I don't know when I first heard the word abortion growing up. It was probably at school (oh, yes this post is about abortion). It was an idea that was as far from my experience of life as illness and death. It provoked no particular reaction in me. I think I thought that if you got raped you didn't have to have the baby and that seemed reasonable. Again, I thought nothing much about it for years. I was too busy worrying if Julian, the cute boy beside me was going to pass me a pencil and brush his finger against my hand.
Ok, fine, at 23 yrs old I might still be thinking of romantic pencil passing, but it's become impossible to put the reality of abortion somewhere across the room where I feel more comfortable so I don't have to look at it too close. It's a quiet thing, abortion. It's private. Most abortion clinics look like any normal building with a number or a vague title. It happens far away, and if it doesn't affect me, well that's alright then, right? But so many bad things don't affect me and I'm too busy trying not to offend anyone so that at least everybody will think I'm great. I've spent most of my life trying not to hurt people, but that's actually a very selfish thing. It's about me being liked, not about the other person. A painful question might save someone from perpetual regret. So I'm going to write about abortion for a little while and what I learned and what I felt in the span of 48 hours.
A few weeks ago everyone was talking about going to March for Life down in D.C. If you don't know what that is that is not surprising, since the media tries to down play or not feature the event at all in the news. It's basically a rally advocating that all life be respecting and protected by the law. I couldn't tell you much more about it because I didn't go.
Intellectually, I grasped that abortion was immoral sometime in my late teens when I actually gave it some mind space, but no great passion gripped my heart to stand in front of clinics and save babies. I didn't know anybody who was pregnant that didn't want their baby so it remained impersonal. I knew plenty of people who cared deeply about it, including my baby sister. I applauded them and wondered why I couldn't feel more passionate. Was I just unable to care? If abortion was the action of a mother being able to kill her unborn child I should feel something. I wanted to care about those girls and the things they must be feeling and going through.
So while everybody was at the rally I decided to stay home and my friend Linda proposed an alternative plan. She wanted to go pray outside Planned Parenthood and hand the girls coming in some information about where they could go to get free ultrasounds and support before they went in and went through with it. That sounded wonderful. I felt really drawn to that because that meant I could be really personal and close to the girls. I wanted to know their faces.
Before that of course I had to brush up on information and advice on how to approach people who might be in devastating situations. I thought it smart to look at embryonic development week to week to see how a baby developed. I never thought this simple task would become so intense to go through. At the end of reading the descriptions I could hardly breathe. Here are the descriptions week to week that I got off a website called Pregnancy.org. I encourage you to go through all the weeks.
I felt like I was going to fall off my chair after reading this. I had no idea it would ever be this easy to truly believe with my heart and my mind that abortion was absolutely wrong, and it irked me that the idea hardly bothered anyone. I knew that the decision to terminate a pregnancy must be horrendously difficult for some people, but even a woman in a dire situation wouldn't think that killing her born child was an option. Anyways I thought lots of things, but I had to stop myself so I could learn a little about how to talk to the girls going into an abortion clinic. How do you reach out to someone who is at least in her mind about to do something scary if not awful. I knew Jesus would talk to them full of love and compassion, so I figured that was the way to do it. A really wonderful woman who had a lot of experience in this situation gave a lot of good advice online: No big signs, no shouting, no pro-life shirts, no big crowds, etc, etc. You are trying to connect to a woman and to love her and show her she is not alone.
When Linda, Mairead and I arrived at Planned Parenthood on a brutally cold morning, we found to our dismay, a big group of protestors, with big signs, etc, etc. They were trying to do good, but they just ended up usually repelling the girls. So we prayed quietly on the side and I cried as I saw their faces. One girl was very young, blonde and accompanied by her mother. One poor girl was left alone by her boyfriend who sped up to walk through the doors of the clinic, his face hidden behind his hood. The girl talked to a few people who gave her some options then she went in. It was impossible to talk to anybody since so many people walked by.
The whole thing was a chilling experience. There had been so many of them. When I got home I felt restless and a little emotionally exhausted. I decided to look for some statistics and I checked them in several places to make sure they were as accurate as possible.
From: http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest; 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or child, and 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient).
How many abortions per year?
http://www.abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/In 2005 (the most recent year for which there is reliable data), approximately 1.21 million abortions took place in the U.S., down from an estimated 1.29 million in 2002, 1.31 million in 2000 and 1.36 million in 1996. From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions have occurred in the U.S. (AGI).
It's been a few weeks and I don't think the experience has sunk in completely. I hope that God guides me to do something good with this new found passion. I have been contemplating on the idea of having an extra room in my apartment not only for guests but for pregnant women who need temporary housing. I'd like to actually act and not just write, so if you know me, please challenge me to do so! For now I leave you with these thoughts:
A law will not make people want abortions any less, but a change of heart will. The only reason I think it is important that the law be changed in this case is because the law is in place to protect people. The law should protect both the woman and the child. And I think it's perfectly fine for me to ask for more for my people. The US is producing a generation of people who live for quick fixes. A generation that cannot wait for sex, that cannot own up to the results of their actions, a generation who'd rather "get it taken care of" than take care of their own. Abortion should not become so blasé that it can be seen as a quick fix or akin to a form of birth control. We want to have everything with no consequence, no bump in the road. God forbid we sacrifice ourselves for another. I'm not trying to point any fingers, but I think it's important to take abortion seriously. I also think there are good ways and bad ways of going about this issue. Love is imperative. It cannot be about getting your way. Your time will be better spent being present to young girls in crisis pregnancies than wearing a shirt that says Pro-Life. Hearts will be changed even if the law isn't. And for those who pray, pray especially for the girls who feel alone and feel like they have no other choice.