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“Oh, God, doctor, I was hoping it was cancer.”

Those words so affected Dr. William Harrison that for years, he said, he could not repeat them. They made him break down in tears.

The woman who spoke them–black, poor and middle-aged– had come in 1967 to the Arkansas hospital where Dr. Harrison was a medical student in obstetrics. A doctor, after examining her swollen belly, had told her she was pregnant.

These words come from and obituary in today’s issue of the New York Times. Dr. William Harrison, abortion doctor and defender died on Saturday at the age of 75.

Yes, I know this is a touchy subject but this article really made me stop and think about the horribly human side of a topic that gets so many of us riled up. Indeed, William’s fellow abortion doctor and friend was assassinated in his own church in 2009 (not even one year ago). Like I said, this is a touchy subject.

Harrison’s words touch me because they remind me that there are women for whom cancer is a preferable fate to pregnancy. There is something wrong here. The women who frequented Harrison’s clinic were largely disadvantaged women who did not consider motherhood an option for their lives.

Dr. Harrison readily admitted that he destroyed life, but denied that he killed babies… The higher moral value to Dr. Harrison was salvaging the future of an often disadvantaged girl or woman.

While I am not here to argue about the particulars of the abortion debate, I do want to suggest this. Can it be that the unfortunate thing about the world we live in is that pregnancy is, for some people, the worst thing that could happen to them, even worse than a potentially terminal illness?

Maybe the problem is not that we have abortion, but that we even have need of them in the first place. Perhaps using this perspective as a starting place would bring us closer to seeing the end of a rather unfortunate reality.

You can read the full article here, and I would suggest that you do. I was moved to tears…

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