Planned Parenthood, Pro-Life and Pro-Choice:
My two cents about the ongoing battle on social media and beyond
A little caveat: I normally don’t translate my posts, but as I’ve put so much thoughts and energy in this one, I’ve decided to give it a try. Please forgive me all my grammar sins…
Abortion is one of the most dividing topics in our society, and I usually don’t have the urge to put my toes in this pool full of piranhas. During the last few weeks though, discussion has been heated up due to the „Planned-Parenthood“-videos. In the end, all the gunfire on my facebook newsfeed did it – I crawled out behind my bush, and here I am.
I’ve seen the video, and it made me feel sick, with each sentence screaming out the perverted attitude of our society concerning unborn life. There isn’t much that is treated with so little care, left defenseless and seemingly worthless. As Karen Swallow Prior put it so well in her excellent post, there’s a disgusting hypocrisy going on, „contradictory ideas society holds about unborn children, who are considered babies when wanted and something else when not.”
Sometimes, I’m just fed up with the thoughtlessness, indifference and egoism that life in the womb is dealt with. In these moments, I feel the urge to find a militant pro-choicer and say something like this: “Okay – it’s YOUR body, YOUR life. I see. But why don’t you just act responsibly BEFORE creating a new life you don’t want to be held accountable for?“ And sometimes, my fingertips are twitching, hovering over my laptop, tempted to post one of these eye-catching images or slogans that say it so well. Why not demonstrate the world how perverted it is? Just once?
In the end, I do neither. Because I can’t bring myself to see this topic from just one perspective.
I’m deeply convinced that abortion is wrong. In my perception of life and faith, neither I nor any other human being has the right to decide who is to live and who isn’t. But as a Christian, I neither have the right to allow myself the luxury of seeing the world as it should be, deliberately ignoring the suffering, the pain and the trouble that, next to thoughtlessness and egoism, cause some of these abortions.
I’d love to live in a world that doesn’t need any laws, where abortion isn’t forbidden or regulated because no one would ever consider it. A world in which people live together with responsibility, in which sex is an expression of love in a reliable relationship, and in which pregnancy is received joyfully, as a gift from God.
But this isn’t the world we are living in. We are living in a fallen world, with God’s Kingdom shining through day by day, but its victory yet to come. In this world, we deal with egoism, wickedness, poverty and broken relationships, and therefore with meaningless sex, rape, financial needs and broken families, all of which bring forth situations that are able to drive a pregnant woman into despair.
As Christians, we can fight for laws that protect unborn life. But we shouldn’t forget that it’s not the primary duty of our state to enforce the laws of God. We shouldn’t waste our energy trying to establish a theocracy „Christian style“. Neither should we express our pain and anger in posting messages full of condemnation and self-righteousness on social media.
I understand you. Your blood is boiling, and it’s making you sick to see unborn life treated like garbage. But let’s not forget that it’s probably a minority of women that make this decision recklessly and thoughtlessly. And even if it’s more of them: let’s first try to walk a mile in the shoes of just one woman in need who doesn’t see any other solution, not daring – due to her family or environment – to bear the child, take care of it or give it for adoption. We should ask ourselves if we, being in her position and without a journey that made as so aware of the value of unborn life, could have chosen this path. Then we should take another look at the picture we wanted to post and ask ourselves if we‘ll better something with it. In most cases, we won’t: We won’t reach any coldhearted egoist anyway – we’ll just stab some woman’s bleeding wound a second time, preventing her from turning to us in her need.
And that should be our place and vocation: that people can turn to us. Instead of letting it out on social media, let’s put our energy in sustaining unborn life IRL. How?
Let’s accept the fact that we live in this fallen world.
I repeat myself, but let’s force us to look at it again: people don’t just have sex if they are married and want kids. People act carelessly, women become inadvertently pregnant. Some women get raped, some are poor and afraid, some don’t have any reliable relationships. This world is real, and it won’t vanish tomorrow. Well, perhaps it will because Jesus comes back, but as we don’t know when that will be: let’s live in this world, as it is our task and duty, and let’s look at these things. Even if it hurts.
Let’s create a “Pro-Life”-environment by caring for BORN life
As Christians, we can create an environment that helps people know, appreciate and respect the value of life because they experienced this appreciation through us. In my church, a young, unmarried woman got pregnant, and her relationship broke. I wasn’t there when she had to decide what to do, but I’ve seen how her family supported her and stood by her side. In the meantime, she gave birth to a little girl, and she has finished her education with excellent grades. Her parents show every day how proud they are and how much they love their little grandchild.
Let’s take a stand
Just because the law allows something doesn’t make it right. As another blogger stated: no one knows when the soul enters the body and life starts, but it definitely starts before birth. Let’s remind the world that abortion ends a life. If we trivialize or belittle abortion, or if we stay silent, we are not only devaluing unborn life: we are doing a bad service to the women who are struggling with a decision. Many women who had an abortion are suffering afterwards, and this violently ended life has to do with it. One of the reasons the “Planned Parenthood”-video hurts so much is because the woman is mentioning organs, unwillingly disproving the often used image of a “cell cluster” for unborn life and revealing what a fetus really is: a living human being. If a pregnant woman, struggling with a decision, is confiding in us, we should support her caringly, but nonetheless show her this perspective – not only to protect the unborn life, but for her own protection in her decision making process.
Abortion is a terrible, cruel stigma of our fallen world. We mustn’t like it. Let’s indeed do what we can to save unborn life.
Let’s create an environment that attracts women in need. Let’s have the back of those in hard situations who don’t know what to do and where to go.
Let’s consider it our task to state clearly what abortion really is, not belittling it, but in the meantime meet people with love, mercy and empathy.
And let’s not forget – in spite of our anger and pain – that while extinguishing a life by abortion won’t ever please God, his mercy and grace is bigger– as should be ours.
To „be somebody“ – what is it all about?
Switzerland has been a democracy for a really long time now – but we too have had our share of aristocrats that disposed of men and cattle. A few decades ago, you could walk the streets of Bern and meet a human relict of this time.
For “Madame de Meuron”, the “Grand old time” was today. She was a real town celebrity, fully named Louise Elisabeth de Meuron-vonTscharner. There are still dozens of anecdotes people tell about her – for instance, if you were introduced to her, she would ask if you “were someone” or if you “had an income”. When she visited a military inspection, the whole staff – beginning with the highest rank – was introduced to her. Utterly unimpressed, she passed generals, colonels and majors, until she was introduced to corporal de Riedmatten. She lifted her chin, looked at him and, in a dry voice, just meant: “Enfin quelqu’un!” (Finally somebody!)
Today, we don’t need a „de“ or „von“ or “of” in our name to „be someone“. But have things really changed?
Our town newspaper has a SMS-column on its last page. Last week, a man wrote that he’d gotten a regular job – although beeing 61. The next day, the newspaper held two responses of people cheering with him, and one of them still moves me:
„Dear xxx, I don’t know you.
But I know how it feels if once again, you are allowed to be somebody.“
Yes – we don’t need a „de“ or „von“ or „of“ to “be somebody” today. What we need is what Madame de Meuron stated as proof to be nobody: a job and a pay slip that tell the world we are a useful part of society.
To make this clear: it’s praiseworthy and necessary that we contribute to our society whatever we have to offer, and there’s nothing wrong with achieving goals. When I got my first full time job and my first pay slip, I was proud and happy – not so much for earning money, but because I felt like a useful part of society, and that my work was needed and appreciated.
This said, I can relate to the sentence of the SMS above, but it still hurts me. I believe it names a deep rooted problem of our modern world.
Our economic system is reducing people to their role as consumers and contributors to the gross national product. And therefore, we are defining our value through our performances and usefulness for the society and the system.
Susan Kaye Quinn, an US indie author, has published a book series called „Debt Collector“. In her future world, people whose years of life they have left fall below the monetary value of what they ‚owe‘ get “exchanged”-the life is sucked out of them and their debts canceled, the remaining energy gets transferred to so called high potentials that “earn” it because they will be more useful to society. A rather creepy idea – but sometimes I fear we are not so far from it.
If I take a look at medicine and health care, the conflict is evident. When will there be (or is there already?) an age barrier for a new hip joint, or for expensive surgery? When will the usefulness of a human being for society decide about his being allowed to live any longer?
This sounds a bit dramatic, I know. I also know that health care with its exploding costs is way too complicated for simple solutions. But all these questions are a mirror for a life threatening value system that – without even realizing – we have inhaled, sucked in and incorporated to our view of the world.
I can’t change our economic system and the values that go with it. But I can proclaim a better one. It’s much older, and it will be valid when today’s values are long forgotten.
In this system, the price of a product is fixed by the producer alone – and the producer of mankind has had specific ideas about its value. He even left us a few words that tell us all about his ideas. King David, former shepherd and the tiniest of his brothers, wrote these lines, and they are meant for all of us.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139, 13-19
It can be challenging to believe that these words are meant for us. We are demanding a lot of ourselves, and adding the demands of society, we are never satisfied with our performance. Still, I know wonderful people who – in spite of severe health issues and handicaps – are able to both hope for healing and be sure they are worthy, inviolably precious – everything included.
Their attitude and strength both shame and encourage me. I want to adopt this mindset and change it into a heartset:
It doesn’t matter if I fail or succeed. It doesn’t matter how people judge me, and it doesn’t matter if I have a proof for my “usefulness” to society:
My maker alone is deciding about my value.
And He was a genius and didn’t produce any junk.