The Burden of Abortion – part 1

I often pray that abortion will become as morally outrageous to future generations as the Holocaust or racism is to our generation. I truly hope that occurs as soon as possible.

And I imagine how that future generation may view us – who lived while abortion is legal and accepted by a majority of Americans. I have wondered if my grandchildren will look at me in twenty years and say, "Grandpa, I can't believe abortion used to be legal! What did YOU DO to stop abortion from happening?" I imagine that question all the time. Frankly, I fear that question. And I only have a few things I do and have done:

  • I support some great pro-life organizations fiscally
  • I preach about it whenever it comes up in the texts I'm teaching
  • We direct attention and funds from our church budget to a great, local pro-life ministry
  • I won't vote for a pro-abortion candidate (any more than I'd vote for a candidate in favor of genocide) regardless of their party affiliation
  • I make sure my daughters understand the moral atrocity of abortion

My fear is that my grandchildren will say, "That's it? That's all you did?" And I will have to look at them with shame and say, "Yes" or I will have to try to justify why it was "enough."

I am opposed to killing abortion doctors, obviously. I don't think picketing is the best way to go. So what CAN we do? What SHOULD we do? Without neglecting the Great Commission and making it our sole or primary mission – what can we and should we do to stop abortion?

Tomorrow, I want to present a couple of options. But I'd love to hear how you would answer that question to your grandchildren if our culture became as morally opposed to abortion as we are to genocide. What would you say? Are we doing enough? What should we do?

  1. We should preach, teach and practice sexual purity. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Parents….talk to your kids frankly and explain the “why”s. They need to hear from you!

  2. Hey David,

    I wanted to share some thoughts on what you wrote about. Last month I went to an open discussion of a documentary that was hosted by the Fredrick Douglass foundation. They showed the film Maafa 21: Black genocide in the 21st century. I’ve owned this film for years now and have always wanted to have a discussion afterwards so this was really exciting for me! One of the questions brought up was what are we now supposed to do after learning all this? what is our role as an individual going to be? It was said that its so important for us to not be ashamed to talk about it. People need to be educated about whats going on with planned parenthood and their agenda. It starts with education and moving forward with the knowledge that you now know. People shouldn’t shy away from talking about abortion even thought its a difficult issue that effects almost everyone in some way. But God does say to speak the Truth in Love! which is so important to keep in mind when talking to people about this I think. Does that make sense? anyway thought I would share and If you interested in watching the movie your welcome to borrow it! Just let me know and I can always give it to Morgan when I see her at Youth Group.

  3. I think hearing from women who are disgusted with themselves that have made that choice in their life. Idk if would help. But I would tell my story and how I am pro life and would do anything to keep a child alive.

  4. I think one of the reasons that most people in our culture put the desires of the mother ahead of the life of the child is that they view an unborn child as not yet a person.

    When women considering abortion see their baby on an ultrasound, though, that changes! They often see that the fetus is actually a real person.

    I think it would be great if public school health classes showed ultrasound images and videos of unborn babies – their hands, feet and heads; their movements, hiccups and kicks. It would really help people to see that unborn babies are people just as much as adults and children are.

  5. one thing many in the church can do is reinsert themselves into the life and struggles of the marginalized young women who make this choice and the neighborhoods in which they live. those of us who are privileged enough to enjoy political and economic power don’t understand the defenselessness and suffering of a desperately lonely and scared pregnant woman. of course this does not excuse behavior. modernity has dulled the average person to the horrors of such practices (abortion) and so we must fight that; but it has also dulled the church (via materialism) to the plight of the poor and disenfranchised; and we must fight that too–with equal passion.

  6. David,

    I have recently been asking myself these same quesions. I am very passionate about abortion because of how my life could have been different if I had chosen one when I was pregnant at 19. It was Christians in my life at the time that offered the most supportive sound advice. They helped me to see how the Creator of that life within me was bigger than my plans for the future, bigger than my fears now that those plans must change. I feel that my personal experience with unplanned pregnancy puts me in a position to share with young people and possibly influence their choices- but how should I go about it? And would it matter much? I see so many “Christian” responses to abortion that are misguided, unkind, and judgemental. I am against any such action. Picketing and violence do not honor God. But how can I get involved in a way that DOES honor God? SO far I have only been writing about it, and waiting for God to show me what He would have me do. I would LOVE to be a part of the church corporately responding to abortion in a way that DOES honor God, and in a way that clearly shows His love to those facing this choice.

  7. We SHOULD pursue the Gospel in every situation and for every life, however it must be manifested.

    The last few months have been really trying for me, as I’ve wrestled with the idea of systemic sin. For almost all of my Christian walk, the focus has been on finding and wrestling with personal sin (gluttony, pride, lust, etc). When small groups meet, we pray over our personal sins or struggles. When we discuss sin, we almost always mean how we struggle as individuals. But I’ve had a radical shift of my focus as of late, to see systemic sin (racism, oppression, sexism, ageism) for what it is: sin. Just because I don’t say or do racist things, doesn’t mean I’m not still contributing to a system that perpetuates the sins of previous generations.

    Jesus frequently spoke about bringing freedom… to the oppressed, the blind, etc. And in our minds, we tend to just take all of those as a metaphor for sin as it entangles us in our daily decisions. Christ’s forgiveness frees me from the bondage of my struggles. He gives the strength to speak out of love instead of hate, the willpower to stop sinning in my entertainment choices, etc. But what if we took those passages a little more literally and start to see the sins of our society, a society of which we voluntarily participate, and start to pray for forgiveness and chase after the freedom found in the Gospel.

    I’m talking very abstractly, so let me bring it back to abortion. Abortion, at least in my reading and study, seems to be coupled to many other situations… but rests in primarily two main situations. In the first, abortion is very much a personal sin that reflects on the pride or ambition of the individual (thinking “I can’t deal with this right now” or “I have a choice with my body”). This tends to be the position taken by those who may, in fact, have the money to care for this baby, but choose not to because of (insert self-focused reason here… e.g. career).

    But the other component is deeper and relates abortion very strongly to racism and the wealth disparity in our country. The fact that abortion is disproportionately high in urban settings, among minorities, among the poor, and without much counsel from friends or medical professionals, tells me that this sin can be much deeper than just someone making a sinful choice… there are so many related factors that drive people to a dark place to make these choices.

    That all being said, I have a hope and a desire to see people living out the Gospel on every level.

    I’d love to be able to say:

    – I chose to live amongst people who needed the Gospel more than anything. That might mean me choosing to live in a poorer neighborhood, instead of running to the suburbs so I can have my little comfortable kingdom. That might mean me living next door to multiple skin colors. Then maybe I could be a part of throwing off the chains of injustice.

    – I shared the Gospel of Christ’s power over death and sin. Then people were radically transformed, choosing to live for Christ instead of themselves or this world.

    – I gave very generously to those organizations that are having an impact.

    – I sacrificed all for the Gospel’s redemptive work in the lives of individual people and in its transforming power in the society in which we live.

    These are all things I hope to be able to say someday, to have an impact such that the unborn would be saved by the grace of God, but I struggle as my life hardly points in this direction…

    Abortion in our culture is far deeper and more systemic than just feminists crying out “I get to do what I want with my body.” Sure, those exist, but most people who abort have very real needs… and in their mind the only solution, whether they even agree with it or not, is to end the child. If we want to have an impact, we have to chase after those people and their needs, both physical and spiritual.

    I would encourage people to reflect a little on Isaiah 58. We are given a picture of people fasting, bowing their heads, and “lying in sackcloth and ashes.” So these are really religious people… but their religion appears to be for nothing, as they miss the point of God’s grace and mercy.

    “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
    to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
    Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
    when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

  8. First, Josh is a boss.

    Second, I think we need to be mindful of the effect categorizing people may have. Don’t get me wrong: I hate abortion. But I think if we start labeling people “pro-abortion,” then we’re already building walls against people with whom we should be working. By the way, I thought the other side was “pro-choice.” When did it become pro-abortion? In fact, I can’t think of anyone I know who is pro-choice who likes abortion. So, calling them pro-abortionists most likely won’t help in spreading the gospel.

    And third, perhaps we should do more listening to the other side. There are a number of compelling pro-choice arguments that go beyond the typical “woman’s-right-to-her-body.” Here are two that I’ve had to think about: 1) There’s a systemic disparity between the absolutism in pro-life and pro-choice applications. The idea of “pro-choice” extends beyond the scope of a woman to any and every situation, but the idea of “pro-life” is limited to an unborn child. Being “pro-life” should be an absolute, meaning that we value all life; but our systemic actions seem contrary to the idea. In other words, if the life of an unborn child is important to us, so, too, should every other life. And since that seemingly isn’t the case, being “pro-life,” as it is, is a lie. 2) If legal and safe abortions keep just one woman from sticking a coat hanger inside of her self, losing one life is better than losing two. (This argument only holds up in theory as there’s an obvious shift in lives lost in practice, but the principle is valid.)

    I guess my point is that while I’m glad we’re having tough discussions on important topics within the church, it may be worth our while to have “more and better” discussions about important topics with people outside of the church, with people with whom we disagree.

    Two books to read that will open positive communication channels about the issue at hand: 1) Kinnaman’s unchristian; 2) John Irving’s The Cider House Rules.

  9. Kyle,

    I appreciate your comments, and I hope that you will hear the respect in my disagreement.

    The “pro-life” label has been applied to many people and things, but it seems clear to me that God views every human life as sacred. We are made in his image. Therefore, I am committed to honoring God by protecting that life at every stage, from conception to natural death. The debates get hottest where life is most vulnerable, at its beginning and end – abortion and euthanasia.

    You are correct in saying that there are few who call themselves ‘pro-choice’ who *like* abortion. But if pro-abortion is a misnomer, then pro-choice is also.

    There are three primary traditional ethical principles in the doctor-patient relationship: patient autonomy, beneficence, and non-malfeasance. Three equal legs of a balanced stool. Abortionists took a single ethical concept, autonomy, flipped it on its head (calling it ‘choice’), and completely ignored the other two. Medicine has become just another consumer product. I go to the doctor and get what I want (and someone else should pay for it).

    It turns out that ‘choice’ most often means “I feel like I have no other choice.” When you only have one option, are you really making a choice? Women facing unplanned pregnancy feel stuck, trapped. It’s either their life as they know it, or their baby’s life. If we truly respected a woman’s autonomy, we would present all of her options and connect her with all the support she needs to make any of her three pregnancy choices possible: abortion, adoption, and parenting.

    84% of American women said they did not receive adequate counseling before making the decision to have an abortion. 64% said they were pressured by others to abort.

    At our local pro-life ministry, CompassCare, 70-75% of women who were at-risk for abortion walking in the door feel empowered to carry their child to term by the time they leave. I wonder what the statistics are like at Planned Parenthood (where they have a financial interest in her choosing abortion)?

  10. Chris,

    While you know I totally agree with your philosophy, I also need to clear up a common misconception:

    The majority of women having abortions in Rochester at middle class white folks with some college education. The proportions of minorities having abortions is larger, but the volume is primarily from suburbanites.

  11. One thing about the pro-life side that bothers me is the way pro-choice people are portrayed as wanting women to get abortions and being glad when women get abortions, which is not even remotely true. All the people I know who support women having the freedom to choose to abort if they want to are not thrilled when a woman gets an abortion and they aren’t upset when a woman chooses, of her own free will, not to have an abortion. A prime example of this libel is a passage from ‘Left Behind’ when Hattie is telling Raymond that her sister, who works at an abortion clinic, is upset unborn babies were raptured because that means no one will be getting abortions. Frank Peretti’s ‘The Prophet’ portrays abortion providers as being willing to engage in medical malpractice and shady dealings to keep the number of abortions high. At the end of the novel, the main character describes pro-choice people overseeing and regulating abortions as foxes guarding the henhouse, a description that disgusts me. Of course there are some who engage in malpractice and shady dealings and are bloodthirsty, but there are pro-life people who assassinate doctors who perform abortions. Every group/category is going to have ‘bad apples’. The majority are decent, caring people whose only agenda is that women have the freedom to make choices that concern their bodies and their lives. They don’t think death and murder is great and they don’t hate children.

    Abortion makes up 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides each year. Their financial interests lie in providing health and reproductive care to women and men, family planning counseling, and birth control and education on how to use it properly. No federal funds are used for abortions, as that’s already illegal, so there’s no reason to cut or deny funding to them. Abortion is not available at every Planned Parenthood clinic. I have gone to Planned Parenthood for routine reproductive exams and other health care issues before because I did not have health insurance. I went to Planned Parenthood for counseling after I was sexually assaulted in 2010.

  12. Cheryl,

    I sorrow for the terrible experience that you endured, and trust that God somehow used it to make you look and act more like Jesus (I was very thankful for David’s 4/15 sermon!).

    By speaking the truth here about Planned Parenthood, I in no way intend judgement on you or any of the choices you’ve made. Here are three issues surrounding Planned Parenthood that I think warrant caution:

    (1) I suggest some brief research into Planned Parenthood’s financials. While they may claim that abortion is only 3% of the services they provide (which they can measure however they’d like), abortion makes up a significantly higher percentage of their income–at least 45% on first pass.

    (2) About 40% of abortions in New York State are funded by Medicaid, and the majority of those are though Planned Parenthood. Anyone who pays taxes to New York State is paying for abortions.

    (3) Planned Parenthood was founded by a eugenicist, and it has never gotten far from its roots. Their arguments have always been couched in terms of women’s rights and (more recently) distributive justice . However, a quick search for “Margret Sanger, eugenics” is enough to cast suspicion on the intent of the abortion agenda.

    With all this, I do not mean to say that people who are ‘pro-choice’ are “bloodthirsty.” I simply mean to say that they are deceived. Most abortionists believe that they truly act in the best interest of their patients. They intend good. But as we well know, “direction, not intention, determines destination.”

    I highly recommend the 180movie that David mentioned in part two of this post.

  13. Matt i think that was a great answer to the previous post. i think that abortion is seen as a culturally acceptable (shame on us) way to rid oneself of the unwanted, difficult, or inconvenient consequences of ones actions. there are two things that are brought to mind in reading these posts:
    1. how dangerous of a cliff acceptance of death as a way to get rid of unwanted people is. the ‘wink wink’ untruth of children in the womb not being people is just as easily justified as saying that once you’ve lived past your useful years you’re just taking up space and medical capacity that is needed for those younger, etc. etc. or allowing those who are terminally ill to commit assisted suicide.
    Fictional novels that are referenced as resources above not withstanding, how about just reading a few verses about the sanctity of human life? (Ex 21:22-25, prov. 6:16-17) or how we are charged to protect it?
    Prov 24:11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
    12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

    2. how thankful i am of an organization in this area and people (both volunteer and employee) who tirelessly work to make people aware of the need and what can be done to help those ‘led away to death’ as well as direct outreach to the women who make up the statistics above and need so much help.

    i know i don’t say thank you enough to the people who do the actual work in reaching those who need it with the money or time that is given.

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