it's election season, and you know what that means. Lots and lots of annoying ads, for one
thing. "Candidate X eats boiled puppies
on toast with Big Oil Executives every Tuesday. I'm Candidate Y and I approved
also means, especially this year, that the abortion issue moves closer to the
center of the national discussion. I say
"especially this year" because between Barack Obama's vote against protecting
infants born alive during an abortion
and Sarah Palin's refusal to abort her own Down Syndrome baby, the
candidates are giving us all quite a bit to talk about.
we're all talking. A lot. Especially here in Denver, in the wake of the Democratic
National Convention, it seems like every conversation I have somehow manages to
veer to the political, and to the issues involved in the campaigns. Especially, for some reason, the issue of
going to be honest. When I'm around
people I don't know very well, or people I know well but know disagree with me,
I'm not thrilled when abortion becomes the topic of conversation. Because abortion bugs me. A lot.
It makes me mad. It sickens me,
horrifies me. I've been writing about
the subject in one way or another for a really long time. I know a lot more
than the average person about what an abortion is – the gruesome way it
dismembers a tiny human being, the emotional scars it leaves deep within a
woman, the way it tears apart marriages and relationships and lives.
is virtually impossible for me to hear abortion being defended in any way
without somehow responding. I don't want to respond, in the sense that it'll
be a pleasant experience, or enhance the pleasant conversation we'd been having
up to this point. I just know I could
never face God knowing that I had left any defense of abortion unchallenged.
I had first started college, way back when, a pro-life group did a presentation
about abortion in my dorm's lounge. I
went with all of my new friends – the people who had become my "family away
from home." And I heard these newfound
buddies say things like "How can you say something that looks like a tadpole
has rights?" And "I used to think I was against abortion until I realized that
I would consider having one myself." I
spoke up, of course. Emphatically. And afterward I locked myself up in my dorm
room for three days.
tricky part to all of this isn't just knowing what to say. That's easy, especially when I'm mad. I can be brilliantly, bitingly eloquent in my
condemnation. The problem is in knowing when
to go for "righteous anger" and when to err on the side of "Christ-like
what winds up happening. I'm chatting
with a group of people. Somebody says
something defending the importance of "a woman's right to choose." I react viscerally, delivering a scathing
blow intended to clarify the overwhelming gruesomeness of the procedure being
"chosen." And then, just as the words
are escaping my mouth, it occurs to me.
"She's had an abortion." And with
that comes the realization that scathing oratory is not the way to her
heart. The compassion of Christ is. And so I abruptly switch gears, but the
damage is already done.
1.5 million women have been having abortions every year for most of my
lifetime. That's a lot of women walking around deeply, deeply wounded. Women you know, women you work with, women
you meet at happy hour, women you date.
You may not know about the abortion – in fact, you probably don't. But they remember, and a discussion about
abortion is not going to strike them the same way as a discussion about high
oil prices or the war in Iraq. It's going to be very, very personal.
attended a beautiful rally here in Denver,
where Dr. Alveda King spoke about the pro-life legacy of her uncle, Dr. Martin
Luther King. At that rally, Archbishop
Chaput called abortion an "intimate violence."
And it is. A woman's child is
killed and dismembered right inside her own body. I don't think most women who
have abortions fully realize that.
That's not to say that they're stupid or naïve or out of touch, but
simply that they're not given the information, and they're often operating from
a state of short-term panic.
the abortion, a woman isn't going to be particularly interested in learning
that the "blob" that was removed from her body was a waking, sleeping,
heart-beating human person – her son or daughter. On some level, she probably senses something
is not right – who could be the same after that kind of violence happened
inside of her body? But I'm sure it
seems a lot safer to suppress that feeling than to let it out and examine it
and have to fully face the horror of what has happened.
wherever two or more women are gathered, at least one of them is likely to have
had an abortion. So that's a pretty big
minefield to be walking into with a seemingly innocent political discussion.
so with care. By all means, speak
up. God expects no less of you. But don't do it without praying first, and
putting on a heaping helping of the compassion of Christ. He loves that woman. He wants her to reconcile and heal and live
in His fullness forever.
blistering oratory probably won't help that process.