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Ink Slingers

God’s Fabulously Fashioned Feminine Form

 

photo credit: hernanpba

It was a clear, sunny afternoon. Immersed in some mundane daily chore, my routine was abruptly interrupted by the ring of my cell phone. It was my doctor. After the usual greetings, she seemed to pause before continuing. “Lynette, I want to commend you for following up on this.” Darn. Any doctor starting a conversation that way couldn’t possibly have good news. “You’ve caught this early and the good news is, it’s not cancer.” Ok…. “but the biopsies did not come back with clean edges and the report states stage 2 and 3 precancerous cells. You will need to have an excision of the area to remove any remaining abnormal cells.” Darn, again. With a family history of melanoma and other related skin cancers, I knew the excision was unavoidable. What paralyzed me in that moment was the realization of what she was implying. This wasn’t my dermatologist. She was my gynecologist and the skin cancer was in an area that had never seen the light of day. Back, arm, leg, even face…. but there?

I met with a highly respected gynecological oncologist a few weeks later and he only confirmed the inevitable. Family and personal history, combined with the biopsy results, screamed negligence if I ignored or chose not to have the excision done. But it wasn’t just a simple matter of choosing to do it or not. Once I accepted the necessity of the procedure, it then came down to my level of pain tolerance. Financially, excision in the office would save a significant amount of money. Torn with the guilt of spending more than perhaps I needed to, I asked for my doctor’s opinion. His words cut through the stillness in the room. Economically, the office was the best choice, “but if it was my wife, I might tell her something different.” Double darn – enough said. Surgery and related appointments were scheduled.

My husband, in an effort to become educated about the subject at hand, spent an evening looking up my “condition”. As he read, he reported interesting information, hoping the knowledge would make me feel better. A few articles into the research, what he was discovering, however, was nothing short of horrifying. What is performed medically in our country as a response to female genital pre/cancer is routinely carried out in other countries as a form of female mutilation. The statistics for FGM (female genital mutilation) are staggering. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Fact Sheet dated February of 2017, “More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.”[i] While some of the reasoning behind FGM is sociocultural factors, the conditions in which it is carried out (unmedicated with poor hygiene), along with the long-term psychological and physical effects, have prompted a world-wide effort to eradicate it.

Lest we fall into proudly boasting our country is above such atrocities, “the Centers for Disease Control estimate that there are around 513,000 girls and women in the United States who have either undergone FGM or who (are) at risk of doing so—mostly in immigrant communities from regions of the world where it is still practiced.”[ii] Although FGM was prohibited in the U.S. with the passing of the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1995[iii], our country has not escaped unscathed.[iv] On April 24th of this year, CNN reported, “In the first federal case involving female genital mutilation filed in the United States, two Michigan doctors and the wife of one of the doctors have been charged with performing the banned procedure on two 7-year-old girls.”[v] Just two months later on July 14th, CNN published perhaps the most alarming report I have read yet, “The alarming rise of female genital mutilation in America.”[vi] I will warn you. It is not for the faint-hearted.

Years ago, I would have received my husband’s informational reporting with a half-hearted “that’s horrible” response and I would have moved on to my own self interests. But this time, I was almost instantly seized with a deep sadness and pain. Why the difference? My faith.

photo credit: Pascal Rey Photographies

Having recently studied the writings of Pope St. John Paul II on human sexuality contained in his teachings on the Theology of the Body, I couldn’t escape the reality of the attack at the very core of the dignity and the femininity of these young girls and women. We are sexual beings. This fact is undeniable and unavoidable. We are conceived into being within the context of a sexual act. We are formed within our mother’s wombs with DNA that marks us indelibly as either male or female. Not just biological beings, we are made in the image and likeness of God, which means our bodies are “even more so, theological. Our bodies offer us, if we have the eyes to see it, a profound ‘study of God.’ Just as a work of art points to the heart of the artist, so too does the human body point to the heart of the God who made us.”[vii] Every cell, every inch of our body was intricately designed for a definite purpose. To rob a woman of her femininity as God physically designed is to alter what was divinely inspired. And then, as a result of the intervention of man’s disordered misconception of God’s plans, all havoc breaks loose. The pain is felt not just by the woman herself, but it trickles down to every aspect her life touches – her future relationships, her ability to mother, her role within society, her impact on her peers, etc.

We have all heard the cry to protest the “Culture of Death.”[viii] We think of such issues as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, etc. With FGM, I propose we are facing a culture of death to the dignity of femininity, a death of the sacredness of God’s design, a death of the beauty God created in the creature He called “woman.” There is hope – a surgeon, speechless by what she saw, hoping to establish a clinic for reversal surgery[ix]; organizations like Kakenya’s Dream[x] that educate and keep young girls safe from FGM and child marriage; and a documentary, Jaha’s Promise[xi], that chronicles the story of Jaha Dukureh, an activist named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

It would have been much easier for me to have brushed aside the inner voice prodding me to write about this. I could have come home from my surgery (which ended up being more extensive than originally planned), pampered myself with pain meds all the while confident in the knowledge that I had an excellent surgeon and medical team who treated me with dignity and respect, and let the topic slide by. But I know God doesn’t work that way. He won’t let me forget those women whose faces I see when I close my eyes to offer my discomfort for them. He won’t let me be silent about the pain they surely endure that I have only experienced a mere fraction of. It is for them I share my story. It is for them I share their story.

________________________________
Sources:

[i] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/

[ii] http://time.com/4707899/victims-of-fgm-see-new-hope-in-life-changing-surgery/

[iii] http://www.fgmnetwork.org/legisl/US/federal.html

[iv] https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-04-21/female-genital-mutilation-illegal-us-so-why-it-still-happening

[v] http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/22/health/detroit-genital-mutilation-charges/index.html

[vi] http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/11/health/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-explainer-trnd/index.html

[vii] Christopher West, Foreword, Theology of Her Body, p 2.

[viii] http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Evangelization/Evangelization_008.htm

[ix] http://time.com/4707899/victims-of-fgm-see-new-hope-in-life-changing-surgery/

[x] https://www.kakenyasdream.org/about/

[xi] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/17/jahas-promise-fgm-film-premieres-at-copenhagen-film-festival; https://www.theguardian.com/society/video/2017/mar/17/jaha-dukureh-promise-fgm-video

 

Categories
Abortion Current Events Ink Slingers Molly G Pro-Life Issues Respect Life Spiritual Growth

The Culture of Death Under the Guise of Medical Jargon

There has been a lot of talk as of late regarding the abortion industry, and many fruitful discussions  have come forth. There have been legislative moves to reduce late term abortions, as happened recently in Texas, there have been more campaigns to educate the public on the truth of the industry, and there has been a very vocal shift in the voice for life in our country. All of these things are amazing happenings in the fight for life, but another more ‘hidden’ aspect of the industry comes to mind that hits close to home.

What came to mind was my own pregnancy.   Upon learning we were pregnant again, of course we were excited, happy and very much looking forward to meeting our new little one. When our mid-term ultrasound confirmed our daughter had a very serious brain problem, of course other emotions set in. Fear. Anxiety. Even a twinge of sadness or disappointment. But that is to be expected. The happiness and love surrounding our daughter were still there – just now with a few extra things attached we hadn’t anticipated. This is when I first encountered the hidden abortion agenda.

Looking at Meagan’s scan – and seeing all black (fluid) instead of brain tissue.

Thankfully, due in large part to communication with other families, I pretty much knew termination (the code word for abortion) would be brought up at our specialists’ appointment. So I was prepared for it (so I thought). But what I wasn’t prepared for was the persistence. The persuasiveness. The emphasis on how terrible life would be for her. When we told the specialist we were keeping our daughter, we were sent to a “meeting” with the genetic counselor.  Ask me what I learned about my genetic background or that of my husband’s… and your guess would be as good as mine. Because I learned nothing. I like to refer to this meeting as the “termination meeting.” Where, once again, I got to hear from some woman who thought she knew better than I how terrible “poor little Meagan’s” life would be. For us. For our older girls.

Even though we knew our decision on life before we even found out about our daughter’s condition, it was amazing (in a disbelieving sort of way) at the way in which our daughter was suddenly reduced to a list of medical terminology. Fluid in the brain. Hydrocephalus. Developmentally delayed. Probable seizures. Possible in utero death. And I could go on. Why when we walked in to the doctor office was our baby, well, a “baby” with anticipation to find out whether that baby was a boy or girl? Even further personalizing the pregnancy and our child? But when something was found ‘wrong’ with her, why did it turn from personalizing her life to listing it on a medical chart and downplaying her humanity?

I don’t really have the full answer, as I can only speak from my experience. But I truly believe after going through this with our daughter, and hearing countless other stories of mothers in a similar situation as I found myself in, that this is the true hidden corner of the abortion industry. We know about the early abortions. We know about the convenience abortions. We know about the forced or coerced abortions. We know all of these aspects of abortion have so tactfully been painted with flowery language and new age feminism….but abortion for medical reasons has taken this guise to a whole new level.

Once a child is found to have a problem, or a condition, or a disease or deformity, it becomes very easy to disguise the talk of abortion with devastating medical lingo. Finding out about a child with needs is a highly emotional time for most parents, and for some these emotions unfortunately play into their decision to terminate their child’s life. They are sold lies of despair, discouragement, and often confusion.  I remember distinctly going home and Googling every term I had heard in my appointment. Even though I knew our daughter was ours no matter what, I spent hours upon hours reading, worrying and obsessing over every medical term the doctor had thrown at us. Even in my steadfastness for life, my mind was still distracted by the multitude of new terminology I had heard in one sitting. The more I look back now, the more I realize that her personhood was slowly stripped away in that one appointment. My daughter was reduced to a rambling of medical jargon. Her life was disregarded, categorized, and put on trial all within the constraints of an hour.

Close your eyes. Picture a child in your head. She is about 2 years old..brown hair…hazel eyes.  But also know she has congential hydrocephalus, angenesis of the corpus collosum, absent septum pellucidum, partial seizures, absence seizures, Chiari malformation, inguinal hernia, craniosynostosis, vision issues, failure to thrive, has a g-tube, cannot walk, cannot crawl, and is just learning to sit on her own. She has had 10 hospital stays and 5 surgeries, 3 of which were brain surgeries. What does your picture look like?  Now open your eyes and see her for yourself.

 

I hope my story can touch at least one person – and help them through that trying time of finding out the child they expect isn’t exactly what situation they expect. It’s ok to take in the medical knowledge. It is important for us – so we know all we can and learn everything possible to become their greatest advocates. But – be careful to not get lost in those terms.  The winding path of medical diagnoses is only a path that will lead us to confusion and despair.  If we focus on that, there is no hope, but our children are the hope of the world.  God gives us children to look to the future. We have to hold on to that hope for these special children.  No matter what labels are attached to them, they are still God’s gifts to us. We can’t let a list of words form a false picture that clouds the beauty of the true portrait.  We need to not let them get lost in the new culture of death that is presented to us in the guise of medical jargon. We need to not let our labels define our children – but let our children instead show us who they are meant to be. We need to remember more than any label, the most important one is that they are made in the image of God – and with Him, no trial is impossible.