The responses to the near bans on abortion in many states have brought me to think extensively about abortion in a particular way—specifically how our culture views suffering. For one, I am overjoyed at how laws are finally starting to recognize the life of a precious baby in the womb, no matter what the circumstances may be. On the other hand, there are many responses I have seen not only from secular media, but also from self-proclaimed Christians that cause me grief. Many are devastated and terrified at the prospect that abortion will not be so easily accessible and are angered that “women’s rights” are being infringed upon. Of course, there is another kind of outrage from the pro-choice side in that there are no exceptions for those women who have conceived in rape and incest. People cry out that women’s lives will be completely ruined due to their unplanned pregnancies and unwanted babies, and now on top of that women who have suffered rape will have to carry the result to term, inflicting more trauma. They say that pregnancy and birth will be forced on women.
This kind of response is deeply saddening to me, as I know it is for so many others. Aside from the fact that abortion kills a living person and inflicts a horrible wound on the mother, I grieve the fact that so many people are unable to recognize that true life, joy, and meaning can be found in the midst of and as a result of profound suffering. Though some laws are changing for good, our culture has a very long way to go. Moral imagination is lost, for the ability to see the beauty of sacrifice is gone along with hope in the midst of trials.
Believing in the cross means we believe life can come from the worst of evils done to a person. It means we can hold together and recognize both horrific suffering and redemption in that suffering which can bring life to the world. Suffering and death do not win; healing, life, and love do.
I do not want to be guilty of overlooking the fear that comes with an unplanned pregnancy and the suffering that will surely come. We ought to look this suffering in the eye, really look at it, just as we ought to really look at the cross if we are to know God’s love at all. Suffering is ugly, and it is hard. There is nothing desirable about it. It is more than uncomfortable; it is painful, and it can even feel like death.
And yet… suffering births new life. Crosses are not chosen; instead, they are put upon us for us to bear, and love redeems our suffering. However, our culture has forgotten that love gives life. True love suffers. We forget that love prevails, but only because love is willing to suffer. Love heals; love offers joy and brings forth life–not only in the one we love but also in our own souls. If we are not willing to face a kind of death to ourselves, we will never see true life.
So for all those involved in the conversation on abortion, for all those involved directly with abortion whether it be past, present, or in the future, we must all be willing to take up our crosses to suffer for life as mothers and fathers, but also with mothers, fathers, and their children, or anyone affected by the trauma of abortion. Jesus died on the cross for love and for life. Mary suffered with Jesus to the end, never once leaving His side. Choosing life will hurt, but it will be good. It will be painful, but there will be love. We must remember that sometimes, what is good means that we may suffer, but it also means we will love, and that is beautiful.