My Sister’s Keeper

Chely Roach

5.2 CNF author Chely Roach is looking out for your uterus. But she’s also keenly sensitive to the need for grace amidst abortion and infanticide.

My sister often calls me Protector of All Uteri, uttered with a quasi-disapproving, slightly passive-aggressive giggle, as only an older sister can do. She also deemed my car The Uterus Wagon, a moniker that I am twistedly fond of; given from the multiple pro-life stickers it adorns, my favorite being a 3D ultrasound picture with the caption, I am an American. At one point they were magnets, so they could be removed when parked at the crisis pregnancy center where I volunteered. We had to appear neutral, ironically. My narrative in Relief 5.2, “Drowning the Albatross,” was born from the experience of attending a weekend retreat, which was mandatory before I could counsel clients at the center.

I am not sure if my sister has ever asked me why. Why I am so outspoken and passionate about the unborn, why I spent so many Saturday mornings counseling at the CPC, why I believe women are being destroyed by having the choice to evacuate their womb on demand.

Sometimes I wonder if she doesn’t ask because she intuitively knows the why, and just can’t bear to have it confirmed. If I had to guess, she probably assumes I have been brainwashed by ass-hat right wing conservatives, and that my passion is rooted in some morally elite, judgmental stance.

I can honestly say that I never judged a girl sitting on the couch in front of me. Some were tearful, some carried a hardened façade. Most were from churched families. And as we spoke—waiting for two tablespoons of urine in a plastic container down the hall to reveal their destiny like leaves in a cup of tea—I patiently, empathetically, endured their justifications and rationales. I will lose my scholarship…He will break-up with me…Our Catholic wedding for 200 guests is five months away …I will lose my job…I just bought my season pass to Six Flags…

But judgment never crossed my mind…God might’ve struck me down with lightning where I sat.

Neither did atonement…it’s foolishness to believe I can make up for my sin, even by helping others not fall into the same one.

God has given me a courage outside of myself to speak and write of this, and each time, I steal back a bit of Satan’s power over me. The paradox of this issue in our society is that we allow and accept it like it’s collateral damage to live the way we wish, but out of the other side of our mouths, look down upon and judge those who made the choice we all know in our hearts to be unthinkable. The inherent, expected secrecy of abortion adds to its perpetuation. The Christian community is no exception.

Nine days before Thanksgiving, a missing child alert spread through St. Louis and beyond. The news stations reported that Shelby Dasher, 20, overslept till almost noon, and when she went to wake her 13 month-old boy, Tyler, he was gone. Like so many others, I feared I might vomit out my own heart. In my gut, I knew the mother’s hands were somehow responsible. They found his body a mile down the road, and less than twelve hours later, Shelby confessed to beating the baby because he wouldn’t go back to sleep. She was arrested and charged with second degree murder.

That night, a candlelight vigil for Tyler was held. The local media greedily captured sound bites and quotes from anyone that offered, and my Facebook wall was covered with condemnations, prayers, and pictures of Tyler with Photoshopped angel wings in a veil of wispy clouds. She’s a monster…Evil…She should rot in jail…A special place in Hell for Shelby Dasher…

I mourn for Tyler. The city mourns for him. An innocent, precious life, snuffed out. There is no dirge somber enough.

I also mourn for Shelby. In a world that doesn’t. An immature, frustrated girl, who was blinded by ignorance, or demons, or both, to the support she failed to ask for in an unforeseen, desperate moment. I mourn for the girl who will carry the fully-deserved guilt, regret, and self-hatred from destroying the blood of her own blood, in a moment of weakness when motherhood was more than she could bear.

I am no better than Shelby. No less guilty. No less blood on my hands. The world sees a distinction between a 13 month-old infant and a 13 week-old baby in utero. God doesn’t.

Both helpless and innocent.

Both a gift.

Both created in His image.

Like Shelby and me. Potential roommates in that special place in Hell, if it were not for the only One who atones.

I am an American. I am a Protector of all Uteri.  I am my sister’s keeper.

Chely Roach‘s CNF piece “Drowning the Albatross” appears in issue 5.2 of Relief.

About Brad Fruhauff

Brad Fruhauff is Editor-in-Chief of Relief. He holds a PhD in English from Loyola University Chicago and teaches English at Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL. Some of his interests include Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, film, hermeneutics, and theological aesthetics. Scholarly and literary publications include The Ankeny Briefcase, Rock & Sling, *catapult, Burnside Writers’ Collective, The Englewood Review of Books, Victorians, and The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association. He lives in Evanston with his wife and two sons.

Brad Fruhauff is Editor-in-Chief of Relief. He holds a PhD in English from Loyola University Chicago and teaches English at Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL. Some of his interests include Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, film, hermeneutics, and theological aesthetics. Scholarly and literary publications include The Ankeny Briefcase, Rock & Sling, *catapult, Burnside Writers’ Collective, The Englewood Review of Books, Victorians, and The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association. He lives in Evanston with his wife and two sons.

5 Comments / Add your own comment below

  1. Lisa Mikitarian

    One of the most powerful and raw articles I’ve read. The emotions the words evoke are too many, too nuanced to detail here.

  2. Chely. Oh, Chely. I love you so. God bless you for sharing your heartbreak, and your love, and yourself. You have given a gift to so many who grieve in silence for fear of the judgement of men.

  3. So beautiful, humble, and moving. Thank you for sharing, witnessing, and being strong for God–exactly the words I wish could be offered to all people struggling with the choice. God bless you :)

  4. I cannot wait to read your piece. Thank you for your honesty and grace. Your perspective is so needed.

  5. You state that you never “judged a girl sitting on the couch in front of me”, however, your judgement is there for all to see in your list of “justifications and rationales”, which are cherry picked to make it appear that no woman you ever met with had a compelling reason to terminate a pregnancy. You had no empathy for those women you allegedly “counselled” (undoubtedly by telling them to “keep their baby”) just as you had no empathy when you read the news report and “knew” the mother had committed murder. Face the fact that you choose not to acknowledge your own lack of empathy for others. Not very Christian of you, Chely.

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