In the baptism prayers that I wrote for our unborn baby Jude, I referred to The Adversary at our heels throughout this process. I have received several questions about this, so allow me to elaborate.
Thanks to the Grace of God, Tasha and I were prepared for the worst kind of news when the phone call came to confirm that our pregnancy was, in fact, ectopic. The doctor informed us of the specifics of the situation, and that we needed to come in immediately for the shot. For those of you that don’t know, the most common way to handle this situation is a shot of the drug Methotrexate (MTX), which attacks the tissue cells that connect the embryo to its mother, causing miscarriage. The problem with this approach is the fact that it amount to nothing short of a chemical attack on the growing baby, which kills it. This “solution” was not acceptable to Tasha and I, and the doctor was very surprised when we denied this treatment. So we scheduled the partial tube removal surgery, which is morally acceptable by the Principle of Double Effect. For more details, see the excellent article at Catholics United for the Faith regarding ectopic pregnancy.
As we moved from that situation to informing our friends and family, we had to field MANY questions regarding why we have to have surgery… “can’t they just handle this without surgery?” Or appeals to convenience: “why don’t you just take the shot and be done with it?” Several people tried to convince me that our child was merely a lump of cells and we were making a big deal out of nothing. Even the doctor continually referred to our child’s remains as “the tissue” when asking whether we needed to view the remains. Despite knowing the reasons for our objections to the treatment, she still wouldn’t call our child a child. (Granted, she may have been doing this for liability reasons but it really offended me.)
The worst type of affront was when people would try to convince me by pointing out that my baby was doomed regardless of the treatment we took. I know. My baby is going to die, or my wife AND my baby could die. The logic continued that since the baby would die anyway, why wouldn’t we just take the least invasive, convenient treatment so we could be done with it?
I believe that if the end is going to be the same, then the way you get to that end truly matters. Taking the easy way would require me to handwave the fact that my child is every bit alive and growing, and this was exactly the problem. My baby wasn’t dead YET. The convenient treatments all required us to directly dissolve our baby, and from my perspective that’s nothing short of murder. If we chose this course, then we would be acting in a way to take us away from salvation and make us complicit in the death of our own child. This seems to me like the sort of thing that the Lord told us explicitly not to do.
The surgery that we had did also result in our baby’s death, but it was done by treating my wife’s Fallopian tube which was near rupture. Jude’s death was the secondary (and undesired) effect of the procedure. We chose to do what we felt was the best moral way to handle the situation. Jude was our child, and his life deserves equal consideration to our own.
I believe that this is the way that the Devil tempts people today, using the tools of attractive convenience. He’d rather make us believe that a tiny life is no different than any other tissue, mole, or skin tag – that we can medicate or burn it off without a second thought. He’d prefer us to think that just because you can’t look that child in the eyes, or hold it in your arms that it’s not real and from God. He wants us to put ourselves in front of others, our own convenience in front of the sanctity of life.
Each time this happened, I turned to Christ’s rebuke for strength: “…‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’” (Matthew 16:23 NIV, in part) My prayer is that our actions did put Satan behind us during this difficult time and drew us closer to God.