Mary Szoch is Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article appeared in Newsweek on January 15, 2021.
Five months ago, I had a miscarriage. It was, and still is, devastating. Like most women who have never experienced a miscarriage before, I had never envisioned what it would be like to lose a baby. Although I had always known having a miscarriage must be difficult, I could never have imagined the heartbreak, the overwhelming number of questions or the memory of the exact moment my little one left this world for the next.
In the days and weeks following my unborn baby's death, it was challenging for almost anyone—even my husband—to comfort me. When I shared the news that I had miscarried, I was blessed to have friends and family who showed compassion and empathy.
But sadly, some people—many people—did not know how to respond. They fumbled an "I'm sorry" immediately followed by "at least it was early" or "you will probably have another one soon" and then quickly changed the subject.
These people were trying their best to make me feel better, but their discomfort and unintentional dismissal of my pain hurt. The words "pregnancy loss is so hard" and "it's so common" instantly brought me to tears. It was not the loss of pregnancy that I was and am still grieving. I was not sad because I no longer had fatigue or morning sickness. I was, and am, sad because my unborn child died.
Yes, miscarriage is common. Death is very common, but that does not make a person's passage from this world any easier for their loved ones to bear. And my unborn child was just that—a person. A unique human being, whose picture I have, whose heartbeat my husband saw, whose life changed this world.
Tragically, we live in a culture that regularly denies that my son was a person. Few even bat an eye when Planned Parenthood tweets an expression of sorrow for the loss of a couple's miscarried son while demanding that the FDA deregulate abortion-inducing drugs that kill unborn children in the first trimester, when most miscarriages occur. Thankfully, we have reached a point at which abortion in the eighth and ninth months of pregnancy makes just about everyone—including many pro-choice advocates—uncomfortable. But unfortunately, first-trimester and even early second-trimester abortion is much easier for people to stomach.
Though it is scientifically indisputable that an unborn child is the same human being at the moment of conception that he or she is in month nine of pregnancy, many embrace the belief that "no bump, no baby"—and feel no serious pangs of conscience over the ending of unborn babies' lives in early pregnancy.
This culture is what makes miscarriage—especially early miscarriage—so challenging for people to talk about. Try as we might, we cannot mourn a unique, unrepeatable person who dies in a miscarriage while accepting that more than 2,300 unique, unrepeatable persons—most of them around the same gestational age as miscarried babies—die each day through the atrocity of abortion. The only way to keep from being overwhelmed by the contradiction is to trivialize miscarriage.
So people say things like "it's for the best" and "at least you're young" when they should simply say, "I am so sorry for the loss of your child. I am here if you need someone to listen." Incidentally, those are the same words we should say to women who have had abortions, because they too are suffering the loss of an unborn child—a child who, like my son, made a difference, whose existence changed the world.
My prayer is that as we approach the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade—a decision that denied the humanity of the unborn child and, in doing so, created a culture that denies the humanity of the miscarried child—all of us can work together to create a culture that affirms the humanity—the unique, unrepeatable personhood—of both.