Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Missing: 55* Million

Can you imagine the headlines, the screaming to DO SOMETHING!!! if 1.2 million American children were dying each year from a single disease or were kidnapped or trafficked? And yet much of the country chooses to look away or worse, considers those children an acceptable sacrifice to convenience and choice when those defenseless children are killed before birth. 

Since Roe v. Wade constitutionalized abortion (see this article for a full description about how the Supreme court decision purported to end the disagreements over abortion)  throughout the U.S., 55* million children have died. 55* million people who would have been someone's child, maybe someone's sibling, someone's spouse, someone's parent are instead just gone. Instead of being recognized and known as an individual, they are left as nothing more than a fraction of a statistic. 

Since 1980, there have been between 1 and 2 billion abortions worldwide. To put that into perspective, do you know how many people were killed as a result of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011? Only 15,883 died. The AIDS epidemic? 1.6 million died in 2012; since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, 35 million people have died. Yet how much more money and attention has been spent on researching and treating HIV/AIDS than preventing abortion? 

In some communities, even in some countries, sex selective abortions have warped the gender ratio. Throughout much of Asia, the sex ratio is heavily biased towards males (see this article and this one), to the point that there are an estimated 163 million missing girls. The upper limit of the natural sex ratio is 106 boys for 100 girls born, but in some regions that ratio is now as high as 126 to 100. In China these excess young men are known as barren branches. In some areas this has led to an trafficking in women for brides or to staff brothels (this article describes the situation in China). Throughout history, an excess of males has led to increased violence and social unrest.

The simple fact is that life isn't convenient; unwanted singleness is inconvenient; IF is inconvenient. Suffering and struggle are inconvenient, but they are an inherent part of life. Yes, there are many women for whom pregnancy is a true crisis. Unfortunately only about 1% of them will consider adoption. Despite population growth, the number of infant adoptions in the U.S. has plummeted from about 90,000 in 1971 to 18,078 in 2007. To my mind, worst of all are those who suggest that it is better that those children be killed rather than be raised by adoptive parents. 

Today was the March for Life; coming up in a about a month and a half is the start of 40 Days for Life. Many who struggle with IF, including me, have a difficult time participating in such activities. But each of us, in our own way, is being called to testify to the dignity and value of human life. We can support pro-life legislation, such informed consent laws and adoption tax credits. Even if we cannot go to the March or pray outside a clinic, we can pray and fast. We may not be able to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, but we can donate, even in small amounts (like this baby bottle campaign or a similar one here). Even if we do not adopt, we can encourage and support those around us who are discerning adoption or who have adopted. It's not always easy for family and nearby friends to understand and support a couple through the adoption process, so our support is even more necessary. 

Most difficult of all, if we know someone experiencing a crisis pregnancy, we can do our best to support her. I have not always been as supportive as I would like towards our step-niece, whose first pregnancy was unplanned and a challenge, but in recent years, I have been making more of an effort (she is still struggling in raising her two children). (It can be very easy to be angry, not so much at the person experiencing an unwanted pregnancy, but at God for 'giving' a baby to someone who does not want or is not prepared for one, but that is temptation we must struggle to resist. The woman experiencing a crisis pregnancy is suffering no less than we are, though in a completely different way.) The tears and mourning of those who have miscarried give potent testimony that it was not just a clump of cells or a blob of tissue, it was a child that was lost. The longing and heart break of those suffering from infertility can be a priceless witness to the value of human life. Each of us in some way can make a difference in supporting a culture that values each and every human life.

*Other sources suggest numbers between 52 and 58 million.

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