Children as punishment?
Every child a wanted child.
It’s a cliche at this stage. A slogan us pro-choicers trot out at the slightest provocation. Up there with “Get your rosaries off our ovaries!” and “My body, my choice”.
They’re cliches for a reason, though. They mean something. Something important.
As a pro-choicer, I want a world where nobody is forced or pressured to give birth, every child gets to be raised by parents who love and cherish them dearly, and where nobody feels like their sovereign decisions over their own bodies are something to be ashamed of or punished for. I also want a world where no child grows up feeling like they’re deficient or broken because of who they are. I think that’s a worthwhile world to work towards.
Fr Michael Fitzgerald of the Church of Our Lady Conceived Without Sin in Mitchelstown doesn’t seem to think so. Last week, he “arranged for a woman to give a graphic account of her abortion at a children’s Mass and outline how she believed her special needs child was a punishment from God“.
It’s here that I find myself speechless. I have so many things to say. It’s hard to know where to start. I only have questions.
This account was given, according to the Examiner, “in front of up to 100 children”. Did either Fr Fitzgerald or the unnamed woman who gave this talk think for a second about how this might impact on them? Did they care? How many of those children have special needs themselves? How must it feel, as a child, to hear from the pulpit that a child like you was considered a punishment from god by their mother? How many of the rest of those kids know kids with special needs? How did they feel about them on Monday morning? How many of them thought or repeated something cruel, because they think this is okay?
And in what world is it okay to give graphic accounts of medical procedures in front of hundreds of people who have not consented to this? How many women in that congregation have had abortions themselves? How many people are the partners of people who have? In a country like Ireland, many people go without abortion aftercare and deal with immense stigma over their choice. Did Fr Fitzgerald think for a moment about them?
What kind of god would create a person solely as punishment for the ‘sins’ of their parent? What kind of cruel, cold worldview is this, where the supposedly merciful and loving creator considers this just? Fr Fitzgerald said later in this article that “all human life is sacred”. If that same god creates us for the sole purpose of punishing others, what on earth does “sacred” mean?
I prefer to live in a world where our existence simply is. Where disabilities are everyday facets of many of our lives, to be taken into account like everything else. Where we exist because we do. Where everyone has the inalienable right to choose what happens within their own body. Where we are not poisoned with shameful ideologies. And hopefully, where we each come into this world to be loved and cherished by our birth and chosen families, every day of our lives.
I wonder what Fr Fitzgerald would say to that.