I couldn't talk to anyone about it. So it just sat there. As the summer of 1989 began I tried to put the questions behind me as I started a long-planned internship for Senator Edward Kennedy. I loved him. I was a few degrees away from obsessive about his family. Most things about John Kennedy's martyr story I committed to memory. Camelot wasn't a legend, it was a goal. Even more than John Kennedy, I loved Robert Kennedy. Before I learned about Wilberforce, Bobby had been my main political idol, a man of privilege who fought ruthlessly for dreams that included helping the poor, righting racial wrongs, and pursuing justice around the world. And even with Wilberforce now in the picture, I believed the Kennedys had a lot in common with him.
The internship only strengthened that belief. I was in Ted Kennedy's office when China's Tiananmen Square crackdown began and ended up talking frantically with Lufthansa Airlines in our attempt to get some students out of China. A few weeks later I was able to go to the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port and see some of the Tiananmen student leaders as they met with the senator. If he wasn't practicing Christian statesmanship, I didn't know who was.
A few weeks later, though, the Supreme Court upheld key parts of Webster. I still didn't know how I felt about abortion. I made the naïve mistake of asking one of the senator's more senior staffers whether Kennedy was pro-life or pro-choice. She snapped back, "Pro-choice, of course! Aren't you??" I assured her I was.
Over time I discovered it was easier to think and debate than it was to feel. I didn't know what to feel. Every time I saw a baby, was I supposed to feel sad that it wasn't mine or happy that it wasn't mine? When Christmas came should I be happy I was still the youngest in my family, or should I be mourning that? And what of Jesus? How could I have betrayed him so horribly? What kind of faith was mine?
So instead of feeling, I researched. I learned an unborn baby's heart begins beating by day 22. By eight weeks every organ in its body, save the lungs, is fully formed and functioning. Wouldn't these facts have changed our minds? Perhaps. But I doubted it. No amount of information could have dissuaded us from our passion to protect ourselves and our reputations. But still, I reasoned at the time, for others it might make a difference. The one thing I knew was that our pain and our experience gave me the chance to do a good thing.
So in the wake of my abortion experience, I became a pro-life activist. I helped establish Tufts's only pro-life group. I sponsored debates between pro-life and pro-choice student leaders, and invited pro-life advocates to campus. I pointed to the million and a half unborn children who were aborted every year. I asked people whether one of them might have had the answer to cancer or written the next great novel or been someone's soulmate.
Just like William Wilberforce, I became an advocate for the ultimately forgotten, in this case the unborn. In the process I joined the religious conservative movement, though I didn't realize it.