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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Reflections on Abortion and Compassion

I recently noticed a comment that someone left regarding my post on the Religious Right that I felt might be good to address. While I am generally not one to shy away from controversial topics, I have never written about one of the biggies: abortion. Considering my background and experiences, I suppose that it is strange that I have never written about abortion. But I have always considered it one of those topics where few people are ever convinced by arguments. So I don't have high hopes of changing anyone's mind but I do hope to give a different perspective on the issue.

Here is what Camila had to say:
Dear Dignan,
I am a New Yorker who grew up around different places, cultures and religions, and I try to not see any of them as exclusive. I came by to thank you for the article about the Christian Right and ask a question.
At this point, we on this side of the Hudson River are unfortunately very angry and feel our values are being misrepresented and ignored in the political process. Part of the anger comes from stereotypes about Christians, because we don't see many evangelicals here. So, thank you.
About abortion, I want to sincerely have answers about what is morality and what is really compassion.
My points: my grandma was poor and terminated four pregnancies with a wirehanger;
most crack-addicted children in foster care are condemned to a miserable short and violent life. I just wish they did not have to go through it.
Many of my friends and fellow New Yorkers can't help thinking that legalized abortion is compassion. The only way it can be abolished is through birth control and sex-ed, and most in the Christian Right seem to oppose that.
Now, how a compassionate Christian like yourself and your friends see this difficult issue? Thank you again.

As Camila points out, this is not an easy issue to work through. To many conservative Christians who oppose abortion, those who support abortion are supporters of legalized murder. To supporters of a woman's right to choose, many Christians and pro-life people are cold-hearted people who care nothing about the plight of women in need.

I could do the usual thing by stating facts and statistics about the nature of abortion, why people really get abortions, and the scientific information about the increasing viability of babies younger and younger. But I'm not going to. I'm assuming that most of you have heard these things. What I am going to do is share with you about what some compassionate Christians are doing as a result of their pro-life convictions.

I can hardly talk to friends these days without discussing the topic of adoption. In my church it seems as if there are as many people adopting as there are people having their own children.

One of these families are some friends of ours who decided to adopt after having two boys of their own already. They also didn't pick the easy way either (though I'm not sure that there is an easy way to adopt). They took their entire family to China to adopt a baby girl. As many of you may know, China has long had a policy of forced adoptions when families have more than one child. This policy has been particularly targeted against girls. Over 95% of children adopted from China are girls. One child adopted from China was found with a note that read: "In our countryside, the thought that man is more important than woman is very popular. I myself don't have the strength to overthrow it."

This is just one example of a Christian family willing to get out of their comfort zone for a child. You can read more about their adoption process and trip to China at their blog, Welcome Lilla.

So what about children born into poverty here in America or those women in such dire conditions that they can't bear the idea of bringing a child into the world? Two other friends of mine have been willing to show compassion in these instances.

One of my best friends from college has put his beliefs into action. After having two sons of their own, he and his wife adopted an African-American boy that would have likely grown up in poverty otherwise. Certainly not an easy decision primarily because of the criticism that they would face. But God has prepared them both for this and their adopted son has been a blessing to their family.

Another friend of mine is in the process of getting ready to adopt siblings. Here is what he says about what they are doing:
"We are proceeding with the Georgia State adoption program at Bethany Christian Services. No international, as there are 18,000 kids in Georgia who need homes, and we can't afford to fly to China or whatever. We've applied where the need for parents is greatest, which is in the African-American/biracial program. We have applied for a sibling group of two children. So if we can find a brother and sister (or two brothers, or whatever...) that don't want to be separated, we're ready for them."
I don't know the statistics but I would imagine that many people that are adopting children these days are doing so precisely because of their convictions that abortion is wrong and that they are willing to provide a loving home for children otherwise unwanted. This is compassion.

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