Like most people, I had never considered that there might be something in my past that has had such a profound impact on my life and values.
My mother has always taught me to stand up for what I believe in. As Americans, we are lucky enough to live in a country that allows us to voice our opinions and beliefs freely; therefore, it is important to stand up for one’s principles.
The reason my mother is so adamant about standing up for one’s beliefs is because the Catholic Church put her between a rock and a hard place. My mother was raised Catholic. She attended mass, received sacraments and was married in a Catholic Church. Leaving the Church was the furthest thing from her mind.
When my parents decided to start a family of their own, my mother was unable to become pregnant. After years of trying with no luck, my parents turned to in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF is an assisted reproductive technology in which one or more eggs are fertilized outside a female’s body.
After two grueling cycles, I was born, but the hard part wasn’t over. The Catholic Church does not recognize life conceived outside of the womb. Baptizing me or any other IVF baby was out of the question. My mother was threatened with excommunication. She has friends who have had abortions, another Catholic “no no”, yet they continue to be a part of the Church. They have christened their children Catholic, with no mention of their past abortions. My mother could not begin my life on a lie and after much soul searching, left the Church. The Garden City Community Church, a part of the United Church of Christ, welcomed us with open arms.
My mother shared this story with me when I was confirmed. She told me to instill in me the courage to always support what I believe however difficult it may be. On April 25th, 2004, my mother and I participated in the March for Women’s Lives, which took place on the Washington, D.C. mall. Called the March for Women’s Lives, this was the first march since 1992 that focused on women’s reproductive freedom. 1.15 million people attended. Women’s health, access to contraception, sex education, and global family planning were among the themes.
That day I had a firsthand glance at people who were congregated in support of the same cause(s), standing up for what they believed in. It was a good feeling. It has left a lasting impression on me. I have learned from this experience is that it is not only okay, but it is my obligation to stand up for what I truly believe in – not to argue and fight, but to support with intelligence and integrity. Every year on July 25, my mother reminds me of the birth of the first so-called test tube baby, Louise Joy Brown, who was born in England as a simple reminder of who I am and what I stand for.
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