The latest Planned Parenthood campaign, strategically released a week before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, is clever. Clever, but still not true. Propagandized with a reasonable punch, but still lacking substance.
The organization is attempting to do away with the labels “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life.” Well, actually, it’s mostly just trying to eradicate the word “life” from the argument so as to blur the lines between the two camps. It wants to portray those who stand against abortion as uncaring and judgmental and as being pro-life “in a bubble;” ignoring the paramount problems some pregnant women face. “After all,” they imply, “how can you really have an objective opinion about the matter if you aren’t in the woman’s situation and have never ‘walked in her shoes’?”
Before we get too shamed into shying away from our stand for life, let us remember a few things.
1) In our human experience, the temptations and trials we face are diverse. In other words, there are many different kinds of hard times we go through. With regard to the trials of pregnancy, it can be unexpected and unwanted. It can be a result of rape, incest, an uncommitted relationship, or just an inconvenient conception between a married couple or two committed, but unmarried, people. It can involve health risks for the mother and health complications with the baby. There are the financial issues to consider regarding prenatal and postnatal health care for both the mother and the child. And then, of course, there’s the looming financial obligation to support the child once he/she is born. Varied troubles.
2) But even among such a diversity of trials just on this one topic, they are still common to us all. Has any woman you’ve known been through a pregnancy that put a serious strain on her health? Have you ever known a woman to have a “surprise” and even “unwanted” pregnancy? Do you know a woman who has given birth to a special needs child? Are there women in your circle of friends who have been violated by rape or suffered other heinous sexual abuse? Has anyone you know had to get extra jobs to pay for health care costs for his/her child? Have you ever known a child to put serious financial strain on a family? Has a child ever changed the trajectory of a parent’s vocational path?
No doubt, you can probably answer yes to some of these questions for yourself, and definitely for those in your circle of closest friends. Admittedly, what makes the issue so complicated is that many of these diverse trials can be combined into one overwhelming circumstance for some women. But even those desperate situations are common. That’s why on Tuesday, I shared my and my mom’s story.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3,4)
So then, do we stand for life as uncaring and ignorant of the hardships? Not at all. Our common experiences personally and observed through our friends, acquaintances, and loved ones should, and I hope do, make us more patient, more approachable, more heartbroken, more capable of reaching out to offer comfort, and more willing to sacrifice for the good of others.
3) While our shared experiences mean a lot, it’s Someone else’s experience that means everything.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15,16)
As one of my favorite songs puts it, “He walked my road and He felt my pain, joys and sorrows that I know so well. Yet His righteous steps give me hope again. I will follow my Emmanuel.”
Jesus did walk in our shoes, facing our common trials and struggles and handling each one with absolute, God-satisfying perfection. He empathizes with, meaning He feels and understands, what we’re going through, because He has been through it too. We are able, then, to approach God for wisely and generously distributed grace and mercy to help us in our time of need!
So, too, we are free to stand for life with understanding compassion because of similar difficulties we’ve encountered, and mostly because of divine help we can offer from the One who walked our path and hers.
Join me next week for a post on the issue of ministering to post-abortive women.