The following three stories are not intended as a trick. They are not an attempt to manipulate. They are meant to demonstrate the tangle of issues surrounding the act of abortion, issues requiring proactive and creative responses so that abortion falls outside consideration, issues into which the people of God are called and for which we are equipped by the Holy Spirit.
We were in ethics class. The topic of the day was abortion. The class was small, and we all knew each other. We’d all spent a lot of time together. Most of us were friends.
I don’t remember exactly what one classmate said. I just remember he used the word “irresponsible” in talking about people who have abortions.
And I remember one of our friends exploding out of his seat ready to tear apart the offending classmate. He yelled something to the effect, “You don’t know the first thing about it!”
That’s when we learned he impregnated a female student and told her to have an abortion.
We’d all spent a lot of time together. I’d even walked in on him and the female student on what now I guessed was the night they conceived. He was mad then, but nothing like he was in that classroom.
No, it wasn’t anger. It was the releasing of inward-turned wrath.
We all knew each other, but we didn’t know that.
A certified registered nurse anesthetist recently shared the next two stories on Facebook (published here with permission).
“I have been called personally to the delivery room of a mother who was expecting her 9th baby. She no longer has her other children because they have all been removed by Child Protective Services. She is high on cocaine and crack at time of delivery and has gone into pre-term labor. She will deliver a crack-addicted 30-week fetus that she will not take to raise.”
“Picture this: A beautiful couple pregnant with their first child. Nursery all decked in pink and gold because a princess is coming. I’ve been assigned to provide anesthesia for the elective termination of this 18-week unborn fetus.
“As I hold the mother’s hand and pray with her before taking her into the operating room, it becomes apparent that she feels guilty. She feels dirty and sinful.
‘What if the sonogram is wrong?’
‘What if the heart is not truly on the outside of the body?’
‘What if there really are kidneys but we just can’t see them?’
“We prayed. We cried. And I then performed anesthesia so doctors could terminate her very wanted and loved pregnancy.”
These stories remind us that abortion can’t be abstracted out of everyday life as nothing more than a debate topic. Abortion happens in the real world, and so we have to deal with abortion in the real world, which includes all the difficulties of human stories.
At the same time, these stories—as powerful as they are—can’t stop us from thinking through what God calls us to do in relation to abortion. Because such stories elicit strong emotions, we must be careful not to allow them to overwhelm our ability to think well.
These three stories point us to issues of at least equal importance to abortion. Just some of these issues are raised by the following questions.
How will we raise boys and girls so they don’t seek meaning and solace in sex and drugs?
How will we raise boys and girls into men and women who give themselves only to their spouses?
How will we provide for women and, yes, young girls who become pregnant and need help from a community of others in order to birth and raise a child?
How will we care for children who might have been aborted but weren’t because we said we would care for them?
How will we help those who have had an abortion—for whatever reason—process their grief and find wholeness again?
Not part of the stories above is rape and incest, evil events that are part of some arguments for the pro-choice position. How will we protect women and, yes, young girls from sexual predators who might impregnate them?
I don’t ask these questions from a holier-than-thou position. That ship’s sailed, and I’m standing on the dock watching the boat I missed sail toward the horizon.
I ask these questions because they are the questions being asked. They are the questions we are most likely to encounter in real time with real people who need real answers, answers closer than the halls of government, answers as close as the air we share.
I ask these questions because I’ve invested decades of my life in young people—more recently, including my own children—hoping to protect them, hoping they would not abuse their bodies or anyone else’s, hoping they would find wholeness in Jesus.
I ask these questions because living in this far-from-perfect world means I am very likely to need to embody Christ by living the best answers I can.