I end up hearing a lot of things via Facebook that I would never otherwise know. Maybe some that, all things being equal, I'd be better off not knowing. I'm sure it's the same for you, if you have a Facebook account.
What I know right now is that there is a woman somewhere who is known by someone I know only slightly, and who is pregnant with a baby with a serious medical problem. The woman is planning to abort the baby, and my Facebook friend is asking us all to pray, which I have.
Abortion is so hard for me to talk about, but it's there, and it's real, and my kids ask me about it, so I have to figure out what to say. It's hard because I used to think it was a bad-but-okay thing and better to be legal, and because people I love very much still feel that way, and I don't want them to feel like I'm judging them -- because I don't feel that way anymore.
I just found out about and joined an organization called Feminists for Life. I like their approach -- "Women Deserve Better." They advocate for supporting women (and children and men) in ways that address the unmet needs that may lead a woman to feel that abortion is her only choice. Why, they ask and I ask, should a woman have to choose between work or school and carrying a pregnancy to term? They talk about access to health care and adoption resources. I put a Feminists for Life bumper sticker on my car, but I hesitate to put anything on my Facebook.
To say anything about being against abortion, I fear, will lead to my being lumped in with the picketers with their bloody signs and the man who stands up in my church every year inviting us to "adopt" and pray for an unborn baby, even encouraging us to give "our baby" a name. Those approaches disgust me. They do nothing for women who seek abortion but shame or ignore or devalue them, and I want nothing to do with any of it.
So I remain silent.
I know women who have had abortions. Maybe there are women out there for whom abortion was a neutral, if not good, experience. I haven't met any of them. I have met any number of women whose abortions have left them deeply damaged. They are guilty and grieving and confused and ashamed even many years later. It has tainted their relationships with men and with their other children. I imagine that our public discourse about abortion continues to wound them.
When I sit in church and hear the rhetoric on "Respect Life Sunday," and many other Sundays as well, I think of the women sitting there who have had abortions. I know they are there, but there is nothing I have ever heard from the pulpit to indicate that anyone else knows. And I grieve for them, for the additional hurt or shame that they experience in the place where they should instead receive welcome and healing.
I know healing is possible, because I have seen it. I have seen it when women have first felt safe enough to claim their truth -- that they have had one, or sometimes more, abortions. I have seen healing when, then, a woman has been allowed to grieve. Sometimes it is grief for the baby, who she still remembers. Often it's grief for the woman she was, who was hurt or lied to or just alone and did the very best she could or thought she could. Finally, I have seen healing when that woman is accepted without judgment and without conditions.
I don't know what is going to happen with the pregnancy of the anonymous Facebook woman. I imagine that she feels an enormous amount of pressure and doesn't know for sure what the right thing is to do. I imagine that she might be very afraid to carry this baby to term and love it and then have to watch it die. Who wouldn't be afraid?
I'll be honest -- I hope she finds the support and the strength to continue her pregnancy. But if she doesn't, I pray that she receives love enough love to heal the hurt, to grieve the loss. I pray that she is welcomed back and not ostracized, that she is offered love and not rejection.