You Can’t Choose Life

 

There’s a pro-life slogan that goes “Choose life.” I’m sure the idea is to subvert pro-choice language for a pro-life message. Unfortunately, it concedes the pro-choice worldview that life is something that can be chosen. I’m sorry to say that it isn’t.

My husband and I decided to “choose life” ten years into our marriage. Seven years later, the only pitter-patter of little feet in our house still comes from our cats, even after three rounds of inter-uterine insertion (IUI). My sister and brother-in-law decided to “choose life” with in vitro fertilization. For the first round, all five of their embryonic children died before any could be implanted. The second round resulted in four embryos. She had one implanted today; she has about a 50% chance of that child surviving to live birth. My cousin and her boyfriend managed to have a healthy pregnancy when she became pregnant accidentally and they “chose life”; her infant son died two months ago after surviving mere hours.

Life simply cannot be chosen. Even when we can create an embryo in a lab, we cannot do better than a coin flip to ensure it survives to be a healthy baby. We can make ourselves open to life, we can accept life, we can embrace, encourage, nurture, and even extend life; but we simply cannot choose to make a life the way we can choose options off a menu.

P.S. For those wanting to say that I could choose to become a parent through adoption: I regret to inform you that the process has changed slightly since Matthew Cuthbert brought home Anne of Green Gables because the orphanage was out of teenage boys that day. One can choose to start the adoption process, but the choice of whether one will be a parent is in the hands of the birth family, the adoption agency, the local social services, the family court, and even sometimes the Supreme Court and foreign governments. All of those decision-makers are much more strict in deciding who ought to be a parent than Mother Nature.

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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There are 46 comments.

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  1. Blondie Thatcher

    As long time members of Ricochet, you know I understand where you are coming from, Amy. We went through the same things and decided adoption wasn’t for us, either. Sorry to hear about your sister and your cousin. I would be lying if I said it never bothers me, but it does get a little easier the older I get. It helps that we are close to our nieces and nephews. 

    • #1
    • August 1, 2019, at 5:13 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley Post author

    Blondie (View Comment):
    We went through the same things and decided adoption wasn’t for us, either.

    One of the local adoption agencies has a mandatory $300 fee for a publicist to create materials to sell one’s family to the birth mother. Given that there are far more wannabe adoptive parents than women willing to give their child up for adoption, she gets to pick. I feel pretty damn sure that I won’t win that beauty pageant.

    • #2
    • August 1, 2019, at 5:36 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    Thank you for this post. We all need reminding that life is short, that blessings should never be assumed, and that there are no sure things.

    I hate the adoption racket. It is wrong on so very many levels.

    • #3
    • August 1, 2019, at 6:14 PM PDT
    • 17 likes
  4. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    There are situations where you can, indeed, choose life, over….something else. Like, a woman getting accidentally pregnant, and choosing to let her child live, rather than killing it.

    If you want children in your life, there are millions of foster children looking for homes. They are the children who need parents the most-even more than the infants up for “auction” in the aforementioned adoption racket. There are also special-needs children who are harder to place than those cute infants. The cantor at my sister’s (Reform) Synagogue is homosexual, and he and his partner have adopted special-needs older kids, who are especially needy.

    • #4
    • August 1, 2019, at 6:40 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Mark Camp Member

    If you have a choice between life and death for a living child choose life.

    • #5
    • August 1, 2019, at 7:01 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Gary McVey Contributor

    This is a wrenching post to read. I can hardly imagine how hard it was to write it. Thanks for giving us the harsh facts, Amy. 

    • #6
    • August 1, 2019, at 7:20 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  7. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Choose Life is the slogan because saying Don’t Choose Death is more awkward.

    • #7
    • August 2, 2019, at 1:10 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Gary McVey Contributor

    Who would choose death over “life”? Who’d choose compulsion over “choice”? Who’d refuse to support “marriage”? 

    Powerful words, or coded cliches? Depends–are they on the same side as you, or not?

    • #8
    • August 2, 2019, at 1:16 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley Post author

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    If you have a choice between life and death for a living child choose life.

    That’s my point though: you can’t choose life in that situation. The life is already there. You can accept the life you have been given or you can choose to murder. When we say “choose life” we accept the pro-choice language that until we affirmatively make a choice for life or death, the fetus is something else. 

    A womb is not Schoedinger’s box, where the fetus is simultaneously both a living person deserving of love and protection and a also a mere clump of cells until the mother makes her choice. Her “choice” is to murder or not murder; she cannot make the baby live, safe from stillbirth or spontaneous abortion due to birth defects. 

    We are not in control of these things. Framing not committing murder as “choosing life” perpetuates the notion that we are control. Further, it dehumanizes children from gifts of God to mere lifestyle choices. 

    • #9
    • August 2, 2019, at 3:53 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  10. Stina Member

    Amy Schley: I regret to inform you that the process has changed slightly since Matthew Cuthbert brought home Anne of Green Gables because the orphanage was out of teenage boys that day.

    To be a helping hand on the farm…

    • #10
    • August 2, 2019, at 4:43 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley Post author

    Stina (View Comment):

    Amy Schley: I regret to inform you that the process has changed slightly since Matthew Cuthbert brought home Anne of Green Gables because the orphanage was out of teenage boys that day.

    To be a helping hand on the farm…

    Yeah. Try filling out “why do you want to adopt?” with “I need someone to help with my chores” today and see where that gets you. 

    • #11
    • August 2, 2019, at 4:52 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  12. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    “Choose life” comes from Deuteronomy, chapter 30.

    • #12
    • August 2, 2019, at 6:02 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. Stad Thatcher

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    Yeah. Try filling out “why do you want to adopt?” with “I need someone to help with my chores” today and see where that gets you.

    Even then, there’s no guarantee they’ll help with the chores! Our girls do, but growing up, they had to be prodded now and then . . .

    • #13
    • August 2, 2019, at 6:11 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. Stina Member

    Joshua Bissey (View Comment):

    “Choose life” comes from Deuteronomy, chapter 30.

    Huh… interesting!

    This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

    I like it.

    • #14
    • August 2, 2019, at 6:18 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  15. iWe Reagan
    iWe

    Stina (View Comment):
    This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

    But it is not framed as “make babies.” “Choose life” means choosing to walk with G-d, to seek and grow a relationship with him and with other people. We have a maxim that everything about Torah Judaism is about living with it. What we do for G-d we do in life – not in death.

    • #15
    • August 2, 2019, at 7:00 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. Stina Member

    iWe (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

    But it is not framed as “make babies.” “Choose life” means choosing to walk with G-d, to seek and grow a relationship with him and with other people. We have a maxim that everything about Torah Judaism is about living with it. What we do for G-d we do in life – not in death.

    Yeah… I like it for the double entendre that exists in the cherry picked verse AND in the meaning found in context.

    It’s actually rather a clever slogan knowing its origins.

    • #16
    • August 2, 2019, at 7:52 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Matt Bartle Member

    You make a good point. You can invite life but that’s no guarantee you’ll get it.

    • #17
    • August 2, 2019, at 8:08 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  18. colleenb Member

    I second @rushbabe49 on thinking of foster care. I know there are many heartbreaks and additional legalities that you have to go through with a foster care situation. And, of course, the legalities will continue as you foster but the need is so great. I know of a wonderful couple who fostered a very disabled girl and, eventually, were able to adopt her. It is a great example to me of being pro-life in all meanings of the word. God bless you and all those struggling with infertility or the death of an infant. 

    • #18
    • August 2, 2019, at 8:47 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Who would choose death over “life”? Who’d choose compulsion over “choice”? Who’d refuse to support “marriage”?

    Powerful words, or coded cliches? Depends–are they on the same side as you, or not?

    I would choose death for terrorists, and for those convicted of egregiously evil crimes. I favor compulsion for certain laws where there is a vital interest, like compelling people to leave when their asylum request is rejected. I do not favor marriage for those related closely or people who can’t stand each other.

    • #19
    • August 2, 2019, at 8:56 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley Post author

    colleenb (View Comment):
    I know there are many heartbreaks and additional legalities that you have to go through with a foster care situation. And, of course, the legalities will continue as you foster but the need is so great.

    My aunt and uncle fought for three years to get custody of the daughter they fostered straight from the hospital because the state of North Carolina thought my cousin would be better off with her unmarried drug addicted black egg donor than a married Christian couple. They were good enough to provide room and board, but not be parents. 

    One of my best friends fostered, but the young girls knew how to work the system and so had the state took them away because they objected to being disciplined. As Tim put it, “I made the mistake; I forgot they weren’t mine.”

    Approximately 85% of the children in foster care cannot be adopted; their parents have a constitutional right to their children and the necessary due process to terminate parental rights takes years. And being able to adopt one who is eligible for adoption again isn’t a matter of going to the orphanage and saying “I’ll take that one”; you have to get approved by the bigots in the system. Ricochet member St. Augustine can tell you a thing or two about that. 

    • #20
    • August 2, 2019, at 9:01 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  21. Doctor Robert Member

    A powerful post, thank you Amy for your candor and grace.

    This is my profession, reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Repeated IVF therapy, at 50% per attempt, may be your most likely successful choice. But if you started to try to conceive after ten years of marriage and have seven years of failure, you must be pushing forty years. I don’t need to tell you about age-related infertility statistics.

    Donor-egg IVF has a very good delivery rate (gtr 60%/cycle) but is too mercantile for many believing patients.

    Overseas adoption is what my late first wife and I chose at age 43, receiving our fourth gift from God two years later. The delay was self-imposed. Things have undoubtedly changed since we adopted my now 18 year old daughter from South Korea in 2001.

    Good luck and may God bless you, Amy.

    • #21
    • August 2, 2019, at 9:27 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  22. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley Post author

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):
    you must be pushing forty years.

    I’m 35. When I married at 18 years old, most people assumed I was already pregnant. Given the waste of time and money getting my education was, we should have been trying to prove them right instead of wrong. 

    And yes, I’m quite aware just how unlikely it is that I will ever become pregnant at this point. I try not to think about it, but between my sister’s implantation yesterday and finding out several couples I know who are my age are now expecting has brought all this up again. 

    • #22
    • August 2, 2019, at 9:36 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  23. Mark Camp Member

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    you can’t choose life in that situation.

    In the sense that they mean it, you can choose life in that situation.

    What they mean by the phrase “choose life” in that situation is “if you are deciding whether or not to kill the baby, choose to allow the baby to live. Choose life for the baby instead of the alternate that you are contemplating.

    • #23
    • August 2, 2019, at 9:43 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley Post author

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    you can’t choose life in that situation.

    In the sense that they mean it, you can choose life in that situation.

    What they mean by the phrase “choose life” in that situation is “if you are deciding whether or not to kill the baby, choose to allow the baby to live. Choose life for the baby instead of the alternate that you are contemplating.

    I get that’s what they mean. But it’s about as stupid as saying every day I don’t serve my husband divorce papers I’m “choosing marriage,” or every day I don’t euthanize my cats I’m “choosing pet ownership.”

    I’m reminded of the exchange in “The Two Towers”: “I will not risk open war.” “Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.” Likewise, a pregnant woman cannot choose to be a mother; she is a mother, whether she chose to or not.

    • #24
    • August 2, 2019, at 10:03 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  25. Mark Camp Member

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    But it’s about as stupid as saying every day I don’t serve my husband divorce papers I’m “choosing marriage,”

    It would indeed be a distorted use of language (“stupid”, if you prefer) to call not divorcing your husband “choosing” if you did not consider it, but rather just continued in your current state without considering divorce one way or the other.

    Likewise, it would be “stupid” to call simply allowing a person to live, without considering action to kill that person, “choosing”.

    But it is not stupid, or a novel use of language, to call it “choosing” when you are actively considering a possible positive action in order to seek some end, like escaping a very difficult situation, and in the end make a conscious decision not to take that path.

    In fact, that is an everyday use of the word “choose“. When you approach an exit on the highway that you think be the right way to the store, but upon reflection think that it’s probably the next exit, and merely continue on your way, we would ordinarily call that picking one of two “choices“.

    • #25
    • August 2, 2019, at 10:23 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. colleenb Member

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    colleenb (View Comment):
    I know there are many heartbreaks and additional legalities that you have to go through with a foster care situation. And, of course, the legalities will continue as you foster but the need is so great.

    My aunt and uncle fought for three years to get custody of the daughter they fostered straight from the hospital because the state of North Carolina thought my cousin would be better off with her unmarried drug addicted black egg donor than a married Christian couple. They were good enough to provide room and board, but not be parents.

    One of my best friends fostered, but the young girls knew how to work the system and so had the state took them away because they objected to being disciplined. As Tim put it, “I made the mistake; I forgot they weren’t mine.”

    Approximately 85% of the children in foster care cannot be adopted; their parents have a constitutional right to their children and the necessary due process to terminate parental rights takes years. And being able to adopt one who is eligible for adoption again isn’t a matter of going to the orphanage and saying “I’ll take that one”; you have to get approved by the bigots in the system. Ricochet member St. Augustine can tell you a thing or two about that.

    Oh I don’t for a minute think that foster care is easy or would even work in your circumstance. And absolutely you take a chance that it will not work out. It took my friends a long time to adopt their daughter even though, as with your aunt and uncle, the mother was totally unfit to care for her. You would think it would be obvious to the powers that be but no. As usual because there were some cases of abuse of terminating parental rights now you can’t get it done no matter how much sense it makes.

    • #26
    • August 2, 2019, at 10:39 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley Post author

    colleenb (View Comment):
    As usual because there were some cases of abuse of terminating parental rights now you can’t get it done no matter how much sense it makes.

    Arizona is making progress on improving their foster system. The article I read describing their changes opened with an anecdote of a family court judge who opens every case by reminding the room that parents have a constitutional right to their children. Children have only a statutory right to a safe environment. The author then ended with “And foster parents have no rights at all.”

    • #27
    • August 2, 2019, at 10:57 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Duane Oyen Member

    The whole idea that babies need to be aborted because they would otherwise end up in ghastly orphanagesfostersystemdisaster blah blah is a massive crock inflicted on the world by Planned Parenthood and Legacy Media. We have one granddaughter (a miracle survivor after several miscarriages) and consider ourselves immensely blessed, especially compared with our neighbors, whose kids seemingly have no interest whatever in reproducing. 

    One of our daughter’s best friends, a blonde Scandanavian now living on a farm in Western Nebraska about 3 hours by pick-up truck from Denver, figured out after 5 years that the babies she so badly wanted were not likely. Eventually, she and her husband spent a month in an Atlanta motel waiting for a 16 year old girl of a very different race to give birth, then make the final confirmation of her tentative decision that she needed to give up her baby both for her own future and the baby’s chance to have both a loving mother and father.

    Population bomb? Nonsense. 

    • #28
    • August 2, 2019, at 11:01 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley Post author

    Here’s the article: 

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/05/national-foster-care-month-finding-solutions-opioid-crisis/amp/

    • #29
    • August 2, 2019, at 11:03 AM PDT
    • Like
  30. Stina Member

    I doubt the stats exist, but is there a rise in infertility? Not just birth rates, but actual infertility?

    I know it’s always existed, but with the adoption system being what it is, it seems more couples are plagued with it. Is it just age related? Or are other issues involved?

    • #30
    • August 2, 2019, at 12:53 PM PDT
    • Like
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