Category Archives: grapplings

She went to prison, I went on vacation – We were both 28 weeks pregnant

I’m sharing some thoughts from earlier this Summer – this post was previously published at Crossmap.com

It was the week before my first Mother’s Day – I was 28 weeks pregnant and headed to California to celebrate a “Babymoon” with my husband. We spent several days relaxing together, dreaming about what life would be like when we would welcome our baby girl later this summer.

That same week, Cherlie LaFleur went into custody at Lancaster County Prison on $1 million bail, accused of attempting to flush her 28-week old baby down the toilet after giving birth in her Pennsylvania high school bathroom, only to end up leaving the baby in the trash can.

She went to prison. I went on vacation with my husband. We were both 28 weeks pregnant.

Having walked the same path for 28 weeks, we may have shared morning sickness or other symptoms, but our experiences were starkly different.

Cherlie LaFleur is a 19-year-old Haitian woman who came to the US following the 2010 earthquake. She speaks little English and had little to no prenatal care, and is in high school.

I’m 30 years old, newly married, and surrounded by people who can’t stop celebrating the new life growing inside of me.

               

Right now, my biggest anxieties center on how I will possibly send thank you notes for the overwhelming number of gifts we’ve received and continue to receive, and at what point my baby will begin to sleep through the night in her beautiful new nursery.

What was Cherlie afraid of? I can’t know, but based on my experience in reaching out to women experiencing unplanned pregnancy, I’ll offer some guesses: how to provide for a child? Her parents’ reaction? How to build a future while continuing her education and supporting a child?

Whatever her fears were, we know the message that our culture was sending her. News reports indicate that Cherlie’s alleged actions occurred just days after the prolife group Live Action (www.LiveAction.org) released an undercover video from a New York late-term abortion clinic, in which a counselor advised an undercover investigator to “flush” her baby down the toilet if it is born alive during an abortion. 

“Some patients will just sit in the bathroom and try and push. Um, don’t do that,” the counselor told the Live Action investigator.

The investigator then asked what to do if the baby comes out while she is at home.  

“If it comes out, then it comes out. Flush it…if anything, you know, put it in a bag or something or somewhere and bring it to us,” the counselor said.

My job at Heroic Media (www.heroicmedia.org) is to connect women facing unexpected pregnancies with assistance and practical, compassionate care. I have devoted myself to serving women like Cherlie, using media to inform them about the help available to them at local Pregnancy Resource Centers across the country. I can’t always physically help these women, but the message we share has saved and changed thousands of lives. I wonder what might have been if we’d reached Cherlie with a message of hope instead of the message to “Flush it…”

Would she have realized that she could still fulfill her dreams?  Could she have found the encouragement and support necessary to face her immediate life challenges in light of a brighter more hopeful future?  Unfortunately, we will never know.

This was obviously a horrendous experience for the newborn, a viable 28 week old child Cherlie left in the trash can, but consider also how demeaning and alienating a message it was to Cherlie herself, that your only hope is to sit alone in a public restroom, deliver a baby, and dispose of it however you can.  This is the same message that thousands of women hear every day in abortion clinics across America.  It isn’t a message of hope, encouragement, or opportunity.

Let’s change the message now.

Get involved in sharing hope with women facing unexpected pregnancies – visit http://www.HeroicMedia.com to support life-affirming media!

This article was first published at Crossmap.com: http://crossmap.christianpost.com/blogs/marissa-cope-she-went-to-prison-i-went-on-vacation-we-were-both-28-weeks-pregnant-3159

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Tough Read

I have strong opinions on some really divisive issues. One in particular is abortion. I know that there are people I know, like and love who see this and other issues in a completely different light than I do.

I don’t believe morality is relative, and while I seek to understand complexity, I’ve said before that complexity does not necessitate compromise. I may find someone’s belief/statement/stance to be utterly absurd, and I am willing to say something is morally wrong, but I hope not to demean any person or be disrespectful. (I don’t claim to get this right all the time, I’m a sinner and I know I can get pithy and out of line.) I am not an expert on how to balance a strong yet loving approach, but I believe it’s possible.

I think you get what I’m trying to say. I suppose I’m saying all this because I want to share with you something that I find utterly offensive and disturbing, but I want you to know that it’s not because I just assume all people who support abortion are offensive or disturbing and have bad ideas or reasons for their beliefs.

That said, I just read an article titled “Bro-Choice: How #HB2 Hurts Texas Men Who Like Women” which was written by someone who I believe is a student at the University of Texas. In the article, this young man tries to incite young men to support “abortion rights” for women, and he tries to persuade his peers by sharing the “reasons why Texas guys should oppose #HB2.”

Here’s the crux of his final point:

“Making abortion essentially inaccessible in Texas will add an anxiety to sex that will drastically undercut its joys. And don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.”

This is perhaps the most offensive reasoning I have heard. I’m saddened that this is being espoused by a young man who, judging from his bio, has a desire to be a leader among his peers and into the future. It’s not so much his view of abortion as a form of birth control (which I of course don’t agree with), but his view of sex, which sounds utterly self-serving.

I pray, for everyone’s sake, that sex can be understood differently, not as an impulse or a “need” that we allow (use?) others to service, but as a reflection of self-sacrificing love in the context of marriage. That’s what it was intended for, to the glory of God.

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Discerning the Good, Acceptable and Perfect

Every Thought Captive, a weekly devotional from North Texas Presbytery

I spent some time last week fleshing out a bit more on the topic of Complexity and Compromise. You can read it over at Every Thought Captive or below:

Mar 8 2013

On Complexity and Compromise: Discerning the good, acceptable, and perfect

by Marissa Cope

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

I attended an event in Austin last weekend where a notable Christian thinker presented his thoughts on how we, as Christians, ought to navigate the political rapids. He presented abstract and sophisticated systems for addressing tough issues of the day, and gave some examples. When there was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions, the speaker was peppered with specific, issue-oriented questions on how we should confront topics like gay marriage, the budget crisis, and embryonic stem cell research.

We all wanted to know the rules of conduct, and how they applied to the issues we face. That is the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they are thinking about ethics: its rules and how they apply in the complex circumstances of life.

Christ enables us to face complexity without shrinking back. Complexity doesn’t necessitate compromise. It does necessitate love. “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil 1:9–11).

So we start with love—abounding love. And from there, come knowledge and discernment. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

We continue by deferring everything to the will of God. The Rev. Dr. David C. Jones, Professor of Theology and Christian Ethics at Covenant Theological Seminary, tells us that we may reasonably define Christian ethics as “the study of the way of life that conforms to the will of God as revealed in Christ and the holy scriptures.”

Jones goes on to say, “Ethics is not just about issues of right and wrong; it is also about the kind of persons we ought to be. We ought to be the kind of persons who, for one, think issues of right and wrong really matter, who love the right and hate the wrong, and who can be counted on to do the right thing under pressure.”

So what does pressure look like? And what are we to do with it?

I work in a pro-life organization connecting women in crisis pregnancies with life-affirming resource centers across the country. I recently had occasion to speak with a college friend who is a medical resident in the rural South. We were comparing notes from our professional lives and she shared her frustration at seeing women come in and give birth to babies for whom they had little intention or ability to nurture. She wondered what I thought about promoting life, all the time, no matter what, when we know that every day there are children born into lives characterized by poverty, neglect, addiction, and other abuses.

So there’s complexity—the facts of life slap us the face and threaten our direct understanding of rules and how they apply. How do we recognize complexity, and adapt to it, without compromising the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God?

Similarly, when the National Association of Evangelicals was seeking opportunities to reduce abortion in our culture, partnering with a teen-pregnancy prevention group seemed like a no-brainer. But there was a strong response to how the issue would be addressed. One possibility was promoting contraceptive use among unmarried Christians.

Leith Anderson, NAE President commented, “Evangelicals are conflicted about contraceptives outside of marriage because we never want to promote or condone sexual immorality. But we are told that contraceptives can reduce abortions and we want to stop abortions…The Church is understandably reluctant to recommend contraception for unmarried sexual partners, given that it cannot condone extramarital sex. However, it is even more tragic when unmarried individuals compound one sin by conceiving and then destroying the precious gift of life…Evangelicals must continue to stand against abortion on demand but also face the sexual behavior and abortions in our midst.” (Marvin Olasky, “Conflicted,” World Magazine, June 22, 2012.)

Looking back to Philippians 1:9, we start with love as the foundation for our knowledge and discernment. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, “If I bestow my goods to feed the poor and have not love, it profits me nothing.”

From there, in both cases—in all cases—we are to reason biblically.

We may soften our approach, not our stance. In the case of babies born into poverty, abuse or neglect, I can’t ignore that reality. But biblical reasoning doesn’t allow us to settle for the “lesser of two evils.” It leads us to the fact that there is much more for all of us to do to address the entire spectrum of root causes and the real pain surrounding many unplanned pregnancies. Not only do we continue the fight to end abortion; we must also get busy supporting efforts to better the lives of all families who face poverty and trials.

And when we hear that unmarried Christians are having premarital sex at nearly the same rate as their non-Christian peers, we don’t abandon the ideal of abstinence before marriage; we step back and think about how we can better communicate the lavish gift of God that sex inside Christian marriage is.

Like all of the Christian life, bold humility is not easy. But it is possible. Shining light into darkness is a bold move, but we do it in love. Tim Keller says, “Because we see the law and love of God fulfilled, we become both humble and bold because we know we are His by grace. This is unique. Without the Gospel, humility and boldness can only increase at each other’s expense.”

About the Author

Photograph of Marissa Cope

Marissa Cope

Director of Marketing, Research, and Communications for Heroic Media

Marissa manages media strategy and placement of Heroic Media messages to reach women facing unexpected pregnancies. She directs media buys for television, outdoor, and internet campaigns. Adopted at birth, Marissa has a passion for building a culture of life and offering help and hope to women facing unexpected pregnancies.

Before joining Heroic Media in 2010, Marissa worked for five years in media and public relations in the nonprofit sector with the Better Business Bureau and a bi-national organization specializing in U.S.-Mexico relations. Fluent in Spanish, Marissa also served as a missionary in Cusco, Peru, with Mission to the World. She is a graduate of Baylor University with a degree in political science.

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On Complexity and Compromise

via freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the language we use when we talk about polarizing issues. I have a pretty intense interest in discussing and acting on two big issues of our day.  I’m talking about the issues of abortion and immigration. I think that’s the most clear, unbiased way I can label two debates which, when discussed, often become clouded or compounded by smiting semantics.

This has come up for me in a few areas lately, but to start, I’ll share the following news about Planned Parenthood’s plan to reframe the abortion conversation:

From BuzzFeed:

“I’m neither pro-choice nor pro-life,” said one woman in a focus group commissioned by Planned Parenthood. “I’m pro-whatever-the-situation is.” Said another, “there should be three: pro-life, pro-choice and something in the middle that helps people understand circumstances […] It’s not just back or white, there’s grey.” A recent research push by the organization found that large numbers of Americans feel this way — uncomfortable with both the pro-life and pro-choice labels. And so Planned Parenthood’s newest messaging will be moving away from the language of choice.

Similarly, as the immigration debate is heating up again, we’re hearing a lot of buzz words there as well. Suffice it to say, I believe it matters how we talk about these things.

I’ll share some conclusions later, but here’s where I’m going: I do believe these are truly complex issues.

That said, I don’t believe that complexity demands compromise.

But it will demand sensitivity.

Compassion.

Effort and humility to understand.

Willingness to find and address root problems.

More compassion.

What do you think? Does it matter how we label issues or stances? How do we decide?

 

This isn’t the first time I’ve mixed my polarizing issues. Check out this post from 2009.

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Pray, Act, Support

I hope these things shock you too. I hope though, that you’ll take a moment to consider what is going on and what you might be called to do about it. Is there an opportunity for you to:

  • Volunteer at or support a local pregnancy help or medical center – find one near you: Heartbeat International’s Worldwide Directory of Pregnancy Help
  • join with others to pray for women who are facing the difficulties and fears that can come with an unplanned pregnancy.

    •  HOLD UP! I have been asked by many people at churches, through friends, about what exactly these prayer gatherings are all about. In my experience, many prayerful people are skeptical of these public prayer vigils. I’ll share my own experience of praying outside an abortion clinic in my next post. But first, I challenge you to get the facts on the 40 days for Life movement:

Check this out – from www.40daysforlife.com

  • There have now been ten coordinated 40 Days for Life campaigns since 2007, mobilizing people of faith and conscience in 440 cities across the United States and Canada, plus cities in Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Belize, Denmark, England, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Poland, Puerto Rico and Spain.

    • 1,894 individual campaigns have taken place in 440 cities
    • More than 500,000 have joined together in an historic display of unity to pray and fast for an end to abortion
    • More than 14,000 church congregations have participated in the 40 Days for Life campaigns
    • Reports document 5,763 lives that have been spared from abortion — and those are just the ones we know about
    • 69 abortion workers have quit their jobs and walked away from the abortion industry
    • 22 abortion facilities completely shut down following local 40 Days for Life campaigns
    • Hundreds of women and men have been spared from the tragic effects of abortion, including a lifetime of regrets
    • More than 2,000 news stories have been featured in newspapers, magazines, radio shows and TV programs from coast to coast … and overseas
    • Many people with past abortion experiences have stepped forward to begin post-abortion healing and recovery

My own path to becoming wholeheartedly pro-life has been indirect. I was always pro-life in theory, but it seemed too complex and unrelated to my own life to be something I should bother with.

Contrary to what I once believed, being pro-life doesn’t mean yelling insults and condemnation at others or carrying graphic posters at a protest. In my life, it means thanking my birth mother for making a difficult but selfless decision, and offering help, hope and options to other women who may feel alone and scared.

Where are you being called to take a stand for life? Will you pray? Volunteer at a local pregnancy center? Financially support a life-affirming organization?

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I Cringe…

  • every time the Licensed Social Worker at Planned Parenthood in the following video (end of post) refers to “the sex of the pregnancy“. What?! Nonsensical euphemism, anyone?
  • when she makes the ever-so-subtle caveat about late term abortion that it is “not that it’s unsafe or that there’s a lot more risk involved, it’s just that there’s more steps involved – it’s a little more complicated the further along you are in your pregnancy.”
  • when the same Licensed Social Worker suggests that it’s totally acceptable to end the life of a baby like this at 24 weeks:

from babycenter.com

 

Watch the chilling video from LiveAction here:

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Sobering

I just read something from LiveActionNews and had to share it. Heidi Miller shares a sobering post reflecting on the real impact of abortion as calculated by a World Clock that counts deaths by cause here.

Miller writes:

At the time of writing this, the estimated number of deaths in the world to date for 2012 was 8,898,646. The total number of abortions (not included in the previous number) was 6,298.662. Add these two numbers together for a total of 15,197,308. This means that abortion accounts for approximately 41% of deaths worldwide according to the statistics used by World Clock.

I suspect that there are 2 reasons that many Christians do not take a stand on abortion (aside from wanting to avoid anything so polarizing, which I acknowledge is pretty tempting). I speak from my own experience here, as several years ago I was certainly of the mind that abortion was not worth fighting over because (A) “it’s not that common”, and (B) it doesn’t really impact my life (really? Miss “child of adoption”, you don’t think your single teenage birthmom wrestled with the option of a legal abortion in 1982?).

Well, we’ve established that abortion is quite common.

  • over 50 million since 1973 = common (that’s over 1 million per year, most years since 1973).
  • More numbers that will surprise you (from the PPFA 2009-2010 annual report):
    • Planned Parenthood did 329,445 abortions in 2010
    • Planned Parenthood provided prenatal care to only 31,098 women
    • Planned Parenthood referred only 841 women to adoption agencies

And regarding the idea that abortion doesn’t touch our lives, the Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as “Born-again/Evangelical.”

Women we know and love and sit with in church are suffering from the pain of abortion, and many are suffering in silence because they believe the lie that they are the only Christians to have faced a difficult decision and not known where to find alternatives to abortion.

Not to mention our culture! Have you heard about this???? LifeSiteNews reports:

In the wake of a new study that indicates that unborn girls are being targeted for abortion by certain immigrant groups in Canada, evidence has surfaced that sex selective in vitro fertilization (IVF) is being regularly advertised in Canadian news papers.

Be sure to read the full story – it goes on: “Sex selection … puts feminists in the odd position of defending the right of women to decide against female babies on the basis that females aren’t as valuable or desirable as males….How much more discriminatory can you get than advocating the inherent value of one sex over the other?”

Up next: What are we going to DO about it???

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