Whose Choice?

Florida Governor Lawton Chiles recently came to a Naples, Florida, bookstore to autograph copies of his new book. I attended that autograph session—and learned an important lesson about how Christians should respond to arguments promoting abortion as a cure-all for poverty. The governor arrived in Naples four days after vetoing a bill to ban partial-birth abortion—the first governor in America to veto such a bill. Now, Lawton Chiles and I were once in a Bible study together. So I went to the store, along with two hundred or so fellow prolifers, because we wanted to tell Chiles how upset we were about his veto. I walked inside the bookstore to confront the governor, while most of my fellow Christians, carrying placards, stood outside singing. While my wife, Patty, and I waited in line, a beautifully dressed woman, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, approached us. She chirped, "Are you Democrats, too?" Patty and I shook our heads. Then the woman said, "That’s fine; we love for people from all parties to pay respects to the governor." I replied, "Well, I think in fairness I should tell you that I’m here to tell the governor that I’m deeply offended by his willingness to allow infanticide in the state of Florida." The woman looked at me as if I had just knocked over the punch bowl at her party. Then she drew herself up and said, "But we desperately need abortion to keep all those babies from being born—the ones who aren’t loved and who are born into such terrible poverty." I asked her whether abortion was legal now. She acknowledged that it was. "And yet," I pointed out, "all of these babies are being born today anyway—despite the easy availability of abortion. What you really want is forced sterilization. You want to get rid of the poor kids whose mothers choose to have them." The woman looked at me as though I were a dangerous fanatic. She didn’t seem to realize that what she was really talking about was forcing her choice on these poor women. She wasn’t for a woman’s right to choose; she wanted to choose for other women. This is the philosophy espoused by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. Upper-class people wanted to purify the race by not letting babies be born unless their parents fell into the right social classes. People like the woman in the bookstore consider themselves enlightened, tolerant liberals, but deep down they’re dangerous elitists. The only answer to this mindset is a carefully crafted response about the dignity of human life, about true compassion. The real solution to poverty isn’t death by infanticide, it’s promoting adoption, helping people raise children properly, and building social values like premarital abstinence. By the way, I did get to tell Governor Chiles that I felt he had betrayed his trust as a Christian and that we were shocked and disappointed. Later, when Chiles came out of the store, he was greeted by a couple hundred Christians singing "Jesus Loves the Little Children." He was forced to hear us out. You and I must continue to present this message whether or not people want to hear it. We must keep telling our neighbors that all human life is sacred—even babies born to poor, inner-city mothers. Regardless of what we hear from well-meaning ladies in wide-brimmed hats, "Jesus loves the little children." Every one.


Chuck Colson



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