When I was in high school, I had a shirt that said "Abortion is Homicide". What a statement I made! Years later, I realized that this particular shirt may have been worn with the purist of intentions, but it did not reflect God's love.
The controversial law in Mississippi, which was not upheld this week, got me thinking a lot about the issue of being pro-life.
The way that this law was presented was that the issue of abortion was black and white. Growing up in the church, I had heard the same thing- abortion was a matter of life or death, murdering or not murdering, black and white. Essentially, this law suggested that abortion was always wrong and that life began at conception (again the same thing I had heard from the majority of the Christian community).
However, this law did not pass...in Mississippi, arguably one of the most conservative states. Why was this?
The Economist had a really funny letter to the editor last week on the issue:
SIR – I was delighted to read your article about the effort in Mississippi to pass a state constitutional amendment to recognize embryos as people from the moment of fertilization (“A person already?”, October 8th). My wife and I have been considering IVF to address our lack of success in conceiving a child. Mississippi’s proposed amendment gives us even more reason to pursue this treatment, and to move to Mississippi.
After the procedure we will insist on taking custody of any extra embryos that result from IVF—it is our right as parents after all. Once safely in our home we plan to keep them in a freezer in our basement and list them as child dependents for tax purposes, thus giving us a tax deduction. To protect the lives of our children in case of a power outage we will buy a backup generator. Anything less would be bad parenting.
I had a good laugh, noting that by technicalities (stating that personhood began at conception) this person could have actually done this if the law had passed.
I read another story about a Christian family in Mississippi who had a child through in vitro. Now with in vitro, doctors get rid of embryos that they know will not work. By that law, the family could not have another child through in vitro, because it would be ending the life of an embryo (even if it was a "bad" embryo). It was suggested that this is why a substantial amount of Christian-Right members did not vote for this law, even though they were pro-life....it hit home. Almost everyone knows someone who has tried in vitro in the Christian community.
Perhaps abortion is not a black and white issue. Perhaps pro-lifers will be abandoning the term "life begins at conception" because this law proved it is a little more complex than that.
So now we live in a world where this law was tried and failed. The Christian community recognizes that this affects some of their own members. But will the Christians community recognize that it is not black and white for people outside of the Christian community? It is not a black and white issue for an 11 year old child who became pregnant after being raped. It is not black and white for a couple who is told the mother and possibly the child will die if she carries the baby to term. It is not black and white for the woman who takes the morning after pill after a condom breaks.
Now hear me out- I am not saying that abortion is right (or wrong) in any of these cases. I just think as Christians that we need to recognize that it is not a black and white issue. We need to love those in our own community and those outside of our community who are faced with these difficult choices. We need to ask God for His wisdom. But more than anything, we need to be much more loving when it comes to this subject.
Lord give us Your wisdom, guidance and love when it comes to this matter. Amen.