Five years ago my wife, Laura, and I experienced our third miscarriage. Although we never met these three children, they are loved by us every bit as much as the three children who play in our home today. The months that they were with us were filled with great hope and expectation. And their deaths were the most devastating losses my wife and I have experienced together. We’ve named these three children, include them in our family prayers, and inscribed their names in a memorial to the unborn at our previous parish.
This month the church prays especially for all unborn children and their mothers as we remember the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. As the church, we seek to support those facing unplanned pregnancies, we seek to protect the unborn, and we, likewise, seek to walk with those who have lost children. We do this as part of our understanding of the dignity of all people. The dignity of the human person is one of the most basic tenets of Catholic social teaching. We believe that God created each of us out of love. Nationality, socio-economic status, imperfections, ideologies, born, and unborn—all people have equal dignity and worth in God’s sight. A proper understanding of the Christian community, bioethics, and social justice depends on this basic understanding of the equal dignity endowed to us by our God.
As I think about the estimated 900,000 deaths from abortion in the United States last year, I can’t help but think of the deep love my wife and I share for our three children who aren’t here with us. A friend of ours, who is a professional artist, painted a family portrait for us (pictured below) that includes all six of our children. It serves as a reminder of our entire family and how much we love each of our children.