byFaith | 8.1.16
By Alan Dowd
A day after The
Washington Post splashed its website with the extra-large headline“Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Clinic Restrictions”—complete with
images of college-aged women celebrating the decision with pithy placards and
congratulatory embraces—the Postfeatured a stomach-turning storyabout a college-aged woman sentenced to life in prison for killing her newborn
baby in the bathroom of her sorority house. The jarring juxtaposition of these
stories underscores how schizophrenic—and scrambled—our culture is.
Mother and Child
A little background: What the Postdescribed as “abortion clinic restrictions” were actually requirements in Texas
statute designed to protect women’s health. Under the Texas law struck down by
the Court, physicians who perform abortions at
clinics were required to have “admitting privileges” at a nearby hospital, and
abortion clinics were required to meet “hospital-like standards of surgical
centers.” These regulations would ensure that if something unexpected happened
during an abortion, the woman would be assured of emergency care.
As Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
explained, his state was trying to “to protect innocent life, while ensuring
the highest health and safety standards for women.”
But the Court declared the
health and safety requirements in Texas posed “a substantial obstacle to women
seeking abortions” and created an “undue burden” on their “constitutional
right” to abortion. Moreover, abortion clinics viewed the requirements as
“prohibitively expensive,” according to the Post.
Heaven forbid that a few bucks or safety concerns slow down America’s abortion machinery.
The concerns about women’s health were not contrived. Texas
cited the case of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist convicted in
2013 on one count of involuntary manslaughter and three
counts of first-degree murder. The manslaughter conviction was in response to
the death of Karnamaya Mongar, who died from lethal doses of pain
killers and sedatives after having an abortion at Gosnell’s
clinic. (A grand jury report called
Gosnell’s abortion mill a “house of horrors”—and rightly so: blood-covered
floors, reused disposable medical supplies, body parts stuffed in plastic bags.)
The murder convictions came in response to three post-birth abortions performed by Gosnell. The babies were not so
fortunate as to be sedated to death.
That brings us to what happened at the sorority house. The
case centered on Emile Weaver, a student at Muskingum University in Concord,
Ohio. After Weaver secretly delivered a baby in the bathroom of her sorority
house, there was so much blood that it looked “like a murder scene,” according
to the house manager. And indeed it was.
Some of Weaver’s sorority sisters suspected
the worst, and after searching in and around the sorority’s garbage bin they
found a dead baby girl in a trash bag.
It was later learned that Weaver never
wanted the baby and tried to end the pregnancy by taking alcohol, drugs and
labor-inducing medicines. When those failed, she delivered the baby, stuffed
her in a trash bag and allowed the newborn to suffocate to death.
“No more baby,” she wrote in a text
message to the man she thought to be the father. His response: “I would like to
know how you killed my kid.”
Note that both Weaver and her
boyfriend used words that reflect what we all know to be true: This was a baby—not a choice. This was a kid—not an unviable tissue mass.
Indeed, no matter how hard we try to avoid the
truth—no matter how many times we whitewash and euphemize it with pleasant
words like “choice” and “family planning” and “reproductive rights”—we cannot
escape what abortion is and what it does. Even in the Roe v. Wade decision, which started us down this slippery slope to
infanticide, Justice Blackmun used phrases like “outside the mother’s womb” and
“health of the mother.” His use of the word “mother” in the very decision that
birthed America’s abortion industry was an unintended admission that pro-lifers
have it right: It is a child. After all, there can be no mother without a
Emile Weaver realized this too
late, sobbing in court over “my beautiful daughter Addison.”
Sadly, there’s nothing new here. In 1997, Melissa Drexler delivered her baby
during a high school prom, tossed him in the lavatory trash can and then
returned to the dance floor. When a friend, hearing Drexler gasp behind the
bathroom stall, asked if she was alright, Drexler matter-of-factly said, “I'll be done pretty soon. Go tell the
boys we'll be right out.”
In other words, nothing—more accurately, no one—would get in
the way of her doing what she wanted to do.
In 1999, Sen.
Barbara Boxer, struggling to defend the indefensible procedure known as
partial-birth abortion, was asked if a child—once “born”
and “separated from the mother”—was entitled to all the rights of anyone else
born in the United States. In response, she shockingly declared, “When you bring your baby home, when your baby is born…the
baby belongs to your family and has all the rights.”
In other words, the question of when life begins and whether
a baby is a baby will be answered not by God or common sense, but rather by us—vote-hungry
politicians, agenda-minded judges, frightened mothers, cowardly fathers, embarrassed
In 2004, Ron Reagan (President Reagan’s youngest son)
dismissed human embryos as little more than lab worms because, in his
words, “They have no fingers and toes, no brain or spinal cord. They have
no thoughts, no fears. They feel no pain.”
In other words, no matter what the timeless truths of faith
tell us, they aren’t really human because that’s what we have decided.
From 2011 to 2016, the Obama administration fought religious groups all the way
to the Supreme Court to preserve its mandate requiring employer-provided health
insurance programs to cover abortion-inducing drugs like Ella. When the
Court finally smacked down the administration, the White House meekly said all
it ever wanted was to “allow millions of women across the country to continue
to get the health care coverage that they need…including contraceptive coverage.”
In other words, those of us who believe in religious freedom
and the sanctity of life were confused.
In all of these rationalizations and contortions, we hear an
echo of the very first lie: “Did God
really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
As a matter of
fact, He did. And He also said that each of us is “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
As the psalmistexplained, without the advantage of ultrasound imaging or Fetal Doppler devices, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb…Your
eyes saw my unformed body.”
Even when our tiny, helpless,
fragile bodies were hidden from the world, even when we had no fingers,
no toes, no brain, no spinal cord, we were not hidden from the Creator. And even when
someone treats us like trash to be discarded or a tumor to be excised, the
Creator embraces us and welcomes us and loves us.
God sees human life the way it really is—as a seamlessly
connected story that makes no distinction for trimesters or chromosomes,
handicaps or silver hair. Human life means so much to God because humanity is a
part of Him, an expression of His boundless creativity. And that’s why the
enemy has worked so relentlessly to destroy life. There’s a reason Jesus called
Satan “a murderer from the beginning.”
After 43 years of abortion on demand, the only thing surprising about Drexler,
Gosnell and Weaver is that anyone is surprised by what they did. After all,
what they did is what every abortion does: end the life of the weakest among
Yet their actions still shock and anger Americans.
Why is that? Why do Weaver’s actions repulse Americans and trigger a murder
conviction, but when the very same thing happens 2,500 of times a day at
abortion clinics Americans don’t even shrug? Why are Americans outraged by
Gosnell killing four people but unmoved by the loss of 50 million? Why do
Americans celebrate the Supreme Court overturning laws that limit abortions,
but then condemn to prison a woman who, in effect, aborts her baby a few
seconds after birth?
The answer lies, I think, in what we are: As selfish and
callous and hard-hearted as we humans are, there remains an impulse to protect
the weakest among us, a sense of right and wrong, a desire for justice. These
things are written
on the human heart by the Creator Himself. And so, when we are confronted
with such brutality and cruelty, such bloodiness and ugliness, we demand that
Emile Weaver and Kermit Gosnell be punished.
However, when we don’t see the cruelty or the victim—when
the killing is surgical and clinical and clean, when it’s kept safely out of
sight—most of us are unmoved and uninterested. This, too, is a function of what
we are. Whether it’s the horror of war in a faraway land or the horror of abortion
here at home, our humanness allows us, enables us, tempts us and encourages us
to keep those things that are out of sight, comfortably out of mind.
Jesus expects more of His people. He wants us to mourn over
abortion, to pray for its end, to rescue the unborn, to reason with our
neighbors by pointing out the inconsistency and hypocrisy and schizophrenia, to
share His love with all those affected by this plague, and to remind those with
ears to hear and eyes to see that the right to life is the first of all rights
and the last frontier of human rights. As long as we ignore this truth, there’s
no reason for celebrations on the steps of the Supreme Court.