It’s all around us right now: pro-life… pro-choice. The debate has heated up in the wake of the elimination of protections for babies born alive in New York and the move to ban abortions in Alabama. Many other states, including our own, have already or are now entering this fray. Pundits suggest that this will culminate in the U.S. Supreme Court taking up Roe v. Wade at some point in the future. Pro-life activists are elated, pro-choice proponents dismayed.
Just a few days ago, I was invited to attend a small gathering of individuals to meet with one of our U.S. Senators and a delegation of industry VIPs to discuss the opiate crisis, a critically important topic. In the middle of the meeting, the Senator commented on the Alabama decision and that sparked a brief but heated conversation and much visceral audience reaction. I immediately felt as though my own position on the matter placed me squarely and rather uncomfortably in the minority. In reality, however, I don’t really know if I was, in fact, in a minority as 2018 Gallup data shows that we are very evenly split between pro-choice and pro-life as a nation.
In the few days since that meeting, some have asked me how best to respond in such situations. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and appreciate that it’s difficult to be challenged, especially when you feel alone and pressured by a passionate group in opposition to your position.
We’re actually not alone in such situations, however. A friend reminded me recently of Luke 12:11-12: “When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”
Perhaps the best response is to keep it simple.
The God of our faith is a loving, creator God. He is one who invites us to participate in the very act of creation ourselves. I cannot imagine that this loving, creator God is indifferent to the plight of the very life he helped create.
“But you shouldn’t tell me what I can do with my own body” is the forceful argument from the imagined antagonist. Perhaps… but this not indifferent God gave this body to us as a gift, a gift for us to occupy for the short time we are alive. It’s my own body certainly. But it is so much more than that too.
It’s impossible to consider the pro-life vs. pro-choice argument without placing God squarely into the center of it. So much within popular culture stresses self-determination and individualism and so much of our faith stresses surrender and service. In the moment when Jesus himself gave the Eucharist to the Church he was founding, he knelt upon the floor and washed the feet of his disciples. This kind of self-sacrifice and humility should guide the faithful. It should guide our thoughts about abortion and it should guide the manner in which we engage in this debate.
And if we’re willing to engage, we should remember that, thankfully, we are never alone.