The value of human life
When you hear the word “abortion,” if you are like me, it stirs up a variety of emotions. It may only be a word, but it is a powerful one. A word that by definition means the cessation of a pregnancy through the expulsion of an embryo or fetus, but at its core is about an issue of vital importance – the sanctity of human life.
It is simply not possible for most of us to discuss abortion with ambivalence.
The issue of the value of human life is too significant to warrant anything less than our full and undivided attention. But add to that significance the deeply emotional, very sensitive and immensely personal implications for a woman who is faced with a decision to end a life and you begin to feel the pulse of why this issue has divided our nation for as long as I can remember.
The discussion around abortion has ebbed and flowed in the news over the years.
If it feels like it has heightened once again in recent months, it’s because January 2019 marked the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe versus Wade – the landmark 1973 ruling that decriminalized abortion nationwide in the United States. It would appear that a number of states chose to mark that anniversary by proposing new laws around abortion. Some states choosing to propose laws to enforce limits to abortion while others, like the state of New York, proposing to legalize late-term abortions exceeding 24 weeks of pregnancy and up until birth. (The Canadian Medical Association stipulates that a child is viable after 20 weeks’ gestation.) The changes to these laws have captured the attention of our southern neighbours and understandably those of us north of the border who share a conviction on these issues.
The sad and tragic fact is that late-term abortions have been performed in Canada with full funding from the government for years. Not because this is sanctioned by law, but because we have no official abortion law in Canada since the existing law was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1988.
Despite constant attention by those who share a conviction for the sanctity of human life, extensive campaigns at times by groups, and efforts by politicians to propose a new law, there appears to be no collective will to change our status as the only democratic country in the world without a law on abortion. In the absence of a new law, abortion is permitted at any stage of pregnancy in Canada and that, to me, is unconscionable.
As you can sense from my words, I find it difficult to express my thoughts regarding our position on abortion in Canada without emotion. Within me is a wrestling of indignation, sorrow, sadness and grief.
Indignation that we seem unwilling to acknowledge that terminating the life of a child with every potential to live, and who by very nature is vulnerable and in need of our protection, is not perceived as wrong.
Sorrow that the world around us has lost sight of the truth that every life is made in the image of God and of immeasurable worth.
Heartbreaking sadness for mothers who, when faced with an unexpected pregnancy, feel their only option is to terminate the life they have conceived or, if they have chosen to have an abortion, now live with feelings of trauma, loss and silent pain.
And compounding these emotions, I feel grief for the children who didn’t have a chance at life and for whom we didn’t do enough to protect.
I think it is this wrestling of emotions that makes it difficult for many of us to know how best to express our convictions about the value of life without seeming angry at times. Shouldn’t we be angry if it is wrong? I want to encourage you, as I challenge myself, to allow our convictions, and even our anger at what is wrong, to fuel our passion to get involved in a positive way to help those who are hurting, to strive to save lives by caring for those who are most vulnerable, and to point the world to the hope of Christ.
As believers, we can choose to live as Christ did – loving the people around us and extending grace to those we are called to serve. I believe this is possible by not acting in fear, but in the conviction that God is in control. He knows the challenge before us and will help us be the testimony and the ambassadors of his love that he has called us to be. Without needing to express his truth in anger, we can show his love in our actions and the conviction of our words.
Here at Focus on the Family Canada, we hold unwaveringly to the value of life as expressed in our Guiding Principle and share our conviction of this value whenever we can. We want to be a beacon for the sanctity of life in Canada and work together with like-minded individuals and organizations to declare that all human life is valuable and should be protected.
We also choose to come alongside mothers and fathers who face unexpected pregnancies through our support of pregnancy centres and medical clinics across the country. We recognize that parents in that moment often feel overwhelmed and fearful, and it’s in those moments that they need to know there is support for them and that abortion isn’t the only option.
We are also engaged in supporting adoptive parents through our Waiting to Belong initiative. There are many couples who would love to have a child but are unable to conceive, and others who have a heart for orphaned children and children in need of a forever family, and we want to support them. We understand not all mothers and fathers can, for a variety of reasons, care for their children, but there are many others who are willing to love and care for those children and we want to be part of supporting them.
All this we do together with you and I want to thank you for your commitment to stand with us.
As you can imagine, when you hold a position that is contrary to the world around you, you face challenges. We experience these challenges each day in the ministry and so I would ask that you pray for us. I’d ask that you pray for wisdom and courage for all Canadians who feel called to engage in upholding life in Canada, so that we will be effective and not lose heart.
We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we remain steadfast in our calling to uphold the sanctity of life in Canada, believing that with Christ all things are possible!
Click here to view a timeline of abortion law in Canada.
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