Before January 2012 makes its final exit, there’s an anniversary to remember.
This month marks the 39th year since the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States.
The hair on the back of your neck is rising as you read this, isn’t it?
Some of you are tuning out. Others are mentally rushing to your battle stations. Ready to defend your position in this divisive fight.
Regardless of which side you’re on, abortion inhabits a tragic, tender place.
The numbers are staggering. No one seems to know the exact figure. Most estimates agree abortion has ended more than 54 million pregnancies in America since Roe v. Wade.
That’s a lot of abortions and a lot of women. The Guttmacher Institute reports about half of American women will have an unintended pregnancy, and nearly one-third will have an abortion, by age 45.
The stakes are high. Abort73.com estimates providers take in more than one billion dollars annually for abortion services. On top of that, pro-life and pro-choice groups raise millions of dollars each year to support their causes.
Commonplace. Clinical. But still not openly discussed.
When was the last time you heard Jane or Mary or Lana flippantly drop, “Yes, I had an abortion last week,” in passing at the grocery store? More likely that conversation is shrouded in secrecy and whisper if it happens at all.
We whisper because this is a delicate subject. Maybe, despite our rights and choices, we recognize abortion ends human life.
Feminist writer Naomi Wolf acknowledged this way back on October 16, 1995, in The New Republic. Click here to read a full repost. Wolf writes:
Abortion should be legal; it is sometimes even necessary. Sometimes the mother must be able to decide that the fetus, in its full humanity, must die.
Ayelet Waldman did. In her 2009 best-selling book “Bad Mother,” Waldman writes a chapter entitled “Rocketship,” the nickname she gave her unborn child.
Waldman painfully recounts how she knew she was killing her baby. But she thought it was worth it. Better to choose to end his life than risk giving birth to a child who tested positive for possible birth defects. Waldman writes:
Although I know that others feel differently, when I chose to have the abortion, I feel I chose to end my baby’s life. A baby, not a fetus. A life, not a vague potentiality. As guilty and miserable as I felt, the only way I could survive was to confront my responsibility. Rocketship was my baby. And I killed him. (p.131)
Now we can carry out this choice in near-complete privacy. No accomplices but an inanimate pill. Clean and quiet, or so we think.
Enter Jennie Linn McCormack of Idaho. Sometime in December 2010 or January 2011—news reports vary—this unemployed, unmarried mother of three ended her pregnancy with RU-486, the abortion pill, her sister obtained online. Only McCormack didn’t realize how far along she was.
Frightened and confused, she put the corpse of her baby in a box and set it outside on her porch. The cold, winter air preserved the remains until they were discovered by authorities following a tip. A whisper.
An autopsy concluded the baby was between five and six months gestation.
Can you imagine the horror of facing the remains of your own child? Placing them in a box? Leaving them alone outside in the cold?
McCormack was arrested under a 1972 state law making it illegal for a woman to induce her own abortion. The case was dropped due to lack of evidence.
Now McCormack’s defense lawyer has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 1972 law and Idaho’s 2011 “fetal pain” law banning abortions past 20 weeks.
Meanwhile, McCormack’s been ostracized in her town. Can’t go out. Can’t work. Her private actions making her a pawn in the public battle to decide whose rights, whose life will be protected.
I’m not interested in condemning women who’ve had abortions. I’m not qualified to do so. We all sin, myself included. In Christ, there is the gift of forgiveness for you as much as there is for me and my transgressions. Take hold of it.
Encroaching on your rights or privacy isn’t my concern either. I believe it’s most often in brave, lonely, silent moments of desperation you make a choice. You try to set things right in a tragic, tender place.
Yet we can’t turn a blind eye to the mass killing of a muted people. Little ones who have no means to defend themselves. Who have been blotted out of existence. Snuffed out like tiny match lights.
We are American citizens, born and unborn. Hold fire for a moment on this bloodied battlefield and listen. They are your countrymen. Hear them whisper.
How will we answer?
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13 NIV
Dear Father, hear and bless
Thy beasts and singing birds;
And guard with tenderness
Small things that have no words. —Anonymous