GUEST POST: I could feel in my gut that something was wrong — a vague but visceral sort of dread had descended upon me. Jesse was born alive about four hours later. He was our second child, but he was only 16-weeks old; 16-weeks after conception — not old enough to make it. We watched as his heart was visibly beating, and his little hands moved calmly about. Eventually, his right hand came to rest on his cheek, and his left hand came to rest on his belly. In his short moments, we baptized him, told him how much we loved him, and how much God loved him. I suppose that is a good, complete life, even if only thirty minutes long.
As many kids do, I largely inherited the beliefs and values of my parents and family. One of those beliefs was a conviction about the dignity and worth of human life, even life in the womb. However, inherited beliefs are often more like intuitions until they are examined, tested, and tried.
Early in my college years, abortion was a hot topic on campus, as it is today. I decided to dive deep into the questions, devouring many books on the topic, reading opinions and stories from all sides of the issue, and engaging in long conversations with people of diverse perspectives.
I grew more confident and convicted about the topic so I joined the fledgling “Right to Life” group at Virginia Tech. Small but passionate, the group held fundraisers for the local pregnancy resource center, engaged other students in discussion on the issue, and volunteered in political work.
While I have been pro-life for as long as I can remember, holding on to abstract beliefs or intellectual arguments is a very different thing than experiencing a lived reality. In theory, I understood the scientific reality that a new, unique, genetically independent being is formed at conception.
I understood the philosophical position in my head — that simply being a member of the human species granted personhood. I understood in an abstract way that things like adoption and foster-care were worthy callings that dovetailed and naturally followed a pro-life position.
I knew these things, but only inasmuch one can “know” something when it’s just in your head; intangible ideas floating around.
These intangible beliefs became more tangible and real as life went on. While I had seen ultrasounds before, seeing the early and progressing ultrasounds of my first son, Abraham (now seven), was astonishing.
And then we lost our second child at 16-weeks; holding a child 16-weeks after conception— watching the heartbeat with no technology to enhance it — was an even more astonishing reality. And of course, there was all the pain and grief that came with it. Mere head knowledge became lived reality with these experiences.
I’ve had incredible opportunities over the last decade of my life to contribute to the broader pro-life cause, spanning from helping to start a pregnancy help center to my wife and I serving as foster parents. These experiences, while often difficult, again made real the ideas and beliefs that were once just intellectual soundbites.
I’m now continuing this journey I’ve been on by running for the House of Delegates in Virginia — to be an advocate for children in the womb and also to advocate for ideas and policies that embrace life at every stage. Every human life is worthy of respect, period.
Whether the child in the womb, the orphan, or the elderly, we must hold to a consistent ethic that every human life is sacred. This means embracing a “life agenda” that protects children in the womb, guards those nearing the end of their life, gives more help and resources to expectant mothers, celebrates fatherhood, reforms and improves our foster care and adoption systems, and recognizes families as the bedrock of our culture.
I encourage young people and students to get involved and dig in for the cause of life. Young voices are often powerful voices. Use that voice for the voiceless.
READ NEXT: From Campus to Statehouse