The Rights of Life
Chapter 8 from:
"That's Not How This Works! How to Hold onto Truth in a Culture that Doesn't"
In December of 2005, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in years at a local coffee shop. At the time, I had no idea the lasting impact that chance meeting would have. Susan (we’ll call her), normally vibrant and happy, was distraught that day.
After a little small talk, Susan relayed the bad news she received that week. She and her husband tried for years to have a baby, without success. Once the medical options were exhausted, a plan was finally in place to adopt a child through a local agency. They were scheduled to pick up the child the following week when they received the call… the birth mom changed her mind. After months and months of paperwork, with end was in sight, their hope changed in an instant. Susan was crushed.
My heart hurt for my friend. Our third child was three years old at the time, and I couldn’t imagine not being able to conceive. I prayed for her that day, but there wasn’t much else I could do.
Within a week of speaking with Susan, I ran into another friend. I saw this woman consistently and we often had brief conversations, usually about the weather and other unimportant stuff. On this day, Sandi (we’ll call her) confided that she was in a tough spot: she was pregnant to a man she wasn’t married to. When she broke the news, he ended the relationship and refused to see her.
Sandi held the conviction that abortion was not an option, but she already had two children and had no idea how she would care for another. The family member who had originally agreed to adopt the child had just backed out of the arrangement.
As I listened, I tried hard not to jump out of my chair. After a while I told her that I know someone who may want to adopt her baby and asked her permission to speak to my friend. If she was interested, I promised to connect them. Sandi was excited about the prospect and gave me permission to bring up the subject with my friend.
I will never forget making that call on Christmas Eve. It must have been hard to conceal my excitement because Susan later said she knew why I was calling… even before I told her. The two women met together shortly thereafter, and the rest is history. The baby girl born in April of 2006 was adopted by Susan and her husband. God had—once again—worked out a solution to the problem for BOTH women, even before they were aware of their dilemmas.
One of the more perplexing divisions of our times is between those who promote women’s choice (i.e. abortion) and those who advocate for life.
In 1973 a U.S. Supreme Court in the now famous “Roe v. Wade” case ruled that access to safe and legal abortion is a constitutional right. This legislation became an extension of the idea that government shouldn’t be able to tell women what to do with their bodies. Ever since that time, a battle has ensued.
There are a lot of social issues in America today which the Bible doesn’t have any direct answers, but the case for protecting innocent life isn’t one of them. Genesis 1 proclaims that God made man in His image; Exodus 20 records the Sixth Commandment, “You must not murder” (NLT); and Psalm 139 declares boldly and beautifully how life begins at conception. Very severe warnings are given against those who would harm children in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Luke 17:2, for example, states, “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” (NIV).
There is no room for “gray area” in the Christian Worldview regarding abortion.
Because all life is deemed sacred by God, many have taken up the cause of protecting the unborn. The modern pro-life movement started and was fueled by the Catholic Church who were among the firsts to recognize that life is a God-given privilege. In 1968, Pope Paul VI forbid abortion and most methods of birth control.[i]
Although this stance has been disputed in recent days, many within the Catholic Church still valiantly defend the rights of the unborn child. Sister Deirdre Bryne proudly represents the best of this community. In a speech she gave in August 2020 to a national audience, Sister Dede—a retired Army officer and surgeon—discussed her work serving the poor in Haiti, Sudan, Kenya and Iraq. She talked about how the refugees she has worked with have been marginalized, were viewed as insignificant, and have been deemed powerless.
The largest marginalized group in the world, though, Sister Dede stated, are not outside our borders. They are here in the United States, and they are the unborn.[ii]
Towards the end of the 1970s, evangelical Christians joined the movement.[iii] As late as the 1960’s, pastors and evangelical scholars couldn’t agree if abortion was sinful. But thanks to the groundbreaking work done by our Catholic brothers and sisters, the sentiment changed. More and more evangelical organizations such as Students for Life of America, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council and others joined the fight. For the next few decades, the focus shifted from saving babies at all costs, to educating and supporting women in crisis. During this phase, the “face” of the movement changed to being characterized by white, suburban conservatives.
The “Roe v. Wade” legislation remained uncontested for several decades. On October 2, 2003, under President George Bush, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was passed to ban certain procedures deemed to be cruel and barbaric. This decision marked the first time since 1973 that any restrictions were placed on abortion.[iv]
In recent years, however, there has been a push to overturn the this ban on late-term abortions, the only restraints on the US $1.3 billion industry.[v]
Rather than a continued progress toward making abortion illegal, many proponents are choosing to double down. The push toward Political Correctness has caused the unthinkable murder of viable, unborn babies to become more acceptable. Some in the media seek to change what they deem to be the offensive labeling of “pro-choice” and “pro-life” to include more neutral phrases such “abortion-rights advocates” and “abortion rights opponents.[vi]” Advocates for abortion on-demand are offended by the term “pro-life,” possibly because it implies that unborn children have rights, not just the activists.
Here is what I do not understand: Why isn’t adoption being pushed as an alternative to late-term abortion? As a human being, partial-birth abortion doesn’t make sense to me on any level. But, as a mother, it makes even less sense (yes, less than none). Why would any woman purposely go through nine months of pregnancy if they had even an inkling that they want to abort? Pregnancy is no fun. I can’t image any rational, caring woman willing choosing to kill the child they carried for the past eight or nine months, rather than putting him or her up for adoption.
You may not realize this if you’ve never had the need, but every state in the US has Safe Haven laws. This means that a mother, and even a father, can relinquish an unharmed baby to any hospital without risk of being prosecuted for child abandonment. Many states have gone to great lengths to ensure privacy to protect both the child and the person relinquishing them.[vii]