Abortion by Bullet

In a Florida hospital a young mother watched in agony as her tiny baby struggled to live. Born three months premature, the two-pound girl bristled with tubes. But despite the high-tech medical care, the baby's undeveloped organs failed, and two weeks after birth, she died. "I've never had anything hurt so bad," her grieving mother said. But perhaps what hurt most was the knowledge that she herself had caused her baby's death. You see, the mother's name is Kawana Ashley, and you and I read about her in the news as the teenager who shot herself in the stomach in a desperate attempt to abort her baby. Kawana had tried to abort her baby by conventional means. But she was already in her fifth month of pregnancy, when abortions cost $1,300 to $1,800, a sum she could not afford. The father of the child had abandoned her, and finally—just 12 weeks before the baby's anticipated birth—Kawana picked up a gun and shot herself in the side, hoping to kill her baby. Well, she succeeded. But not right away. The baby was wounded, Kawana went into premature labor, and it took two weeks for the baby to die. Kawana has now been charged with the manslaughter of her child. The incident has sparked a storm of political debate. Prochoice forces are using Kawana's story to argue for more government funding of abortion for poor women. Prolife leaders reply that the abortion clinics that turned Kawana away should have pointed her toward the nearest crisis pregnancy center; there she would have received financial and emotional support through the remainder of her pregnancy. And in legal terms, it is an excruciating irony that if an abortionist had killed the baby in the womb, it would all have been perfectly legal, and no one would be facing murder charges. But what almost no one has picked up is the other side to this story: the change in Kawana herself. Once she actually saw her tiny baby and held her in her arms, Kawana was overwhelmed with a deep love. She gave her baby a name—Brittany—and reportedly told her family that she hoped desperately the baby would survive. At the baby's funeral, she wept openly, expressing her deep sense of grief and loss. In other words, the story behind the headlines is that once Kawana knew what her baby was really like, she fell in love with her. In fact, it's possible that this entire tragedy could have been avoided if someone had taken the time to paint a picture of her baby for Kawana in the first place: if she had seen a photo of a baby in the womb with its perfectly formed arms and legs, sucking its tiny thumb. The lesson for Christians is that we need to be certain we're not only making the case against abortion intellectually—not only using ethical arguments—but also engaging the whole person. When abortion becomes a reality—and not just an abstraction—then we all know deep in our hearts that it is wrong. It's up to you and me to make sure the Kawana Ashleys of this world know that. Before it's too late.


Chuck Colson


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