I Choose Pro-Love
As a woman who struggled for years with infertility as well as miscarriage, I have never taken for granted the ability to have children, either biologically or by adoption. I view pregnancy and childbirth as a blessing.
"No doubt about it: children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a divine reward.The children born when one is young are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. The person who fills a quiver full with them is truly happy!" Psalms 127:3-5
I realized I did not have control over my life or the achievement of my goal to have children. My personal disappointments were compounded by feelings of spiritual defeat, as the Bible has certain passages inferring infertility was a punishment or consequence of sin. The pain intensified when I saw parents enjoying their children as well as when I heard parents complaining about having children, joking about giving them away, or rejecting pregnancies that I was denied.
For these reasons, I have been slow to empathize with women who struggle with unwanted pregnancies. However, I did eventually have children, and I know that pregnancy and childbearing are physically demanding and life-changing. The costs of my fertility treatment, prenatal care, my hospital stay and delivery of twins were covered by our government's social services. My mother stayed with us for two months when our twins were newborn. Our church community brought food. A La Leche league consultant assisted with breastfeeding tips. My husband and I had support. I was doing what I chose to do.
But I cannot be pro-life at the risk of a woman's life. I cannot be pro-life at the expense of the mother's fullness of life. I cannot be pro-life when a woman is criminalized unfairly. I cannot be pro-life when a baby is born to be unwanted, unloved, neglected or abused. We who live in Canada may find it hard to realize that the average cost of a vaginal delivery in the US is $5,000 to $11,000 and that could triple if you include pre-natal care and tests, complications, or caesarian section surgery. As every parent knows, that is just the beginning of the costs to raise a child through to age 17. The changes in the US may prohibit abortions without exceptions for cases when it seems the best option:
the life of the mother is at risk
internal bleeding may result in the death of the mother, child, or both without medical intervention
the fertilized egg is never implanted correctly in the uterus and is putting the woman's life at risk
the pregnancy is in a pre-teen girl whose body is not mature enough to bear a child
the fetus does not have life-sustaining organs or is not viable
the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest
a multiples-pregnancy where selective reduction is the way to ensure the safety of the remaining fetuses as well as the mother
a pregnancy that resulted from failed birth control
the pregnant woman has been abandoned by her spouse or common-law partner and does not have enough money to support her existing children
the pregnant woman is financially supporting a disabled or unemployed spouse or aging parents
the pregnant woman makes minimal earnings, juggles two part-time jobs, and has no health insurance coverage
a pregnant woman who realizes she is not physically, financially, or emotionally able to bear or raise a child
It is a difficult debate because it is an ethical 'right vs right' debate. There is merit in both protecting the woman and protecting the fetus. Pregnancy is not always a blessing. Having only two opposing views does not allow for a full discussion.
So I've decided to be Pro-Love. Pro-Love means recognizing that both sides of this debate are expressing love from their own life experiences and frame of view. They each are trying to show love and save lives.
Respect and empathy
Care and support
Reducing the root causes
1. Show respect and empathy:
Recognize a woman is in the best position to determine how to move forward
Respect the choice of a person regarding their own healthcare
Offer a full range of safe medical options, prescriptions, and procedures - including abortion
Reduce barriers in access to abortion by distance, cost, or manipulation
Offering choice saves women's lives, and their physical and emotional health, and addresses her response to trauma and her fullness of life.
Authorize women as capable of moral decision-making
2. Pro-Love means providing care and support for a woman in crisis. Many Christians, counsellors, foster parents, and adoptive parents are already doing this. However, like me, we need to make the effort to empathize with those at risk of an unwanted pregnancy or forced to make a heartbreaking decision based on the health of either the mother or fetus. Our attitudes and actions can make it easier for a woman to choose to carry her baby to term.
stop shaming, blaming, ostracising, discriminating and criticizing women who have unwanted pregnancies
show love, not judgement
honour women who give a child up for adoption
provide affordable prenatal support, safe baby deliveries, and maternity care
provide support for her moving to a situation in which she can take care of her baby
regulate and ensure paid parental leave
offer affordable childcare options
address affordable housing
3. Pro-Love means reducing the root causes of an unwanted pregnancy to reduce the need for abortions.
provide comprehensive education on sex, body parts, reproduction, and birth control
improve access to contraception; abstinence is not an effective option
make birth control a mutual responsibility; women can become ill from extended use of certain contraceptives; men need to show some sacrificial love and use male birth control when it is the best choice for the couple
teach men to have self-control, ask for consent, and respect women when they say 'no'
hold men accountable for sexual violence
Jesus called us to help the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, and the marginalized. We can help them by giving them equal rights and opportunities, not exercising power and domination over them. Jesus came that each of us might have life and live it to the fullest.
When Mary found she was pregnant with Jesus, she praised God, saying:
He shows mercy to everyone,from one generation to the next, who honours him as God. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed. Luke 1:50-53
We who are followers of God need to work to bring God's kingdom here, to scatter arrogance and pride and lift up the lowly and powerless. The Bible repeatedly tells us to love one another and to serve one another.
I love life, and I love my children. I hope that we can structure a culture where women and girls are valued as equals, and societal supports allow women to choose life more often.