It has been 40 years since the passage of Roe v Wade. 40 years can seem a very long time. That’s 40 years of passionate, angry, despairing – at times even hateful – language and actions in response to the destruction and pain of abortion. Today brings painful reminders of the struggle to honor the dignity of all life, a struggle we continue to confront year after year.
The struggle to protect the life of an unborn and innocent child is something so compelling, and today day we recommit ourselves to continue. But what else can this day be calling us to as we proclaim the dignity and value of all life?
What’s not so compelling or easy to understand is the struggle to protect the lives of those who choose to have an abortion, or those whose days are spent in prison or on death row for taking the life of another.
Thirty years ago the life of my oldest and dearly loved brother was taken by another. The details are now of little importance, but I am reminded today that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I am called to honor even the life of someone who has made a terrible and painful choice; we all are called to cherish the life of someone who has taken another life, even someone who has decided that the baby they carry is not worthy of birth. That compassion is an essential part of this day, the Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.
Today we have a graced opportunity to boldly proclaim God’s mercy. It is a day for each of us to look to our own hearts and ask ourselves where there are limits to our forgiveness, to the very mercy we seek in our own lives.
I have witnessed firsthand the grace and gift of mercy offered in my work with Project Rachel, a post-abortion healing ministry. I have been privileged to walk with many women, and men, as they seek reconciliation and restoration. The gift of hope comes most often simply by receiving those who are suffering from the consequences of their choices and by sharing the very gift of mercy that I have so often needed and received in my own life.
It can be easy to separate ourselves from them by believing that we would ever make such a choice to take a life. But this anniversary calls us to a humility that doesn’t allow such a separation. This anniversary is an opportunity to be a witness of a love that transforms the hearts of those who make devastating choices.
The anniversary of Roe v Wade is a perfect day to remember that the same God who whispers his love to us – the love that sustains us in our most painful and challenging moments, in our most sinful moments – calls us to offer compassion and love for those who may seem to be undeserving of it.
Perhaps 40 years is not such a long time after all as we consider that it takes a lifetime to journey, to “wander”, to reach the perfection that is our deepest hope.