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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New Lancet Study on Abortion and what it means for Cayman

Psalm 139:13-16
A couple weeks ago the well-respected U.K. medical journal, Lancet, published massive, worldwide, multi-year findings with regard to the practice of abortions. The results had a a surprise or two and some specific implications for Grand Cayman. The journal article itself will cost you $31.50. I was unwilling to shell out that kind of coin and so settled for this very helpful summary by Aaron Hanbury from the Christian magazine Relevant. It is worth reading. 

Here are 5 conclusions I've come to through reflecting on the article itself, and over time:

1. Life in the womb begins very, very early. I do not pretend to be expertly equipped to determine definitively when life begins, though my brilliant and accomplished sister-in-law (Senior OBGYN at the University of Washington) tries to keep me well-informed. The gamut among well-respected scientists runs from fertilization to implantation (when the fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube and attaches to the mother's uterus) to gastrulation...and the list goes on. The first three options occur within the first few weeks of the act itself, yet it is after this period that the vast majority of abortions are sought out. So while I know I'm willing to conceded that the details are a bit murky, it does seem clear that life begins somewhere within those first couple weeks. 

2. Sex is a gift not a right. Believing and treating sex as a right tends to absolve us, at least in our own eyes, of the potential consequences. Our eldest child was recently introduced to the reproductive system and general sexual orientation at his school. Yay! The above perspective was not mentioned at the orientation (while I'm guilty of neglecting almost exactly 50% of the email correspondences sent by his school, I checked this one along with the attached educational outline). Thankfully, he and I had that discussion over a weekend guys retreat last year. One of the aspects of sex I tried to bring up during the weekend but need to emphasize further as he gets older is that sex is a gift, not a right. The God of the Bible gives a husband and wife sex as a delight, not simply for reproduction. It is written in God's very Law: "If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married" (Deuteronomy 24:5 NIV). It's important to note that "bring happiness" means what you think it means! Sex is a happy gift to be exclusively enjoyed in the context of marriage (Hebrews 13:4). One of the reasons God designed the gift for this purpose was so that when a child is conceived, he or she has two parents ready to raise them (though of course their are exceptions in which the above two-parent-plan proves impossible). When I was twelve my grandmother promised me the gift of a new car when I graduated from college. Happy Gift Accepted! Imagine had she actually given me that gift when she first offered it. I would've wrecked the car and likely ruined my life. The gift of sex is available for any man or woman but the results of seizing it too early can be ruinous.  

3. Cayman isn't an exception. If you read the article above you'll notice who owns the highest abortion rates in the world - the Caribbean (65 per 1000 women at reproductive age). I know some reading this article will point toward other Caribbean neighbors you feel are the likely culprits; however, those who have lived in Cayman for many years or are from here are aware of the secret underbelly of "quick trips to Miami" that, regrettably, are not shopping-related. One local and trustworthy friend of ours estimated she knows of close to a dozen persons who have received abortions, though she surmises their are far more who keep it quiet. Admittedly, this is all restricted to anecdotal evidence as there isn't any empirical research exclusive to Cayman as far as I am aware.

4. Law doesn't change behavior. The Lancet findings also reveal that countries with laws making abortion illegal do not have lower abortion rates. These results can be misleading, but they at least suggest that illegality plays a relatively minor factor in the performing an abortion. In other words, law doesn't mitigate a person's desire or behavior. This is not a shocker for those who know Jesus and read their Bible. Scripture attests to the law's impotency and that it is only grace that trains us to say "no" (Titus 2:11-12). This is not to suggest that Christians shouldn't strive to make their voices heard with regard to their respective national laws. We are called to "do justice" (Micah 6:8), especially on behalf of the most vulnerable (Jeremiah 22:3). Rather, we are naive to think that the legal solution will change the hearts and minds of those who are thinking, desiring, planning toward terminating a pregnancy as their best option. 

5. Adopted people Adopt. Adoption as a specifically religious truth is unique to Christianity. The Bible outlines adoption as God's choice of me as his son irrespective of my behavior or merits. The choice occurs before we were born: "He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will" (Ephesians 1:5). The choice is experienced when we trust and receive Jesus: "Yet to all who received [Jesus], to those who believe in his name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). You who were otherwise abandoned now trust Christ neither because you willed it nor because you were well-behaved, but because the Father picked you. So when I hear about or consider a child being willfully abandoned to death, my heart wants to repeat what has been done for me. I am not saying that everyone is called to adopt, but local families of God who are actively reminding one another of what's been done for them through Jesus, should be readily inclined to plead: "Please ask us for help before you terminate your pregnancy!"

If you or someone you know is contemplating such a decision, please talk with myself or Katie. We would be interested in gently respecting your privacy and gladly working with you in a nonjudgmental manner to either adopt the child ourselves or find someone like-minded who will.