Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Abortion - a personal reflection

The subject of abortion has been weighing heavily on my heart. I’ve meant to write about it, but I haven’t been able to. One of the reasons is that someone close to me has had an abortion recently. This happened at a time when they were emotionally distant, and she has started renewing connections to family and friends. I was afraid that I might offend her with what I might write and set the process back.

I’m still afraid. I’m more afraid though that if I’m silent I might miss an opportunity to speak to her heart. The reason for writing this is that I think there are a couple of ways to approach the issue that avoid the pro-life/pro-choice quagmire. I’m not going to try to approach them all at once – this may take a while.

On Easter, I was in Nampa, Idaho attending church at the Nampa First Church of the Nazarene. At one point in the service, I noticed a teenager wearing a t-shirt that said (in bright, capital letters) “Abortion is Homicide.” I thought, "oh, my!" I didn't expect to see that in church.

The legal implication of saying “abortion is homicide” is that women who have abortions are murderers and belong in prison. But as Christians, is that the proper response? The trouble I have with that young man’s t-shirt is that I don’t think women who have abortions belong in prison. I think that probably a lot of the women that have abortions do so because they are afraid, alone, and part of a culture that tells them they have no other choice. Our responsibility as Christians is to reach out to them and let them know that they are not alone, they do have other choices, and while we can’t make the fear go away, we can be present for and with them.

I think out here in the west, the Methodist Church is pretty soft on abortion. I think a lot of men and women in the church see the choice, somewhat understandably, as being between pro-choice (meaning pro-woman) or being shouting, angry, sign-holding, clinic-blocking protesters. We’re losing an opportunity to present a “third” way – a Christ-centered loving and compassionate approach that is both pro-woman and pro-child.

The decision of someone in my life to have an abortion has left me heartbroken. I mourn the loss of that child, but even more deeply felt is my pain that this person couldn’t come to me when they realized that they were pregnant. Sarah and I would have adopted the baby in a second. We would have paid her medical expenses without blinking. Is there something we could have done to change her mind? Is there anything I could have said that would have made a difference?

I’ve tried to let her know since then what I’ve said above. I hope she knows that next time she can turn to us. I hope that she lets God into her life. I hope and pray that there is not a next time, but if there is, please let her talk to someone who can let her know that there is another way.



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