Abortion

Twins: Double the Fun or Double the Trouble? by Stephanie Gray

My mom and my aunt, her twin.

My mom and my aunt, her twin.

     A quick google search of “you’re pregnant with twins” produces over 1 million results, the first of which says, “Are you having two (or three, or more) times the fun?”

     There is something powerfully positive about twins (my mom, an identical twin, would agree, as would I who technically have a second biological mother).  In fact, the positive impact of twins can be seen in a story featured in The Blaze about a woman who was going to have an abortion but changed her mind to adoption—until she discovered she had twins.  Once she found out she had two babies she changed her mind again—this time to parenting.  She said, “I thought about our life together and what it could be” 

     But while some look at twins as “double the fun,” tragically others view them as “double the trouble.”  And that came to mind when I read a story in the National Post last week about an Ottawa woman who seized on news of being pregnant with twins as grounds to kill one of them through abortion.

     As I read about various facts in this case, I was struck by how crazy the thinking of our abortion-obsessed culture has become.  For example, the hospital the woman initially went to refused to “reduce” her twin pregnancy to a singleton.  At the time, however, had circumstances been different, they would have acted: If she had three babies instead of two, they would have aborted one.  If she had a diseased baby instead of a healthy one, the hospital also would have aborted.  

     Their standards seem to convey that killing a child isn’t inherently wrong, but only conditionally wrong, and that these pre-born children didn’t meet the conditions.  That flies in the face of human rights doctrines which acknowledge that the inalienable right to life is something we have by virtue of being a member of the human family, not by virtue of meeting certain conditions.  Indeed, back when I was studying at UBC, I recall a bioethics professor remarking that abortion is either all right or all wrong—the “grey” zone doesn’t exist, she said.  That makes sense; after all, if the pre-born aren’t human, then why would we stop any abortion?  On the other hand, if the pre-born are human, then why would we permit any abortion? 

     Perhaps the mother herself would attempt to answer my question by claiming that her eliminating one child would increase the odds of her embracing another child (she was told her twin pregnancy, her older age, and other factors increased her risk of miscarriage).  Doesn’t that violate the universal standard of ethical healthcare: “Do no harm”?  Don’t we decry experiments done to harm one human, even if such experiments might produce evidence that helps another human, precisely because it inflicts harm that is so wrong it doesn’t matter what good comes about?  Correspondingly, shouldn’t we oppose killing one baby in order to increase the odds of bringing to birth another baby because the means to get to that end result involve committing egregious harm?  Unfortunately it seems that that principle would have gotten lost on the mother whose previous decision appears consistent with her more recent one: The news reported that the pregnant patient (known only as “C.V.”) conceived her children by In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). 

     IVF typically involves creating more human beings than are implanted, meaning that some of these tiny, unique, unrepeatable individuals are, at their earliest age, subjected to the injustice of freezing and/or being discarded (and thus killed).  There’s no denying the tragedy of infertility and the need to find ethical solutions to it (a subject for a future post).  Even with that reality we must face this question: Is it ethical to endanger and/or end the lives of some humans because we desperately want to care for other humans?

A Step-by-Step Guide to Planning and Delivering a Memorial Service for Aborted Children

Several months ago, I had an idea to create A Memorial Service for Aborted Children.  In recently piloting it at a church in BC, I saw over 100 people flock to the church to honor and remember aborted children.  This experience taught me that everyone has a story, and many are suffering silently.  One person had, decades before, paid for an abortion.  Another person’s mother had almost been aborted.  Another person tried to dissuade someone from supporting a friend’s abortion—and failed.  The stories go on, showing that while some have directly had abortions, all have been touched by abortion in some way.  A memorial is a way of responding to these experiences.  As one attendee said afterwards, “I’ve experienced a healing, and will sleep better tonight than I have in years.”

 

This event was extremely low cost, did not involve much work, and was hugely powerful.  So if you’re interested in the simple steps to put on this life-changing event, consider yourself the leader who will follow what’s below and take charge of overseeing and delegating.  This blog entry is designed to make it as easy as possible for this event to be replicated around the world.  Besides you as leader and MC of the event, the main people you need to enlist to help you are as follows: a pastor, a church secretary, musicians, a sound person, a post-abortive woman (and/or man) to give a testimony, and a few counselors/prayer persons.

 

Here are the steps to take:

 

1.      Read the document “A Memorial Service for Aborted Children: The Idea Explained.”  Be sure to share this document with the planning team you develop below.

2.      Consult your pastor to get “buy in” and select a date and time that works for him and your church.  The service runs for approximately 1 hour and he will need to prepare a sermon of maximum 10 minutes (on the theme of memorializing the aborted and healing for the wounded), open and close the service in prayer, and select a Bible passage to read.

3.      Book musicians.  Ask your church’s worship team or 2-3 people to lead the music for the event.  Find out what instruments, cables, etc., they require you to arrange for at the church (although ideally this would be primarily handled by the musicians themselves).  We had two singers who harmonized and used one instrument (a piano) and it was hauntingly powerful; numerous attendees raved about the music.  Of course, the musicians were extremely talented (led by Kathleen LeBlanc of “A Guy and a Girl”), but the point is sometimes less is more.

4.      Book a person to ensure proper audio set up and the presence of all required microphones, cables, instruments, and other technology required by the musicians and for the whole service and confirm they will arrive early to work with the musicians to set this up.

5.      Select songs. Ask the musicians to select 7-8 songs and provide lyrics to you.  You can provide input.  Songs should be chosen that are reflective and highlight mercy, as well as fitting for a funeral/memorial.  When we piloted this event, we chose songs for the beginning and end that all attendees would likely know.  As the service progressed, songs chosen were “less known” and primarily sung by the musicians to correspond with the service becoming more reflective and contemplative for attendees.  See sample song choices here.

6.      Book someone to give a post-abortive testimony.  For our pilot of this in Maple Ridge, BC, we chose Elizabeth Sutcliffe of Silent No More Awareness Canada who gave an extremely powerful testimony.  The testimony should last no more than 15 minutes, with 10 being ideal.

7.      Book counselors/prayer team persons to be present at the memorial should attendees wish to speak with one afterwards.  If the event is held at a Catholic church, book a priest or two to hold confession following the memorial as well.  The counselors should be the welcoming committee to hand out the programs upon peoples’ arrival so that there is face-recognition when they are introduced later on (the role they play is announced by the MC in the closing remarks, which are in the MC’s detailed notes here).

8.      Book reception hosts.  At our pilot event, the youth group and their families took on the responsibility to organize all food and drinks as well as the set-up and clean-up of a reception for after the memorial.

9.      Book a little boy and little girl (between the ages of 5 and 10) to be dressed in “Sunday best” and walk up the aisle, holding flowers, with the priest/pastor at the beginning.  This is explained in the MC’s detailed notes which can be viewed here.

10.  Promote!  Promote!  Promote!

a.       Create, or work with your church secretary to create, a large poster that can be printed to be placed at your church and other churches within your geographic area.  Deliver these to other churches 3 weeks ahead of time.  See sample poster file here.

b.      Write a sample bulletin announcement and have your church secretary put it in each weekly bulletin 4-6 weeks ahead of the event.  See sample bulletin announcement here.

c.       Set up a public Facebook event page and invite your friends, and have the other event helpers invite their friends.  Share the FB event every week until the event (with an extra reminder the morning of) as well as write reminder posts in the event page itself.  See sample FB event here.

d.      Contact your local religious newspaper to see if they will do a story about the event so it’s printed 2 weeks before the event.  See actual newspaper coverage here.

e.       Have your pastor or priest preach on abortion at all weekend services/masses a Sunday before the event.  See an actual sermon preached before a memorial here.  See a document for ideas for pro-life sermons here.

f.       You make an announcement at the end of each service/mass about the memorial the Sunday that your pastor would have preached on abortion.  See sample announcement here.

11.  Prepare program and ask the church secretary to print out sufficient numbers (we printed 150 the first time and had approximately 120 attendees).  To see our program click here.

12.  Items you need to gather for the night-of (ideally your church will already have them) and arrive early to lay out:

a.       Tea-light candles: arrange these along the front of the church.  (We laid out 200 across the communion rail.)  Have a starter candle lit and wood sticks for when people need to light.

b.      Pens and paper: distribute these throughout the pews/chairs.

c.       Buy flowers: we bought two packages of red and white carnations.

d.      A vase at the front for the flowers.

e.       Name tags for the counselors/prayer persons to wear.

f.       The printed programs for attendees.

13.  Have your MC notes readyclick here to read the ones from our pilot event.

 

If everyone committed to a role above arrives early and is prepared to fulfill their responsibility, the event goes very smoothly.  Ours did, and was an extremely beautiful and touching evening that attendees described as powerful, moving, and needed!  If you do this, please send me your feedback and testimonies about how the event went.

 

Note: It is common at an event remembering pre-born children lost to abortion, for those affected by miscarriage to be reminded of their own loss of pre-born children too.  This is natural and understandable because of the similar age of the children lost; the memorial, however, does not formally address miscarriage because there is a substantively different nature between miscarriage and abortion.  In the former the children die naturally whereas in the latter, their lives are purposefully destroyed.  So while I encourage remembering and memorializing miscarried children for proper honoring and healing, I recommend doing so in a different service from one remembering children unjustly killed.   A different but powerful program can be read about here and here.  Moreover, at the time of miscarriage one could also do a funeral and even a burial

Has Your Pastor Preached on Abortion? A Resource to Help, by Stephanie Gray

A year and a half ago, I met Pastor Ken Shigematsu, senior pastor of Tenth Church in Vancouver, where 2,000 people attend each Sunday.  He was preparing to deliver a sanctity of life sermon on abortion and asked me to preview his outline and give feedback.  Unfortunately Pastor Ken is rare—all too often church leaders avoid doing what he did: they avoid preaching on abortion from the pulpit, especially on a high-attendance Sunday morning.  But that needs to change. 

 

After working through his outline and doing my own presentations in various churches over the years, I developed a resource to make a pastor’s job as easy as possible when preparing to speak on this sensitive subject.  By clicking here you can access my PDF “Notes for a Pro-Life Sermon” and share it with your church leader.  In fact, last fall Bishop Dewane of the Diocese of Venice, Florida, circulated this resource to all of his priests.  Regardless of denomination, this document provides insights and resources a pastor can work with to deliver a pro-life message that is his own.

 

And why should he?  Because of the following:

 

1) Abortion happens a lot: 56 million of the youngest humans among us, pre-born children, are killed by abortion—every year around the world.  

 

2) Abortion happens amongst Christians: According to the Guttmacher Institute, 13% of women obtaining abortions identify as Evangelical Protestant, 17% as mainline Protestant, and 24% as Catholic.  That means that over 50% of women aborting align themselves with a Christian faith tradition of some sort. [Note: The source for this comes from the Guttmacher Institute (GI), which is a pro-abortion organization; however, they collect statistics that are otherwise difficult to obtain.  Furthermore, GI is an American organization.  Similar statistics are near impossible to get in Canada since statistic-collection regarding abortion in Canada is limited.  However, given the similarity between both countries regarding abortion rates and public opinion on abortion, it is reasonable to deduce that Canada’s statistics about the faith background of women having abortions would be similar to those of the US.]

 

3) Abortion happens amongst women who have already made that choice: As I’ve written in the past, some of the post-abortive are pre-abortive, as pointed out in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology Canada (2012; 34(6): 532-542) which stated, “At least one third of women undergoing induced abortions in Canada have had a prior abortion.”  So not only can preaching spare women from ever killing their children, it can spare women from killing more of their children.

 

These statistics alone highlight the importance of preaching on this topic.  And any fear a pastor may have that people will react poorly needs to be addressed by this point: People may react poorly if the topic is handled poorly.  But the opposite of poor preaching is not no preaching—it’s good preaching.  This PDF will equip pastors to preach well on the topic of abortion in order to bring justice, mercy, and healing to our world. 

Canada's Contradictions, by Stephanie Gray

     Contradiction (con·tra·dic·tion \ˌkän-trə-ˈdik-shən\) the act of saying something that is opposite or very different in meaning to something else; a difference or disagreement between two things which means that both cannot be true. –Merriam Webster Dictionary

     A read of recent news reveals significant contradictions going on in Canada:

     ·         On one hand, a remote First Nations community in Northern Ontario, Attawapiskat, is facing a suicide crisis so dire they’ve called a state of emergency.  The federal government has responded by sending in mental health counselors to try to stop these deaths.

     ·         But on the other hand, that same federal government is in the process of forming a new law which would make suicide legal, possibly even allowing it for “mature minors” and the mentally ill. 

     Is suicide wrong because of what it is or because of where it’s done?  Do we really want to say it’s wrong when done on a First Nations reserve but right when done in a hospital?  Is suicide wrong because of what it is or because of who does it?  Do we really want to say it’s wrong if done by oneself but right if done with a physician’s assistance? 

     The tie that binds a suicidal teen and a suicidal elderly person is suffering (physical or emotional) to the point that they see no reason to live.  But because people are valuable and killing is wrong, civil societies pursue suicide prevention.  Suicide prevention is all about alleviating a person’s suffering without eliminating the person.  Suicide prevention is about giving hope.  In fact, as the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention points out,

     “‘Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out’ [Victor Havel].

***

     “Hope, at the darkest moments in our life, is not a comprehensive commitment to faith and belief.  At those times hope can be as simple and as profound as the voice of another human being who appears to hear our fear; hope can be the knowledge that the sun will rise tomorrow, hope can be the smell of fresh spring rain, or the first snow flake, or the photo of someone we love.  When despair seems to overcome us we feel disconnected, isolated, lost.  What we need most in those moments is a means of re-connection, relationship and belonging.” [Emphasis added] 

     As news of suicide spreads across the internet, another contradiction is circulating:

     ·         On one hand, people are horrified at a recent report  revealing that sex-selection abortion is happening among Indian immigrants to Canada, skewing the population’s sex ratio.  The Globe and Mail reported that “among Indian-born mothers, the proportion of males increased with the number of children born. By the third birth, 138 boys were born to Indian-born mothers for every 100 girls, and by the fourth birth, 166 boys were born to every 100 girls.”  The paper stated that over 4,000 girls are “missing” as a result.

     ·         On the other hand, Canada allows abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy—for any reason.  Rather than be horrified, all too often people celebrate this as a “woman’s right to choose.”

     Is abortion wrong because of what it does or because of why it's done?  Do we really want to say it’s wrong when the motivation is getting rid of girls, but okay when the motivation is getting rid of boys, the disabled, the inconvenient, or any human in general?

     The tie that binds a sex-selection abortion and another abortion is the rejection of the youngest humans among us based on the circumstances or wishes of older humans among us.  But because humans are valuable—whether they’re girls or boys—and because killing is wrong, civil societies should reject abortion.

     In brief, Canada can’t have it both ways.  If we are to deplore the suicides in Attawapiskat and if we are to deplore the sex-selection abortions among some Indian immigrants, then we should deplore all suicides and all abortions.

Saving Lives from the Sidewalk, by Stephanie Gray

“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.”

     Proverbs 24:11 is often quoted in a pro-life context, but practically, how can it be lived out at the eleventh hour?  How do we rescue and hold back pre-born children who are nestled in the wombs of their mothers who are walking into abortion clinics? 

     Last weekend my questions were answered with clarity when I travelled to St. Louis, Missouri, to speak at the Nexus 2016 conference.  I had the joy of presenting alongside, and spending time with, lawyer Lauren Muzyka of Sidewalk Advocates for Life.  I was extremely impressed with the life-saving work she and her team does “in the trenches.”   Her ministry is described as follows:

     “Sidewalk Advocacy refers to crisis intervention in front of the abortion center. It involves actively encouraging a woman to choose life, empowering her to leave the abortion center, and ministering to all present to bring about a conversion of heart from a culture of death to a culture of life, thereby ending abortion.”

     Does it work?  Already Lauren’s ministry has saved over 1,000 babies and seen more than 25 abortion workers leave their deadly jobs.  The compassionate, well thought out strategy that she and her team employs comes not only from rigorous study, but from hands-on experience: Lauren herself has been a sidewalk counselor for 15 years.

     Much more could be said about Sidewalk Advocates for Life, but I think it is best said by this touching and powerful 6-minute video of a baby saved from abortion by their work:

The Day I Was Stumped, by Stephanie Gray

     A couple years ago I spoke at the March for Life youth conference in Ottawa where the topic was “Stump the Pro-Lifer.”  Instead of giving my usual one hour presentation, the time was spent with me fielding questions from the audience—with attendees given the challenge of thinking of their toughest questions to confound me.

     Most of the questions were typical of what I’d heard many times before, and in answering I was able to articulate basic pro-life apologetics, emphasizing that humans have human rights and because the pre-born are human, they have the same right to life as you and me.  But then the question came, the question that (momentarily!) baffled me:

     “If you believe in God,” an audience member asked, “and therefore claim that life is a gift from God, then how can you claim we have a right to our lives?  After all, gifts are something given—they can’t be demanded; we can’t claim a right to have them.”

     Suddenly 1,000 teenagers in the audience started hollering, cheering, and clapping.  They felt it was a tough question and were excited to hear my response—was I stumped?  Truth be told, I felt stumped; in trying to think of an answer, I took advantage of the audience’s reaction by trying to get them to extend their clapping: “Oooooooh,” I said, “Very good….grrrrrreat question,” I remarked as the audience laughed and cheered.  My colleague, who was in the audience, later told me that she was trying to clap long and hard to drag out the time before I had to answer because she wasn’t sure if I had an answer either!

     I silently called on the Holy Spirit for inspiration and began to speak.  Truth be told, I wasn’t satisfied with what I started to say (nor can I remember it today), but then, about 30 seconds into my rambling, the inspiration came (Praise the Lord!).  I explained my thoughts as follows:

     Believing life is a gift and believing we have a right to life are not contradictory.  To believe life is a gift means if I’m alive, then God loved me enough to will me into existence and my life is a gift from Him.  Embracing human rights doctrines simply says once I’ve been given the gift, people around me may not take my gift away from me—my life is not their gift, it’s mine, so I have a right to ensure my gift is not unjustly taken from me; hence, I have a right to life.  That’s why abortion is a human rights violation—it takes away the gift of life from pre-born children, a gift they have a right to have because they were given it, and a gift we don’t have a right to take.

     The cheering began again.  They were satisfied.  Whew!

     In reflecting on my answer in light of much news about euthanasia, it occurred to me that some might take this point but ask, “Even though someone doesn’t have a right to take my gift of life from me, if I don’t want it anymore, I can get rid of it, can’t I?  After all, if I don’t want a gift someone gave me for my birthday several years ago, it’s okay for me to get rid of it, so isn’t it okay for me to choose euthanasia and get rid of my gift of life I no longer want?”

     To answer that, we need to realize the following: The gift of life we’ve been given is so valuable it’s priceless.  We’re not talking about getting an article of clothing that will go out of style.  Instead, imagine being given a trillion dollars.  It wouldn’t make sense to use only a portion of it and say, “I don’t want it anymore,” and then proceed to burn the rest.  So too would it be wrong to live a portion of our lives and then prematurely destroy them.  So if we don’t understand how valuable our lives are, then our job is to eliminate our incorrect understanding as to our worth, not eliminate our lives.

     Moreover, think for a moment about the Giver of the gift of life: The Giver loves unconditionally and is perfect; He only wants our good.  His judgment is better than ours.  He takes great joy in giving us the gift of life.  Can you imagine throwing a present in the face of a parent who lovingly gives his child a toy that will bring happiness?  How, then, could we throw back at the face of an all-good God the gift of life He gave us?

     To be sure, life on this earth has a natural expiry date that God built into it.  We will die, and we all have to face our mortality.  But if our Creator knows better than us about when that moment should be, then isn’t it our responsibility to steward the gift we’ve been given in the meantime?  After all, imagine if that money was given with an expiry date—except you didn’t know when on the calendar that was.  Wouldn’t you do your best with the resource you’d been given and not shorten the unknown time you have with it?  Likewise, we do not know precisely when each of us will die, so we should embrace our invaluable resource until such time as it is designed to run out.

     Now some might interject that if someone is suffering they can’t “do” much with their gift, so what’s the point? First, as I’ve written before, in such cases we should certainly alleviate suffering—just not eliminate the sufferer.  Moreover, unfortunately in this imperfect world suffering is a part of life—it’s not something limited to those who are dying.  And time and again, inspiring people, heroes, and role models, teach us to strive to overcome suffering and to turn obstacles into opportunities.

     Holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl, who saw some suffering people reject the gift of their lives by committing suicide in the concentration camps, wrote about how he decided he would not follow in their footsteps.  He also tried to dissuade others from doing so.

     He said, “We had to teach the despairing men that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us…When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task…His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden...When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude…love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire…a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.”

     Suffering is confusing.  It is a mystery.  But like many things in life, particularly those we don’t understand, what matters is what we do with them.  St. John Paul II, in "Salvifici Doloris" (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering), wrote,

     “We could say that suffering . . . is present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one’s 'I' on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer. The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for, so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain sense man owes to suffering that unselfish love that stirs in his heart and actions.”

     That point is well illustrated in an imaginary story (read here) about suffering people who don’t have elbows, and the different reactions one could have in their situation.  Ultimately, their suffering led to love.  And if there is no life, there can be no love.  So we should respect the gift of life each of us has been given because it is with this gift, of an unknown duration, that we can love. 

The Comprehensive Case Against Abortion Given at Stanford

My view from Hoover Tower at Stanford University in November 2015.

My view from Hoover Tower at Stanford University in November 2015.

How can the pro-life position be explained with reason and grace?  How do we compassionately articulate the intellectual case against abortion?  On November 20, 2015, I gave over an hour's worth of pro-life apologetics at Stanford University.  Creative Catholic Works kindly came out to record the evening, and put the compilation online.  If you'd like to hear the 4-minute summary, the 1 hour presentation, and/or the questions I addressed afterward, click here.

Killing "Things," by Stephanie Gray

“Love people.  Use things.”  It’s a slogan that’s made its way around the internet, from The Minimalists to countless different memes.  It’s a timely message for our 21st century culture which is so addicted to amassing, and then eliminating, objects that it turns subjects into them too.  And that came to mind when I read two different, yet connected, articles yesterday.  One was from the BBC, about UK scientists being given a green light to genetically modify human embryos.  The story reported,

“Dr David King, the director of Human Genetics Alert, said: ‘This research will allow the scientists to refine the techniques for creating GM [Genetically Modified] babies, and many of the government's scientific advisers have already decided that they are in favour of allowing that. So this is the first step in a well mapped-out process leading to GM babies, and a future of consumer eugenics.’”

So what’s going on here is much like buying a car: You decide what features you do, and do not, want; then, the manufacturer will build the model to your specifications.  The problem here is people aren’t cars.  Cars are things.  We use things.  We shouldn’t use people—at least, that’s what slavery, child labor, and human trafficking are supposed to teach us.

But that memo got lost on the UK’s fertility regulator.  The article further reports, “The researchers will alter… genes in donated embryos, which will be destroyed after seven days.”

One person has no right to “donate” another person; a person can only donate that which they own, which would be an object, a thing.  Since human embryos are unrepeatable and irreplaceable souls, it is barbaric to claim ownership of them and then destroy, i.e., kill, them.  A country like England with its horrible history of slavery should really know better.

But with that sentiment unfortunately pervading much of modern-day society, it shouldn’t be surprising what the National Post reported yesterday. A Canadian woman and her husband had been trying for four months to get pregnant; they finally did, but now are worried their “object” is damaged: A recent trip to Brazil has them fearful the pregnant mom may have contracted the Zika virus and they are concerned about the subsequent possibility that their pre-born child could have a small head.  The reality of having a child with microcephaly is not on the table, as they are “completely unwilling to take the chance,” says the mom, who, along with her husband, is considering abortion on their possibly-less-than-perfect “object.”

It’s like they’d been waiting for months for a new mattress, but when it arrived they weren’t sure it would give them the comfortable sleep they desired, so they consider sending the object back to the manufacturer until they can find something better that satisfies (although mattress purchasers are more civil than this couple who, to keep the analogy analogous, would be like someone cutting up an undesirable mattress rather than have it be used by anyone else).  The point is this: people aren’t mattresses.  We are to use things and love people, not love things and use people.  When we get that mixed up, we get dehumanizing results.

I’ve always been intrigued by the language used by the aviation industry when reporting on plane crashes.  They speak about “the number of souls on board” (and they always focus on the loss of life, not the loss of baggage).  It seems the world of reproductive science could learn a thing or two from the world of aviation.  Not only should we prioritize people over things, but we should acknowledge that people, unlike things, have a soul, which demands reverence and respect.

Why Should Christians Care? by Stephanie Gray

    Last Sunday I spoke at an Alliance church and the pastor asked me to explain to his congregation why Christians could be concerned about abortion.  Although there are many passages in the Scriptures I could have highlighted to make the Biblical case against abortion, I chose one: Luke 1. 

     Those who reflect on Luke 1 as it relates to the pro-life message, often point to John the Baptist, the late-term fetus, “the babe [who] leaped in [Elizabeth’s] womb” (Luke 1:41).  But the animation of John the Baptist is not what I was focused on.  Instead, I was focused on why John the Baptist leaped for joy.  We read that Mary “entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:40).  John the Baptist leaped “when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary” (Luke 1:41).  To understand why the pre-born prophet did this we need to rewind.

     Mary had recently had a visitor of her own: “the angel Gabriel [who] was sent from God” (Luke 1:26).  This messenger came not only to state “you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30) but that “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:31).  Mary then gave God her yes: “let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).  And so Mary was forever changed.  The presence of one became the presence of two.  She who was made in the image of God suddenly carried God.  She was transformed into a walking tabernacle, a dwelling place for God made man, so that when she greeted Elizabeth, Mary was not alone. 

     In the days long before cell phones, texting, Facebook and Twitter, no social media delivered a message to Elizabeth about what had happened.  But upon the presence of the Holy Presence, she and John the Baptist knew.  They sensed the presence of God made man in the early embryo.  John the Baptist did what he could do—he leaped.  Elizabeth did what she could do—she exclaimed, “Blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:43).  And Mary responded, “My soul magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1:46).

     All three were focused on the youngest in their midst.   Divinity had taken on humanity.  In the silence and the darkness of the womb, new life had begun, the life of Christ. 

     God, who is all-powerful, demonstrates His supremacy throughout the Scriptures.  He turned a rod into a serpent and back; He made Moses’ hand leprous and then restored it (Exodus 4:2-7).  He “formed man of dust from the ground” (Genesis 2:7).  God could have chosen any number of ways to become human, but the way He chose was to take on the form of the youngest among us, the human embryo.  That was your beginning; it was my beginning; and it was also God's beginning as man.  Since abortion destroys this new life, which God Himself once was, that is why Christians should be concerned about abortion.

Civilization's Helpless Members

Image Source:  Peter Hagyo-Kovacs from  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arab_market-1.JPG

Image Source: Peter Hagyo-Kovacs from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arab_market-1.JPG

Author Pearl S. Buck once wrote, "The test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members."

 

That came to mind when I re-read a reflection a student shared with me several years ago.  After being equipped to engage the culture on abortion, he participated in a pro-life display at the University of Minnesota.  Of the many students he encountered, I was particularly struck by one in particular, whose story he shared as follows: 

 

"A 19-year-old freshman Muslim woman recounted a riveting story after I called her over to the barricade so we could discuss her thoughts on abortion.  She told me about how her twin sister had become pregnant unintentionally in the recent past.  While abortion was contrary to Islamic teachings, her parents were more concerned with avoiding the disgrace of an unwed and pregnant daughter.  Therefore, they were forcing her to have an abortion against her will.  However, the woman I talked to described how she had helped her sister escape their parents and live in hiding until she gave birth secretly to save the child.  Thankfully, since the birth of the child, their parents have become supportive of the new baby."

 

This parental abandonment of a pregnant child is unfortunately not an isolated incident, as I wrote about another such case last year.  But what is so strikingly beautiful about both stories is that the pregnant children didn't make a pattern: They refused to abandon their pre-born children the way their own parents abandoned them.  They took a stand; they passed the test of a civil society by protecting and caring for its helpless members.

 

And by their courageous example, they challenged their parents to do the same.  That is the power of doing the right thing—it inspires others to follow, even if they are initially slow to respond.  Indeed, as author Matthew Kelly has pointed out,

 

“Virtue inspires me.  Virtue in other people challenges me.  Virtue raises me up.  Virtue allows me to catch a glimpse of what is possible.  Virtue gives me hope for the future of humanity.”