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The Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist

The Mother Church of Stamford • 279 Atlantic Street, Stamford, Connecticut 06901 • Phone: (203) 324-1553 • Fax: (203) 359-2660 • Email: stjc@optonline.net


"A 16-year-old girl was about twenty weeks pregnant. As I was examining her, the baby kicked. I said, 'Did you feel that? That was the baby kicking.’ Her response was, 'They said I could still get rid of it.’ My heart broke."

A Woman’s Choice

by Susan Piening

God created woman with the “instinct” to protect the vulnerable and the weak. He also created her to love and gave her free will so she could choose whom and how to love. A woman’s choice is to love others or herself: to see an unplanned pregnancy as a gift of new life or as the death of her hopes, dreams and plans.

I witnessed this struggle as a nurse-midwife. The vast majority of my patients were thrilled to be pregnant. But for some women the pregnancy was not an event to celebrate and it was through the choice of several patients that I witnessed the damage abortion does to women and society.

One was a long time patient who had several miscarriages and two babies with us. I remember crying with her during a miscarriage and shedding tears of joy at the birth of her second child. Sometime after the birth of her second child she came to the office pregnant. I was so excited for her and then she told me that she wanted an abortion. She explained that she had her two children and that was all she wanted. I was speechless and angry. How could she choose abortion – especially after so many miscarriages?

Another was a 16 year old girl, about twenty weeks pregnant. As I was examining her, the baby kicked. I said, “Did you feel that? That was the baby kicking.” Her response was, “They said I could still get rid of it.” My heart broke and I thought, “What have we taught our children; why should they care about anybody’s life when they can’t even care for the life of their own child?”

Both these women chose themselves over love of others; one out of fear and selfishness, the other out of ignorance, not understanding that she was ending a life. Both of these incidents demonstrated the tragedy of abortion. It not only kills an innocent child, but the humanity of the woman and those who assist her in her choice.

A third patient was a young woman, a student. When she became pregnant the father of the baby wanted nothing to do with her or the baby. In spite of the father’s reaction, she chose to love another more than herself; she continued the pregnancy and gave the baby up for adoption. I had the privilege of helping her deliver her baby. I witnessed her joy at her child’s birth and her pain because she would not raise her child. She demonstrated the self-giving love that wants only the good of the other, no matter what the personal cost.

Why was she more capable than the others of choosing to love?

First she understood that she was carrying and nurturing her child in her womb. She did not fall for the lie that it was “just a bunch of cells” – she knew it was a person, a child she helped to create. Further she understood that her life had no more value than her child’s life and she instinctively understood the ideal of sacrifice and the gift of self.

We have a choice too. We can be angry and judgmental towards women who chose abortion or we can be like the friendship counselors at Birthright or the sidewalk counselors and prayer partners who pray outside Stamford Planned Parenthood on Wednesdays and Fridays. They give their time and themselves to help women understand the gift of self and to choose love and life.

Please support them with your prayers and maybe even your time. God bless.

Susan Piening, certified by the National Catholic Bioethics Center, holds a Master’s of Science in Nursing from Columbia University and a Master’s in Theology from Holy Apostles Seminary and College. She is a Nurse Midwife and the mother of three adult children.

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