‘Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.’ (Genesis 22:10-13)
As the author of today’s meditation remarks, our society has made such progress that it has actually reverted to paganism, and as was common practice in ancient pagan cultures, our own demands its human sacrifices as well. Abraham was born in a pagan world, obviously, in which the sacrifice of children was accepted as normal religious practice. We could notice that although Abraham was deeply saddened by God’s request to sacrifice his only son Isaac, whom he had longed for all these years, he did not seem to be shocked by the nature of request itself. God made it clear however that He didn’t want human sacrifices.
As our author remarks, those today who would use the story of the near sacrifice of Isaac – or the killing of the first-born of the Egyptian, which was merely a consequence of the curse Pharaoh had places upon the first-born of the Hebrews – as arguments against Christians would be the very same people who advocate the sacrifice of an unborn child on the altar of convenience, which they think “is always justified [and rationalise it] on the mistaken belief that it is being done for some greater good.”
Robert Colquhoun, our national 40 Days for Life campaign director, sent yesterday the link to an article
which was published in 1998 in the US First Things magazine and gives a very good insight as to what this “greater good” might be. The article describes the findings of a study which was conducted by a leading psychological researcher for the Caring Foundation, “a group that presents the pro-life message to the public via television” between 1994 and 1997. The research suggests that women are having abortions because they perceive abortion as the lesser of “three “evils,” namely, motherhood, adoption, and abortion” even though they agree it is the killing of a child.
“Unplanned motherhood, according to the study, represents a threat so great to modern women that it is perceived as equivalent to a “death of self” (…) a complete loss of control over their present and future selves. (…)”
In this light, adoption “is seen as the most “evil” of the three options, as it is perceived as a kind of double death. First, the death of self, which comes with continuing with the pregnancy, and secondly, the death of the child “through abandonment” which would give the woman the impression of being “a bad mother, one who gave her own child away to strangers” who could potentially abuse him or her.
The point of this article is that reasoning, and therefore the moral argument, is wholly ineffective in these circumstances, because a crisis pregnancy is first of all an emotional crisis. This argument is supported by the success of pro-life advertising campaigns showing pregnancy in a positive light and showing the woman who has decided to keep her baby as the free and courageous woman who is able to make a very difficult decision: between 1988 and 1992, abortion rates dropped by 29% in Missouri where these advertising campaigns were conducted while the national average was 5% during the same period.
There is another aspect though, which is not included in the research findings. It is the slow, gentle transformation of hearts and minds and the re-awakening of consciences, which God is operating through our prayer and fasting. College Station, Texas, where the first ever 40 Days for Life campaign was held ion 2004, witnessed a similar success, with a 28% drop in abortion numbers that year. The manager of that abortion facility went on to join the 40 Days for Life campaign three years later.
The findings of the study confirm, that consciences have indeed been darkened, and that people are no longer able to recognize good and evil, when the taking of an innocent life is perceived as a lesser evil. Pro-life women, we are not learning anything new from this study, especially those of us who are mothers themselves, as we are more than capable of understanding how a woman might feel in those circumstances. But although we do acknowledge the need to reverse the current cultural perception of pregnancy as being an obstacle to a woman’s fulfillment, we see the reawakening of consciences as being just as important, so that abortion may not be the most obvious choice, the first option a woman would consider when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, a choice which is very much dictated by the culture, rather than made freely. And we also support our local pregnancy centres, whether through volunteering or financially, whereas many a pro-choicer’s claim to support women’s choice is nothing other than lip service: some post-abortive women (if not many) have lamented the fact that not a single one of those who claimed to support their choice was willing to show that support all the way to the abortion facility. And we have seen with our own eyes boyfriends/husbands dropping their girlfriends/wives at the place and turn up moments later to pick them up.
Let us pray that all people across our nation to hear the voice of God anew, and to realise that He has always defended the smallest, weakest and most vulnerable.