Thursday, November 8, 2012


Why I am pro-life

Each of us have defining people in our life.  Our parents, our grandparents, teachers, friends and many others have profound influences on our lives.  From each of them we pick up a characteristic, learn something, acquire a behavior and ultimately, shape the person we are to become. These influences impact who we are, but more importantly the way we each make a difference in this world.

For a lot of people abortion is certainly a touchy subject. I have no doubt that the decision to have one conjures up raw emotions, feelings of apprehension and sometimes a sense of regret. As a man, I will never have to know any of these things and I fully recognize that. And as someone who is very much pro-life it is easy for one to judge me as being so because I'm a religious zealot, right wing extremist or just against women's rights in general.  None of these are true- while my faith forms the core of who I am, I am by no means a zealot.  Right wing? Hardly- I've voted for just as many if not more Democrats in my lifetime (think Bill Nelson and Alex Sink type, not old school by any stretch) and I will tell you any day of the week one of my favorite politicians is Dianne Feinstein from California. And if you get to know me and what's in my heart, you'll know that I am not against any person's right to be happy and healthy.

No, the reason I am pro-life is because of one lady who touched my life and shaped much of the way I see the world. I am beyond blessed to have been first cousins with Lynnette. When Lynnette was born it was obvious something was not right. Born with spina bifida, a condition where the spinal cord is not fully developed or is separated at birth, Lynnette had more major surgeries in the first few hours of her life than most of us will ever know.  My aunt and uncle were told she would not last through the day, then the week, the month and so on. But they were wrong. Conventional wisdom and the best doctors in Florida were wrong.  They were wrong. So at this point you're saying to yourself, ok great, Lynnette made it, but what about the burden of caring for her.

Let me tell you about the burden. Did my aunt and uncle and their other child have to make adjustments in their life- absolutely.  But the burden was not on them- but on Lynnette.  She carried the burden of caring and loving for each and every person. I don't mean the type of hollow "I love you" we pass around.  I mean a deep, passionate love for people. There was not a home football game she missed, sitting in the center of the bleachers talking to everyone as they came by. Every year at the county fair you could find Lynnette in the same place with a hug and a firm squeeze of your hand, followed up with "Be good". And for her nephews and anyone in our hometown, she was the biggest baseball fan at the field.  While she did have her faults- rooting for the Seminoles, cheating at rummy and stealing cracked crab legs off your plate- she loved as perfectly as anyone ever could.

So back to my point- why am I pro-life? There are a lot of people in this country who do not want to be inconvenienced or "burdened" with a child, much less one who will spend their life in a wheelchair or have special needs. But I ask you- what would you miss without that special someone in your life? Lynnette was the first physically disabled person to ever graduate from our hometown high school- that's right, graduate, with a diploma. Every time I see the ramp going up to the stage I think about her and the physical mark she's left by paving the way for other disabled students in Sumter County. And then I think about the mark she left on my heart- the desire to love each and every person for who they are- not what they've done.

It's been almost two years since I answered the phone at six o'clock in the morning to hear my dad, barely able to speak, telling me that Lynnette had died unexpectedly in her sleep. Doctors said she wouldn't last 30 minutes, but God gave us over 30 years of the most loving caring person this world will ever know. Modern medicine tells us my aunt should have terminated the pregnancy. It would have been easier on my family that way.  But that's bullshit.  There, I said it like it is. We live in a world where it's all about us. For someone like Lynnette it was all about other people.  She could not run the bases like her nephews, show steers like her cousins or walk up and down the bleachers like people in our town.  But she could love.  And she could love like no other.  How many other Lynnette's could there be if we were willing to love people more than ourselves? What would this world be like if we all had a heart and mind like Lynnette? Now I ask you, how many lives are lost each day because we fear the burden they will be to us, to society, but most of all to our selfish inclinations to carry on our lives caring only for one person- ourself? 

Lynnette was not a movie star, a college professor, politician or great business person. No, she was a fine young lady in a wheelchair who I spent my summers with fishing, playing cards, eating Velveeta Shells and Cheese and loving. Her influence taught me that all life is precious- not just those that are easy and do not mess up our own plans.  It is because of her I see the value in all life.