180° turn — from ‘pro-choice’ to protective dad

[notice]In this week’s Righteous Rant Pretoria dad MARTIN LABUSCHAGNE has his say on the burning issue of the right to life of unborn children. Gateway News invites you to email your rant to news@gatewaynews.co.za for possible publication in this new, occasional column where readers get to share what’s on their heart. [/notice]

Martin and Sandra Labuschagne with their son Leandro.

Like many people who think of themselves as progressive, I also believed, without giving much thought to the issue, that abortion is acceptable and what’s more that it should be legal. And of course, it was eventually made legal in South Africa.

I passionately defended the notion of a women’s right to choose between a pregnancy or an abortion. It is her body and she can decide what should happen – or grow – in it. This view I held for many years even after I married my marvelous wife, Sandra who had a Catholic upbringing and was out of religious conviction against abortion.

Little I knew how ignorant I was about the real facts behind abortion. The real facts cannot be taught or explained – it can only be obtained through insight, a flash of apprehension or satori – as the Buddhists would call it.

On 27 July 2011 I had such an insight that made me make a 180 degree turn on the issue. That day my baby boy, Leandro, was born two months premature. He was small and fragile when he was taken from my wife’s womb. The joy and love I felt – and still feel – can never be captured by human words. I have tried writing a poem about this experience, but every time I have failed miserably to accurately express my feelings.

Sandra and I visited him every day as he lay in ICU, his little eyes were closed most of the time. Because of that, the most precious moment for me was when I was keeping watch at his side and he suddenly turned his head, opened his eyes and looked at me. I saw how defenceless he was and how he was depending on his daddy to protect him.

This made me to start thinking of all those little lives looking at their fathers for love and help. Not only the children fighting for their lives in ICU, but all the children all over the world who need the caring of their fathers. By extension, I also thought, of the unborn children in the wombs of their mothers wanting the same care and love. Abandoning or hurting Leandro would be the most heinous thing I could think of and I thought of what real difference there is between hurting him now that he is born from hurting him when he was still in my wife’s body? The fact is: there is no difference.

My father, who strongly believed in the powers of nature would tell me exactly what these feelings in me were: they were my fatherly instinct. Whatever they are called, it was these feelings that moved me to get involved with the pro-life cause. In the final instance, it was not any philosophical, religious or moral argument that made me change my thinking, but my natural inclinations as a father to protect. And not only protect my son, but to protect the lives of all children against the terrible things adults do to them. I am not fighting for an abstract idea or principal, but for flesh and blood children who are killed or hurt by grown-ups.

Interestingly, last week the media reported on the sentencing of two parents for the brutal killing of their baby. It is patent that people who assault a little baby to the extent that his little brain hemorrhages, to break his two arms and 22 of his ribs are the lowest level of human depravity. But what is so different from murdering baby Wade than murdering him when he is still in his mother? When I saw the pictures of aborted foetusses, I saw how fully human they are and not just blobs of protoplasm, as I always thought. They are little children, nothing else.

I sincerely believe that our future generations will stand ashamed of what was done in our generation under the guise of ‘enlightened values.’ The Dutch have a saying: To keep silent is to approve. In this case, to keep silent is to approve of infanticide. We must ask ourselves: do we approve of the killing of helpless children? Once you have answered this question, all the things to be done will follow naturally and logically.



  1. Thanks, Martin, for telling your powerful story. Yes, I’ve often asked the profound question you ask: “But what is so different from murdering baby Wade than murdering him when he is still in his mother?” There is a continuum of personhood identity from conception to birth to eventual (old age) death. There was no moment when I wasn’t me and then I was me.

  2. Rev Ian Karshagen

    Christ said: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them.” A profound statement ridiculed and sneered at by so many today.

  3. Enlightened values or so called “progressive ways of thinking” are the real evils of today’s modern generation.