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Mending the Breaks

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March 2016

It doesn’t take long. Those presents the kids opened under the Christmas tree in late December? They’re often in pieces by early March. Some things, like argyle socks or diagonally striped alpaca sweaters, manage to live forever. But other things end up broken, if not forgotten. The life of a gift can be short — and plenty rough.

That’s true for humans, too. In 1926, California car tycoon Charles Howard was sitting on top of the world when his 15-year old son was killed while driving one of Howard’s old trucks. Howard’s world came apart. As his marriage crumbled and failed, he turned to horse racing. Elsewhere, Tom Smith was just trying to make it. In an assortment of jobs that never lasted, he spent his days with horses. A loner, Smith slept and ate in barns and related better to horses than to people. He developed unconventional but effective ways of treating, training, and communicating with them. Up in Canada, young John Pollard had a burning passion for two things: literature and horse jockeying. Son of a bankrupt brick maker, Pollard was orphaned at age 15. He wandered for years as a so-so jockey, handicapped by a racing accident that left him blind in one eye — a blindness he managed to hide. His only possessions were a few books and a rosary. Eventually these broken lives converged. Howard took a chance on Smith, who took a chance on Pollard. Together, they made racing history.

Their story has been exquisitely recounted in Seabiscuit: An American Legend, a book later brought to the big screen. Perhaps no coincidence, author Laura Hillenbrand is herself broken. She suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, a painful and debilitating illness contracted in 1987 that has kept her in bed for much of her life. But she has overcome adversity — as did the subjects of her book. Seabiscuit, a horse of great pedigree, had an early history of being an under-achiever. His original owners gave up on him. Howard, Smith, and Pollard saw something more. In time, Seabiscuit’s successes grew. Shortly before what may have been the greatest match race ever, Pollard nearly severed a leg in a riding incident. His racing career was deemed over. Seabiscuit won that race but soon ruptured a ligament, likely a career-ending injury. But the group refused to abandon each other. Together, Pollard and Seabiscuit healed their breaks. Together, the three men and a horse again and again made it to the winner’s circle.

In our pro-abortion culture, the lesson of Seabiscuit is easily lost. This year, the Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on the biggest abortion case in decades. It considers the constitutionality of a Texas law requiring an abortionist to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion facility. Emergencies do arise, and an abortionist should be qualified to work in a hospital where his wounded, and possibly dying, patient will be taken. The law also requires that abortion facilities meet the same standard applicable to other ambulatory surgical centers. Women undergoing abortions should be treated in places meeting the most basic standards of cleanliness and safety, which is often not the case. The Texas law seeks to protect women’s health through common sense regulations.

But common sense does not easily hold sway in the world of legalized abortion. Those people wanting legalized abortion to remain the law view any regulation as a slippery slope leading to the overruling of Roe v. Wade. Would that were so, but the Texas law is about women’s safety. Yet pro-abortionists claim that even safety regulations unduly burden their “right” to end the lives of unborn babies. And they’ve taken an unusual step.

In early January, 113 women attorneys signed a friend-of-the-Court brief designed to influence Justice Anthony Kennedy, often a swing vote in abortion cases. They attempt to explain how legal abortion has advanced their careers and improved their lives. Some said that abortion helped them break the family cycle of teenage pregnancy. A woman said that she became a student leader after her abortion. Many offered that their abortions allowed them to earn their law degrees. Women said that abortion saved their children from abusive fathers. One feared that exposure to x-rays would cause birth defects. Undoubtedly, the women are very sincere. But they also might want to consider themselves lucky. Another brief offers the testimonies of almost other 3,300 women who were negatively impacted by legal abortion. They must deal with botched abortions, depression, anxiety, nightmares, and suicidal thoughts. For them, there has been no happy ending.

Recently, several actresses dramatized real life stories of post-abortive women in an effort to put a positive spin on their experiences. One of the actresses was Elizabeth Banks, who coincidentally played the role of Charles Howard’s devoted second wife in the movie version of Seabiscuit. Sadly, her narration seems to have missed the point of the story — as do all those who have tried to find benefit in killing an unborn baby. Howard, Smith, Pollard, found success because they committed themselves to each other. Though broken, each person found in the brokenness of others what he could not supply for himself. Their pieces fit together, and together they found the healing and redemption they so desperately needed.

That is never true with abortion. It’s because abortion is all about rejection. Those who abort have rejected any possibility that their child can help repair their brokenness. Those claiming advancement and success because of abortion are necessarily admitting that to advance, they needed to kill. To succeed, unborn babies — their babies — were left behind. Their babies lay dead, and by their own hands. What healing, what redemption, is there in that? There can be no happy ending. Whatever temporary success women or couples may find in jobs or family life, it comes at a far greater loss. They remain as they are, broken people.

We have all too often broken the very pieces God has given us to mend our own brokenness. Perhaps we need to remember: God gives us solutions, not problems.


Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.

            © Paul V. Esposito 2016. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted. Visit us at and on Facebook.

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