Feb 3, 2017

One More Way to be Pro-Life

By Anna Ilona Mussmann

It is heartening to watch CNN footage of the March for Life. There is comfort in the confirmation that many thousands of diverse Americans care about the rights of human beings who cannot cry out for themselves.

Many of my pro-life friends have been talking about adoption this month. In fact, quite a few of them have posted this as their Facebook status: “If anyone is thinking about having an abortion I will gladly take the baby. I will give it a good family and life. If you would do the same, change your status to this. #marchfortheunborn.” Knowing these women as I do--knowing that some of them already have a houseful of babies, knowing that others have struggled to have any babies at all, or have lost a child of their own--I see the poignancy in their posts.

However, the world is full of people who do not know these women. People who tell a very different narrative about what is good (or bad) for children.

Recently I came across a variety of materials written by anti-adoption advocates. These people are often adult adoptees. Some of them grew up in older decades when the stigma of unwed motherhood made adoption more common among women who might otherwise have raised their own babies. These advocates decry the “adoption industry” and see adoption agencies as exploiting women in crisis in order to earn fees and obtain babies for childless couples. They feel that when a child loses a biological mother, that child undergoes intense loss and will always struggle with identity. Certainly, it is true that people who have been adopted (even as infants) are at a significantly higher risk of suicide and mental health issues.

Pregnant women are hearing the narrative that adoption is too much of a burden to place upon a child. In choosing abortion, such mothers are no different from women who consider it "loving" to abort a baby with congenital abnormalities or a terminal chromosomal disorder. In fact, one survey of women who had obtained abortions found that “Without being asked directly, several of the women indicated that adoption is not a realistic option for them. They reported that the thought of one’s child being out in the world without knowing if it was being taken care of or by whom would induce more guilt than having an abortion.”

If we are to help these women and their babies, we need to remind our culture of something important. Hard is not the same as bad. All human beings are pain-averse, but the luxuries of modern culture and technology have given us the illusion that we should be able to “fix” suffering, and thereby made us risk-averse as well. We can surely all think of examples. For instance, we encourage couples to live together for years and even beget children together before risking the plunge into matrimony. We would rather put the emphasis on never saying something that would hurt or upset other people than on developing a tough skin. We don’t even want our kids to play with sticks.

We need to remind people that it’s OK to suffer hard things. It is better to experience life in all its gory details than to be kept “safe” in ways that prevent us from living. 

Perhaps this means we should complain a little less about small difficulties. Perhaps it means we should practice finding the joy in everyday, flawed, mundane gifts like cups of tea and potted plants. Perhaps it means we should let our children experience, and learn from, their failures, or that we should publicly cheer on those who sacrifice their personal happiness and safety for others. Surely it means that we should plunge boldly into our vocations and serve each other in love.

All of this is, however, not enough. Risk-aversion (even the peculiarly-twisted risk-aversion of aborting a baby) comes from a true recognition that something is wrong with the world. Suffering was not part of God’s original created order. It is a distortion of what should be. It is true that all of the bad things in the world should not be. We must acknowledge this to our neighbors.

If they are to embrace life, our neighbors need hope. Not hope in their own efforts to prevent pain, but hope in the true God who redeems all wrong. Hope in the God of life who declares us beloved, valuable beings; and who grants us a life that cannot die.

Our neighbors need to be told both of their (and our) sin, and of the God who paid its price. As Christians, we can say that “hard is not bad” because we know that our Lord has ultimately defeated all suffering and death. “Hard” is no longer powerful enough to rule or destroy us.

Sharing this hope with our neighbors is another way of being pro-life.


After graduating from Concordia Wisconsin, Anna taught in Lutheran schools for several years and became so enthusiastic about Classical Education that she will talk about it to whomever will listen. She is a big fan of Jane Austen, dark chocolate, and the Oxford comma. Anna and her husband live in Pennsylvania with their two small children. Anna's work can also be found in The Federalist.


  1. Excellent post, Anna. You nailed it in all your points. I appreciate the truth you convey. Too often this issue gets muddled and the arguments don't go to the heart. I can testify of this God Who redeems all wrong and Who has paid the price, having been adopted into an imperfect family, yet was loved, and having been adopted by a perfect and gracious God. Thank-you for shedding much grace and hope through your pro-life message!

    1. Thank you, Sarah. It means a lot to hear you say that.

  2. There are several pro life agencies in our area that help young women make the choice to NOT have an abortion. None of them, however, encourage adoption as an option. Instead, they help mom finish school, get them financial resources and parenting classes, and help support them through the pregnancy and birth. Then, these women who didn't want to have a child end up deciding to keep and raise the child, but more often than not, are single parents, living with their own parents, perhaps, or trying to work their way through motherhood on a meager income. Praise God for their choice to give life to their child, but I wish they would, at least, consider adoption in these agencies. It is one of the most selfless sacrifices a mother can make in deciding she is unable to raise her own child. I have a hard time expressing this without sounding crass, but it's how I feel. Any thoughts on this?

    1. I get what you are saying. On the one hand, we recognize that adoption involves loss, and that the best outcome for a child is to be raised by his or her own parents whenever possible. We believe in the importance of mothers and the mother-child bond. We need to be careful not to say, "Oh, just adopt/give the baby up for adoption," as if it were a pain-free, zero-cost choice. On the other hand, it is unfortunate if a "soft stigma" against adoption stops a woman from considering adoption as an emotionally viable option in situations where it might be the best outcome for her and her child.

      There are a lot of children who grow up in challenging circumstances. It might appear that poverty is the problem. Yet I think the bigger problem is the lack of fathers. Kids in two-parent families are statistically far more likely to thrive. Couples who marry and remain married are statistically more likely to do better emotionally and financially. In the past, I suspect more single women considered adoption for their babies because they wanted their kids to have fathers. Yet nowadays, many kids, especially kids in lower income brackets whose parents have lower levels of education, don't live with their fathers anyway. The culture is so accustomed to single motherhood that it feels normal. (This is not, of course, intended as dismissive of the great love and self-sacrifice with which many single parents raise their children).

      If we want to help these kids--those whose mothers considered abortion, and those whose mothers didn't--perhaps more of our focus should be on supporting the idea of marriage and fatherhood. Perhaps there should be more programs to help the MEN so that they can support families and live healthier, more stable lives. That, at least, might be the start of something very helpful. My two cents.


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