Two prominent women holding opposing views on unborn life recently penned op-eds about their miscarriages. Surprisingly, both included a message that, at its core, is essentially pro-life: It’s okay, even normal, to mourn the loss of the unborn.
Leana Wen, a trained medical doctor, suffered a miscarriage while leading the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.
Meghan McCain serves as a co-host of The View, where she is outspokenly pro-life, and is the daughter of the late Senator John McCain.
One is an abortion supporter, the other is pro-life.
But both are human. Women. Mothers. So it really shouldn’t be surprising that McCain and Wen shared similar miscarriage experiences, beginning with the discovery of their pregnancies.
34-year-old McCain wrote “I knew I was pregnant before I formally knew I was pregnant” in a New York Times opinion piece published July 19. Two weeks earlier, for the Washington Post, 36-year-old Wen likewise insisted, “I knew before I took the test: I was pregnant.”
In preparation, they brainstormed about everything from baby names to nurseries.
“We got more and more excited as we planned for Baby No. 2,” Wen remembered. “If it was a girl, we had a name picked out; if it was a boy, we’d have to go through the baby-name books again.”
McCain emphasized, “Even as the child is growing within you, vanishingly small and vulnerable, you are already wondering about the thousand things it will take to be a good parent.” Those things included, “How will we decorate his room? His — goodness, what if it is a her?”
But that came to a halt as both of them discovered they had miscarried – and blamed themselves.
“I couldn’t stop the self-blame: Was it all the travel? Was it the late nights? What if I’d had less stress?” wrote Wen.
McCain added, “Perhaps it was wrong of me to choose to be a professional woman, working in a high-pressure, high-visibility, high-stress field, still bearing the burden of the recent loss of my father and facing on top of that the arrows that come with public life.”
At the time, McCain also blamed her age, her personality, and “everything and anything a person could think of.”
That was their response, even as they acknowledged that miscarriage is, as McCain put it, “distressingly common.”
“[A]s many as 1 in 5 pregnancies result in miscarriage,” Wen wrote, citing the Harvard’s medical school website.
McCain added, “Estimates range from one in 10 to one in four pregnancies end in miscarriages.”
By sharing those numbers – and their stories – both women hoped to help in some way.
McCain expressed “love for all the women who, like me, were briefly in the sisterhood of motherhood” before suffering a miscarriage. To them she said, “You are not alone.”
Wen wrote to “break the silence and shame that often come with pregnancy loss.”
But Wen also shared her story because, she said, “my miscarriage has made my commitment to women’s health even stronger,” including abortion.
That’s where Wen and McCain diverged. Where Wen called miscarriage “mourning the loss of a potential life,” McCain called it the loss of her baby.
“We feel sorrow and we weep because our babies were real,” McCain wrote. “I loved my baby, and I always will.”
“They were conceived, and they lived, fully human and fully ours — and then they died,” she stressed. “These children, shockingly small, shockingly helpless, entirely the work of our love and our humanity, are children.”
Abortion supporters and the pro-life movement routinely disagree. But one thing they can unite on is the tragedy of a miscarriage – a life’s light extinguished far too soon.
That includes Wen’s loss. That includes McCain’s baby. A baby girl.
“When my father passed, I took refuge in the hope that someday we would be united in the hereafter,” McCain wrote about God’s providence. “Now I imagine it a bit differently. There is my father — and he is holding his granddaughter in his hands.”