Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What is the value of life?

What is the value of life? Can you put a price tag on it? Who determines the value? It all depends on who you talk to.

On Saturday, my wife, Susan, and I participated in the Walk for Life Walk in San Francisco, along with 40,000 other pro-lifers and perhaps 200 pro-choice advocates. On the pro-life side, every life, from the tiny fetus just a few days old to the elderly on their death beds, is worth fighting for. The pro-choice side, too, fights just as hard for the right to snuff out life, in the name of a woman’s choice. The latter is a billion-dollar industry that is dependent on abortion remaining legal in this country.

The abortion issue is easily the most divisive issue in America today. Although abortion is still legal in this country, its supporters are dwindling. Still, the mainstream media supports the pro-choice view. Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle reported the walk as a non-event, using only a photo and caption on page C9. Forty thousand pro-lifers became “thousands of anti-abortion rights advocates” and “abortion foes.” The pro-choice crowd was termed “a smaller group of abortion rights advocates.” Note the difference in terms. The yellers and screamers are abortion “advocates.” The peaceful pro-lifers are “abortion foes.”

As we walked along the Embarcadero slowly and peacefully, the abortion rights people yelled and screamed vile things at us, as though we were murders or thieves. My wife and I laughed at a few of the signs, such as “Don’t hang your rosaries on my ovaries” (The Catholic Church is a big supporter of the march.) and “Don’t use your theology on my biology.” Pro-life signs were tame by comparison. “Defend Life” and “Women deserve better than abortion” signs were handed out by the hundreds.

One side of the argument clings 40-year-old methods and ideology, while the other gravitates toward the sanctity of life and an unusual partner – science. Several of the signs I saw intimated that we would revert to the dark ages and usage of coat hangers in dark allies if abortion were made illegal again. Please. Pro-lifers say the biggest change in the argument is today’s use of sonograms. A woman who is pregnant can see that there is a living, growing being that has a heartbeat and moves inside her tummy. The truth is telling.

That is the difference maker in today’s argument, and it’s a valid one. That’s why the key to issue is today’s youth. Today’s teenagers are changing the landscape for the abortion battle, because they are smart enough to know there is something alive inside them when they view a sonogram. If they want, they can even get a DVD with the baby’s movement on it and take it home. So much for the pro-choice argument that a fetus isn’t alive until it comes of the mother’s womb. Today’s teenagers are deciding for themselves and they are choosing life.

I heard the argument that a fetus wasn’t alive on Saturday from a young man named Connor, clearly a staunch pro-choice supporter. For maybe 15 minutes, I did my best to engage Connor, a young man in his early 20s with strong views. He was easy to spot in the crowd. He was no more than 5 feet, 4 inches tall, with red and blue streaks in his hair. Connor listening to my points without yelling and screaming because I was calm and collected. I think he appreciated that I didn’t preach at him. I asked him questions and listened to his responses.

At one point, I asked Connor how he would feel if his mother had chosen to abort him. His response threw me.

“I probably would have been better off. I’ve had a hard life. My mom and dad probably shouldn’t have had me.”

“You do realize that you wouldn’t be here if your mom had chosen to abort you,” I told him. He just shrugged his shoulders.

To me, that summarizes the position of the pro-choice movement in America today. Pro-choice supporters do not value life. I tried to assure Connor that God loved him and that his life had purpose and meaning, even if he didn’t see any now. Whenever I talked about God’s love, Connor tried to turn the conversation to things that Christians did thousands of years ago, such as the crusades. He asked if God was so loving, why are there so many starving children in places such as Africa.

“Because there is evil in the world,” I told him. “Evil people don’t care if people starve to death or are aborted at the hands of a skilled doctor. Money is usually at the root of evil people. On the other hand, I told him, lots of Christians are fighting for the rights of unborn babies here in America and for starving children in Africa.”

Connor tried telling me that there were no emotional repercussions from women having abortions. I told Connor my reasons for being a pro-life supporter and that I had worked with hundreds of poor single moms who chose to have their babies and raise them. They were happy with their choice. I told him I had counseled hundreds of women who felt tremendous guilt and shame from having abortions and that many women are haunted for a lifetime by their “choice” to abort.

Yet, God still reaches out to those who chose to abort their babies, in their depression and grief. That was the message of many of the speakers at Saturday’s rally. One African American told the crowd she had chosen to abort three children. Eventually, she found forgiveness in the words of a Catholic priest, who helped her find redemption in her life by giving names to the three aborted fetuses. I hoped Connor was listening to the woman’s pain. God still loved that woman, even after she had aborted three of her babies.

Before we parted, I tried to pray with Connor, but as he was walking away, he said, “Please, don’t pray for me.” Then he was gone. By the way, Connor claims to have read the Bible three times, and he, indeed, knew what the Bible said about many topics. Maybe Connor is angry at God and wants to continue to be angry at him. Maybe he blames God for his spot in life. I suspect it’s because he’s never really felt God’s love.

I’m sorry, Connor, but I cannot oblige your request. As I walked on Saturday, my conversation with him kept running through my mind. Since Saturday, I have prayed for him several times, coming to tears on almost every occasion. I prayed that Connor would find someone else to talk to, someone who would listen to his pain and reassure him of God’s love for him.

People such as Connor don’t believe they are worth being praying over because their life has no meaning, no purpose. That’s why we must continue to pray for the lost we meet. Connor may not value his life, but God does. Every life is precious in God’s eyes.

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