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.

When There’s No Fixing Sorrow

A lot has been on my mind this week….a lot of pain & agony has come across my “radar” with people in my life….and at times I feel myself standing still, frozen, not knowing how to move forward and assist those wading through such sorrow and trauma….so I’ve been processing a bit….here’s what I got….

Yesterday, I packed the kids in the car all sunscreened up and probably sweating in their little bathing suits, and we headed to the pool.  This week has been HOT and our aircon has been broken for about a week (thankfully was fixed at last, first thing this morning) so going to the pool seemed like a survival strategy more than a fun activity, though I knew the kids would have a blast.

We pulled out and as we hit the curve in our street, just 4 doors down, I saw cars parked up and down both sides of the road and a hearst in our neighbors driveway.  Today they laid a young wife and mother to rest.  Last week, this young mom, kissed her two little girls good-bye as she and her husband headed to the hospital to have their 3rd little girl.  After 36 hours of labor, they decided to do a c-section.  I don’t know all the details, but I know that this 26 year old bled to death during, what has become a very standard operation, probably righ infront of her husband. 

When I heard the news (from our friends across the street), my heart ached and I wanted to cry out.  Just as a mother, I can’t imagine leaving my babies so early and then the reality that she never saw it coming….her babies never saw it coming….how do you even begin to explain to small children this happening?  And I thought of the husband, now having two little girls and an infant baby girl to get through this on his own…without his lifelong partner by his side.  All these thoughts flooded my heart and mind…and I was humbled.

I knew the funeral was yesterday, but seeing all the cars and seeing a little girl at the house, who I wondered if she was one of the daughters of the woman who had passed, just sorta hit me.  Here I was, going through my routine of just spending the day with my kids in what I was imagining would be a fun but probably a bit stressful outing and this family was never going to see their wife, their mommy, their daughter, their sister again. 

Earlier in the week my husband told me that some good friends of our’s, a young couple who are getting married this year, have just found out that her mother has inoperable brain tumors.  Without chemo she will live 3 months, with it maybe a year.  Again, the heart just screams!

After our outing at the pool yesterday, I dropped Rocco off at the inlaws and took Maddie to some friend’s house.  We haven’t seen them since Christmas, so was good to catch up.  My friend is a single mom of 3 teen-agers and one young adult.  To say that her life has been “hard” would be one of the greatest understatements ever written down.  This woman has fought her whole life, for her life and now is fighting for her kids as she tries to protect them from an abusive ex-husband.  At the moment, they are living an existence that I’m not sure I could bare….in fact, I know I could not….even with Jesus, her life is so hard and her lack of support so great (especially from the church which makes this even a more desperate siutation), that I would have lost the plot ages ago…but she is still fighting hard and I am in awe of her. 

My little girl loves her “big kids” and we went over so the kids could swim in the pool while her and I caught up.  It wasn’t long before my friend was just weeping about things that had happened right after Christmas…things that no mother should have to face or endure…things that no child should have to wrestle with.  Again, my heart broke.  She told me about meeting with an “old friend” someone who was to meant to be a “spiritual mother” of sorts.  This woman told her she wasn’t doing enough to get her kids back on track, that she saw her leaving the church one day because she just wasn’t trying, (all of these things I know to be untrue).  When my friend outright told her that she just needed help and she needed family because she had none and her kids were starting to believe that the “family of Christ” was a joke because noone ever came into their home and why, if this woman was her “friend”, couldn’t she come visit some times??  This woman looked at her and said “My husband has no connection with you and my kids are ‘over’ your kids, so I just can’t do that…”  And my friend looked at this woman and said “I don’t need you to fix my problems, I just need you to be here with me.”

And I sat there….just broken for my friend and convicted about other times I have pulled back from her and others because I just couldn’t “fix” their problems….because I had no solution and when I tried it didn’t work because some times, many times, life’s problems just can’t be fixed…they are there full time and we are called to just manage them and lean on Jesus so as not to get swallowed by them.  How many people do we all walk away from because their problems are too great, their life too messy and after a few well intended gestures of help, the issues are STILL there, so obviously there is nothing we can do for them, they need to just figure it out, so we will be on our way???

So I’ve been thinking about my neighbors down the street….and our friends getting married with this heavy weight about her mom on them….and my friend and her 4 gorgeous kid who have just suffered so much and will continue to probably suffer for awhile….and my friend Julie who has 2 small children and from what we can see, is in the final stages of battling cancer….and those sweet babies in Newton and their families who have to move on without them….and I think, what the hell???  How do you intervene in these circumstances???  How do you help???  How do you make even one dent in these despairing situations for people who through no fault of their own, are just baring the brunt of a fallen world right now???

And then I’m at the pool and I look around and see that in this very crowded place, there are far more mommies than daddies.  In the baby pool, I see one daddy and a sea of mommies chasing their little ones and I think….As women, we ARE the predominant nurturers and healers in our children’s lives….in our husband’s lives….in our friend’s lives…in our world.  Whatever else we may do and are destined for, God HAS gifted us with tender hearts and compassion and instinct on how to just “be there” when life hurts.  Not saying men can’t and don’t do this….but I think it’s not insane to say, they have to work at it more….for us, we just know.  I don’t know why…but I looked around at that pool and saw ALL these mommies and thought “Like it or not, WE are the main source of emotional strength, knowledge and discipline for our children, especially when they are young”….and then I thought of my neighbors and just hurt for those sweet girls, who won’t have their mama anymore….because losing any parent as a young child is just huge, but losing your mama, the one who gave you life, the one who spends most days with you from birth to age 4-5, will just leave such a hole to fill.  And I felt the weight of my own responsibility and privelege as I watched my own two play and laugh wildly…and I prayed “Dear Jesus let me have a long life of doing the job of being their mama….please!”

I’m thinking all these things and I’m all over the place (incase this entry hasn’t made it apparent) and then I reflect back to my friend’s statement yesterday, “I don’t need you to fix my problems, I just need you to be here with me”.  And suddenly, a bit, how to help my friends and others living with such hardship and sadness, makes sense.  The Bible says to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”(Romans 12:15) and I think sometimes we need to remember that it is really that simple.  Life often hurts and it’s going to keep hurting in big ways for many people, until Jesus returns.  And we are not going to be able to fix or resolve every hurt that comes into the lives of those we love and come in contact with…but some times the hardest thing is to just “be there”, to sit in the sorrow, to absorb the horror and pain that someone sitting next to us is feeling and let them know it’s okay that it hurts….it’s okay that it’s lonely….it is OKAY that it STILL hurts and their problem is not going away, because neither are you….neither am I.

So I am resolved to keep being there.  I can’t fix my friend’s problems….I can’t suddenly wave a wand and take all the pain away from my dear friend with the 4 hurting and traumatized teenagers….I can’t bring my neighbor’s wife and mommy back….I can’t stop the tumors in my friend’s mother’s brain or come up with a pharmaceutical miracle for my friend Julie….and the friends and families in Newton can’t bring those babies back or help those parents feel any “better”, faster….but I and you and WE can just be there….holding hands, listening (even if for years), looking at a situation realisitically and saying to our friends “There is nothing you can do to make this go away and it could be here awhile, so let’s sit in it together….” and pray!  Because while we are there as much as we can, ultimately Christ is there through it all….ALL of it….and He knows exactly when relief will be coming and He knows what lessons there are to be learned….and He knows better than anyone the power of love in grief.

So I have a card and a small gift bag of some “stuff” for two little girls and a baby…and later today, I am going to go four doors down, knock on the door, probably say something very uneloquent but hopefully not stupid or unintentionally hurtful and let my neighbor know that we are here, we are going to be here and I will probably let him know occosaionally that we are STILL here, if he or his sweet girls need it.  Because his life is gonna hurt bad….and those little girls are going to miss their mommy….for a long time….and I have no idea how many people in his life, he knows are going to be there for the long haul….so I’m throwing my name in….

Psalms 35:13-14

“But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting; And my prayer kept returning to my bosom. I went about as though it were my friend or brother; I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.”


2 Timothy 1:7 – A Christian Feminist’s Battle Cry

I’ve been told several times in my life that I should write a book and the fact is, writing is “my thing”…it’s what I think I might have just been put on earth to do (maybe, we’ll see). Not that being a wife and mother are not fulfilling for me or what I feel has been God’s plan for me as well, because I absolutely love being both. (Don’t you just love how I’m opening my blog with a disclaimer on my husband and kids, ha!! But whatever I digress!) I just think we all have our way of letting the world know what matters. Some of us do sport and do it SO well, which can often show us the benefits of perserverance and hardwork. Others are amazing artists and whether they are singing, acting, drawing, painting or making something amazing out of sand, they are showing us ALL what can erouse the emotions we have that let us know we are alive and are doing more than just existing.

Besides the fact that I am mediocre at sport and I am pretty certain my almost 7 year old has just surpassed me in artistic ability, I truly believe writing for me is giving life a voice….all of it…the good, bad, controversial, beautiful, horrific and everything in between. I wanted to start writing and wasn’t sure what angle I would take for awhile. What exactly would I be talking about? How would I “title” my “voice” in the world of blogs? Then lately, probably since I started my journey as a mother (almost 7 years ago) and most intensely the last 2 years, I have felt this burning inside me as a woman…a Christian woman….that so much of being a woman today AND being a Christian, is misunderstood. We are often stuck somewhere in a time warp, where being a Christian woman today means you are more liberated than the women in “Mad Men”, but don’t you dare even think about admiring any current day women activists, because after all they just don’t know their place as God ordained it, right? Women are still being raped, abused and marginalized daily, in the hundreds of thousands and I feel there is not enough being said by Christian women, women of faith, on these issues. We are caught up defending the interpretation of one verse or the relevance of another, rather than just looking around us and really seeing where we are needed, as a united voice, to not only defend our faith but defend our rights, our freedom, our health, our prosperity, as human beings first…but more important as of late, as women.

If you look at the definition of feminism it says this in Webster:
1. the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2. organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

Not sure why anyone would be opposed to this or fight so hard to define themselves as NOT a feminist, but I find that in Christian circles (in general of coure, not all), “feminism” is viewed as the “F word” and something to be avoided. It would be far better to aspire to be just about anything else, other than an outspoken…GASP….feminist. But I believe feminism is something that would be supported by Jesus today. I believe He lived, preached and served with a feminist attitude. In a day where men and women were so divided in every aspect of life, Jesus sought women out (and not just any women, but some of those that felt the harshest judgement from society) and encouraged them to know their worth.

I have chosen 2 Timothy 1:7 as my “tag line”….it says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and sound mind.” I think the church often forgets that THIS verse was also written to women as well. The Bible was written for all and I feel this verse, right now, is a battle cry for women. Feminism has indeed gone a bit extreme in some areas, almost in a frenzied fashion to just get as far away from the oppressive past as possible. It is a concept, that like any other, once God is taken out of the centre of it, power and control will corrupt. I want to put Christ back in the centre of feminism because I think if He was there, us women would have a much easier fight on our hands. He showed the ultimate sacrificial love and is the embodiment of mercy and grace…why would we not want Him leading the way in the fight for a better world for the coming generations of girls?! Christianity and feminisim are not opposing forces. One is a world view that should be the source of motivation behind the other…I want to show that to be true to the world around me.

I won’t just be writing about women’s issues, but will be reflecting on many areas of life as they come up and I will be sharing from the perspecitve of someone who loves Jesus and is indeed, a feminist. I am someone who looks at the world and sees a lot of “much ado about nothing”, while real opportunities to show Christ’s love to those most in need are passing us by. In this day we need to be smart, we need to be saavy to the real issues facing those we come in contact with, we need to know how to help our children navigate a world that is flooding them with destructive messages every day. We need a counter message, one that is not so concerned with being right but is desperate to show real truth and love in how we live and treat everyone around us…especially those that are the most forgotten.

The picture above is of my little girl facing the waves at the beach, head on. She loves the beach. It is one of her favorite places on earth and has been since she was tiny. At the beach, my daughter is her most free and fierce. She is a child that at times can be very timid and shy when faced with the unknown, but at the beach she has no fear, no inhibition, she waits to attack and jump into every wave. This image to me is how I think we all should face life…with total abandon, passion and conviction to jump in no matter what is coming. We need to trust that if it’s been put in our path to jump into, then HE who put it there, will give us ALL we need to see it through.

Not sure what is coming with this blog, but I feel like I just need to jump in and “do my thing.” Hope you can join me!