HHS and “Products of Conception”

Almost 7 years ago, my wife and I made the harrowing drive from our home to a hospital. Only 3 months before, our hearts were filled with joy beyond compare. We were to be new parents! Our jejune marriage was being blessed with a child–something that seemed à propos given our recent and quiet stoppage of chemical contraception.

We were thrilled.

At around 10 weeks, we went in for a check-up and ultra-sound. Lying in my wife’s womb was a beautiful child. She looked peaceful, restful, but to our horror we learned that she was too restful. In fact, she was dead.

10-week person

Now, I know that at 10 weeks it is too early to tell the gender, but I will tell you that I truly believe God comforted me with the knowledge that we lost our first daughter. We named her “Grace Elaine”, and we gave her a full burial. She lies in rest, her sweet body, in Broken Arrow, OK. It is fitting, because there my heart gained a life-long hair-line fracture that will never completely heal until I am in heaven. I love Grace Elaine with everything in me. She is my daughter, and I adore her and miss her.

What does this have to do with the title of this post?

Let me tell you a little bit more of the story…

In order to safely remove Grace from my wife’s womb, we had to drive to the hospital to get what is called a D&C procedure. This trip was what I described in the first line of this post. What we had hoped would have been a trip full of expectation and jubilance was instead our very own valley of the shadow of death. When we arrived at the hospital, we were met by what appeared to be a kind, middle aged, nurse. She had brown-rimmed glasses, and a soft, alto voice. Here is the shocking part.

She would never call our baby girl….a baby!

For nearly 30 grueling minutes, this woman–shaped by a contracepting, abortive culture–referred to my beautiful daughter as “products of conception”. Over and over again, despite my wife’s insistence and my horror, Grace Elaine was referred to as something the equivalent of fecal matter–or “Products of Digestion“.

I do understand that technically speaking my daughter was the “product” of our love; a love that conceived but unfortunately this time became a hope deferred that truly made our hearts ill.

The next day, I got in my car and drove back to the hospital. I was told to go to the 3rd floor, to a wing where various “products” of the human body were kept. Stuff they didn’t know what to do with after surgeries. When the attendant came to the counter, I explained that I was here to get my daughter for proper burial. I gave her my “ticket”, and she retrieved Grace in what appeared to be a plastic bucket you might find at a store that sells live worms. I’ll never forget the woman’s look who handed me my daughter. It was as if a ray of light from heaven had made its way to the third floor of that hospital. The grace she received in that moment was as much as the Grace I received from her.

The drive home was difficult.

My daughter, strapped in next to me, was in the passenger seat, riding with all the dignity I could give her–or that could be afforded a ride in a white, quasi-casket, plastic bin meant for fishing bait. I cried most of the ride to the cemetery.

What kind of world do we live in when the weakest among us are treated like waste? This is truly what is at stake in the HHS ruling. That the culture of death would be forced upon even those who are still trying–with strain of effort put down at every turn–to give every human dignity. That’s all I wanted my daughter to have.

Dignity.

Dear Grace,

I love you. I tried my best. I’m sorry this world is so messed up. See you in heaven, darling.

-Your Daddy

[since that time, we became Catholic, never went back to the pill, and despite our fears, have been blessed with four children and one on the way!]

Look at the picture. Do we really believe that “preventing” this is health care?

Brent A. Stubbs is a father of four (+ 1 in heaven and 1 in the oven), husband of one, convert, and a generally interested person. He has a BA in Theology, studied graduate philosophy, has an MBA, is a writer (or so he tells himself) and prefers his coffee black. His website is Almost Not Catholic.
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