“When I was seven, my mum found out she was pregnant with her sixth child. Having four sisters and no brothers, this really gave me some hope that I could have a brother which is something that I really wanted. As the pregnancy went on, we found out that it was going to be a boy and I was buzzed! However, straight away they also discovered that he had a sickness called anencephaly and that meant he wouldn’t live long outside the womb. When I was told this I was gutted. I really, really wanted a brother and the moment I was given one, he was going to be taken straight away.
We were all upset, especially Mum. Being kids we managed to just normalise it, but I still felt like a little bit of my life was lost, and every time I saw mum doing that staring-off-into-the-distance sad face, I would get sad too.
But during this time we had a little extra family member. We’d talk to him, we’d talk about him and we tried to include him in the family as much as possible, and that created a few beautiful family memories.
On November 2nd, John Paul Jr. was born, and for the 17 minutes that he lived he was surrounded by family that loved him. I got to hold my little brother. I can’t really describe how I felt, except to say that every part of me said “….Yes! Thank you!” And even though I still feel the pain of that loss, that moment where I got to hold my only brother meant worlds to me. The fact that his life was so short made me appreciate life even more, because even though he only lived 17 minutes we were still able to give him a life full of love, and I wish it could have been longer.
So growing up, Mum would use that story on behalf of the Pro Life Campaign, but that didn’t really mean much to me. I was *extremely* proud of her for sharing her story and her pain for what she believed, but I didn’t really feel much for the movement. But when I heard that in the UK 90% of babies diagnosed with down syndrome pre-natally are aborted, I got really upset. I remember thinking to myself “If only they knew what it’s like to hold them. To know that they are my blood, my family, and that there’s beauty in this person’s life like I did when John Paul Jr. was born, then they wouldn’t do this.”
That thought just started to grow and it became my reason for being pro-life, because every life matters, and you just can’t judge a life and decide this person won’t live. No matter how short this life is, no matter how much pain it will bring you, there will be love and joy too, which even in tiny quantities completely outweighs the pain and loss.”