Compassion for people is what compels me and it rings true in my heart as I process the weightiness of all the current events headlined in newspapers and floating through social media.
I watched the most recent Planned Parenthood video released to the very end.
My heart raced. I needed some fresh air, so I pried the window open. The warm thick air flooded-in, somehow allowing me to breathe more easily. My chest still pounded as I asked myself the obvious question, “How can this be taking place in the context of normal –everyday– business?”
Shock set in. Numbness threatening to consume my emotional response, because what can I really do?
Individual women I know well and care about, immediately, come to mind. My heart goes out to them, wanting to comfort them somehow.
I could hardly bring myself to watch the video released showing aborted 1st trimester babies; and it was even more difficult to watch the current video released this week showing 2nd trimester aborted babies.
What if I had had an abortion? Or what if I had a close family member who had an abortion? Would I be able to watch these? Compassion wells up inside me as I empathize with how difficult it would be to watch these videos or even to be active on social media right now.
A poignant memory surfaces.
I remember back to when I miscarried our first baby at 10 weeks. And how painful it was to be on social media, at first. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for other people and their growing bellies, but somehow they were all reminders of the vacancy in my own belly.
The dots begin to connect. As I realize most of us are drawn to language that softens the blow of our pain, so we won’t feel it so keenly.
I remember the ultrasound vividly. The doctor came in to confirm that there was no heartbeat.
My doctor said, “This fetus just didn’t take.”
Later on, I listened to a phone message a family member left me, “Kathleen, I’m sorry to hear about the fetus.”
“Miscarriages are so common.”
“1 out of 4 pregnancies end in miscarriages.”
“I had one. I had two. I had several.”
It’s easier, somehow, to talk plainly and matter-of-factly about “miscarriages” and “fetuses” because you take any personal connection with your unborn-baby out of the equation.
But if I were to say, “My baby passed away at 10 weeks in the womb.” It starts to feel a little uncomfortable because then it feels personal.
My husband and I actually did say those words and we named all 3 of our babies who passed away in “utero” or in the womb. Each child has his or her own ornament that we hang on the Christmas-tree every year as a reminder of their little lives. My 4 other kiddos, as recent as today, speak of them often. Over breakfast, my 6 year old daughter, Evi, clearly explained to her younger sister of 3 years, how she-Penelope has 3 other siblings in heaven named: Corey, Creedon and Grace.
In general, as a society, we tend to language-out and depersonalize life-lost in the womb whether to a miscarriage or to abortion. Because if we didn’t, it would be too painful to bear, because it IS so common. Just like divorce:: just because it is so common, doesn’t make it any less painful. However, there’s an unspoken expectation in our culture that we must hold our heads up high and be strong no-matter-what. Save-Face. Sidestepping the magnitude of the truth empowers us to stay strong somehow.
Or so we tell ourselves.
I can share from personal experience, that method hasn’t worked out well for me. The times I’ve chosen to bypass grief or minimize a painful reality only caused a delayed reaction. The truth resurfacing at a later time in my life, catching me off guard. Leaving me with a puzzle to piece back together that doesn’t seem to fit into the context I’m presently in.
I only want to speak into 2 things surrounding abortion and the Planned Parenthood videos.
We need to have (1) Compassion for the individual and (2) be anchored by Truth.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. –1 Cor. 13:1
Facts alone are not enough. And they can feel loud and similar to a noisy-gong if they are not spoken with love and compassion for the person(s) — woman & child.
Let’s face it. We can’t blame science. Science has proven life begins at conception, you can term-it an embryo or a fetus but it’s a baby’s life. And you don’t have to be a doctor to know how your baby develops week by week. You can download an app on your phone for that.
You also don’t have to be good at math to see that it doesn’t add up.
4 weeks:: Is the earliest you can find out you’re pregnant through an over-the-counter pregnancy test.
5 weeks:: Vital organs including the brain and heart begin to develop.
8 weeks:: All the major organs and body systems are functioning, including the baby’s nervous system. A baby can suck his/her thumb & he/she has a fingerprint. Scientists have even determined that at 8 weeks a baby is sensitive to touch and will recoil from pain.
You can google and get this information anywhere, not attached to any political agenda, these are purely scientific facts.
Yet the vast majority of all abortions in America happen after 8 weeks.
::Listen to this thoughtful and convicting sermon that marries scientific facts with biblical teaching::
The reality is, if YOU are the one walking through an unwanted pregnancy, the-facts are not at the forefront of your mind.
Turmoil, desperation, finances and your-future are all swirling around in your mind as you try to navigate the situation you find yourself in. And if you’re all alone, without support, where will you land?
We need to love well and judge less.
I’m talking about the judging-looks and behind-your-back-comments a woman will face if she does “choose” to carry the baby. The forgiveness withheld. For people who have aborted babies. And for those who “got themselves pregnant in the first place.”
If we would choose to come alongside and enter-in with individuals facing crisis-pregnancies, as I believe Jesus would, we may be surprised by the bravery a person can find in the context of a supportive, grace-oriented and loving community. I, personally, know and love a few of these young mothers & fathers, first-hand.
As seen in these videos, it’s not just the babies who are “used and profited from”. But the women as well. My heart breaks for each person involved, mother, father, child, grandparents and right-down-the-line to the very people in these videos selling off the baby-parts in piecemeal.
A passage of scripture comes to mind, it’s one of Jesus’ final moments hanging on the cross just before he dies. In the midst of people selling off his clothes and yelling at him Jesus cries out to God on THEIR behalf, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:33-35. Compassion needs to be what compels us, for us to have any hope for life-impacting change.
While compassion needs to compels us towards change, it must be anchored by truth.
I write to you not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. -1 John 2:21
Then you will know the truth. And the truth will set you free. – John 8:32
One of the most disturbing things that was a common denominator in all the videos was the language used while discussing the sale of the aborted babies body-parts.
Products of Conception.
Words are powerful.
We are lying to ourselves by devaluing life through carefully chosen words. Facts remain facts, but we like to debate the terminology.
We can’t selectively value life. Let’s stop skirting around the truth, hiding behind language that dulls the pain. Here’s the truth.
You don’t “choose” life. Life chooses You.
Our responsibility is to protect life. Loving the person(s) well. And being compelled by compassion for change.