I tried to ignore the facebook links to the story for a while, but I eventually gave in and read the court proceedings.
With my eyes welling with tears and stomach turning, I read the details. It was horrific. Human depravity at its worst.
Whatever your views on abortion, the fact remains that this was a degradation of human rights not only for the babies, but also for their mothers.
I am a mother today because three women chose life. I am honored and humbled to have been given the opportunity to call these boys my sons. Reading what was done to women and children in that clinic absolutely appalls me and breaks my heart.
Honestly, friends, I have no desire to stir the debate over abortion. The fact of the matter is that women are going to continue to have them, whether legally or illegally.
Instead, I want to speak to my Christian community today, to those holding tightly to the mantle of the right to life for everyone.
As I scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook and my Twitter updates, the cry against abortion rings loudly from my friends and acquaintances. We weep at the horrors of Gosnell and his clinic, post pictures of babies that have been aborted to prove their pre-natal development, and rail against our legislators for not doing more to stop abortions nationwide.
Typing a facebook status, sharing a link to an article, posting a picture is pretty easy. Heck, standing in front of a clinic, asking women to reconsider their choice is fairly easy.
Christian community, if we are serious about lowering the rate of abortions in this country are we ready to care for the babies that are born to mothers who may not be able to adequately care for them?
Studies have shown that the face of women choosing abortion is changing. It's no longer the unwed, teenage girl getting forced to give up the baby by her parents. Research has shown that the growing percentage of women choosing abortion are single, african-american women in their 20's, with more than one child, and living below the poverty line. A report from the Guttmacher organization states:
“The proportion of abortion patients who were poor increased by almost 60%—from 27% in 2000 to 42% in 2008.” As you might expect, the profile of the abortion patient is disproportionately poor, as well as disproportionately Black or Latina.
In the study, poor women's “relative abortion rate was more than twice that of all women in 2008... and more than five times that of women at 200% or more of the poverty level.”
From an NBC News Report:
"In fact, the women come from virtually every demographic sector. But year after year the statistics reveal that black women and economically struggling women — who have above-average rates of unintended pregnancies — are far more likely than others to have abortions. About 13 percent of American women are black, yet new figures from the Centers for Disease Control show they account for 35 percent of the abortions."
The pro-life movement, interestingly enough, has continued to grow, with the Gallup poll indicating that 47% of Americans in 2010 considered themselves "pro-life" versus 45% as "pro-choice."
More and more Americans are defining their stance on the issue, with the Christian community of "pro-lifers," seemingly taking on the most vocal role.
So, as the demographic of women choosing abortion continues to trend toward minority and lower-income women and the American population seems slowly be heading more in the direction of a pro-life stance, what does that mean?
It means that there should be help on the way for these women.
The cycle of poverty is entangling and overbearing. As we have watched personally in some of the precious lives around us, it is a heavy-handed oppressor often making an individual feel as though there is no way out.
As a Christian community, are we willing to invest in the life of a mother who chooses life? Are we willing to spend time with these women, helping them to step out of the cycle of poverty?
Getting a child through the first nine months in their mother's womb CANNOT be enough. Mothers who are considering abortion but decide instead to carry the child are most likely already facing a myriad of stresses in their daily life. That's why they are considering abortion in the first place.
My prayer is that we, as a Christian community, would become a support system for those women. I pray that we would leave the comfort of our middle-income existence and step into the lives of women trying to make it one day to the next.
Please hear me that I'm not suggesting that all middle-income (majority white) pro-life advocates march into the inner city and start telling people how to live. What I envision are relationships, real friendships, developed over the common thread of life and children and hope. Because when you have people in your life that are walking through difficulties with you, offering support and encouragement, you start to realize that you can thrive, and not just survive.
Investing takes effort and patience. It takes a committed desire to be intentional with your time and a willingness to care for others when it's difficult and messy. Investing in the life of a mother in poverty means working with her in how to save money, how to interview for jobs and write a resume. It means putting aside your socioeconomic world-view and being willing to step into her life. It means loving radically, deeply, and without judgement.
If we are going to make a stand against abortion, then we have to BE THERE when women choose life for their child. When we plead with women not to end their pregnancies, we must then, in turn, help them when they have the baby.
Intentional, committed, and in it for the long run.
We can spout statistics, talk about the gestational development of a baby, and list the emotional and physical risks all day long. That's easy. But are we really willing to do more than vocalize our beliefs?
What about the 400,000 children in foster care across our country? Their parents choose life for them, but couldn't provide a safe place for them to grow and thrive.
We asked them to give them life. Now, are we going to help them LIVE?
Or the 100,000 children in the United States that are waiting to be adopted? Their parents chose life for them, but because of addiction, neglect, or other factors, could not continue to raise them. These children have spent years in the foster care system and they are READY for a family.
Christian community, if we are serious about fighting for the right to life, then we need to be serious about being a part of the rest of their life.
There should NOT be a waiting child adoption list in this country. Plain and simple. If the Christian community is going to fight for the right to life, then we need to fight for a healthy and safe life for them as they grow into adulthood. We need to step up and provide that for them.
The abortion discussion MUST NOT end at birth. If we truly believe every child is precious and wanted, then we have to act like it.
I'm challenging us to move from behind our computer screens and into action. Rather than point fingers, let's get to know some women in need of a support network and start investing in their life. Let's move the number of waiting children in our country to zero. Let's make sure that the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care are in safe, stable homes of refuge. If we make the right to life our battle cry, then these children and these women are not someone else's problem.
May our facebook statuses, our tweets, and our blog posts be overshadowed and overpowered by the way we are spending our time and investing in others.