Over the past few weeks, several states have passed new laws criminalizing abortion. I don’t have a political agenda in this pondering; I just suggest food for thought. In preface to my proposal to follow, I affirm that when the first heartbeat is recognized, life is present. I believe all life is precious and that Jesus came for all of God’s creation. And, I think that taking any life is not our choice but should be left to God.
That said, I suggest that we start by considering our definitions. If the purpose of banning abortion is to give every person life, then how are we defining life? What is it? Is it simply breathing? Does the term life assume food, clothing, and shelter? How about medical care and basic education? What about love and acceptance? Are these not requirements for life?
There are on average half a million children in foster care in the United States. In 2017, that number rose to nearly 700,000. Children tend to enter foster care around the age of 8 years old. Most foster children live in multiple foster family homes, and 11 percent live in institutions and group homes. One-third of these are children of color. Children who do not find a forever family have a higher likelihood than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration as adults (Children’s Rights Organization).
The average woman does not want or desire an abortion, yet I know many women who have chosen to have one. Each woman came to the decision with heartache and grief, and many question their choices long after the fact. I can only imagine the additional emotional and spiritual turmoil a woman who has suffered rape or incest must go through.
This country has far too many children living in unhealthy foster care families, institutions, and group homes. To really offer life to all people, our response to abortion needs to include them. Let’s live into God’s word:
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. — 1 John 3:16-18
If we must ban abortions, then I’d like to see the law call to account every capable adult with at least middle-class income and education in our nation’s care for the right to life. We’d start with those who identify as “right to life” Christians. Families would be picked at random. When a child or siblings enter the system—regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or age—a family would be notified, and a child or children would arrive within 72 hours. Under this arrangement, the state would no longer spend so much of its budget to care for children. It is logical that people who believe that every child has a right to life willingly cover the cost of raising children unable to stay in their homes. We stand together and make sure every child in the nation is cared for properly.
As the second step of my proposal—after the half a million children in need of homes have been placed with pro-life Christians—the general population would be added to the registry to receive a foster child with the hope of becoming a forever home. Then, perhaps, we would be well on our way to ending abortion in our nation.
I know that “right to life” and “pro-choice” arguments will keep warring, because that is what we are wired to do: talk and complain about abortion without trying to come to a real compromise. Where is common ground? What are we willing to give up in order to make tangible, beneficial progress in this debate?