Thinking about the little children gasping for breath while their own mother pins their heads beneath the water makes me physically ill. A deep moan of anguish fills my gut when I imagine the tiny, limp bodies being placed on the bed by their mom after drowning them.

Andrea Yates actually chased down one of her toddlers and forced him into the bathtub and his watery grave. The youngest of them must have gone trustingly into Mommy’s arms as they always did, only to be cruelly shoved into the familiar liquid that would become their poison.

What unspeakable evil possessed a mother that day? How could it have been so powerful as to pervert the natural mother instinct to nurture one’s young?

Virtually every day, however, tiny children are killed by their own mothers. Some of them are ripped apart limb-by-bloody-limb with a hook; some are burned with an acid-like saline solution; others have their brains sucked out and their skulls crushed. Their mothers don’t physically commit these barbaric acts – they hire someone else to.

Again I ask the questions: What unspeakable evil possesses these mothers? How can it be so powerful as to pervert the natural mother instinct to nurture their young?

Am I being too graphic here? Are you disturbed by my words? It’s much easier to ignore facets of human behavior that repulse us, but ignoring them only seeks to exacerbate the problems and promote the actions we find so abhorrent. Silence is the accomplice of wickedness.

Although the actions of Andrea Yates and the actions of women who take their children’s lives through abortion are driven by different forces, the results are the same and so is the culpability of American society.

For Yates, the nightmare reality of mental illness caused her to lose her mind – literally – that dreadful day. Her twisted brain had grown gradually more ill from years of sickness, neglect and maltreatment. Those around her knew something was wrong, but were left powerless to force her to seek help. You see, in America, the mentally ill have to choose to help themselves – that’s how the laws are written.

You cannot force a “crazy” person into treatment unless and until they have harmed themselves or someone else. The great irony is that the mentally ill person frequently lacks the very judgment needed to realize they need help in the first place. “Choice” has become the operative word for those whose illness constantly dictates poor decisions. This non-treatment is a disgrace to American society – a gutless policy disguised as an issue of freedom.

For the mothers who kill their children before they are born, selfishness is usually the driving force, but once again, “choice” is the operative word. Society’s decision to support the wicked, selfish decision to rid oneself of “unwanted” children by killing them is also a gutless policy disguised as an issue of freedom.

Instead of assisting women who are experiencing a “crisis” pregnancy, we’ve decided it’s much easier – and less intrusive on our own peace of mind – if we allow them to quietly go to a “clinic” where their babies can be disposed of in privacy. But let’s not talk about it, or describe what goes on there – that would be rude and crass. Let’s play the freedom card and label the killing a matter of “choice.”

The link connecting the two very different worlds of mental illness and abortion is our perversion of the word “freedom”: We erroneously believe that permitting the seriously mentally ill to struggle through life without help is protecting their freedom to choose how to live. We foolishly believe that permitting pregnant mothers to kill their own pre-born children is a freedom to be cherished.

Our mistreatment of the mentally ill and our acceptance of abortion are America’s two greatest social ills. These issues are far too complex to fully address in one column, but they are far too important to ignore. If we look these problems squarely in the face – without blinking – we will find the solutions. Serious mental illness must be treated and the lives of those who suffer must be protected – it is inhumane to practice any other policy. Similarly, true freedom dictates that we end legal abortion and protect the lives of children.

If discussing the gory facts is what it takes to make us face the truth, then the time for polite conversation is over. Liberty does not truly exist in a land where the vulnerable are the victims of “freedom.”

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