Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Pro-Life Vision

I got in a "behind the scenes" discussion with a loved one today about the topic of abortion.  As I wrote to him about my opinion and "if only" dream of what I would personally like to do/ see accomplished to combat abortion, this is it.

Years ago I had an online pro-life ministry to women who had suffered physical/ emotional/ spiritual scarring from their abortions and this was my vision for the full extension of what that ministry could be come.  At the time I called it "Saving Grace Ministries," with the motto of "Saving two lives, one heart at a time." 

All of those aspirations, hopes and visions went to the back burner as being mom to my own three children and caring for our family superseded everything else.  As I typed out about my vision to my loved one, I felt the passion stir in my heart again.  So I felt inclined to post it here on the blog as well as I am very mindful of yesterday's 40th anniversary of the legalization of abortion on demand yesterday.

From our exchange:

My personal opinion and experience has been that the Christian pro-life community (which has diminished GREATLY in the last 15 years, partly because of legal obstacles and partly because of complacency) has gotten the effort to stop abortion completely wrong. Although I am a pro-life voter (when the option remains available) I do not for a moment believe that legislation is the solution to the problem, nor do I have even the slightest notion to try to overturn Roe v. Wade because quite frankly it will NEVER happen. But the truth is that by the time the girl is a the clinic, "rescuing" the baby (and her) is highly unlikely. Although I believe if someone had reached out to me in the proper manner I quite possibly have been "reached," I don't think that is the case for most. And the truth is that that point/ place is too highly emotional for everyone involved. The "pro-lifers" there (when they were) would get too angry and too desperate and actually lash out at the women/ girls there for abortions. That was my personal experience and when I participated in prayer walks and what were supposed to be "silent" protests (I never participated in a rescue attempt) too many Christians could not contain a loving and peaceful demeanor. I HATED when I would see people hold up disgusting signs with aborted "fetuses." As a mother I would be offended if someone put that image in my child's mind when they were "innocently" riding down a street. But I did hold worded signs that spoke against abortion, but never words of accusation or judgment.) Anyway, too many people only focus on the unborn baby when it is in fact the woman/ girl who is in crisis. She is the one who for some reason feels backed into a corner that abortion is her only viable option. It is through counsel and alternatives that you enable her to make other choices. Offering financial support, a place to stay, medical care, childcare, etc. It's the kind of care you provide to a woman who is giving her child up for adoption. When E's birth mom was pregnant we provided her financial support when she couldn't work, we paid medical deductibles, etc. The pro-life mindset needs to be such that we find ways to provide those things for any woman/ girl who decides not to have an abortion, whether adoption or keeping her baby is her decision. I do not mean permanent welfare, but through the process, and until she can get on her own feet and you need to help equip her to actually get on her feet.

Years ago I wrote out an entire vision for a maternity home. What I envisioned was a place for girls/ women in crisis pregnancy. It would be both a live in facility for those who need it as well as a resource for those in process to getting self-sufficient. What I pictured (in addition to Bible studies) would be a place where pregnant women would stay and have their babies and be counseled through the decision to have or give up their child. Part of that process would be that they provide childcare to the women who have had their newborns and are getting either job training or jobs. I think it would be effective in showing the women what is involved in parenting and give them a clearer view than the "I just want someone who'll love me" 16 and pregnant mindset. Taking care of a child is full time, and demanding. They would be learning by experience as they determine what is right for their unborn child. Likewise the new moms would have support as they moved toward being independent and taking care of their children as working moms. As it developed this could also be a place that provided infant/ toddler childcare at an affordable rate (based on what they make) as they are raising their little ones. There would be limitations, you couldn't keep going out and getting pregnant and abuse the opportunity for the reasonable childcare, the hope would be through the religious training (for lack of a better term) they would make different choices about their lifestyle and sexual activity. I could see women who went through such a program coming back as peer counselors to other new girls. It would be a place where adoption would be both explored and encouraged, ideally there would be pro-life lawyers and doctors willing to donate their services, other kinds of pro-lifers could contribute as well, by volunteering or monetary support. It would be "rubber meets the road" pro-life action. You'd have to have a lot of support, I could see Christian women coming in and mentoring young girls, I could see someone who loves to cook coming in and doing that for them, teaching them things like couponing and budgeting, whether that come from a pro-life housewife or a pro-life financial planner. People who say they are pro-life would have ample opportunity to prove that with their actions and their giving.

I realize their are several areas that fall under "pro-life," (I am against euthanasia for the same reason I am against abortion, life is valuable and it is God to give or take away, although I can understand the desire to end suffering.) But my passion is for the women in crisis pregnancies, even more than it is for the unborn child. I have always said that true pro-life ministry is meeting the needs of the mother, and saving the baby is the by-product. The truth is this is a ministry with a lot more loss than victory. Most of the time fear and selfishness will win out, but every life saved (the mother as much as the infant) is an effort worth having made.

I feel like God has really been reigniting a passion that was once strong as I have gone through the process of writing my books. The third in the trilogy will include a lot of this vision as though it has actually happened. But much of this drive has been on the back burner as I have been raising my own kids. I don't know if I could ever see something like this come to fruition outside of my novel because of laws and restrictions and the opposition it would receive, but it is my heart. The truth is abortion is first and foremost a multi-million dollar business and that is a LOT to come up against. But success isn't measured except by the one life at a time that could be changed.


There is a viable solution to abortion, but it isn't in legislation, it's in true ministry, one on one, meeting needs, touching lives and living what we SAY we believe, and facilitating the process of women and girls in crisis choosing life for their unborn children. Much of this could be done on a smaller scale, through crisis pregnancy centers and opening spare bedrooms/ homes to young women in need.  Scary? Maybe, but Christians are in fact called ot take up their cross, which means bearing a burden. Jesus never said walking in His ways would be easy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

40 Years of Roe

We were away on a family weekend, just driving to nowhere, with nothing specific to do but look around at the beautiful landscape of the Santa Maria Valley.  It was actually a missed turn that had us on this particular pathway. I had my phone out using the maps app and my GPS trying to find the best way to get us back to our hotel room in Solvang. I looked up from my phone and out of the corner of my eye I caught just a glimpse of it. 

"Go back!" I told my husband. 

"Are you serious?" he asked.  I begged off but he decided to turn around anyway.  He pulled the car on to the street alongside the church that held a makeshift graveyard in memory of all the children who have died my legalized abortion on demand since Roe v. Wade was "won" 40 years ago today in 1973. 

I alone got out of my car and walked over to the very large display.  Every cross in the yard represented 2000 babies who were lost by abortion... in the last year.  Please take note of that particular statistic, this is over a million babies per year. PER YEAR. The full count is about 45 million babies since Roe v. Wade's victory 40 years ago today.

As I walked back and forth along the street alone in front of the display, traffic rushing by just behind my back, I felt both a stillness and a heaviness in my heart.  The sign at the back on one side of the display offered help for women who suffered from the guilt of abortion.  In a moment I found myself both grateful and saddened.  I'm glad they are reaching out to the women who find themselves suffering under the pain, guilt and shame of abortion in their past, but I know from experience, in may ways, by then its too late.  The damage has been done, to both life and soul.  Where was the help for these women when they found themselves in the first crisis, when there was still an opportunity to impact two lives?

I stood staring at the crosses and I knew in my heart that each cross not only represented 2000 unborn children who did not live to see the light of day in 2012, but each also represented a woman felt herself in such a difficult situation that abortion was her only option.  I wonder how many of those women felt hopeless? Lost? Confused?  This is the reason why Roe v. Wade seems like anything but a victory to me. Tout the right to "choose" all day long, the fact is that education about the procedure and alternative options are not made readily available, and in a moment of confusion, fear and pain, these women run to a path that they believe is an easy way out. But they do not know what's on the other side of that "door" when they will go through it, they only know they will come out the other side alone.

I wonder how many of them do not know the depth that that solitude can bear.  I read a quote once that said, "abortion makes a woman un-pregnant, but it does not make her an un-mother."  There is an emptiness that comes on the "other side" of abortion that is hard to explain. No matter how much you think you know and can anticipate how you will feel after an abortion, you cannot.  And this one "choice" is in fact the choice that ends all other choices.  There are no more options after abortion. Yes, you might choose to have more children later, but will you be able to?  You cannot know.  Abortion is a traumatic physical experience. Even secular statistics indicate that at least 10% of women who have an abortion will suffer immediate physical complications. It is a blind procedure using sharp objects without benefit of scope or ultrasound to see what the doctor is doing.  It just is. There are risks for lack of evacuation, perforation of the uterus, scarring-- all can hinder future fertility.  1 in 10 women will find this to be the case.

The psychological issues cannot be measured.  For a season I served in an internet ministry I built online before the days of Facebook and Twitter.  Through emails, early websites and old-fashioned "chat rooms" I personally ministered to hundreds of women who were suffering painful psychological damage from the "choice" of abortion.  All I did was make a single plea to reach out to women in those circumstances and with in a couple of weeks I literally connected with hundreds of women who wanted help for their hurting hearts and minds, women who would have given anything to go back and make a different choice. Whether it had been a matter of weeks or a matter of decades, the sentiments were the same.

"If only I had known..."

"If only someone would have reached out..."

In the early 1990s when I first came to terms with my own abortion, I am grateful to say there was help.  People were reaching out to both stop abortion and to minister to women who had them.  It wasn't perfect, often those who hoped to save babies actually pushed the women in crisis away, but there was at least an effort.  Today I don't see the same kind of passion or concern for either women in crisis, their unborn children or the women who are living under painful shame and regret for having chose abortion in their pasts.

The crisis has gotten no better.  There are just as many abortions if not more going on here in 2103 as there were in 1993.  But the outreach has completely waned.  Yes politics and legalities have made the efforts more difficult, but certainly no less necessary.  The fact is in many ways the abortion process has gotten even more dangerous with later-term abortions involving more complicated surgical procedures and multiple day procedures; and there are even "abortion pills" where women are sent home to suffer through the process without medical supervision.  All the while women being told abortion is "safe and simple" which it is neither - not physically and not emotionally.

And what about spiritually?  What does it do to the woman's soul?  I know for me I carried great pain and darkness after my abortion.  I suffered nightmares, angry outbursts, guilt and shame.  All of those things reached a overwhelming point the day I suffered my first miscarriage nearly three years after my abortion.  No one brought shame on me, no one made me feel guilty, the guilt that resided in my heart was birthed out of a knowledge in my soul that abortion is wrong, unnatural and against the very design of the human body.  I was broken and devastated for the loss of another unborn child, convinced this was justified by the death of my first child by abortion. 

But I was one of the fortunate ones.  Someone reached out to me, and helped me find the grace and forgiveness that can be found in Christ alone.  Restoration and healing, in my case spiritually, emotionally and to a degree even physically, came through God's Word, loving disciples of Christ and a relationship with my Savior.  The church had the answer to my pain. 

The truth is the church is the best answer for the before problem as well.  And truth be told it goes back to before a woman or young girl even finds herself in a crisis pregnancy in the first place, but I digress.  But at the very least the church should be doing more to reach out to woman in crisis pregnancies. They ought to be reaching out to these women and young girls, reaching their hearts, because it is my firm belief, if you reach out and meet the needs of one heart, two lives can be saved.

I know the anger of God was stirred against the Israelites as they sacrificed their children on the altar of Molech. And I am convinced His patience is wearing no less thin towards us as a nation as we turn a blind eye as our children are sacrificed on the altar of convenience and desire.  Perhaps as a nation there is no hope for change.  Legislation isn't the solution anyway but the Church ought not be a part.  We need to stop turning a blind eye, we need to stand us and say "NO!"  We need be a part of the solution, first and foremost in prevention. And if we come "too late" for some, then at the very least we should be active in the ministry of grace and reconciliation.  Women are hurting, babies are dying, if not us then who? 

Don't dismiss today, thin about the 45 million babies who have already died by abortion in this nation, and think about the mothers who suffer their choices.  Pray. Vote pro-life. Do something to make a difference to live the live of a disciple of Jesus Christ.

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
Psalm 139: 13-16

As I was preparing to head back to the car to leave on Sunday my daughter came out and joined me for a moment. "Look Mommy," she said, pointing to a fallen cross. "That one fell down." 

As I stood there it felt like a holy moment.  I am grateful for the healing God has done in my heart over my sin of abortion. But I must never forget the child that was meant to be who is not here.  Someday in heaven I will see her, and I hope I can tell her that although I made the horrible mistake of aborting her, her life was not in vain.  That I told the truth, I reached out to others and I warned them not to go the way I had.  Life is a choice, and it is always, always a choice worth making.

If you would like to understand more about the aftermath of abortion and the crisis of unplanned pregnancy, Diana is the author of the novel "Homecoming: The Redemption Series," which in a fictional format shares factual information about the problem of abortion, including the emotional challenges and devastating consequences of abortion.