It reminded me about a conversation I had with the pastor who baptized me long ago when he was referring to the difference between being a pastor in the mid-20th Century and being a pastor now. He shared that his parishioners rarely shared deeply private information with him (e.g. addiction, incest, unplanned pregnancy, domestic abuse, even cancer) unless they had nobody else in the world to tell. People never “aired the family laundry.” There was no need to divulge family secrets with The Preacher because the family was nearby.
When people tell me that they’ve never known anyone who ever had an abortion, I wonder if it’s just that they haven’t been told.
As a pastor, people tell me things. Parishioners and non-parishioners alike have disclosed their secrets with me about everything from incest to infertility to adultery to secret children to secret spouses to embezzlement to trafficking . . .
. . . to abortion. I remember when a mother with an “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart” bumper sticker on her car phoned me to ask where her 14 year old daughter could get an abortion. Sometimes we are against something until it hits home.
We are hearing a lot today about “Heartbeat Bills.” In Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, Ohio, and Mississippi bills have either been passed or are awaiting a governor’s signature. And the name of this legislation follows along the same lines as other terms used by “Pro-Life” advocates like “late term abortion” and “abortion on demand.” They are words intended to spark an emotional response.
Scientists will tell you that what is being called a heartbeat at 6 weeks gestation is called “fetal pole activity” by medical professionals. It’s not a heartbeat like you and I have a heartbeat. It’s the potential heartbeat of a developing embryo.
I remember doing a Bible study on Exodus 21 and noting that in their “eye for an eye” culture, a pregnant woman’s child was not yet considered equal to the life of the mother. This is not to say that abortion is right. I’m not into proof-texting. But I believe with all my heart that God understands the complexities of such situations.
I’ve known women who have had abortions for all the reasons anybody has ever had an abortion and some of those decisions were the best possible choice out of several difficult choices. And I’ve known women who made their choice to end a pregnancy without much thought.
From the beginning God has offered human beings choices. Sometimes we choose well and sometimes we do not. Every day.
But if women – like men – are created in the image of God, we must way allow women to have autonomy over our own bodies – literally for the love of God.