Matters of Life and Death: Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy

pregnant-woman-and-baby-inside

My sermon on Sunday and the accompanying blog post were mainly directed at the ‘neighbours’ of an unborn child: those who have the opportunity to support a little family in crisis. 

What I also want to say loudly, and separately, is that if you have experienced a crisis pregnancy, for any reason, in any circumstances, and whatever you did about it, you will find no condemnation here.

If you are or have been what I call a ‘guardian’ of an unborn child – its parent or a medical worker with care of the child and mother – then this post is for you.

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If you have had an abortion

If you have been pregnant before in difficult circumstances, and, for whatever reason, you had a termination, you may have been surprised at the intensity of your reaction.

There are some helpful resources at Project Rachel for anyone who has been through this, and for those supporting women after abortions.

If you would like to talk about things and don’t know where to go, you can email me privately at sacraparental [at] gmail [dot] com.

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy

If you are pregnant now, you might have found this post because you are wondering what to do.

What I, a stranger, think about your situation isn’t that relevant, of course. This is not a post about giving you advice, or telling you what to do, or trying to persuade you of anything.

But if you’re reading this, perhaps you are interested in a compassionate perspective on crisis pregnancy from someone who tries to follow Jesus. So here are some of my thoughts.

I believe you and your baby are, right now, being held in God’s good hand. I believe the mighty God of the Universe is active in the life of your baby. In a famous poem in the Bible, someone wrote this:

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15     My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.

Jesus himself was borne in the womb of an unmarried, socially isolated woman. Her fiancé wanted to jilt her, her family may well have rejected her.

The Visitation, James B Janknegt, 2007, discussed further here.

She went out of town to spend much of her pregnancy with her also-pregnant older cousin, Elizabeth. Here’s what happened when she arrived at Elizabeth’s house:

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!”

In this story, an unborn baby takes an active part in the drama of Scripture. Baby John – later ‘John the Baptist’ – takes part in a prophetic exclamation even before he’s born. Amazing.

I have a friend who is a doctor in a small town in New Zealand. He is a Christian, and he chooses not to sign abortion forms, because he sees himself, as a doctor, as a guardian of life.

He’s always available, though, to talk with a woman in distress with an unplanned pregnancy, to offer her a genuinely sympathetic listening ear and help her get her head around her situation.

There are two things he often says in these situations that I think are profound.

One, he says – if it is appropriate and true – something like, ‘What you want right now is to never have been pregnant. But having a termination doesn’t make you never pregnant, it just means you were pregnant and now you’re not. It doesn’t turn the clock back.’

The second thing he says is, and this is a direct quote: ‘If you decide to proceed with your pregnancy, I guarantee you, this baby will be a blessing to you.’ He says this as the father of grown children, including one with severe disabilities. ‘This baby will be a blessing to you.’

One more thing he told me. He’s been practising in this small town for over 20 years, and he’s pretty sure that he has a well-known reputation as someone who won’t sign an abortion form. He suspects that a lot of women who come to him, asking for him to refer them for abortions, actually come to him because they suspect he won’t do it.

It may seem like you don’t have any options for carrying this child. Maybe you don’t. And I trust our God to look after your baby, whether you are able to carry it or not.

But maybe, with enough support from other people – maybe even people you don’t know yet, but who would love to help you – you might be able to offer this child the amazing gift of hospitality in your body. Maybe you could give this child a home yourself, with help, or maybe your child could be part of another family, through your generous gift.

Wherever you are, if you are taken by the idea of somehow finding a way to protect and nurture this little life, google ‘crisis pregnancy help’ or ‘open adoption’ and see what options there may be for you. Perhaps just reading about those things will help you make your mind up.

There will be different options and services available to you depending on where you are. Here are some links to New Zealand-based services that have information that might help, whether you live here or not:

  • The House of Grace is a home for pregnant teenagers that offers a supportive environment and practical help with preparing to have a baby.
  • Adoption Option has information on placing your child for adoption, including video stories from young women who have done that.
  • Child, Youth and Family (the government department with responsibility for the care of children) have lots of info on their Adoption Services page.
  • Birthright gives practical and emotional support to single parents.
  • Work and Income can help with money if you are raising a child alone or on a tight budget.

If you would like a word of encouragement about the hugely important thing it can be to look after a little life inside you, read these beautiful words from Elaine Storkey:

Pregnancy is itself a symbol of deep hospitality. It is the giving of one’s body to the life of another. It is a sharing of all that we have, our cell structure, our bloodstream, our food, our oxygen. It is saying ‘welcome’ with every breath and every heartbeat. And for many mothers that welcome is given irrespective of the demands made on one’s own comfort, health, or ease of life. For the demands of this hospitality are greater than almost any of our own. And the growing foetus is made to know that here is love, here are warm lodgings, here is a place of safety. In hiding and in quiet the miraculous growth can take place.

London - Damien Hirst's 'The Virgin Mother' III

London – Damien Hirst’s ‘The Virgin Mother’ III (Photo credit: Wurzeltod, Flickr)

This is part of a series on Christian bioethics that accompanies my sermons at Wellington South Baptist Church. I’m aware that I can’t cover all the angles in this series, especially on this topic. This is not an exhaustive series, but a starting point for further discussion. If you have a question or concern that is not touched on here, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me privately.

Anyone is welcome to join the conversation. If you want to catch up, you can read the introductory post, Being Human, the post on supporting someone who is pregnant and struggling, and see the series list here

If this is your first time visiting, do feel free to check out the Welcome page for a little tour of what the blog is all about, and shortcuts to some key posts and series. And welcome!

The sculpture in the cover image is called Head Hand Seedling, by Daniel Clahane, and is in Saltwell Park, Gateshead. The original photograph is by Andrew Curtis.

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2 comments on “Matters of Life and Death: Facing an Unplanned Pregnancy”

  1. Andy Reply

    and entirely coincidentally this article on a woman who was the product of sexual assault, whose mother was forced into the position of “abort or sign divorce papers”, the girl was adopted and went ok (not sure how to express the fact that her life wasn’t perfect, but better than not being alive, and that not every person’s life is going to end up as story book idealised as this woman’s did – but you get the idea…).

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/11/04/elected-homecoming-queen-an-exceptional-story/

    It’s a sad world we live in that women who have babies they didn’t plan on get pressured into abortion.

  2. Pingback: Matters of Life and Death: Being Human | Sacraparental

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