Some of you may remember how a while back I went to some big chain dental practice located not three minutes from my house and was told that I had cavities in eight of my molars. I took great exception to these tidings, and so went for a second opinion to Dr. H, my regular dentist, much further away but much more trustworthy. And she, bless her soul, flashed her light in my mouth, proclaimed the previous diagnosis to be hogwash, and pronounced that I had but one (count it! ONE) cavity in one of my lower wisdom teeth.
(Am I alone in being an adult in America with all four of my wisdom teeth? One thing both dentists agreed on was that they rarely saw a complete set of wisdom teeth.)
I was torn between immense relief at this verdict, triumph that I was vindicated in my initial incredulity, and my sputtering outrage that some punk practice would have drilled all my back teeth for -- what? As a preventative measure? I cannot stress this enough: they would have drilled all my back teeth unnecessarily. If this does not arouse fear and loathing in you, you are not human.
Dr. H is very active on the local pro-life scene, and as she probbed and swabbed and cleaned she told me about a talk she'd recently attended about the importance of supporting maternity homes for young unwed mothers and their children. I couldn't make any more coherent response than "Uh hunh", but the hygienist said, "I sure wish that sort of thing had been around when I was young. Then maybe I wouldn't have had to give up my daughter."
The dentist paused and stared at her assistant of many years. "I never knew you'd had to give up a child."
As she passed implements over my head, the hygienist told us how she'd gotten pregnant when she was fifteen and had gone to live in a home for unwed mothers. The girls weren't really allowed to leave the grounds often, and were strongly pressured to give their babies up for adoption. She'd always wanted to find her daughter, who would be 26 now, and this desire had intensified now that her other children were grown now and also wanted to meet their older sister.
Rich Leonardi recently posted about the misconception floating out there that the pro-life movement only cares about children in the womb. Catholic pro-life work today takes many forms -- education, counseling, prayerful protests outside of abortion clinics, adoption support, and maternity homes that work to keep mothers and children together. I have not known many contemporaries who became pregnant as teenagers, but of those few, all had the support and love of their families and friends in keeping and raising their babies. Being a single mother is never easy, but the job of the pro-life movement is not to condemn these women, but to give them loving encouragement and moral support.
And remember, pro-lifers make the best dentists.