Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Befuddled Stork

For the next couple of weeks we're presenting extracts from books in our Sale Department.

From chapter 5 of The Befuddled Stork, edited by Sally Geis and Donald Messer, published by Abingdon 2000 - 240 pp - Was $29.95 now $19.95

Such knotty, difficult, heart-wrenching questions are not to be answered lightly. That we find ourselves, decades after Roe v Wade, still experiencing heated arguments and, most terrifying and ungodly of all, violence against persons who reach decisions different from one's own, is but a sign of the impossibility of being very sure we know all there is to know about every situation that has arisen or will arise. It is a sign that we cannot be so audacious as to stand by an agonizing woman, appropriately struggling with prayer and counsel and all the other community wisdom I have suggested earlier, and dare to tell her she is wrong. Who can know that without having walked the journey to the decision with her? How audacious and judgmental and dangerous to our social soul, to say nothing of that soul for which all of us will be accountable to our Maker.

Yes, I believe there are extreme circumstances that may lead a woman and her surrounding community to make the terrible choice for abortion. Therefore I continue to insists that there be such a legal, safe, compassionate possibility for those rare circumstances. That others will abuse that provision is a devastating reality, but not so devastating as the removal of the provision altogether.

Let me share a story of contrasting experiences. One day I heard the report of a young married pregnant woman who had just heard the first fetal heartbeat and was ecstatic, and within hours I was with a weeping victim of a rape who had discovered she was pregnant. What a contrast! What a picture of real life - first beautiful, then tragic. I could not begin to fully comprehend either woman's emotions or potential future. But I could pray with both, and ponder with both, and be part of a surrounding community of discernment for both. For even that mother-to-be who heard that heartbeat had feelings of wonder and awe: Will I be adequate? Can we provide all a child will need? Will we be able to bear the dangers and risks of parenting as well as the joy? And the rape victim wondered, How can I look upon a child created out of fear and threat of life and find anything but a chain binding me to a night of terror and perhaps threatening my ability to ever freely love and generously nurture? How will I bear the time of maturation of this fetus, and what will it be like to know, though placed in a loving place, that this child was conceived in rage and danger?

Ah, the conundrums of human emotion, the extensiveness of human responsibility, the expansiveness of human knowledge, the remaining mysteries of personal knowing that belong to each individual that can never be fully known by another. When the agonizing decision is made for an abortion, after all the surrounding wisdom and guidance and prayer I have suggested, I pray there will be some gracious possibility that the woman will continue to be cared for gently. I pray she is spared the angry and ugly accusations and judgements of those who cannot possibly know her story. The story of one who seeks an abortion without such care and prayer, acting only for her own convenience, is quite different, and falls outside the circle of ethical and moral decision making.
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