A Heart for Abortion’s Lost
As students we face many decisions while at Yale. Some are imminently important and demand our best attention, while others seem less consequential. One of the gravest to handle is how to counsel a friend who is considering an abortion.
Such situations arise more often than we might think. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that today’s average American woman will face 3.2 pregnancies, of which 0.7 will end in voluntary abortion.1 That’s nearly one out of every four pregnancies. A staggering 1.4 million abortions were performed in 1996, and that’s not counting the embryos that were done away by the morning-after pill.
Sometimes the enormity of the facts leaves us speechless. Daily, in the quiet of hospitals and clinics throughout the country, unwanted, healthy babies are made to die one at a time, deliberately. Yet God knows and values each baby: He knows us while we are being formed in our mother’s womb; He knows us even before we are conceived. (Jeremiah 1:5) Assuring us of God’s concern for every human life, Jesus said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God…. Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6)
So why are the babies dying?
More than anything, because the mothers and fathers don’t know the God who made them. They don’t realize how plainly all their lives are in His hands, or how much He loves them, and the baby. As a nation, we need to recover God’s perspective on children and marriage and family, the perspective revealed in Scripture.
Abortions have been legal in the U.S. since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, and our government has made them incredibly easy to obtain. Legality hasn’t erased the issue of conscience, though, and it never can. Widespread moral uncertainty surfaces in the conscious and unconscious ways people treat the issue. In clinics and hospitals, the word “abortion” is unspoken whenever possible. Instead, “termination of pregnancy,” “therapeutic dilation and curettage” (D & C’s), or “dilation and evacuation” are familiar euphemisms. There is a hush about the entire subject.
Many doctors have discontinued performing abortions because they cannot bear to terminate a growing embryo. They recognize that the procedure obliges them to stop a beating heart. Any biology text can confirm that a six-week-old embryo already has very developed features. But abortion methods generally treat pregnancies after that point—in fact, 96% of all abortions are performed after the eighth week.2
The root of the abortion problem is moral confusion, especially confusion about what relations between the sexes ought to be. Our parents, on the whole, came from a generation of increasing licentiousness. Yesterday’s social norms now seem almost laughable. For instance, one almost marvels at the concept of a single-sex dorm, where men are not permitted to visit women after a certain hour, or vice versa.
Most of our nurturing institutions have renounced their responsibility to teach us the virtue of a chaste marriage bed…or even acknowledge such a virtue still exists. We are strangers to the once cherished value of saving oneself for marriage. Not coincidentally, the rate of abortion among unmarried mothers is far higher than among the married.
God designed and created the marriage union. He brought Eve to Adam to be his wife, and together they became “one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) The unity described there is supernatural, because God designed it so, and He sanctions it. This unity lays a foundation for the couple, for the challenges they will meet together. It lays a foundation for children like no other. Parents not only feed and clothe children, but also nurture them in the safety and stability of a loving household.
Disregard for God’s design has resulted in a high incidence of abortion, multiplied divorces, and single-parent households. The problems stemming from parents’ poor choices are passed on, like it or not, to the children. Without the stable structure of parents for shelter, children must grow up emotionally and psychologically on their own, and their perceptions of marriage, parenthood, and family life are marred.
But God has something better for a child, and for his parents, too. God has loving plans for every person, and He has more stock in each new life entering the world than even the most loving parents do. And it is in the mother’s womb that He knits us together, and there that He forms our inmost being. (Psalm 139:13-16)
If you have tasted Jesus’ love, you have a hope to share with people who are facing the abortion decision in their own lives. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ….” (1 Peter 1:18-19) You have freely received mercy; here is an opportunity, with God’s help, to pass it on.
Denise Chen, BR ’95, SOM ’00
© 2000 The Yale Standard Committee
1. Ventura SJ, Mosher WD, Curtin SC, Abma JC, Henshaw, S. Trends in pregnancies and pregnancy rates by outcome: Estimates for the United States, 1976-1996. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 21(56), 2000.
2. Interview with Planned Parenthood, New Haven, CT, March 13, 2000.