A Big Ask

I am pro-life.  I rarely use that label because there is some baggage with that label from which I prefer to distance myself.  Nevertheless, I am pro-life.  Being truly pro-life means a lot of things.  The most common thing associated with pro-life is anti-abortion.  My view mirrors that of my church’s official view:  “We oppose induced abortion by any means, when used for either personal convenience or popula­tion control.”

As a pro-lifer, I need to admit something:  Ours is a big ask!

There are a myriad of paths that lead a woman to choose abortion.  Trying to account for them all is way beyond the scope of this blog post. So as just one example, I invite you to consider the plight of fictitious, “Erin.”   

Erin is an only child.  Her dad died when she was twelve.  Her relationship with her mom deteriorated throughout her high school years; nowadays they rarely talk.  She is now nineteen, living on her own in an apartment.  She is halfway through her first semester of community college where she is taking two classes.  She dreams of being a guidance counselor because her own high school guidance counselor had proven to be very helpful to her.  She works nearly full-time, but not quite, at a local family restaurant.  Erin had no religious upbringing and was admittedly living a promiscuous lifestyle.  Prompted by her own suspicions, she visited a free clinic where it was confirmed she is about seven weeks pregnant.  She is not in a committed relationship with the father of the unborn child, nor does she want to be.

For the first time in a long time, Erin thought seriously about her future.  If she keeps the child, she will have seven months of pregnancy in front of her with all the health issues and doctor appointments that go along with it.  Then, of course, there is the delivery itself.  She realized that once the baby is born, her life’s path will be forever changed.  Socially, her carefree days of “going out” (when, where, with whomever she chose) would effectively be over because the kind of going out that she enjoyed was not baby-friendly.  She thought about the implications of the added expense of raising a child.  Realistically, she knew she was only barely making ends meet now. What would she do with the extra expenses of a baby? That made her wonder what would happen if she was unable to keep her job.  What if the pregnancy created issues with her schedule and she got fired?  Would she feel strong enough to even do her job?  Then she was back to admitting that even if she could keep her job, it wouldn’t be enough.  She would need to find a better job, or more likely, a second job.  Would that even be possible?  Would she be able to afford to continue college? Even if she could, would she have the time and energy for college while trying to raise a baby?  For work and/or college, how would she be able to find and afford daycare or a babysitter?  It dawned on her that if she couldn’t continue college she would never be a guidance counselor, or any other career. She would likely never find a better job than the one she had now.  She wanted to get married someday but having a baby would make that much more difficult; both in terms of meeting and dating, as well as finding a man who wouldn’t mind that she had a baby by another man. Her thoughts went on and on in this vein.


Then she considered what she believed to be her other main option.  Within a few weeks she could have an abortion and then continue her life as planned.   It wasn’t a great life, but she was enjoying it, she had a plan for improving it, and she was working the plan.  It didn’t take her long to decide that abortion seems to be the best option.

Enter the pro-lifers.  We tell her to keep the child and completely change her life.  Of course, we tell her that she will love the baby and be glad she kept it.  We warn her that if she aborts she will live with regret from now on.  We even tell her that if she will carry the baby to term and really doesn’t want to raise it, she can give it up for adoption and then get back to her life. 

At first, she likes the adoption idea. But then her own belief system enters in. In her own mind, there is a fundamental difference between a seven-week old fetus and a newborn living baby. To Erin, they just aren’t the same. As a result, while she can easily entertain the thoughts of aborting a fetus, she cannot imagine carrying it for nine months, giving birth, then simply giving it away.  Even though some pro-lifers call it “baby killing,” Erin doesn’t see it that way. 

But we pro-lifers keep shouting, “Keep the baby!”

In spite of all the inconvenience, struggle, hardship, lifestyle changes, reduced choices, changes in future opportunities, we pro-lifers ask Erin to keep the child.  Let’s be honest:  It’s a big ask!   Our logic is straightforward: We follow through with the big ask because, in spite of the hardship, we believe it’s the right thing to do.  We simply believe that when you put all the things that are leading her to an abortion on one side of the scale and we put a human being on the other side, the scales tip undeniably toward the human being. 

We believe it’s a justifiable, righteous ask, even though it’s a big ask.  That belief and that logic is part of what it means to be pro-life. I said at the beginning that being pro-life means a lot of things.  Let’s consider one of those other things:   Our response to COVID-19.

The bottom line is, that the requested response is also a big ask.  In ways it is akin to asking an unwed, underemployed, young adult to keep her baby.  There are disruptions, inconveniences, hassles, financial pressures, modified social lives, etc.   Yes, we admit it. It is a big ask!  But shouldn’t we pro-lifers apply the same straightforward belief and logic to this situation.  When we put all that is being asked on one side of the scales and put the lives of the most-at-risk people on the other, as pro-lifers, shouldn’t our belief in the sanctity of human life tip the scales?  Strongly.

There is one big difference, of course.  When we tell Erin (and other women in her situation) not to abort their babies, we do so under no expectation of personal consequences. That is, Erin will face all the implications, not us.  On the other hand, sheltering at home and social distancing, impacts each and every one of us. 

Please tell me that we pro-lifers are willing to practice what we preach.  Tell me that we are willing to pay the price to save lives.  It’s a big ask, I know.

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