. Life begins @ conception.
That’s why I’ve changed my profile picture to be the @ sign, an @ sign shrouded in a shade of Marian blue. That’s why it’s time for the At Conception initiative. It’s just part of a fresh, positive way to share a perennial message.
A mother’s womb should be the safest place on earth. The father of the unborn child should make sure the mother is loved and safe. A father should love and protect his baby. Without love for unborn children human dignity lacks coherent meaning and purpose, for only in a deep and inherent respect for life in the womb can there be respect for human life at all.
In a frenzied, disordered world we can turn to life in the womb to find a fresh start, wholeness, love, forgiveness, even hope. Unborn life is the most innocent on earth. We can afford to cherish and protect it.
Tyler Blanski is praying for a holy renaissance. He is the author of When Donkeys Talk: Rediscovering the Mystery and Wonder of Christianity (Zondervan, 2012) and Mud & Poetry: Love, Sex, and the Sacred (Upper Room Books, 2010). www.TylerBlanski.com.The Catholic Gentleman.