Compassion Against Condemnation

Pro-life, pro-birth, pro-choice. None of it is easy. All of it needs empathy.

Ahhh, the Facebook comments during this particularly insane season of American life.

I’m going to hone in today on a topic that defines the vote for a lot of citizens. In a post by a well-respected Christian lawyer and writer, he discussed all the reasons why a vote for Donald Trump flies in the face of what it means to be a follower of Jesus—with special regard to the emulation of His life and character. The post, well-articulated and factual, was hard to intelligently argue against. It was long too—7-8 paragraphs in the Facebook world—long.

After all that, readers weighed in on the matters discussed. And then of course were the “Nope, Trump 2020, end of story,” comments. I wondered if those commenters even bothered to read the post at all. If they didn’t, ok. Ignorance is bliss? But if they did read it, was their devotion to Trump that blinding?

But then there was this: “I would never vote democrat because democrats are all baby killers and wanting to perform abortions at 9 months and beyond!”

Say what, now?

I don’t normally wade into the fray with strangers, but this woman was begging for a rebuttal.

I wasn’t going to bother with her “abortions at 9 months and beyond,” ridiculous statement. Yes, Dems are running around killing full-term birthed babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Aaagh.

This type of “argument” Lord, help me, caused me to articulate a few things to her, though.

My response kinda went something like this: Democrats don’t enjoy abortion as a flippant past time. But there are many things to consider for a woman facing the tough decisions surrounding an unplanned pregnancy. What are her circumstances—financial, social, mental, spiritual, etc.? What if she has no support from family and friends and/or is very young? What if she was raped? What if she was in an abusive relationship and her “partner” threatened her life if she didn’t end the pregnancy? What if she was married with other children and she could not mentally, physically, financially support another child? The scenarios go on and on.

On the flip side, if a woman has the support she needs, resources, and funds—help in general—to raise a child with access to healthcare, education, and daycare? Well, then wonderful! What if she is a potential success story, where the unplanned pregnancy spurs an engagement that turns into a loving and healthy marriage, and all is well? That’s a dream ending we all wish for.

But it’s a gamble, isn’t it? Trying to see into the future to know if something is going to turn out great in the end or if it’s going to be the beginning of something far, far worse.

It’s tough to type those words. I’m a mother. My first child was not planned. We were newlyweds and our lives were far from ready for parenthood. I was terrified. But I did have a loving, supportive husband, a job, health insurance, and our circumstances and support system were such that our first baby was just an amazing surprise. Not every woman is so lucky.

And it’s because of that I can’t tell another woman what to do.

But in following the example of the Christ I love, my response to any woman in that tough and scary situation is to love her and offer support and compassion no matter what her decision is. She is not responsible to me, or the to government, or even to her church. Her life and her choices are only between her and her God—if she believes. Because I do believe, I know that whatever guilt and grief, or relief and elation—are hers and God’s to process. And the Lord I know, has a compassionate and understanding heart, even when we go down paths that don’t yield the best results.

I feel strongly that while my choice might be different from someone else, I support another woman’s God-given gift of free agency to choose and not have to harm herself in that choice. My calling is to respond with compassion and not condemnation—again, regardless of the path chosen. Our job is not to judge, but to love.

While thinking this topic through over many days before deciding to say something, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, a lot of documentary watching. Life, when abortion was illegal, took many women down dangerous, heartbreaking paths. Women died. Women had their fertility permanently affected—denying them the chance at future parenthood for a time that would have given their offspring a much better chance in life.

People will not stop having sex outside of marriage. Unplanned pregnancies will still occur. And every culture on the planet has “ways” to herbal or otherwise, halt a pregnancy. But what would it look like if those who spend time condemning, judging, and making decisions for others, actually channeled that energy into creating programs that offered hope and a way forward if an unplanned pregnancy continued? What if more access to affordable birth control and thorough, honest sex education changed the conversation, and eventually outcomes? What if more parents talked honestly and openly about sex to their children? What if people scandalized less, and loved more, thus removing stigmas that some women just cannot live with?

In the end, is the goal to punish women who don’t do as they’re told? Women who don’t fit the mold someone else created for them, a mold they had no voice in?

If the conversation is really about pro-life and not pro-birth, why aren’t its proponents advocating for everything possible to give a child, of any race or socio-economic background, all the opportunities that child and its mother deserve? You want to make a woman give birth, but then deny her every help afterward to ensure she and her child move through life in an upward trajectory?

Think about that.

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