I have never been one who has fought against abortion. By that I mean that I have never carried a sign that says, “Stop Abortion Now,” nor have I ever participated in a pro-life rally.
However, that doesn’t mean I waver in my belief that abortion is wrong and is tantamount to taking the life of a precious, innocent, fully alive though not fully formed human being. I believe that completely. I’m just not an active opponent of those who believe in a woman’s right to choose (to use the common language of those who favor abortion rights). Instead, I’m a passive proponent of a child’s right to live.
And you know what? I’m ashamed to tell you of my passivity, especially after reading two articles that came across my radar recently.
The first was a disturbing piece entitled, “The Three Deadliest Words in the World: It’s a Girl.” Reported by A.G. Harmon on Patheos.com, the piece focused on a new documentary produced and directed by Evan Grae Davis. I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the film trailer, but be forewarned. It will disturb you, not because it’s so graphic (it’s not), but because it shows everyday people in India and China admitting to killing their newborn daughters in what is known as gendercide, “the culturally-based killing of a child (overwhelmingly female) on the basis of sex.” It is estimated that as many as 200 million girls are “missing” from the world’s population--whether killded, aborted or abandoned--due to gendercide.
But wait, you might be thinking, what does this practice in other countries, as despicable as it is, have to do with abortion? My answer is simple. Whether a child is killed while still in utero, or the moment after being born, it’s still a child. It’s still a life. And taking that life is still murder, whether it occurs 5 minutes before birth or 5 minutes after.
The passions stirred in my heart after processing the Harmon piece and viewing the film trailer were strengthened after reading a second article on the same day, this one by Bob Smietana in The Tennessean, Nashville’s daily newspaper, about a young couple who are “believe nothing about their infant daughter Pearl Joy’s life is a mistake." The title of the article says it all: "Family clings to faith, hope for a baby girl with rare illness."
You can get a glimpse of Pearl Joy in this photo, but the story says so much more about what happens when people like Eric and Ruth, Pearl Joy’s parents, take to heart the belief that God has designed each one of us, including Pearl Joy, “the way he wanted, for his glory and our good.”
This wasn’t a decision Eric and Ruth made after Pearl Joy was born. They knew halfway through Ruth’s pregnancy that their baby had a condition that was survivable just 3 percent of the time. And if she were to survive to birth, they were told, she would likely never walk or speak, and probably wouldn’t last a year. But rather than give into the doctors’ advice to end the pregnancy, Eric and Ruth chose to give their daughter the chance to live.
There are those who would probably argue that letting Pearl Joy live is morally wrong, if for no other reason than the cost of keeping her alive—her case has already cost more than $1 million—is a waste of precious resources. Why direct that much effort and money to child who is going to die anyway? Beyond the financial cost, what about the stress on the family caring for such a child?
No doubt these very questions are going to pop up more frequently in the years ahead as medical technology enables doctors to detect medical problems in pre-born infants in more detail earlier than ever before. You don’t have to be a prognosticator to predict what could happen. If the response of families whose baby is detected with Down syndrome is typical, we could expect 90 percent of those in utero human beings detected with defects similar to Pearl Joy’s to be disposed of.
Far be it from me to stand in judgment over those families who have made the difficult decision to end a pregnancy due to known defects. I can’t even imagine how heart wrenching that would be. But I believe it is important for all of us to think through the implications of the two stories I have shared. These are not hypothetical situations. These are real people at opposite ends of the pro-abortion, pro-life scale.
I suspect that few would have the courage to do what Eric and Ruth have done, even the most ardent pro-life supporters. And few would agree with the horrors of gendercide, even the most hardened pro-abortion advocates. But that doesn’t mean we can simply walk away from both stories.
The question we need to ask ourselves is this: If these two situations are at either end of the pro-abortion, pro-life scale, and the scale itself is sliding, in what direction is it trending? As a culture, which way are we moving? Towards a world where life is increasingly expendable, whether young or old? Or are we moving to the place where life is unquestionably precious and valuable?
Depending on how we answer that, what are we prepared to do? More the point, what am I prepared to do? I couldn't tell you right now, but this much I know. The issue is too big for me to remain passive.