Have you noticed how quiet it’s been on social media regarding the issue of abortion? One week ago a video was released allegedly exposing the hidden sales of unborn baby organs by Planned Parenthood. The video was edited down from over 2 hours to a little under 9 minutes. It was certainly filmed, edited and published with an agenda. That agenda was to paint a picture of Planned Parenthood as being cold, callous, and uncaring of the unborn. And honestly, regardless of the truth behind that 2 hour conversation, I was very disturbed by how cavalier a person could be while talking about the procedure of late term abortions.
But other than a few blog posts here and there, and some initial reaction following the release of the video, I haven’t heard anything. Why?
Speaking for myself, abortion has become one of those (if not the only) topics that I just find difficult to talk about. Coming from your typical Evangelical-Conservative background, abortion was always a very black and white issue for me. I was the high school girl with “pro life” flyers taped to her bedroom wall. I had seen the pictures of garbage bags full of dead unborn babies, and I was not afraid to show the world the grotesque images of what aborted babies really looked like. I knew the statistics of the casualties of both the Civil and Revolutionary Wars combined compared to the millions of unborn babies being aborted and I knew that abortion was murder. Simple as that.
Or was it?
Now before my anyone starts to panic, bear with me.
As I got older, I began hearing the stories of women who had been faced with the decision to have an abortion at some point in their lives. Stories of teenage pregnancies, rape, women being abandoned by the fathers of their unborn. Stories that made me realize that while I believed (and still do) that we ought to care for the unborn lives, I needed to also show care for the mothers who find themselves in some very difficult circumstances. I don’t know what it’s like to be pregnant at 14 or to bear a child from my rapist, or to be a single mother. It doesn’t mean that I am not for the unborn. It simply means that there is a whole world of situations that I know nothing about.
In the world of politics and religion, the sides of this debate seem to be loud. You are either a “baby killer” or you are “judgmental and invasive”. But is that all there is? Is there an alternative?
I think many Progressive Christians are too easily labeled “liberal” and are lumped in with those who identify as “pro choice”. We seem to lump all of our issues into these two categories: conservative and liberal. But what if you don’t find yourself on either side? What can you do to actually live pro life rather than hold up a sign and scream it into someone’s face?
Many of my friends who identify as “pro life” and fall into the conservative category regarding religion and politics actually have some good ideas for how to help women in these situations. Unfortunately, they get drowned out by all of the rhetoric surrounding their political parties/religious organizations. The problem I have with what I hear from so many “pro lifers” is their failure to acknowledge men and women who face these decisions each day. Yes, we are each responsible for our decisions and of course I don’t think ending a life is the way to solve our problems. But isn’t that the kind of world we live in?
When there is a problem, we kill. If ISIS is killing Christians, the seemingly obvious solution is to kill ISIS. If a young black male gets in the way of law enforcement, we’ll teach them a lesson. If you hit me, I will hit you back harder. And so the cycle of violence continues and in the case of abortion, it would “appear” that by ending the pregnancy, the problem is solved. You see? The logic is the same on both sides of this debate, but each party seems to justify violence with their own man-made notions.
Here’s where I stand on this issue. I have friends who have had abortions and I can’t even begin to pretend like I know their situations. What’s done is done. But I can care for them. They are still here and however God chooses to speak into their lives and heal their wounds, I can be there to listen, to pray, to cry, or to simply try and understand.
For those who face an unexpected pregnancy, I am challenged. I am challenged again, to seek to understand, to listen, to pray and cry. But I am also challenged with this: What lengths am I willing to go to in order to save both lives? Can I take my hard earned money and use it to pay for prenatal care? Can I commit to showing up at Dr. visits? Could I take someone in, provide a bed and food as she undergoes 9 long months of pregnancy? Could I open my family up and offer to adopt? Could I support the local pregnancy crisis center? Could I open a pregnancy crisis center?
Life is messy. It’s inconvenient and uncomfortable. But the Kingdom isn’t about comfort. It’s about sacrificial love. That is the alternative. As Christ followers, it’s such a temptation to expect the world to “get it”- to be responsible, be moral, pick themselves up by their bootstraps, climb out of the pit. It’s even more tempting to get our point across through voting and protesting. But that’s not our job. Our job is to be the helpers, to offer our hand, to admit when we don’t know (and there’s a lot we don’t know). Jesus demonstrated how we ought to love those we disagree with by laying down His life. Are we really willing to follow Him and lay down ours as well?