This month I have been reflecting a lot on the issue of abortion, as it is one of the issues dividing the nation in the transition from one administration to another. And I was given a fresh insight from the story of Moses in the Bible. Moses was able to live and thrive because of the efforts of a circle of heroic women who were part of his birth. Without the actions of any one of these women, Moses would have perished, and we would never have known one of the greatest leaders of all time.
Moses was being born under horrible circumstances, and many would agree that death would be preferable to a life of extreme suffering or even murder. But there were a series of women who surrounded the circumstances of his birth and carried him to life. Hebrew midwives refused to terminate him despite an infanticide order from the king, his wise older sister stepped in to help with his safety, and Pharaoh’s daughter agreed to financially support his birth mother and later adopt him so that he would not perish. (read Exodus 1&2 for this amazing story).
This community of women acted with great courage and love to save Moses. The Bible records the result of their actions, “Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them.” (Exodus 1:22)
They refused to abort the babies and God blessed them.
People feel particularly passionate about abortion, to the point that they will even vote for a candidate solely on his or her position on this topic. As Second Mothers, I imagine many of us have strong feelings about this as well, as we are raising children that perhaps could have been eliminated prior to birth as their circumstances seemed unfavorable and life unwelcoming.
I have also been thinking more deeply about what causes a woman to make the choice to end a pregnancy. I have dear friends who have chosen abortion in the past, some now with great regret, others with assurance that it was the only possible choice at the time. In every circumstance that I have personally encountered, it seems the woman made the choice due to lack of support. Which brings me back to Moses.
Even in the earliest of Biblical times, it took a series of brave and bold acts by brave and bold women to bring Moses to his destiny by offering support to his mother. Moses is a hero in every major religion, and a model of a man whom we aspire to emulate. Yet his very life seemed doomed and could easily have been terminated, but for the circle of women around his mother.
I’m forced to reflect on whether I am a woman who is ready to come alongside another to be the brave and bold support that changes the destiny of her child. I believe life begins at conception and every person is created with a purpose. But am I in fellowship with other women in such a way that I would be part of her support system if she were faced with a pregnancy that felt desperate and doomed? I confess that I am not. The way our American culture now is, we hardly know each other. And the events of the last year have driven us deeper into isolation. I imagine most women walking into a Planned Parenthood clinic today feel enormously alone. My stroke of a pen in the ballot box does little to alleviate her pain or put support on her doorstep.
Over the last ten years, the church has heard the clarion call for foster care and adoption, and families like mine have been changed as a result. But is it enough? Are we, the community of Second Mothers, also coming alongside women in the way of Exodus to let women in crisis pregnancy know their children will not suffer?
Once a pro-choice woman challenged me that the church could not take a stand against abortion while waiting children piled up in the foster care system. Her argument was that ending abortion would just add more unwanted children to this already overwhelmed system. She believed that many of these children would not be desirable to those who wish to adopt “healthy infants from good families.”
Or to put it another way, if we as Christians care so deeply about “unwanted children,” why are there 122,000 children  waiting for adoption in the foster care system when we have 380,000 churches in America?
I encourage all of us, on both sides of this issue, to think very deeply about the root cause of this suffering. Are we raising a banner of judgment, condemnation and shame over women who consider abortion, or are we coming alongside them as a community to let them know they and their children will not be alone? Are we clamoring on about adoption, when what this mother really wants is a way to thrive with her child?
I was forever changed listening to the story of a woman who went to an abortion clinic. On her way in, there were “pro-life” people outside offering to pray for her and telling her that people would care for her child. On her way out, those same people were calling her a baby killer and condemning her to hell. All the while, they did not know she had changed her mind about aborting.
Mother Teresa said: “The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me?” The battle lines of pro-choice and pro-life are destroying peace in our culture, but they are doing little to serve women caught in the desperation that leads to abortion. Rather than yelling at each other from across a dividing line, perhaps our community of Second Mothers, who understands that life happens in the gray one and few things are black and white, can also be known as the women of Exodus, the support network around a desperate woman, allowing her child to live and thrive and fulfill a destiny.
I want to be a woman who is always looking at the true witness of her life, and I know you are too. Let’s stop arguing and take some time to reflect and think about what we can do together in peace.
2 National Congregational Study Survey, August 2020