By Alberta Farnsworth, Conference Lay Leader
I remember very sanctimoniously saying, “I would never, ever have an abortion. Maybe it is OK for someone else, but not me.” I never did have an abortion. I never got pregnant by being raped. I never had an ectopic pregnancy. I never had a stillborn baby. I had the resources to raise my children. I wonder how I could have ever been so very sure that I would always be one of the lucky ones who really did not have to make that decision. I know women who had to make the decision and some made the decision to abort and others made the decision to carry the pregnancy to term. It was their decision to make, not mine. I still believe that abortion is not a decision that should be made lightly. I feel that It is not reasonable to use abortion as birth control, but I am aware that in some countries, abortion may be easier to get than effective birth control. The following statement from The UMC Social Principles 2020 (pg 28-29) (https://www.umcjustice.org/documents/124) states very well what I believe:
We urge all those considering abortions to seek appropriate medical advice and pastoral counseling and to engage in searching, prayerful inquiries into other alternatives, such as making babies available for adoption. We pray for those facing unintended pregnancies and offer our prayers and support as they attempt to discern God’s will and seek God’s wisdom and guidance. Regardless of the circumstances in which someone might get an abortion, we do not condone bullying or shaming people for their decisions or actions. We acknowledge that young women of childbearing age frequently report that they lack the ability to make meaningful life choices or exercise effective control over their own lives. We challenge pastors, congregations, campus ministries, and others to be at the forefront of efforts to empower these young women. Additionally, we support resource centers that offer compassionate care and help women explore alternatives to abortion.
While guidance like this is helpful, it can also make it seem oversimplified. While we can look at statistics and decisions logically, we have to take into account the complex emotions that God gave us as humans, and how they play a part in our decision-making. These emotions are valid and important and can push us to land on every side of an issue. Many people that I know and love fall on different sides of this very personal issue.
I have friends and family members who were adopted into the family that raised them. Some feel strongly that abortion is absolutely wrong and where would they be if their birth mother had aborted them. These are people I love dearly and I am thankful their birth mothers gave them life and that adoption was their path to be part of my extended family. Adoption was the right answer in these cases and I applaud the birth mothers for making that decision. However, the decision is not a one size fits all. Every situation needs to be compassionately looked at and the woman making the decision needs to have appropriate medical advice and counseling. She does not need to be shamed for finding herself in the situation.
While I always felt my decision was firmly made in one direction, other people that I know and love have felt strongly that their decision would always be made in the other direction. It is so important that we all know ourselves, and know what we are capable of. The truth of the matter is none of us can actually know exactly how life will play out for us. God made each of us beautifully and wonderfully unique, and our minds and our decisions reflect that beauty. I know that I can and do support the right of all to make their own decision and I do not have the right to say that anyone else’s decision is right or wrong. My decision is mine and your decision is yours. Thanks be to God.
I have heard it said that you can use the Bible to prove almost anything. When does life begin? Genesis 2:7 (CEB) says:
“the LORD God formed the human from the topsoil of the fertile land and blew life’s breath into his nostrils. The human came to life.”
That sounds like life begins with the first breath. But Jeremiah 1:5 (CEB) says:
“Before I created you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart;”
That sounds like we are alive before we are even an embryo. Very confusing if we want to make our decision based on what the Bible says. Appropriate and compassionate advice is needed for anyone making a decision on abortion. The decision should be between the woman and God. And we are not the judge, God is.