Science can easily tell you how the moment of fertilization is the starting point of the growth of a unique human being. There is no other starting point of our lives. That is the moment I started, and the moment you started. My DNA was distinct and different from my mother’s at that moment. An organized growth of cells that formed my fingernails, my appendix (that science finally figured out its purpose!), and my heart, that shall beat until my soul leaves. It all started from that moment. Science can tell you exactly how it happened. Just ask youtube.
But the fight against abortion is not actually about scientific facts. It’s about people.
I’m going to tell you about the day my zeal for the pro-life cause died. Not because I became pro-abortion, but because I realized it had very little to do with telling people about science, about rights, or about changing laws. I realized it had everything to do with hope.
It happened when I was in nursing school. It was my second degree. My first was in political science. With my BA in political science, I was going to be the person who worked for the one non-profit that was going to end abortion. Abortion was my fight to be won. Senior year of college, God told me to go into healthcare (through someone else’s mouth, no I don’t hear voices), it rang true in my soul. To healthcare I would go, and then after that use healthcare as another weapon against abortion. Swing around my RN license and my BA like an ax “I declare as a medical professional and as a political science major that abortion is wrong! Be gone!” These were my grandiose thoughts. If I still thought that would work, I would do it today. But it won’t.
FACE OF DESPAIR
I shall never forget the woman who changed the fight forever. I don’t remember her name. I’m not sure I would recognize her on the street. But I’ll never forget she changed my whole viewpoint on abortion.
We were sent to a halfway house as part of our nursing clinicals. A place where people struggling with addiction spend time recovering before re-entering society. We went to an AA meeting and had lunch with people and overall felt like visitors to another world. Despite that feeling I never felt so close to my fellow broken humans. I had a huge sense of gratitude that my parents made all the choices they did. Also how easily my life could fall apart, but for the grace of God.
There was one woman who was very welcoming and friendly. Probably my own age. Seemed to be doing well and strong on her journey away from addiction. But you never know what hides beneath the surface of a person.
She spent lunch in conversation with us. She told us she was going for an abortion on Monday. The floor left me. She told us she knew it was a baby, but she knew she wouldn’t be strong enough to carry the baby nine months, and then give him or her away in adoption. My rebuttals left me. She said it would be better to have an abortion than the baby be forced to live in her life.
Things come to mind now. Things I should have said. I don’t remember what I did say. I don’t remember what my one classmate said, (who, I didn’t know till that day, was pro-life.) But I will tell you what it did to me. It changed my fight against abortion.
I have always known abortion is death. I didn’t know fully how abortion is despair. I sent prayer requests to everyone I knew. I prayed so hard for that woman. God is good, and brought me a strange, but strong sense of peace after three days of praying. I will never know what happened to that mother and child. But I can hope.
There are plenty of people who will try to argue against the science til they are blue in the face. There are many people who have no moral code beyond what is legal, so will tell you it is permissible. There are people who will throw at you wild exceptions to the rule. That is not why abortion is still legal. That is not why you still find women going into their local Planned Parenthood facility.
When I came face to face with the woman about to have an abortion, I found despair. I was not prepared for that fight. That is my confession. I looked at the face of despair and I realized I brought a knife to a bomb fight. I thought we were fighting against abortion with intellectual reason and facts and all I had to do was spread them around. We aren’t. We are fighting for souls. We are fighting for hope.
Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, fear is the cause of abortion. I could point to a thousand reasons why women fear pregnancy. Just think of the phrases “unsafe sex” or “use protection”. They aren’t just talking about STDs. They’re talking about babies. Abortion is the last resort. The choice when there is no other choice. The last way out. You wonder why abortion advocates are so fierce? You’re removing their last resort. They’re panicking. Abortion is the get out of jail free (except trauma) card. It’s the keep status quo card. “Unwanted” can be translated to “scared $#!+less of”, because women are taught to fear motherhood.
Even if you can convince someone to offer up the nine months of their life so that someone can adopt their child, you have to convince them that life is worth suffering for. But if you don’t have hope and faith, suffering has no redemption. Being alive is zero and any suffering puts you into negative numbers immediately. Especially for those mothers in the exception clause who are told that their child has a medical condition. People look at life and see pain. There is a sick sense of mercy by sparing the child from the pain of life, by killing them. This is the despair that leads to abortion. This is the fight.
Unless we can bring hope into the fight against abortion, we won’t convince anyone.
LIFE IS GOOD
In our culture the mentality is that, “life is good if…” add to taste. If I can get what I want. If I can avoid suffering as much as possible.
We have completely lost the sense of life is good. Period. I know that phrase is framed on the pinterest-esque wall of your girlfriend’s living room. But I don’t mean “good” with a beach theme. I mean intrinsically good. I mean no frosting, no trimmings, no wrapping paper, alone life is good. Our culture does not have that mentality. It’s all about the trimmings. Just look at your instagram. According to our culture, life is only good if you have all the trimmings, and if that is not possible, end it.
Individual lives can be warped into terrible things by terrible choices. But life is intrinsically good because God made us. He gave us this gift, and He called His creation “good.” Even after we fell, He came down to make all things new.
HOPE AND BEAUTY WILL END ABORTION
So that’s a nice thought. But how?
Cultivate hope. Point out beauty. Be kind. Bring joy with you everywhere you go. Convince people life can be good, by living a virtuous life. There are so many ways to fight, so many hearts we can touch even by small acts of kindness. Point to the beautiful things in life whenever possible. The beautiful things that we did not fashion for ourselves. The ones free of charge that are gifts of God. Blessings of being alive. There are far more people pointing out ugliness. That means in everyday conversations. Take a good look at the percentage of complaints versus praise in your daily conversation. Pray for hope.
Hope is infectious. So is despair. I have to fight despair at work, in my family, in myself. It’s everywhere. God gives me hope. Before I can start having a conversations about God, there’s got to be someone asking questions. If you have hope, you’ll have joy.Wear your joy on the outside. People are attracted to joy. They will eventually ask the question, “why?”.
So how do I fight despair? I am a nurse. I strive to be the best nurse I can be. To my coworkers and patients I am an enigma, “you’re always smiling Catherine!” I’ve heard it countless times. Well I’m here to tell you why I am smiling. God is good. So many horrid things happen in this life. I say that with conviction, having spent the last four years as a nurse on the frontlines of human pain. But God gives me hope. God gave me life, and that is good.
I got hit in the gut and I tapped out of the pro-life fight for a while, because I found the bigger problem. I found it wasn’t going to be one non-profit to save the world. I found all my facts and arguments weren’t going to help. Because I still had to find my own hope. I have to recognize that I too struggle with suffering being allowed in my life. I struggle with that everyday.
I know I need to get back to the front lines, in pregnancy centers, on the street praying. But I also know that abortion is the result of despair. So in my corner, I’m going to fight despair. I’m going to cultivate my hope. Because life is good. God said so. So preach it with every breath, do not be afraid, and fight. Then we will end abortion.