While We Fight, They Die: A Plea to Those on Both Sides of the Abortion Debate

Right now, somewhere in the world, more than one baby is dying due to an abortion. At the same time, women and girls are also dying due to “unsafe abortions”, possibly done in someone’s garage as an act of desperation. While Pro-Choice supporters rally about the rights of women and their right to have control over their bodies, life in the womb is being lost. And while Pro-Life activists scream about the selfishness of women who choose abortion and how they are “for life”, young girls who often don’t even know how they became pregnant, are dying because there is nowhere for them to get an abortion done in a safe place, by a doctor who knows how to help them get through such a procedure, physically intact.

While we all argue and scream, babies, women and girls are still dying.

As someone who was brought up in a very pro-life home and attended more than one March for Life in Washington DC, being passionately and staunchly pro-life, was nearly part of my DNA. I never hated or felt vicious animosity towards girls and women who had abortions, but I fully believed that abortion was wrong and any extenuating circumstances, were just that and one needed to trust that God had a plan for every life, regardless of the way in which that life was started….or what that life might consist of once in the world.

And so here is where I am torn…I do believe that abortion ends a life. I do believe that all life is precious to God. I completely disagree with the hard line that many Pro-Choice activists take and their own inability to accept the hard realities of what abortion actually does…to the baby/”foetus” in the womb and to the mother. BUT I also believe that in the Pro-Life movement, they seem to be very partial to the life of the baby, almost totally disregarding at times, the life of the girl or woman involved.

What I see constantly, is two sides with similar ideals (those being less abortions and loss of life), but very different conclusions on how to make those ideals happen and fiercely expressing them in such aggressive ways, that no one has listened to the other side for a long time.

Meanwhile, lives are still being lost. Babies and women and girls are not important enough to one side or the other, to warrant a real conversation, which could maybe stop so much of the death.

I see this and hear it and I wonder, what is God thinking right now?? As a Christian feminist, what should my response be in this discussion and debate?? IF both sides are truly “for” saving the lives of babies and/or women, what needs to happen, to make that happen?? What does each side need to hear, really hear in their souls, to make that a reality??

Here’s what I think…There needs to be real discussion, real listening going on. Enough of the signs on both sides that are just full of animosity with their nasty pictures (does anyone really think that it helps a woman who has aborted, to see an aborted baby?) and vulgar words (why would anyone want to listen to anyone holding a sign saying that they hope their daughter gets raped or cussing them out as religious nuts?).

The Pro-Life camp needs to be willing to acknowledge some things….According to the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html) banning abortions, does not lower the rates at which it occurs. Let me repeat that: When abortion is made illegal, abortion rates in a country do not drop! Some of the highest abortion rates are happening in countries with stricter abortion laws. Along with that, abortion rates are the lowest in North and Western Europe where abortion laws are non-restrictive. In the countries that are also considered part of the 3rd world (like most of Africa), abortion is usually very restricted and yet their abortion rates are still high, as well as having some of the highest maternal death rates due to unsafe abortions. If the goal of the Pro-Life movement is to save lives and limit abortions around the world, and all the research says that when abortion is made illegal, abortion rates do not drop, then why is no one re-examining this approach?

If the Pro-Life movement is “pro-life”, what about the life of the women who are pregnant? What is happening in many parts of the world, is there are women in circumstances that most of us in the West cannot even fathom, getting pregnant, choosing an abortion, but because there is no safe place to get one, they are having it done by someone who may or may not know what they are doing, in an unsafe environment. As a result, not only is the life of the baby lost, but often the mother. When it comes to the developing world especially, I think it speaks of extreme ignorance and insensitivity to deny these situations happen on a large scale or to dismiss them with “They always could choose another option, like adoption!” The fact is, many women in the world would have no clue how to access an adoption agency. Many of them are pregnant against their will. Many know that their unborn baby will die within months of being born, because they simply can’t afford to feed the child. What is the Pro-Life answer to that?

As for the Pro-Choice side, I think they need to acknowledge, corporately some important issues. First, while most if not all the people I know that are pro-choice do not deny that what is going on in the womb is life and they would argue what the quality of that life (or lack thereof) would be for the baby or the mother, as to why abortion should be a choice, I do not hear it spoken too much out loud by those who are most vocal on this topic in politics and the media. I think the pro-choice camp needs to say out loud that abortion does end a life or at the very least the amazing potential of one. Whether you believe life starts at conception, implantation, when the baby takes a breath outside the womb or anything in between, there must be acknowledgement that what could become an individual, unique life is being ended.

I take issue with Pro-Choicers glorifying the rights of the mother at all costs, the same way I do not think it is right for the Pro-Lifers to be so caught up with saving the life of the babies, that they do not show enough true empathy for the actual plight of the women involved and their often very probable loss of their own lives, if they have an unsafe abortion.

While I look at the 3rd world and when I hear of women also in the west who are in horrific situations where having a baby would only bring about death or suffering in the long run, my world view is starting to shift and I wonder, is there ever a time where abortion is a “necessary evil”??? Are there circumstances where God weeps, but understands?? God knows the heart of every woman better than any of us ever could and He knows how harsh and horrific this world is to many; does He ever look at abortion as a horrible consequence of a fallen world that sometimes is the only choice for some?? I wonder.

At the same time, I think those rallying for a woman’s right to choose, need to take a hard look at what they are fighting for, because fighting for a woman to be able to choose to protect herself by getting a necessary abortion is one thing, getting enraged because there are laws being proposed that would prevent a woman using abortion as “birth control” because of irresponsibility and selfishness, is another. And as I write that line, I KNOW there will be those who are staunchly pro-choice screaming at their computer, “How dare you call someone selfish for making that choice???” But if we are going to be honest, if we are going to look at both sides and “call them out”, then those fighting for a woman’s right to choose, need to acknowledge that there are indeed times where abortion is nothing more than a selfish, bad, choice that ends one life to protect and “clean up” the reckless decisions of another. Let’s call it what it is!! You can support the need for protecting a woman’s right to choose and be safe while having an abortion and still have a sense of morality that says “Hey, you went out, got drunk, had unprotected sex and now you are pregnant. You do have the right choose, but let’s talk about what the right choice is!”

I guess as I write this, my heart cries out for both sides to “get it”! For both “sides” to realize that if we all actually sat down and talked about this issue, we would probably “be on the same page” on many things regarding the lives of both women and unborn babies. I have been reading and researching and both sides of this debate do a great job at highlighting the demons and villains on both sides. Both the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice supporters attack the methods of the other side and point out how what they are doing is not working. On the Pro-Life websites (Concerned Women for America as an example) they talk about the murder of innocent babies, the horrible acts of aggressive pro-choice activists, the corruption of our youth because of sexual promiscuity, while saying very little about the benefits of contraception. Pro-Choicers will rage against the injustice of the Pro-Life agenda, while not acknowledging the harm that is done to society when abortion becomes a culture and the predominant form of birth control.

The fact is and it is a fact, there are amazing, compassionate, well-meaning, intelligent and valiantly fierce women and men on both sides of this debate. I know because I know them, on both “sides”! We do live in a world that has many evil and hurtful elements, but in this debate, there are many who are good and pure of heart in their intentions; again on both sides. If we are going to make a real, tangible, life-saving difference in regards to women’s and babie’s survival, we need to come to the table believing the best about each other and willing to absorb and contemplate what the “other side” has to share and contribute.

We live in a world with lots of black and whites, but the older I get, I see so many more valuable shades of grey. In my heart, I do not want abortion to exist and I know God must weep at the loss of life. But I know He is not only weeping for the loss of the babies’ lives, but also the lives of the women who get thousands of unsafe abortions around the world and do not survive. As Christians, if our purpose on this earth is to show God’s love and bear witness to what Christ has done for all, how do we do that for women who are dead? I would rather a woman be able to get a safe abortion, survive and hopefully have a chance to know God’s love for her one day (or feel the renewal of that love, because let’s not be naïve in thinking for one second that Christian women don’t get abortions)…than die in a garage somewhere, because I fought so hard for abortion to be made illegal, that she has no other option.

Abortion does end a life, there’s not too many that refute that anymore. But we need to get real. We need to hear that actually making abortion illegal doesn’t stop them from happening, so what can we do that actually works and seeks to benefit both baby and woman?? We also desperately need to have some sense of morality that tells us making abortion such an ingrained part of our culture where there is no consideration for when it is a harmful and destructive choice, is one of the biggest disservices we can do for the upcoming generations of girls and women.

I am Pro-Life, but I am Pro-ALL-Life! I want babies and women to stop dying simply because the debate that seems to be mostly polarized in the West is getting a lot wrong on both sides. I don’t want women dying because I fought for laws that pushed abortion underground and into back alleys. I also don’t want babies to keep dying, because no one in the pro-choice movement had the guts to say, “Yes, we want a choice and it is our right, but let’s have an honest discussion about helping women make the right choice for their circumstance and not using abortion as a primary source of birth control…” Both sides of this debate need their moral compasses tweaked. My hope is that true conversations can take place, to get us all back on course in helping the most vulnerable among us.

Sovereign Grace Ministries, Mahaney & Piper – Repeating the abuse history of the Catholic Church??

I was sitting on the couch last night, totally engrossed in an ABC2, Sunday Best doco, “Silence in the House of God”. It was about sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and how a case in Milwaukee, USA opened the flood gates to this horrific scandal. In amazing detail it traced the abuse in that town and many other towns around the world, straight up the church line of power right to the Pope. It was like a train wreck that just kept getting worse and closer to me, but I couldn’t look away.

I sat there and as the extent of the depravity within the world’s largest organization and arguably most influential church in history, became so obvious, I said out loud to my husband, “God must be weeping.” I continued to listen to what they were saying about the years and years of intricate cover-ups in the highest ranks of the Vatican and how men who had done this were viewed as “upright” and “Godly”, so no one believed the victims at first…and THEN when they did, no one wanted to do anything because of how it would reflect on church leadership and ultimately, call into question their “God given” power. The victims were viewed as a liability to hundreds of years of unquestioned obedience and the control that one institution had over the masses. I felt heart sick.

Then I started, almost immediately, to reflect on recent cases in the USA within the Evangelical church, where accusations of abuse are being brought against some of God’s “most honourable” leaders and men….and how Evangelical leaders on a large scale (though not all of them thankfully!) are reacting in the same exact way towards the victims and evidence, that the Catholic church had done in this documentary. I looked at my husband and I said “This is exactly how the Evangelicals are dealing with CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM)!” And I felt rage.

I have been aware for the past year or so about what was going on at the “flag ship” church of Sovereign Grace in Maryland, because we have close friends with ties to that church. We had heard “rumblings” of black-mail by CJ and how the church had split over it. That was the extent of what we heard for a while. Then a lot more started popping up on blogs and news reports about the extent of the “scandal” with CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries and it was horrific. However, I have noticed over the last month or so that the news about what has been going on with CJ and SGM, hasn’t reached across the globe. I spoke with a guy at my CPSW conference last week and he wanted to know what Christian authors in the USA I liked. I rattled off a few and then he rattled off a few, including John Piper and I cautiously said “Yeah, I have lost a lot of respect for Piper in the last year because of some things he has said and the fact that he is supporting CJ Mahaney of SGM, in what is a pretty damaging and extensive abuse case…” He looked at me baffled, said he had never heard of it and when I tried to explain it, he looked doubtful that I knew what I was talking about nor did he show any shock or concern about the matter. This man was also a pastor and he did mention his “liking” of SGM though, so I’m gonna take an educated guess, that he went home and will continue reading whatever Piper puts out…I will try not to judge.

I also know people here in Australia who are very “into” SGM and excited about their church plant here and a friend even recently posted a podcast to a speaker at CJ’s new church in Louisville. That’s right…remember how the “bright idea” the Catholics had, was they just moved the paedophile priests around the state (or country) anytime an offense came up, hoping if they moved them enough, no one would notice. Well, once this court case blew up for CJ, SGM quietly moved him to plant and lead a church in Louisville, KY. I checked his church bio, there’s no mention of his pending allegations or the amount of trauma he would’ve helped facilitate and sweep under the carpet, for many in his former “flock”. I am certain that this information is something I would want to know, if I was “church shopping” in a new area and stumbled upon this church.

The thing is, Evangelicals are notorious for pointing out how different and “better” we are to the Catholic Church and its’ doctrine, its’ way of doing things. We pride ourselves on being “real” and coming to Jesus as ourselves. And yet, in one of the fastest growing churches of the past decade, where those in church leadership had real power and authority that was looked upon with utmost respect, sexual and physical abuse happened. Not only did it happen, but when it did, those that are in this case and those who have been heavily “embedded” in these churches with their families, were told to make amends with their abuser and not to tell the authorities. The allegations are that children were brought before their abusers to “make-up and move on”, and then these men continued “serving” in the church.

We listen to the countless abuse stories in the Catholic Church and are horrified…can’t believe it was allowed to happen for so long. Then it happens in the Evangelical “camp” and it becomes very obvious how it was able to happen. Someone once said “The standard you walk by, is the standard you accept!” and that is exactly what is happening in this case. No one is willing to stand up to CJ and his appearance of Godliness (because how could someone THAT Godly and let’s not forget, charismatic, really do something like this??). SGM needs to do some serious house-cleaning and hold CJ Mahaney and those in leadership who contributed to and took part in this abuse, to full account. Many (including John Piper) are blindly supporting CJ and refusing to accept any evidence of wrong-doing. But there are those who are raising their voices and I pray that they ultimately are the ones who are heard and remembered by the victims.

We here in Australia also need to be vigilant because our churches are not immune to these types of people coming to our church and making victims of our children. I have heard reports from friends who work in social services, of how they have called a church (one of Adelaide’s “big ones”) enquiring about abuse allegations against one of their members who works in ministry, because that person was applying to foster children. They have called to get assistance from the church to either help prove these allegations right or wrong so the children are not placed in an unsafe environment and the church has refused to speak to them. In a very determined way, they were “stone walled” by an organization who should have one of their primary objectives be the care and well being of its’ children! So Australia, we do not have a “free pass” on this issue…at all!

One of the latest articles written on the SGM case can be found here:
http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/guest_bloggers/7138/sovereign_grace_sexual_abuse_lawsuit_just_got_more_complicated/

Have a look, do some digging (Rachel Held Evans and Home Schoolers Anonymous are other great sources) and see the tragic parallels between the abuses and cover-ups done by the Catholic Church and what is happening right now, in an influential branch of the Evangelical Church. If you are bothered by it and especially if you haven’t heard anything about it until now, I encourage you to speak up. Ask the questions, demand the answers, make the changes (if need be) in which Christian leaders and churches you support and stand in solidarity with the victims. They need to know, now more than ever, that what happened to them was not of God and that He is there waiting to heal them, regardless of if these fallen, wretched, wolves in Shepherd’s clothing, ever have the courage to truly seek their forgiveness. This is not something to stay silent or ambiguous about. Jesus was so clear about His love for children and the importance of not harming them. The damage that has been done and is being done still, in His name, is frightening. We need to raise our voices loud enough to drown out the apathy that has been shown up to this point. We need to look at the history of the Catholic Church abuses and pray hard that we do not repeat it!