A Beautiful Choice
By Mary McClusky
October 28, 2011
Stacie Crimm did not believe she would ever have a child, so when she finally got pregnant at 41, she was overjoyed. But soon, terrible headaches and double vision led to a diagnosis of head and neck cancer. According to her brother, Ray Phillips, she “agonized” over the decision to treat the cancer. While Stacy certainly could have morally accepted the unintended and possible harm to her child from chemotherapy, she chose to refuse the treatment so that her baby would have the best chance at life. After Stacie collapsed in August, doctors performed an emergency C-section and little Dottie Mae Crimm was born. Though she weighed just over 2 pounds, Dottie Mae eventually made it out of neo-natal intensive care.
In the days after the birth, hospital staff struggled to keep Stacie alive, resuscitating her several times. When doctors advised that the end was near, nurses wheeled the baby in to Stacie’s room so that she could hold Dottie Mae. Ray Phillips said that the sight of his sister smiling with joy as she held the child for whom she risked her life was “probably the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my life.” Stacie died three days later.
Stacie’s story is beautiful because she saw her child as a gift. An unborn child is a person with God-given dignity who possesses the same equal human rights as you and I, including the right to life. As a mother, Stacie instinctively recognized that she alone was entrusted with Dottie’s nurture and protection throughout the first months of her life. Despite the suffering she would likely endure, Stacie knowingly chose the good of another. She freely chose a course that might result in her earlier death in order to benefit her unborn child. With the support of her brother and his family, she knew her child would be welcomed into their loving family.
Her story is an example of the beauty of great love that involves dying to self for the good of another. God commands us to love one another. Scripture says that “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15: 13). We are truly fulfilled and experience great happiness when we give unconditional love to another person. Our ultimate good is gained by living rightly and loving well in this life so that we may enjoy eternal life with God and His angels and saints.
Each of us is called to love sacrificially, and to support the gift of human life. And we are called to help others when their sacrifices may be overwhelming. By supporting expectant mothers in the most difficult situations, we witness to God’s gift of new life growing within them. May each of us turn to Christ and His Resurrection for the inspiration required to truly love and to witness to the gift of life. May we have the wisdom to see each person we encounter, both born and unborn, as a gift, and have the strength to perform acts of sacrificial love that support human life. Stacie Crimm’s choice to love her daughter ahead of herself not only saved her baby, Dottie Mae, but inspires those who hear her story.
Mary McClusky is Special Projects Coordinator at the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. To learn more about the bishops’ pro-life activities, go to www.usccb.org/prolife.