I didn’t love being pregnant.
Lots of my friends did love it, do love it – they feel a glow, they enjoy the process, that their hair was thicker and that they were part of something very special. These things are true, but they are not a universal experience and they are not universally enjoyed.
Many, many women find pregnancy debilitating, exhausting, some are injured, for some the health conditions they manage everyday get worse and some die. In the West, we are tempted to forget that all these scenarios happen every day as women fall pregnant, carry the child or children and then deliver.
They do happen and they are hard.
The Pressures of motherhood
Then there are the pressures that are applied to mothers. It starts with how you deliver – a natural or operative birth – through the entire process of parenting, the impact on your marriage and other children, the flow on to work and career and finally a body, in a body obsessed culture, that is never the same again – it’s huge. These pressures can come from family, the church, their friends, their spouse or partner and most devastatingly from themselves.
The pressure is immense and I can understand how, for some women, at some points in their life, it is too great.
I would like to suggest that abortion is about the toughest topic that we face today. It is tough because for so many reasons pregnancy and motherhood put women in a position they cannot handle and there seems to be no-one to help.
The abortion debate
Earlier in the week, we published a blog where we examined how the fetus, within the womb is our neighbour. As our neighbour, we are called to love them and therefore by extension care for them. Caring for the vulnerable is a basic tenet of following Jesus. Again and again he calls us to step up and care for people who are unable to care for themselves…
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” – Luke 10:36-3
13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. – Luke 7:13-15
So – pregnancy places two distinct human beings in a vulnerable place. Firstly the mother, as I have attempted to detail above and also, simultaneously the tiny human growing within her womb. And so the almost impossible to bear tension is exposed – can we simultaneously care for both? Only the mother can care for the fetus. How can we, as a church, care for the mother as she does this difficult, life changing and in some cases life threatening job of caring for a vulnerable human?
How can the church step in?
In history, the church has tried. Rescuing infants that were abandoned to death. Raising children that would otherwise have been neglected and abused. We need to step up with caring for women always but especially when they are made vulnerable by their pregnancy. We need to pour love into their lives so they can survive, even flourish as they love and care for their tiny neighbour.
The other thing that the church can and must do, is speak into our society. Speak out clearly and consistently against the forces that bring women into such a vulnerable place. The ongoing subjugation of women through all types of violence and specifically sexual violence, the views that require women to always follow a particular path and the ongoing devaluation of human life.
Tension brings pain.
We are pulled in two directions – caring for two people. The church needs to step up. We need to pray and think and act so that our care helps people – all people, without exception.