This post is an entry from an upcoming devotional on seeking a third way for viewing abortion. The book should be available in September, 2109
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16 ESV)
Have you ever developed a really great plan that fell apart? Maybe it was for a dream vacation or a home renovation. Maybe it was a career plan or a project at work. Maybe it was for a relationship or even a marriage. An old Yiddish adage states that we plan and God laughs. The things we line up to ensure a desired outcome frequently fail, despite our diligence.
While researching this book I came across a sorrowful number of pro-life voices bombasting that unplanned pregnancy is the result of irresponsibility or laziness. But in reading #YouKnowMe stories, I quickly discovered that failed contraception is a common phenomenon. Here are a few examples of this situation:
I was 15. I was studying for my GCSEs. Birth control failed me. My boyfriend threatened to throw me down the stairs because he didn’t want his parents to know. It changed my path. It changed my life. Women deserve the right of choice.
At 19 years old, I had an abortion. I was walking my child through kidney failure. I didn’t have the time or energy to split my attention between my gravely ill child and a new baby, but my birth control failed. If I hadn’t had access to an abortion at that time in my life, one of my children would have been completely neglected out of necessity of caring for the other.
I’m an MD, adoptive mother of 3. I aborted a pregnancy w/a deadend boyfriend when birth control failed (diaphragm and condom simultaneously) 2 months before starting medical school. I’ve done more good as an MD Then I would have as a single, poverty-stricken parent.
We had a toddler and 6 month old. In treatment for severe postpartum depression and contraceptives failed. Zero regrets.
In each of these scenarios, birth control was used. The women were “responsible” sexually. But as everyone who’s used contraceptives knows from product packaging, no method is 100% effective. Our plans and actions to control conception while sexually active are just as prone to failure as all our other plans for shaping our futures.
Today’s James passage shows us that boasting about our ability to control outcomes is arrogance. The author goes so far as to even call it evil. Surely judging others when their own plans fall apart is similarly problematic.
I want a future abortion conversation known for its openness, respect, and empathy, so instead of generating more heat, anger, and conflict, I practice pro-voice.