We’ve been treated to a lot of talk about terrorism since the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent events. I want to talk about another kind of terrorism that goes on every day somewhere in America.
The Good Men Project describes itself this way:
We are a community of 21st Century thought leaders around the issue of men’s roles in modern life. We explore the world of men and manhood in a way that no media company ever has, tackling the issues and questions that are most relevant to men’s lives…
Guys today are neither the mindless, sex-obsessed buffoons nor the stoic automatons our culture so often makes them out to be. Our community is smart, compassionate, curious, and open-minded; they strive to be good fathers and husbands, citizens and friends, to lead by example at home and in the workplace, and to understand their role in a changing world.
According to the website, one of The Good Men’s Project’s most popular stories involved a man named Aaron Gouveia, who wrote a story that began this way:
“You’re killing your unborn baby!”
That’s what they yelled at me and my wife on the worst day of our lives. As we entered the women’s health center on an otherwise perfect summer morning in Brookline, two women we had never met decided to pile onto the nightmare we had been living for three weeks. These “Christians” verbally accosted us—judged us—as we steeled ourselves for the horror of making the unimaginable, but necessary, decision to end our pregnancy at 16 weeks.
After extensive testing at a renowned Boston hospital three weeks earlier, we were told our baby had Sirenomelia. Otherwise known as Mermaid Syndrome, it’s a rare (one in every 100,000 pregnancies) congenital deformity in which the legs are fused together. Worse than that, our baby had no bladder or kidneys. Our doctors told us there was zero chance for survival.
Gouveia says he’s not religious, doesn’t believe in heaven or hell, but:
…there is a hell on Earth. Hell is sitting next to the person you love most and listening to her wail hysterically because her heart just broke into a million pieces. Hell is watching her entire body convulse with sobs because she’s being tortured with grief. For as long as I live and no matter how many children we have, I will never forget that sound. And I vowed to do everything in my power to make sure she’d never make it again.
One of the things Gouveia has done is create for us and present to us the video encounter below, now more than two years old. He shows us that religious zealots, no matter how sincere they may be, need confronted. They need challenged. They shouldn’t exercise the right of public protest over reproductive rights, over what they call “baby killing,” without at least knowing that there are lives on the other side of the argument that are very much affected by their zealotry, and those lives have a voice, sometimes a loud voice, that needs to be heard, too.
Aaron Gouveia ends his written piece with a plea both to the zealots and to the rest of us:
My wife and I wanted our second child. We loved her. We even had a name for her, Alexandra.
You never know the circumstances surrounding this kind of decision. Consider this my plea: stop terrorizing women. Stop adding trauma to their trauma. If you’re able, stand up to these bullies in nonviolent ways. Speak out. And if you have a camera, use it.