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FIRST-PERSON: Planned, and unplanned, pregnancies

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) — Last year was a great year for pro-life Texans, at least when compared with the past 40 years and the other 49 states.

I’m not comfortable being too chirpy about the incremental progress pro-life Americans have made, even on the heels of a good year.

“Progress” is a weak term when abortion is still the law of the land for nearly any reason and any stage of prenatal life. But the other side is yelping and their profitable clinics are fewer in number. That sounds good to me.

Those who decry pro-life legislation ranging from parental consent for minors to informed consent for mothers quickly trot out the poignant plight of women with unplanned pregnancies.

These examples are quickly followed by figures about how much a baby costs compared to an abortion. Babies, it’s said, cause poverty. Abortion is the cost-effective but profitable solution.

But let’s look at the myth of planned pregnancies, which is the founding legend of the monstrous Planned Parenthood organization. I know what people mean when they say “planned” as distinct from “unplanned” pregnancies.

It means, “When we can afford it” and “How many kids we can afford” and even, “How will this child at this time impact my career?” For most of us the real answer is that we cannot afford it and becoming a mother (or father) will make your career path more challenging.

So what? Has parenthood become a matter of calendaring and accounting?

I was an unplanned pregnancy if by that you mean that my parents were young and broke. If you further consider that Mom had three children in six years, we became her career without regard to her girlhood planning.

If you’re over 40 years old or thereabouts, you were probably not a planned pregnancy either. And I also have little doubt that we soaked up a lot of their income and time that might otherwise have been used in ways some would call “fulfilling.”

Do you hear how ridiculous that sounds? I’m not sure if the nonsense I hear these days about family planning is mere selfishness or actually anti-child. The result is definitely the latter.

Having a child is never a plan-able event. Babies cost more than you are told to expect; they will sometimes have health problems that clear your calendar and checking account; they will send you to work tired and occupy your thoughts while you’re there; they will wreck your cars and eventually bring sweethearts to dinner who never go home. None of that is controllable, financially profitable or a formula for health and beauty.

The only people who find those realities off-putting are those who have not experienced them. I don’t know how else to put it. I’d never try to talk a person into having children (my own children excepted), but how despicable it is to try to convince someone to avoid the experience for the sake of skin-deep wealth and happiness. Children are intended by God to be, and actually are, a great source of wealth and happiness unavailable by other means.

But what about the single and impoverished mother who is pregnant and cannot bear the pregnancy or the addition of another mouth to feed? This can be a tragic situation, I acknowledge.

Despite the fact that some limited help is available, that mother has a hard life and one that is getting harder. But she can’t make her situation less tragic with abortion. It’s an imaginary bandage on a real wound. The most innocent victim in all her hardships is the child she’s tempted to abort. I guess I’d say the same thing about the concept of “unwanted” children.

The existence of horrible parents and tragic situations does not justify the death of innocents, still less the death of innocents for profit. Abortion has become our culture’s impertinent answer to complex problems we cannot actually address with money or education.

I am truly grateful to God for the curtailment of abortion because of state laws that protect both children and women from a predatory abortion industry. This debate must continue as we pray for a change in our nation’s heart toward our children.

We should not allow those with whom we dialogue about this great moral issue of our day to shame us into retreat with threats of a million “unplanned” or “unwanted” pregnancies.

The issues behind those family problems are far broader and more complex than deferring a symptom can ever address. Even as we continue to respond in compassion to women whose immediate problems seem insurmountable, we must also engage lawmakers to whom these family problems are merely academic and oppose an industry for which women and children are commodities.
Gary Ledbetter is editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN (texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Gary Ledbetter