I was subbing for a first-grade class when I received a text message from an unknown number. It was from a family friend’s college-aged daughter seeking help for her friend considering an abortion. She knew that I had volunteered at the Women’s Help Center, a pro-life organization that supports women throughout pregnancy, and asked if I would be willing to speak to her friend so that she understood all her options.
Of course, I said yes. As implausible as it is to think any of us has the right to terminate life, it is a legal choice in our society. A choice that is clearly devoid of God who created us out of love and with the innate purpose to love. Taking God out of the miracle of motherhood feels illogical, but there are many who do. Even biologically speaking, motherhood is the most natural thing in the world. Not just our bodies’ ability to create life but the innate desire to protect, nurture, and sacrifice for our offspring. In the animal and the human species, this is the norm, and while it is standard it is also fierce. Everything else – including our own survival is secondary to the “it’s in our nature to nurture” phenomenon hard-wired in most living things. It hardly seems like a matter of choice.
Being in a room full of six-year-olds is a frenzy of joy. They are dynamic, unique, curious, and flat-out funny. They give spontaneous hugs, ask personal questions, listen attentively when a middle-aged woman talks about cats, and without hesitation trust you with their day. They are also complicated like the rest of humanity and will become increasingly so. Even as an outsider, I can see their proclivities, strengths, struggles, and basic need to be loved and accepted. They have a keen sense of the world around them. They are paying attention. They are fully alive. Each one a choice.
By the end of that school day, I learned that the woman made an appointment to have an abortion. She was still agreeable to speak with me and was supposed to call me the next day. She never did. Her friend explained to me that she didn’t want to be talked out of her decision. I called the young woman and assured her I was here if she wanted to talk, and would be after her appointment as well. Not to judge or lecture or to act like a caricature of a pro-life Christian in all the variances of absurdity they are portrayed as – but just to listen. My heart ached for the burden of choice this young girl carried. It would sound condescending to say the woman didn’t understand her choice; presumptuous to say abortion will affect her deeply, and Pollyanna to say that if she has her baby it will be full of giddy laughter and flying unicorns, when I know how gut-wrenchingly hard motherhood can be. Everything that can be said can be construed as flippant, dismissive, over-simplified, insensitive, or unrealistic. All the best words can come out wrong.
It’s at such times that I wish we could speak with our hearts instead of our words. I wish the miraculous biology which didn’t just give us the ability to make life but to love so profoundly that it’s what defines our lives would trump all the seemingly logical and practical reasons for terminating life. At one time we were all like those gap-toothed six-year-olds. We never knew choices could be so hard – that life could be so complicated, and that love was more dimensional than the flat hearts we colored red.
Too often, women and unborn babies are hurt by choice. Instinctively, intuitively, — like the spontaneity of a first grader’s hug- our hearts know what to do. Love.
(Author’s addendum: I wrote this post with teary eyes and a heavy heart at the time I knew this young woman was scheduled to have an abortion. How surreal and sad it felt. Miraculously, within minutes of finishing writing, I received a text from her friend saying she did not have the abortion. I was overcome by God’s goodness. Through the grace of God and the power of prayer, I accompanied this young woman to meet with an adoption attorney. She chose love. She chose life. She chose to be an answered prayer for another family longing to adopt. What an incredible hope she has given all of us — not by her choice but by her love.)
Read last week’s post here: Time to Act