As you probably know by now, today marks the anniversary of Roe versus Wade, the monumental court case that legalized abortion in America. Because of this anniverary, news outlets all over the country have been aflutter with stories about the state of abortion in the U.S.
This afternoon I listened to the radio as a reporter interviewed two counselors who work with women recovering from abortion. In the course of the interview, callers phoned in with stories of their own abortions, and it was heart-breaking to hear. Many women have suffered greatly from an inability to forgive themselves.
However, not all the callers were so distraught. To my shock, some called in to proclaim that they’d had abortions with absolutely no regrets. What’s more, they felt that no one should have regrets about abortion–it’s your choice, and you should do what’s best for you. Period.
Upon hearing these women’s words, I initially felt sick to my stomach. How could they so cavalierly dismiss a human life? After all, these were not women who were teens or minorities facing financial hardships–these women admitted that they simply didn’t want to be bothered. Either they were in the middle of pursuing their career goals, such as studying in law school, or they already had a family to raise and didn’t want anymore kids. Having a baby was inconvenient, so they chose abortion.
Stories like these problematize the abortion debate considerably. On the one hand, I sympathize with the large percentage of minorities and teens who feel backed into a financial corner and don’t see any other option besides abortion. Those women need advocates, and the church should do everything in its power to care for them.
However, not all women who have abortions are in such dire straits. Some are old enough to be responsible mothers, and they have the finances to support a child–they simply don’t want to. In those cases, the church will not address the problem by simply providing care for pregnant women. The apathetic attitude demonstrated by the women on the radio reflects a much deeper problem, a problem that goes beyond the practical obstacles of pregnancy, and delves into the issue of worldview.
To understand the perspective behind using abortion as birth control, I have been trying to crawl inside the minds of these women. And the more I’ve thought about it, the more it kind of makes sense on some level. Let me explain…
Many people have sex in an instant gratification kind of way. They do what feels good in the moment. The act is not so much a reflection of long term commitment to another as it is an immmediate source of pleasure. Having a baby, on the other hand, is just the opposite. Even if you put the child up for adoption, you are still stuck with a baby in your belly for 9 months. You might have morning sickness, all sorts of joint pains, and you’ll lose the shape of your body. Staying pregnant is therefore a long-term commitment that is guaranteed to be hard.
In this way, having sex and having a baby are polar opposites. According to our culture, sex requires very little of us but gives immediate pleasure. Having a baby, on the other hand, requires a lot of us and can be a horrible experience. That said, it makes perfect sense that so many women choose abortion. Abortion is the instant gratification solution for a culture that lives according to instant gratification.
With all of this in mind, the church has its work cut out for it. Not only should we do a better job of providing pregnant women with resources so that they feel the freedom to keep the baby, but we’ve got to address the reigning mindset as well.
Out of all the hot button issues today, abortion is perhaps the best at revealing our hypocrisy. Our generation prides itself on its mind for social justice, but if the choice is between caring for the oppressed or caring for ourselves, we’ll choose ourselves every time. And that is exactly what these babies are–they are oppressed. Their voices and their lives are not represented by our government, so someone needs to stand for them. That is our job as Christians–we are to be a voice for the poor and oppressed, so we are to be a voice for these children. We must also be a prophetic voice that shines a spotlight on such blatant hypocrisy.
If you have had an abortion, please don’t read this as a condemnation of you as a person. We all make mistakes, we do the best we can with the information we have at the time, and we cannot change our past. What we can do is to direct our future. God is a redeemer who can take any situation and make it into something glorious, so I hope that you let Him.
In closing, let us not forget our call as Christians. We should not only stand on behalf of the countless women who have abortions because they feel they have no other option, but we should also stand on behalf of the millions of babies who have no one to advocate for them. If ever a group was oppressed, these millions of unborn children would be it. Now our task is to do the hard work of prying the culture’s eyes off of itself, and challenging our society with the tough question of what it TRULY means to live for another.