There we were in the hospital waiting for the doctor to listen to the first heartbeat of the latest addition to our family.
After four children, this had become a familiar routine for my husband and me, but somehow this one felt different.
I didn’t feel the nausea I felt with the others, and I still craved my morning cup of coffee. A distaste for coffee was always my number one indicator that I was expecting, even before taking a pregnancy test.
Everything about my pregnancy with Phillip was different, but we loved him nonetheless, and we were nervous and excited to hear his little heartbeat for the first time.
As the fetal monitor brushed over my belly, my husband and I grew silent listening for that horse-galloping sound that indicated that he was alive and well. We waited and we waited.
And then there was that glorious sound — thump, thump, thump, thump. It was faint, but it was there. I smiled, and I cried. There was my boy! Even though I could not feel him, I could hear him, and I loved him.
But then the sound was gone. We listened again for a few minutes as the doctor attempted to track the sound again, and for brief moments we heard little Phillip’s heartbeat, then it was gone.
The doctor turned off the machine, was silent for a few moments, and began to talk. I don’t remember what he said. All I remember is that my womb was “not viable” and baby Phillip was not going to survive.
I was devastated. The next day Phillip was gone. And although I was only in my first trimester, I felt the loss. Our family felt the loss. Even to this day, our children pray for baby Phillip even though he’s not with us.
Recently, undercover videos have surfaced showing employees of Planned Parenthood discussing extracting tissue from aborted fetuses for scientific research. Advocates of the organization defend the practices discussed in the video using sanitized words like “tissue” and “fetuses.”
However, in the video, it is clear that the practitioners were not simply removing “tissue.” They describe in graphic terms how to best extract “intact” organs like the heart, lungs, and brain. Moreover, they discuss what would be the monetary value for those organs.
In one video, I was horrified to actually see the amputated body parts of an aborted baby in the first trimester, and I could not help but think of Phillip.
With an ache that I think only a mother can feel, I find myself pleading the question: Has our country drifted so far that nothing is sacred!? Have we become so calloused that we can intellectually rationalize anything in the name of science or choice?
As more videos come to the surface, my heart grieves for the millions of Phillips who were never given a chance at life, and the millions of women who experience the agony and regret of aborting their child because they believed the lie that life within them was simply fetal tissue.
Ironically, however, I feel most sorry for people who perform abortions in organizations like Planned Parenthood. Deep down, they must recognize the lives they are destroying, but they have hardened their hearts and chosen not to see the truth of what they were doing, because if they did it would almost be too painful to bear.
How can we undo the progressive horror that this whole episode has become? Originally, abortion was legalized only under the rarest of circumstances, and the selling of body parts was outlawed.
However, advocates are now claiming abortion to be a healthcare right to be paid for by taxpayers and, based on current events, it would seem the use of the remains are irrelevant as long as it is done in the name of science.
At the very least, I would hope Congress passes legislation that defunds Planned Parenthood. Unlike thousands of community health centers around the country that do not receive any federal funding, Planned Parenthood received over half a billion dollars in federal aid last year in support of its 800+ facilities (that is an average of $700,000+ per facility).
In light of its questionable practices, it would seem to be a no-brainer to halt funding until a full investigation is held.
Secondly, legislation should be passed to require abortion providers to provide patients full disclosure of the procedure and the visibility to see and hear the life they would consider terminating.
I have no doubt that there are thousands, if not millions, of would-be parents that had they heard the galloping heartbeat or seen the precious silhouette of their pre-born child, would have made a different choice – an “informed choice.”
However, nothing can erase the hole in one’s soul that the death of child leaves behind, whether born or unborn, intended or not. Each loss is different, and hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of Phillip.
But life does go on, and less than two years after our own loss, my husband and I experienced the joy of hearing the heartbeat of Phillip’s little sister. Today, she’s a happy, healthy little girl who is about to begin kindergarten.
Yet, this very morning, she comes up to me almost intuitively and says out of nowhere, “Mommy, if Phillip were alive, he would help me get ready for school, right?”
I smile and hug her with tears in my eyes and simply say, “That’s right, baby.”
We won’t ever forget.
[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville along with her husband and their five children.]