“I knew we were in trouble months ago when a prominent journalist said she absolutely accepted the unborn was a baby, but that she felt a woman’s right to choose trumped that fact.
I waited for the outcry. Someone had just said that a baby must die to facilitate an adult’s choice. There was none. I felt an indescribable chill. The next generation is our hope, not some kind of choice.”
Once again I find myself drawn to the laptop, furiously typing what is burning on my heart. I’ve avoided this all week. But all week I’ve been burdened, my heart heavy. I never planned to blog about this. If anything, I was going to put a few thoughts on my stories on Instagram – that way the criticism could come privately – as indeed it will surely come - one way or another. I’m not confrontational by nature. I crumble in debates. I struggle to articulate myself when I’m challenged or under pressure … but writing it down … that I can do. I think. I’m going to try.
If you’ve spent any length of time around here you will know that my faith is important to me. And if I claim to be a follower of Christ I should aim to mirror his way of life. This is something I’m not particularly good at. I’m working on it, but I far too often set my own agenda. There are times however, when the Holy Spirit prompts and stirs something within me. When I get that feeling that just doesn’t go away. When I can’t sleep or think properly until I do what I know I need to do.
I need to speak.
I must speak.
So here I am, trying to pen words that I hope are gracious, yet speak truth. Words that will challenge, yet speak life. Much like my friend Laura (read her post here) I also have to be brave. My intentions are not to offend or cause trouble, just to share my personal thoughts and things I’ve read.
Last weekend I drove around the streets of Sligo as Ireland voted to repeal the 8th amendment. In a landslide victory, people celebrated unlimited access to abortion up to 12 weeks and permission to abort up to 6 months in other limited circumstances. As I drove, I read sign after sign – bombarded with the extremes of either side of the campaign. My heart sank. The repeal the 8th campaign seemed to tick all the boxes. Language was carefully curated to dehumanise the campaign and focus on women’s welfare - trusting women with making the right choices. By shifting the focus off what is unseen - what is weak, helpless, voiceless … and turning it to what is seen, known and tangible - our “sister, mother, friend” - it’s visual; easier to accept and agree with. It is too easy to forget who is sheltering in the darkness, desperately needing a voice too.
When the announcement was made I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I avoided reading news stories and tried to accept the decision, but every day since my eyes have been drawn to a number of articles and information that I can’t ignore. I cannot claim to follow Christ and not stand for what he died to demonstrate … love. Love for all. I cannot stay silent because of love. Who is showing love to those without a voice? Those who are in the hidden and quiet place. Who is standing up for our unborn babies? Who is protecting them and their constitutional right to life? Their choice is being taken away in the most inhumane manner. I watched crowds dancing and rejoicing over the fact that women are going to have the choice to kill the most vulnerable in our society. Is this ‘women’s rights’? Is this how we show women compassion? Want to show women compassion and love? Then lets physically do it. Lets not offer abortion as a fix to the problem. There are other options. We need to be making these avenues of help and support clearer to our women, not promoting the choice to end a life as a solution. The people of Ireland have said they “want to live in a country that treats women with compassion”. Where then is the compassion for those aborted baby girls? Those future women?
I watched a moving speech recently by abortion survivor Gianna Jessen. For 18 hours she was burned alive in her mother’s womb from a saline abortion. She miraculously survived and gave this speech at Parliament House in Australia. She gave her testimony saying, “If abortion is about women’s rights, what were mine? My life was being snuffed out in the name of women’s rights.” I drove home from Sligo feeling alienated and afraid for the future. I’m a mum of one daughter. My mother’s heart grieves for those beautiful unborn babies who have already been lost and for those - who under the new law – will never see the light of day. “It is a battle between life and death,” Jessen continues – “which side are you on?”
After the repeal victory Irish politician Taoiseach Leo Varadkar commented, “We trust women, and we respect them to make the right decisions for their healthcare…” But surely healthcare looks after both mother AND baby - it doesn’t terminate one of them? Is this detachment from the real human issue at hand? Undoubtedly, women must be looked after. Women deserve all the help available so that precious second life is given a chance. I’d have to agree with Dr. John Monaghan that, “abortion ends lives. It is not healthcare”, and my heart breaks for any poor woman who has been, or is caught in a crisis situation - I’m so, so sorry. I’m not writing this out of a place of judgement or condemnation, but to simply speak up for those with no voice.
In her article in the Irish Times, Breda O’Brien replies to the suggestion that the Ireland moving forward is now more tolerant, open and respectful. She writes:
“Ireland is unrecognisable. It is a different place – a place with a heart closed to the ones who will die because they are not deemed human enough to be protected. And a heart closed to the thousands of women who wish they lived in a society that cared enough to tackle the profound injustices such as poverty that force women to choose abortion, rather than proposing the ending of a life instead.”
There are bigger issues of injustice that we all know need addressed, but choosing abortion shouldn’t be promoted as the solution.
Yes, we are now moving towards a more liberal Ireland, but at what cost? In his article, ‘Ireland Regresses; Sunday, Bloody Sunday’ David Robertson comments:
“Let us suppose that you supported the right to abort a child – would you not regard it as a ‘necessary evil’ and mourn the fact that it had to happen at all? In a civilised society, even if you regarded abortion as necessary, would this not be a day of solemnity and sorrow – even if you had received what you called the right vote? But to dance in the streets because you had just given mothers the right to kill their own unborn child is not civilised. It is barbaric. Rather than progressing into being a more tolerant, open and respectful society, Ireland has regressed over 1500 years into his pre-Christian pagan past, where the weakest members of society are not tolerated and not respected. They are destroyed.”
Let me conclude with a quote from Mildred Jefferson. Jefferson fought against racism and sexism to become the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School in 1951 and the first woman of any race to intern in Boston City Hospital. She said of abortion:
‘I am at once a physician, a citizen and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow this concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged and the planned have the right to live.’”
The onus is now on me. Am I willing to stay silent and avoid risk of criticism/hatred/confrontation? If so, I might as well pack my bags and call it quits on all I stand for and believe as a follower of Christ. More than ever before I need to pray for this country. I felt a chill as I read the placards saying ‘Northern Ireland – you’re next.’ Your Kingdom come Lord, your will be done is the cry of my heart. That God, you move and minister across our land in a fresh way. Pour your love and mercy on us as we seek to lift your name high and speak your truth in love. Every life matters - compassion for mother and for baby in all circumstances is possible. Aborting our children shouldn’t be proposed as the only option. Just because they are hidden from view doesn’t mean they deserve this. So I’ll speak for the most vulnerable and I hope you’ll allow me to express my opinion just in the same way the ‘YES’ supporters were able to express theirs. I also respect your decision if you disagree.
Matthew 25 v 40
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Disclaimer: Please note that any quotes included are not my own personal thoughts/words.