In a room, a waiting room, sits a woman. She might be married or single, teenage or middle-age, in the midst of a professional career or receiving government assistance. She might be in a good relationship, in an abusive one, or not in one at all.
She is crying into her hands. Or she is calm and not too worried, ready to do what she feels needs to be done. Or she is numb, just numb. She, whoever she is this time, is pregnant and doesn't want to be. Or wants to be, but feels she can't make it. Or isn't sure what she wants, but knows what her husband or boyfriend wants, or her parents, and she wants to please them.
As pro-life people, with a variety of views about whether or not abortion should remain legal, how do we respond to her?
More than 1.5 million abortions occur in the United States annually, one of the highest abortion rates among developed countries. That number represents a vast number of babies not brought to term and a vast number of unique situations—with different human players, different circumstances, different paths, and different emotional freight.
These individually complex situations take place in the midst of the peculiar social situation of America today: a violent, rending debate over abortion itself that draws from and spills over into several roiling cultural currents. What is the role of faith and values in public discourse? How do we achieve and maintain the dignity of women? What are a government's responsibilities? An individual's? Can we find a healthy understanding of sexuality that's not exploitative or repressive? What place in society do children have?
The extremes of the abortion debate are only intensifying a dangerous situation. They might cancel out their opposite extreme, but they add nothing to a solution. The woman sitting in the waiting room and the child who has been conceived both get lost in that maelstrom.