Sunday, November 13, 2016

Meaningful Life and Abortion

A little boy is going to be born soon and I can't wait to hold him. Many months ago, I wondered if he would live to see this side of the womb.

I sat across from his momma visit after visit as she talked about her reasons to have an abortion. Each week, my faith would falter and I wondered if this would be the visit she would cancel, telling us she had had the abortion. But each week she showed up, tearful and undecided, letting us love on her and be a safe place to process her unplanned pregnancy. I'll never forget when she tearfully told me on her third visit that she had decided she was going to "terminate." She felt there was no other option.

But through God's grace, the power of prayer, and lots of love and tangible resources, she's now awaiting the birth of her precious son. Her ultrasound with us was the first ultrasound she had ever seen. The flickering heartbeat that first connects a mother to the life within her.

Last week, I stood on the sidewalk by the abortion clinic for a peaceful prayer vigil and I talked with a fiery pro-choice protester. We discussed our thoughts on abortion, on post-abortive women, on poverty and privilege. I was grateful for the discussion because so often in this deeply emotional topic, we stick closely to our own sides and regard the other as enemy. This young woman and I parted ways in peace, not anger, and even discussed our own motherhood and wished each other well for the weekend.

But there's something she said that's sticking out to me like a thorn. Because I think it's indicative of how so many view abortion today. She said she knew that a life was ended in abortion, but that it wasn't a meaningful life. The 'fetus' as she preferred to call it didn't have a meaningful life. And if the mother was poor, even after being born it would not have a meaningful life.

Is this where we are as a society? We can look at a human life and decide if it has meaning and should or should not live? What if we disagree? What if I think it has meaning and someone else does not? This is so relative. It pains me. The child gets no part in the decision of whether or not its life is meaningful.

So much can happen in nine months, both in a woman's situation and in a woman's heart. Yet I see the pressure in a woman's mind and heart to make a hasty choice when she finds herself in an unexpected pregnancy. The pro-choice protester argued with me that if a woman can't afford to eat, you can't blame her for choosing an abortion and that we should give her that right. I think that's a sad solution to her struggle-- let's give her the right to spend hundreds of dollars for a decision that will likely wound her soul and still leave her poor in both body and spirit. Why do we think this is a solution? Shouldn't we instead be rising up to give her money, resources, love and support instead so that she can choose parenting or adoption? Shouldn't we be feeding both instead of ending one's life and continuing to allow the other to starve?

I recently sent an email out to friends, family, and church members asking for diapers or meals for my sweet client due soon with her baby. I was overwhelmed by the immediate responses of these people, offering meals, money, diapers-- even one woman offering to buy baby food for her six months from now! One friend who leads our mother's group at church wrote and said they had decided to host a baby shower for her. The Body of Christ showed up and I was humbled.

These pro-life people are the ones that the world would have you believe are only 'pro-baby' or 'pro-birth,' that they don't care about the woman but only that she chooses to give birth.

I don't think so.

These are the people who believe that every life has meaning. The woman's life. The baby's life. Even the life of the abortion doctor. From conception to natural death.

And so I keep praying. That abortion will become illegal, but even more that abortion will become unthinkable. That those who are pro-choice will see that the choice of abortion leaves one life ended and another life deeply wounded. That we will cease to see abortion as a solution to a problem, but instead to see it as a symptom of a greater problem. And that more mothers will have the strength within and the help of the community around them to choose life for their children. And that every single one of us will regard every life-- from the smallest to the greatest and including our own-- as having meaning simply because we are created by a loving Father.


  1. Thank you for doing what you do, Laura! Gosh, I miss those conversations outside the facilities so much. I need to figure out how to make this a much bigger part of my post-college life. Seeing people do what you're talking about and supporting life at all stages will do so much good. We don't just care about "forcing" women to give birth, but supporting the value of every life from beginning to end. What a beautiful response from people who are helping this baby be so warmly welcomed!

  2. Laura, I am so happy that God has been using you in this way! What a powerful story. I think it's interesting that you and the other woman discussed "meaningful life"-I've actually thought about that a bit since Peter was born. He doesn't "do" anything productive or especially extraordinary, but every time I take him out in public, it's amazing to see just how much joy he brings to others. And so I've thought about what a great gift it is that this helpless little baby can, in so many ways, bring such incredible depths of meaning and love to the world.
    And I agree-not only would it be awesome for abortion to be illegal, but also for us to have a culture that empowers mothers and helps them have a better life with their children.

  3. I love what you did with the email as many people don't do that.

    I will say that I am pro-choice with a lot of reservations. I believe that abortion should be the last choice after everything else has been examined and re-examined. My problem with it becoming illegal is that we will go back to back alley illegal abortions that will kill many more.

    I also believe that we wouldn't have many abortions if more people followed your lead. Many people don't (even a lot of my hippie liberal friends) follow what you did.

    I also believe that education of our youth on the choices and consequences of their behavior needs to be overhauled. Many kids don't learn about the consequences of risky behavior. Where I teach (with teenagers that are super at-risk) we have speakers from community-based organizations come in twice a week during science class to talk about different topics. One thing I lobbied for many years was not just talk about sex but add to part of the curriculum a component about being a parent, for the males staying in the child's life, how much it costs to have a baby, how much it costs to raise a child, resources on programs to help a parent out and about the safe baby surrender sites. After lobbying, it is now part of the health curriculum and it is more than one class. So, at least in my small world, these kids are being educated. One thing that I did not lobby for was abortion services (some did), I just said it should be last, last, last resort to be considered.

    I remember when my two kids were born eighteen months apart, 19 years ago. I wasn't making much money back then (finishing college) but I always found a way, sometimes it was food and stuff for them and I had to go without.

    I do agree with you that we do need to find a way in the nation to feed both the mother and child.

    Sorry for rambling and being so long.

    1. Butting in because I love that you commented! It's hard to argue with helping people, right? I'm so glad to see this trend too! As someone who's been doing pro-life (in every sense of the word, not just preborn lives) work for a while, it's SO good to see people really caring about people, not just ending abortion. There are awesome networks of medical pregnancy centers growing that offer health care for the whole person. You can look up Obria or Stanton Healthcare (they're seriously amazing).

      Love your point about education too. Telling teens to just "be safe" is not enough. I think it's great that you've advocated for a deeper understanding beyond the classic sex ed. We might disagree that abortion should ever be an option, but it sounds like you've done some great things to help people.

      Kudos to you for making sacrifices for your kids. Hopefully more and more people will work hard to make the world a place where all babies can be born because their moms know help is available.

  4. This is beautifully written, Laura. What an amazing way to open up the conversation without being confrontational and abusive of either side of the argument. I love your spirit and dedication to our women in crisis. I just wish there were more and more people like you!