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Precious Life

In a Salon website article dated Jan. 23, 2014, Mary Elizabeth Williams made a shocking acknowledgment: “Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal.” With those words, Williams justified her support for abortion. In her judgment, the mother’s life is more important.

Abortion-rights activists acknowledged publicly in 1995 that in abortion a child dies.  For the first 20 years, proponents of abortion rights dismissed the humanity of the unborn child.  They argued the developing unborn child was nothing more than a parasitical blob of tissue, wholly dependent on the “host” (i.e., “mother”) for its existence.

It took time, but the biological facts emerged from the muddied mess of rhetoric. Life begins at fertilization.  It is then that human life is conceived. From that point forward, it progresses through various “biological stages.” At every stage, however, it is a precious life needing a Savior (Psalm 51:5) and having that Savior die for it (Mark 10:45).

In the so-called “real world,” this plays out with immediate and long-term consequences.

“Brittany” is a 16-year-old honor student.  Dating with intimacy was the norm for her peers and became the norm when she and “Lucas” became “a couple.”  Her unplanned pregnancy came with practical problems.  She aspired to go to college and earn a degree in business administration.  She could not imagine finishing high school and attending college as a single mom.  While Lucas agreed to support her decision in the matter, she was not sure how he would feel five or ten years later.  Therefore, Brittany made a decision.  She reasoned that too much was at stake and too many hardships existed to permit the pregnancy to continue.  The child must die.

“Aaron” and “Leah” were married just over four years. Their plan to wait to start a family seemed to work.  They completed college. Aaron landed a great job, and Leah was able to get her master’s degree.  She started a successful home Internet business, and the two decided to start a family.  It took another two years before the pregnancy test finally registered positive.

Now began the regular checkups as the baby grew within her. Leah never smoked, and she gave up her evening glass of wine for the pregnancy.  There were the exciting early ultrasound pictures and, of course, the spare room went through a massive transformation to become the baby nursery.

Leah was about four and a half months along in her pregnancy when she underwent a “quad screen” – a blood test that uses four different measurements to identify potential defects in the developing child. The test results found a “significant chance” that her baby would be born with Down syndrome. While advancements have been made in improving the quality of life for those with Down syndrome, Leah feared for the kind of life her child would have with this condition.

Aaron and Leah were devastated by the test results.  This new information changed everything and significantly complicated life.  For Leah it was one thing to run an at-home business while raising a “healthy” child.  She did not anticipate the complications of raising a child with any kind of disability.

Aaron and Leah very much love children, and they both recall the heartache of seeing how other kids would treat a child with Down syndrome. After a great deal of tears, the “loving” decision was to accept that this was not the right time to have a baby. It did not seem loving to them to bring this child into the world only to live life with Down syndrome. The child must die.

Since January 22, 1973, when abortion became legal throughout the United States, the decision to end a child’s life through abortion has been made nearly 60 million times in this country. About one million American mothers each year decide to end the lives of their unborn children; 18 percent of those abortions occur on mothers 18 years of age and younger.  Moreover, when a child in the womb is diagnosed with Down syndrome, the abortion rate skyrockets to between 75 percent and 90 percent, depending on the studies one reads.

Simplistically, we can shake a judgmental finger at the culture of death that has permeated our society. Without a doubt, it is bad. For some, abortion is one more form of birth control (studies now show more than 50 percent of abortions each year are performed on women who have had one or more previous abortions). For most, however, abortion is the easiest (though definitely not easy) of all apparent options in a difficult circumstance.

Realistically, the problem is far more complex than just the abortion decision. The inability to set good priorities or to carry them out is rooted in relationship problems with God and his will.  When the disciples proclaimed, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22), do we believe it and accept is as the reality of life? When we sing, “I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home,” do our lifestyles testify to that conviction?

What is happening in our society mirrors what is happening in our homes – including the homes of many Christians. On the one hand we profess our allegiance to God and his will but then place exceptions on that allegiance. In the case of any pregnancy, our sinful nature expects it to come at the right time, and the baby must be in great health. Yet both of those standards are self-imposed without counsel from God. Sadly, the preciousness of life is measured not by its Creator but by the whims of the created.

God, however, is not silent about how to handle these unexpected twists and turns in life. He challenges us to demonstrate our allegiance to him by calling on us to think more of others than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4) and to imitate the sacrificial love of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21).

How well do we communicate with our words and actions to the abortive mother the preciousness of her baby’s life and her own life? Are we quick only to point out error but offer no help? Have we offered assistance to families to raise a child afflicted with a debilitating condition or disease? Have we offered to share burdens, or do we only share judgments?

Is it our problem? Is it not? Our motivation to love is the love we know from Christ (1 John 4:19). He demonstrated love for us when we neither earned nor deserved it (Romans 5:8). The opportunity and means to demonstrate love to others challenges each of us to fight abortion not merely by calling it out as a sin but helping to care and do right henceforth.

The stories of Brittany and Aaron and Leah are true – although their names were changed. They represent just two of the one million decisions that occur annually to end the life of an unborn child. Their plight is our plight (Matthew 25:35). Their lives are so precious that Jesus died for them. It compels us to speak up and step up to imitate that sacrificial love.

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