On Monday, October 29, a newborn baby boy was discovered abandoned in Corsicana, Texas. He had been stuffed into a bag and left on the door step of a family’s home. Thankfully, news reports confirm that he is doing well, although no details have been released about the chain of events that led to his abandonment. As of the time of this post, his mother has not been located and nothing more about him has been revealed.
There are a few things, however, that we can deduce from this situation. Firstly, whoever his mother is, she chose life instead of abortion. Secondly, we can presume that her circumstances are such that she was desperate and those circumstances drove her to do something rash. Given that we do not know who she is, it is impossible to tell whether this abandonment was planned or if she went into labor, delivered the child, and simply found the first inhabited structure where she could leave him.
The circumstances that would drive a mother to disregard her own health and the health of her child are incomprehensible to me. She could be an unmarried teenager who has hidden her pregnancy from her family or a woman with other children, but without the resources to care for another child. Whatever her circumstances are, they are such that the option of birthing her child without the help of a medical professional (who would be barred by law from allowing the child to be abandoned) and then abandoning him seemed to her to be the best and least risky option.
All of this is tragic irrespective of the details. The mother’s situation is tragic; the child’s situation is tragic. There is no question that that is the case. There are, however, two potential reactions to this tragedy. Those who argue that women should have the right to take the lives of their unborn children look at this situation as proof that abortion services should be more accessible. Had the mother had easier access to abortion clinics, or had the politically conservative atmosphere of Central Texas not stigmatized abortion, she would not have been forced to deliver her child in unsafe conditions and then been forced to abandon him. The better option in the estimation of those with this perspective would have been to eliminate the child and then the mother would never have been faced with the choice of abandoning him.
I would argue that the second type of response should be shame. Those who affirm the sanctity of life and believe that it should be protected at all stages should be grateful that the child was not killed in his mother’s womb, but should be ashamed that his mother didn’t have other life-affirming options. I don’t know anything about Corsicana, Texas or the churches in that area, but the fact is that this anonymous mother did not consider the church to be a place where a better alternative was offered. If she had, she would never have taken the risks that she took. The church cannot force people to accept her help, and there will always be some who make choices that are not consistent with self-interest, but for women like this anonymous mom, the church has an obligation to be an oasis and refuge. It is not enough to preach sermons that condemn abortion. It is not enough to have pro-life bumper stickers or to distribute pro-life literature. Christians must work to provide opportunities for families in this woman’s circumstances to escape those desperate circumstances. The church should care for these people because they are people for whom Christ Himself cares. We must condemn extra-marital sex as sin, but like any sin, we must emphasize the necessity of repentance and the promise and hope of forgiveness. Once the child has been conceived, an abortion will not “fix” the sin or even “fix” the circumstances, but equipping the mother to care for her child or introducing her to the life-affirming choice of adoption are things that help to redeem her circumstances and have the potential to create something wonderful out of something tragic.
Again, I can’t know the details of this woman’s circumstances, but I know from her actions that they can’t be good. I also know that whatever they may be, the solution is not abortion nor is it rigid and unfeeling condemnation. The church will never eliminate human suffering by good works—only the Lord’s return will do that—but God will always bless our faithful efforts to care for the least among us, even if their circumstances are the result of their own sinful choices.