The abortion industry, and politicians allegiant to it, will defend to the death—pun intended—a woman’s so-called “right” to end the life of a living, developing human being in her womb for any and every reason.
But strangely, when it comes to a miscarriage—that is, the unintended death of an unborn baby by natural causes—its script suddenly changes. Consider these words from Planned Parenthood: “Miscarriage is a common event in many women’s lives. Those of us who have had miscarriages know how difficult the experience can be. Miscarriage can leave us with many emotions to sort out.”
By God’s grace, my wife and I have never experienced a miscarriage, like so many of our friends and co-workers. Difficult seems like an inadequate word for the pain resulting from miscarriage—though the nation’s largest abortion provider fails to mention why: because it is the loss of a precious human being in the womb. Planned Parenthood’s concern for miscarriage’s unintended loss seems quite disingenuous given they want us to celebrate the intentional taking of 55 million human beings since Roe v. Wade.
But such logical schizophrenia is not confined to those who defend the legal right to abortion. Those of us on the pro-life side can also be inconsistent. While many Christians can make the case for the dignity of human life in the womb when it comes to the evil of abortion, when it comes to miscarriage—which ends between 10 percent and 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies—the response is often far different. By the words we say or leave unsaid, too often we risk dehumanizing the child who has died and discouraging the grieving parent.
That’s the assessment of Constance T. Hull, who’s experienced four miscarriages herself. Writing in The Public Discourse (an excellent publication by the way), she encourages us to speak frankly about miscarriage. How? By acknowledging the reality that miscarriage represents—to borrow the wording of Thomas Aquinas—the loss of an “embodied spirit.”
Hull offers a number of ideas to help us comfort grieving parents, many of whom suffer silently. “First,” she says, “we need to bring miscarriage out in the open. We need to engage in discussions about the reality of miscarriage and the pain it causes families. This is a part of building a culture of life.”
She then points out, “We pray at abortion clinics and try to educate the populace on the horrors of abortion, but we also need to be ministering to and supporting families who have lost unborn children. The more we talk about it, the more families will come out from behind closed doors to share their stories and begin to grieve openly.”
Second, Hull says, we need to be intentional about highlighting this painful topic. “People need forums,” she writes, “both in social media and in person, to discuss their experiences freely. Conversations with one’s priest, pastor, rabbi, imam, local crisis pregnancy center, friends, and family can help one come to terms with the grief and remembrance of those lost children.”
Third, Hull says we pro-lifers must examine our own beliefs and words that dehumanize the unborn or short-circuit the natural and necessary grieving process that comes when someone loses a loved one. We do this when we say things like, “You can always have another child,” or, “There was something clearly wrong with the child,” or even “They are in a better place.” Let’s remember Job’s friends were the most comforting when they didn’t talk at all.
I pray the truth of miscarriage as the loss of a precious human life will shame many in the abortion industry into repentance. And I also pray this truth sinks into our own hearts, so that we can comfort the grieving among us and carry their burdens in Christ’s name. Amen.
— by John Stonestreet
Stonestreet is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and is heard on Breakpoint. Copyright© 2016 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.
Additional reading: Abortion’s Miscarriage Problem, by Constance T. Hull