TEENS SPEAK ON ABORTION IN SDA HOSPITALS
It felt like all eyes in America turned towards the SDA church last month when the Washington Post so prominently highlighted us in their article "Seventh-day Adventists and Abortion." On the 38th Anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court case, the Post noted that although many religious groups marched in protest of the decision to legalize abortion in America, Adventists were somewhat...missing. Was our absence due to the fact that we perform abortions in our hospitals across the world? The Post questioned "Is this practice inconsistent with their otherwise strong emphasis on health?"
While the Adventist world balked, protested, or cheered over this PR break (or disaster) I myself immediately took the article to a group of over 150 teenagers and young adults, and discovered an emerging reality for Adventism that I wasn't even looking for. Here is a summary of what I found:
1. The largest majority of students were in agreement with our SDA stance of performing abortions in our hospitals only in "extraordinary cases."
"I am proud of our Adventist Hospitals for their work and progress in the medical field today. But I do not think our hospitals should offer abortion as a birth control method. I believe we should stand by our SDA beliefs - abortions are wrong and against our conservative take on life." - Brittany
"To have an abortion performed in our hospitals, I believe it needs to be a very specific case. If the mother will die, if the woman was raped and is not mature enough physically or emotionally to handle the child, or if she is unstable to the point where she could not handle the pregnancy, then it's ok. I don't believe God would want someone to lose their mind over a pregnancy they had no control over. However, if you were just simply irresponsible, it's time to take some accountability - you deserve your fate and should have to keep the child." - Megan
2. Among those who had personally experienced an abortion situation with a parent, close friend or relative (none admitted to having had one themselves), opinions leaned towards the pro-choice stance.
"I was saved from abortion when I was only a fetus in my mother's womb. She decided that she would put me up for adoption rather than abort me, and in the end she decided to keep me. I am eternally grateful for that. I believe abortion is completely wrong, but there still may be a time that abortion becomes a necessity." - BP
"I have many friends who have had abortions, and I know firsthand what they went through because I was there by their side the whole time. But I also know their scenarios called for it. The pregnancies would have ruined their lives and their babies' lives for good. Teenage moms have grim prospects for the future. They are likely to leave school, receive inadequate prenatal care, rely on public assistance, develop health problems, or end up divorced." - A.T.
3. Those students who were adamantly in favor of our hospitals performing all types of abortions tended to base their arguments either on the values of acceptance, grace, or civil rights.
"We need to remember that GOD IS LOVE. Simple. We can't determine what others do or how they will be judged, all we know is GOD IS LOVE. Jesus didn't hang out with people who judged others, he preached against it." - H.S.
"The ability of a woman to have control of her body is critical to civil rights. Take away her reproductive choice and you step on a slippery slope. If the government can force a woman to continue a pregnancy, what about forcing a woman to use contraception or to undergo sterilization? " - Dawn
"We shouldn't make people feel bad for making a choice that we disagree with. Adventists don't have the right to judge people on the choices they make, only God does. " - N.C.
4. Those who stood strongly against our hospitals performing abortions under any circumstances were definitely in the minority, but still spoke with strong voices:
"This is a matter of life or death for a child. Maybe it's not your plan, but it could be God's. God can turn any situation into an opportunity to be a blessing in a person's life, abortion or not." -M.S.
"Abortion is wrong because as soon as the two cells meet, they create unique DNA, and when you destroy that, you have killed life. Rape victims are a touchy subject, but I'd say that even though the life was created for very wrong reasons, we should not disable that life from becoming something great, or being used by God for something great. Why keep God from doing a miracle?" - K.B.
5. Amongst all who found abortion to be completely wrong, almost none were willing or even desiring to enforce this belief on anyone else.
"I personally would never choose abortion, no matter what my circumstance was, but if it's a choice that an individual needs to make, then I say let them make that choice." - R.J.
"Abortion is wrong. But I'm glad that our hospitals are saying, "Hey, if you need help, we'll help you." - G.P.
" I really do get a bad feeling in my gut when I think about a little life that God put inside of a woman being terminated. I think abortion is immoral...yet still women should get to choose." -James
"I think abortion is wrong. I would never get an abortion, even in the worst of scenarios. But neither am I angry at or opposed to people who think abortion is okay. I don't have the need to force my beliefs on anyone else. It's not a Christian's job to tell someone else what they need to do. All of us have to follow our own conscience." - Anna
It was the seemingly double-standard of #5 that left me thinking in the end, and musing on the viability of holding a belief firmly and yet not requiring another to hold it. What sort of moral fabric is emerging here among this generation, I wondered? I have seen this trend surfacing on quite a few other issues as well -- homosexuality, gay marriage, the death penalty, the war in Iraq, President Obama and all things political, euthanasia, suicide, and more -- they find something to be wrong, yet are still very accepting and comfortable with others who don't. Does that sound like Adventism to you?
Maybe we are seeing a reaction to our legalism of the past in a true attempt at living out the ideals of grace and acceptance. Or perhaps it's the emergence of the postmodern, relativistic mindset of the day. Either way, it seems a generation is coming on the scene which does hold firm beliefs, yet doesn't seem to have the need to enforce them. Is Adventism ready for this? Does this spell ruin or rebirth for our church, our beliefs, our evangelism? Is this a lukewarm, compromising-type of "conforming to the world" that we should worry about, or is it a welcome and much needed breath of fresh air that we should celebrate?