UPDATE: Searching for Common Ground in Conversation About the New York Abortion LawFeb 23, 2019
ADDENDUM UPDATE: Even though ProGrace doesn’t take a political stance, and we rarely comment on politics, I do have some more thoughts on this law since writing my initial response three weeks ago (see below, or click here to view my first post).
No explanation of what “health” means
First, a friend pointed out that the law allows abortion after 24 weeks if the life or health of the mother is in danger. There is no explanation of what “health” means and it appears the definition is left up the woman and her doctor.
This is something each of us as Christians should think and pray about – and ask how God wants us to respond. The friend who pointed this out also shared with me a very thoughtful and respectful letter her husband sent to Governor Cuomo, asking for boundaries around what “health” can mean.
The meaning of the One World Trade Center lit in pink
Second, I’ve heard from several friends, some pro-life and some pro-choice, that they were disturbed by the way One World Trade Center was lit pink in celebration of the New York law. I listened to a podcast where a pro-choice woman explained the celebration was in reaction to fears that Roe v. Wade will be overturned by the Supreme Court. They were celebrating the fact that New York codified a law before it was removed at the federal level. To many of those watching the celebration, though, it looked like they were simply celebrating abortion after 24 weeks.
Searching for common ground
As we search for common ground, it’s important to always ask how our actions will be interpreted by others. In the same way some people perceived the NYC celebration as “anti-child,” others will perceive it as “anti-woman” when pro-lifers celebrate a law that restricts abortion access.
If we can lay down our political rhetoric for long enough to talk to each other, we can work together on some common ground policies that will help both women and children.
It’s noteworthy that it was my pro-choice friend who commented on the New York celebration saying, “Are we sending the message that abortion is ever something to celebrate?”
I have been working in this issue for 14 years. And I have never met anyone who celebrates an actual abortion. What if that was our first place of common ground?
What if we worked across political lines to provide the support and resources women need to see another option besides abortion?
What I am celebrating today, contrary to what the media is saying, is many people wanting to bridge the political divide. There has been a shift happening in our culture over the past decade. I see people longing to bridge the political divide and work together to bring change.
Bridging the political divide is where I put my energy and focus.
For a thoughtful and respectful discussion that gives insight into each political position on abortion laws, I highly recommend this podcast I mentioned above.
ORIGINAL POST: Is there a Grace Response to the New York Abortion Law?
With the recent news circling social media about the new abortion law in New York, I wanted to share some of my heart on this issue.
First off, I know this is an important law, and have tried to discern the truth about what it really says. From what I’ve been able to discern from reading the law, these are the parameters: After 24 weeks is only allowed if there is no viability, or the woman’s life is in danger. I haven’t been able to find much more than that.
We don’t generally talk about the political battle of abortion, as we are trying to elevate the conversation to encompass God’s heart for both the woman and child, motivating the Church to get involved. We are proud to partner with Avail, located in New York City, who are doing wonderful work for women and the children in the midst of all this.
Here are my initial thoughts:
- Denise and I leave for Africa this week to train 150 pastors on a theology of grace and support for women facing unplanned pregnancy. They will be able to reach thousands of women who would otherwise turn to abortion or abandoning a child because of heart-wrenching difficulties. This is always the main ProGrace response – equipping the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus, so that both the woman and child can thrive!
- We continue to pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.
- Let’s find out what the law truly says, not take our cues from media. Then we can respond to the truth of the matter.
- When we do respond, let’s listen first and trust the Holy Spirit to give us words that are “seasoned with salt and full of grace” (Col. 4:6) because we are always fighting any type of injustice (toward the woman or the child) “with God’s weapons, not worldly weapons” (2 Cor 10:4) because only He has the answer.
As we pray and discern God’s heart in this, may these words help us know how to respond.
God has a better plan for women and children than abortion, every time, even when the situation seems impossible. But our current mainstream vocabulary around abortion limits us to expressing care for the woman or the child, and in Christian circles, rarely takes in to account our own sins.
Jesus told us that in His eyes, lust is the same as adultery and hatred is the same as murder (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28). He leveled the playing field.
Of course we are never to merely gloss over sin, but the fact that we continue to treat abortion as a “greater” sin is a big reason we haven’t seen much movement on this issue in the past 40 years. A recent Lifeway study showed that 4 out of 10 women who have abortions are attending church at the time. And yet, only 7% of them talk to anyone in their church about this decision. When asked why, many of them said they feared judgment from people at their church.
While we are shaking our fists and pronouncing judgment, countless women from our own churches are quietly going to the very abortion clinics we denounce. Why? Not because they want to “murder their child,” but because they are terrified of overwhelming shame and struggle as a single mom and feel abortion is their only choice.
We have to ask Him what we might be doing or saying that contributes to the vast majority of women who don’t feel they can go to anyone in their church for help when they are considering abortion.
Until we address what is happening inside our churches, we can’t possibly have an answer for those outside the church. To create a culture where women in and outside of our churches no longer think abortion is their only option, we first have to learn to communicate with those who are hurting as Jesus did.
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