Mormon Voices

Mormon Voices on the Sanctity of Life

A Primary Source

parent teacher

 

During a taxi ride in the Tri-State area recently, my driver told me about his son’s weekend adventures as a high school student. He claimed that he always drove a group of boys to and from parties in the swanky neighborhoods, presumably to prevent drunk driving. He said every boy would come home with 5-6 phone numbers. He wished the girls would make the boys work a little harder. “All they want to do is dress like models and sleep around, and I can’t get my son to think about anything else, either.”

There is something that could help teens be more confident and happy, something that would protect them from harmful diseases, and something that would ultimately protect them from emotional damage. Sounds like a clickable, trendy parenting article, right? The answer? Chastity. Hmmm…now I’m guessing no one wants to write the article. While I feel sad for the parents of teens in these kinds of situations, I feel worse for teens who have not embraced the values that will be most helpful to their well-being.

Currently the federal government embraces a Sexual Risk Reduction approach to sexual education. This mentality is regularly reflected in the arguments of pro-abortion advocates: “You can’t stop teen sexuality.” So they target the teen population with information about how to “reduce the physical consequences of sex through the use of contraception.” I find this approach problematic because I think the general message should be to avoid risk behavior, known as the abstinence, or Sexual Risk Avoidance approach. Embracing a risk avoidance approach would allow teachers to share information and encourages skills “that are intended to help them avoid all the possible negative consequences of teen sex, including but not limited to the physical consequences of STDs and pregnancy.”(See NAEA July 2013 p.6).

abstinence

Although unpopular in pop culture, an abstinence approach is popular in real life. Parents and Teens both support it. Pulse Opinion Research found that 85% of parents believe that all youth benefit from skills that help them choose to wait for sex. It is usually impossible to find something that 85% of people agree on, so statistically that is solid public policy. Youth feel about the same way, and the US Dept. of Health and Human Services found that 84% of adolescents oppose sex at their age. (See NAEA July 2013 p.8-9).

Also in real life is the fact that abstinence education can work. For example, kids in Pennsylvania were divided in to four groups and taught 1) an abstinence program targeting reduced sex, 2) a safer-sex program targeting condom use 3) comprehensive program targeting both reduced sex and condom use, and 4) a control group taught general health promotion. In the end only the abstinence intervention significantly reduced sexual initiation and neither program increased condom use. The abstinence education did not negatively impact condom use in those that did decide to become sexually active. The author of this study concluded that the single focus approach was key to success. (For this and other studies click here.) I found it unsurprising that most public health rhetoric is against this type of education, but glad to see that some groups are finding success.

We know that in order to successfully transmit a message to our kids, we cannot be hypocritical. If we are simultaneously telling kids to delay their sexual experiences while also giving them strategies for handling them, it will seem like an endorsement of their activity. With school starting soon, it is a good idea to learn what our district’s policy is on sexual education (and don’t wait until middle school, since many districts are starting this kind of education with elementary students). I plan to make sure that our values are clearly communicated to my kids here at home so that they can think critically about the mixed message they are bound to receive in public school.

Criticism of abstinence education has roots in the observation of dangerous behaviors of covering up illicit sexual activity to avoid parental disapproval (among other consequences).  Pregnancy prevention and termination are widely-touted as the solution. To me these solutions are short-sighted.  Teaching kids to be mature and cautious in their sexual activity is like pro-active, preventative health measures.  Things like taking vitamins and exercising don’t cure a heart attack, so should we go around saying there is no point to emphasize them…we should just rely on heart surgeons to solve heart disease? Big picture solutions are always more nuanced, harder work, and difficult to prove among a composite of correlative factors.  But ultimately abstinence is focused on the correct goal of ensuring that children are brought into the world by parents committed to the process.

Abstinence is more than just a good health choice. Like all physical, and temporal commandments, it has a spiritual purpose. Remaining sexually pure is to remain free from a sin that will create heartbreak. Teaching our children to prepare for the temple blessings of a celestial marriage and posterity born into that covenant will prepare them for happiness. Often we do a good job modeling this through our own behavior and testimony.

Unfortunately, we still might not be doing enough. This article is a must-read for any parent with a child over the age of 8: Teaching Chastity and Virtue. As Matthew O. Richardson points out:

In surveying over 200 active young single Latter-day Saints, I found that only 15 percent considered their parents to be the primary source of information regarding sexual issues. These young members said they learned about this important topic primarily from friends or peers, the Internet, media, entertainment, textbooks, extended family, or their Church leaders.

That is a shockingly low number, considering how important the topic. He continues,

Comments from my informal survey of young Latter-day Saints repeatedly centered on wishing their parents were more open or willing to talk about sexually related topics. These young adults expressed that they not only wanted their parents to be involved in the process, but they also wished their parents would “talk with them rather than talk at them.” They longed for conversations that were “natural,” “normal,” “comfortable,” and far less “awkward.” This should motivate parents to work harder in being approachable, available, natural, and unruffled by a topic, situation, or even timing. If there is a price to be paid for parents to effectively teach their children about things that matter most, it is for parents to act in ways that help their children feel comfortable and safe in talking about all subjects—especially the more personal ones.

We need to commit to find a way to communicate with our kids so that they can develop a habit of relying on us for their information and values. After packing our summer with activities like roller coasters, beaches, swim lessons, cousin camp outs, and even a cruise, I stopped myself for a minute and realized that I was letting the most important lessons slip because we had fallen out of our habits. A new school year is a great time to renew my effort to make sure I fulfilling my role as their spiritual teacher.  As things get busy I cannot lose sight of my ultimate goal of teaching my children the gospel of Jesus Christ and guiding them in their efforts to learn and live His teachings.

As President Monson said, Perhaps the teacher you and I remember best is the one who influenced us most. She may not have used a chalkboard nor possessed a college degree, but her lessons were everlasting and her concern genuine. Yes, I speak of Mother. And in the same breath, I also include Father. In reality, every parent is a teacher. (Only a Teacher).

Many parents are doing a great job. I loved this video from a group of young people talking about how they understand the value of chastity. I hope my kids can have a similar confidence in their understanding of their own power to keep the commandments and enjoy the blessings in store for them.

Legal Doesn’t Mean Right

Several times when I have engaged in online discussions with abortion advocates they have argued that “abortion isn’t wrong; it’s legal.” So everything legal is right, and everything illegal is wrong? This is how you decide right and wrong in life? Usually this argument frustrates me because it shows a fundamental misunderstanding about how laws work.  However, in taking some time to think about their assumption, I have discovered it frustrates me for another reason: people rely on the judicial and legislative leadership to guide their morality, and that leadership is failing them.

Without trying to re-teach a civics course from our junior year in high school, I would like to remind these abortion advocates that our laws are based on a moral frame work, and not the other way around.  What this means is that we decide what is right and wrong, and then we pass laws based on that. But as anyone knows who tries to keep their morality at a high standard, the law can frequently fall short of what is right.

Here are a couple of examples, off the top of my head.  In the state of Washington it is legal to smoke marijuana. Marijuana is an addictive narcotic, it is bad for your mind and body, and generally is not a good thing to do. In most states you can fire someone without  notice, and without cause.  If you run a business, and have an employee that has worked for your for many years and you know relies on the income as a provider, it would be wrong to fire him or her for no good reason, especially without giving them time to find a new job. You could walk by a child bleeding to death and screaming for help, and do nothing, without any legal ramifications. It’s legal to cheat on your spouse.  It’s wrong to cheat on your spouse. In many, many instances legal does not mean right.

On some level the people who make this argument don’t understand that just because five out of nine smart, powerful people (Supreme Court Judges) say something is legal, it doesn’t mean that any of us have to believe them. That’s the beauty of democracy. We can have our moral system, and we can vote for legislators and appoint judges that think like us and have the laws changed.

Given that they don’t understand this assumption, we come to the deeper problem. Legalizing abortion has given it legitimacy. The rhetoric and slogans of the movement have co-opted the reality of the procedure. I saw a video where people were asked if they were pro-choice, and they certainly were.  Then they were taught about the abortion procedure, and once they learned what actually went on, that the child was killed, often violently, they changed their mind. legal
My husband is confident that eventually medical reality will overwhelm the abortion advocates, and large-scale reversal of abortion law is inevitable. He says that it will be like slavery where people will look back and be appalled that anyone was ever so barbaric.  I hope so.

Unfortunately, there is a group of people out there smart enough to understand what is really going on medically, but theorize away the reality of the human life at stake. I am not sure this group will ever be able to change their rhetoric.  Following them is a mass of blind believers in the false morality of the legalized procedure. Also unsettling to me is those who turn a blind eye to the moral failures of these leaders on the grounds that that other policy positions and skills outweigh the need to have a leader on the right side of the abortion issue. Given these two groups of supporters, it could be a long time before any changes are made to the current Constitutional law on this issue.

It used to be that people gained their morality from religion.  In our increasing secular world, moral frameworks are being built in children without the guide of truth.  The weight of public opinion is how some people decide what is right and what is wrong.

Elder Oaks recently taught,

“Spiritual food is necessary for spiritual survival, especially in a world that is moving away from belief in God and the absolutes of right and wrong. In an age dominated by the Internet, which magnifies messages that menace faith, we must increase our exposure to spiritual truth in order to strengthen our faith and stay rooted in the gospel.”

We are much better off if we allow our sense of right and wrong to be developed on the basis of the teachings of the Gospel. We don’t need to consult local laws to know that drugs are bad, that we should be considerate of others, that we should stop and help someone in need, or that we should be loyal to our spouse and family. Lately I have been reading about the Savior in Mosiah and I find myself happy to re-read the same chapters again and again, for several days in a row.  Just taking a few minutes to think about the Savior brings me peace and clarity. His teaching is clear: “And little children also have eternal life.” (Mosiah 15:25). To me it doesn’t matter what a FaceBook comment, an article, a presidential candidate, or the Supreme Court of the United States says is legal. I know how the Savior feels about little children, so I know what is right when it comes to abortion.

Note: This post was written by Addy Squires.

Last the Best

Last the Best

liudan1

Liu Dan died in China after a late-term forced abortion

There is nothing harder than deciding how many children to have. A regular topic among mothers is, “Are you done having kids?” Every mother has a different answer that is true for herself. Some are sure their emotional capacity is reached after one or two. Some want more than what they have, but are physically unable to do so. Some have the perfect number. Some of us wish we hadn’t had that last one because she is SO hard…just kidding (but really there are days). However, I often count myself blessed that I am free to make that choice.

Unfortunately there are places in the world where parents are not free to decide how many children to have. For a long time China had a “One-Child” policy that limited parents, and so when they recently increased the number of allowed children to two, it seemed like a victory for civil rights. However, given the large size of their population, this policy-change does not end the governmental control over family planning. If you become pregnant, now with a third child, the Chinese government will coerce you to terminate, even to the point of forcible abortion.

The author Mei Fong describes what kinds of things happen to enforce this policy,

If [a woman] lived in a small village, for example, she would probably be scrutinized by a group, she would probably be grouped together with a set of households and come under what they call a cluster leader, somebody who sort of monitors the progress and fertility rights of a certain set of households. … So if this woman … fell pregnant then most likely this cluster leader would know about it very quickly and then she would report to higher up. … Probably at first a village leader would show up at their doorstep and say, “You know very well you should not have this; you could have all sorts of problem with this. You may have to pay a fine.” I’ve met enforcers who have gone to these houses and say, “We used to take away something valuable to show that we mean business.” … Like a television set, for example, or a pig, or sometimes if the household was a very poor household they’ll take away homespun cloth or grain or something, something that had to make it hurt, basically — that was in a village setting, of course.

 In a city setting they could maybe, if you worked for a [civil service-like] job they might threaten to fire you. … This is for having a child. If you went for a termination, all of this would go away. But, of course, then there were people who really wanted the child and then they would try and evade the whole process of being taken away for a forced abortion, because here’s the thing: Between your conception and your delivery date, all bets are off — they can make you. (See How China’s Policy Led to Forced Abortions)

In the U.S. there is an organization that has been trying to help fight against this policy. Women’s Rights Without Frontiers’ slogan is “Forced Abortion is Not a Choice,” led by attorney and advocate Reggie Littlejohn. They closely track this policy in China. I was stunned to read that the “official” number of abortions performed in China, 13 million, generally thought to be low due to unreported procedures at unregistered clinics, has now been estimated to be under-reported by 10 million. That’s 23 million. Per year.

This adjustment came from a report issued by the U.S. State Department. The report also confirmed the atrocities of the enforcement of the policy:

“The country’s birth-limitation policies retained harshly coercive elements in law and practice,” stated the Report, which described the government’s “intense pressure” upon police to enforce local birth-limitation quotas.

 According to the State Department, laws in 18 Chinese provinces require abortion, sometimes euphemized as “remedial measures,” for illegal pregnancies. Officials in the remaining 13 provinces also were found to have used forced abortion to meet birth limits.

 The Report noted that the linking of police job promotion to success in meeting birth quotas “provided a powerful structural incentive for officials to employ coercive measures to meet population goals.”

 The Report also confirmed that any woman pregnant outside of marriage breaks the law in almost all provinces, and that so-called “social compensation fees” up to ten times an individual’s disposable income were also levied as punishment under the Policy. Where a couple already had two children, one member of the couple was often required to be sterilized.

 “This Report proves what advocates have been saying all along: coercion, forced abortion and involuntary sterilization continue unabated through 2015. They will continue under the Two-Child Policy,” said Littlejohn. “Unmarried women and third children will still be forcibly aborted.” (See China Aborts 23 (not 13) Million Per Year)

I cannot imagine the anguish of those mothers. I cannot imagine being 8 months pregnant, and being arrested, taken to the hospital, and having the baby killed. Littlejohn has reported cases like this, and in extreme cases the forced abortion can take the life of the mother, too.  (See The Case of Liu Dan).

Although abortion advocates have co-opted the phrases “pro-choice,” and “reproductive rights,” I do not think they should be owned by that movement. I think that there are times when I am for a woman’s right to choose: like when they want to choose to have more children in spite of governmental, social, or other ideological attacks against them. This should be their “reproductive right,” not that they should be able to have sexual intercourse without the consequence of pregnancy, which is my understanding of the pro-abortion use of the phrase.

The blessing of being free to choose our family’s size also comes with responsibility. I know many mothers that have felt specific guidance from the Lord to help them know how many children to have. I have been inspired to see women reach out to children in need through fostering and adoption. I love seeing women with big families who continue to sacrifice their own needs and wants in the service of their family. Whatever our “plan,” I also know that having a family shoots down many (if not all) of our best-laid plans. We cannot always forsee the challenges that we will face in the process. We were surprised by infertility. Others have been surprised by fertility at the “wrong” time. However they come, the Lord wants us to learn, grow, and ultimately succeed at our parenting.

Sister Margaret Nadauld explained,

Because we were sent here to earth to be tested and to prove ourselves, there may be some things in life that won’t turn out exactly as we have planned. That’s the way with earthly life. But remember this: when you work hard and prepare yourself to make contributions and keep covenants you make at baptism and in the temple, you can meet any of the challenges of life with faith and hope and courage! As part of His plan, Heavenly Father provided a Savior who will help us in this life, and He will help us return back home to Him. He said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). He loves you. He wants you to be successful. And He will help you succeed in your life’s mission. (See Turning Hearts to the Family).

I really am glad for our number four- she is an amazing gift from God. I don’t know if she is our last, but I know she is the best baby in the world, to us. I am so grateful to live in a country where I am free to have her. In all our efforts to oppose elective abortion, hopefully we can also find ways to oppose forced abortion. Please join me in praying for the people of China to not just enjoy the freedom to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ, but also to have the freedom to create their eternal families as they choose.

 

This Father’s Day: The Next Highest Calling

 

“Who am I to tell a woman what to do with her body?”

“Well, I’m never going to get pregnant.”

“This doesn’t concern me.”

It takes a man and a woman to make a baby. Every lost child in the history of abortion has a father, yet men are largely left out and continue to isolate themselves from the fight for life. Abortion is a “woman’s issue” and pro-choicers see themselves as campaigning for women’s rights. The manpower on both sides of the abortion debate is largely womanpower.

It’s natural for women to find themselves drawn to a cause that centers around childbearing, but that’s no reason for men to stay out of it. The lack of a womb has never prevented men from becoming obstetricians and gynecologists. When I first went to see my mother’s OBGYN, the very doctor who had helped her through a difficult pregnancy with me, I asked him in genuine perplexity why he’d chosen to be a woman’s doctor. He shrugged and said, “Because birthing babies is the best.” Arguably the most prominent prolife advocate of our day is David Daleiden, the man who obtained undercover footage of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts. He is leading many to change their minds and laws about funding the abortion giant. We’re told motherhood is the highest calling. If that’s true, then defending motherhood must be the next highest.

And what of defending fatherhood? Thirty eight states require pregnant teenagers to notify or obtain permission from their mother or father before having an abortion. Zero states require the same from the child’s own father. A grandfather can save the life of his unborn grandchild by denying his teenage daughter an abortion, but a father cannot.

Sweden is currently contemplating a “male abortion” law that would allow unwilling fathers to surrender parental rights and responsibilities for their unborn children. A woman’s abortion ends with no baby for either the father or mother to care for. The so called male abortion would leave the mother to struggle through parenthood without the emotional or financial support of the man who helped her create their child. That’s not an abortion. That’s a court approved deadbeat dad.

This proposal sounds ludicrous-until you compare it alongside widely accepted women’s rights to an abortion. If a woman can give up on her child, why not a man? This financial abortion doesn’t kill the baby, so arguing for the sanctity of life doesn’t even apply here. You have to believe in the sanctity of the family.

The Family: A Proclamation to the world states that both “HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.” Father and mother are “equal partners”, with fathers responsible for protecting their families and providing the “necessities of life”, which includes financial support in addition to life itself. We are warned that “individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.” All “responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere” are called upon to defend the family.

Family defense was a kingly duty in the Book of Mormon. Jacob, father of Enos, delivered a fiery reprimand to the men under his command when they hurt their “exceedingly tender” wives and children (Jacob 2:7). He warned that subpar parenting would raise up a generation more wicked than the Lamanites, and their sins would be heaped upon the heads of their Nephite fathers.

Jacob 3:10   Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.

King Benjamin teaches his people.

King Benjamin teaches his people.

King Benjamin also addressed his people concerning their responsibility to “succor those that stand in need of succor” and “teach (your children) to walk in the ways of truth and soberness”. Mosiah 4:15-16 The reign of Benjamin’s son Mosiah saw many  historically significant events, including the discovery and emancipation of the people of Limhi and the translation of the Jaredite plates. But he rejoiced most over the conversion of his sons Aaron, Ammon, Omner, and Himni. Not the reunion of his people. Not uniting the story of his own people with the record of those who’d gone before. No, his greatest reason to rejoice was success as a father. As President David O. McKay would later state, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

Men shouldn’t shirk their responsibilities when it comes to defending the family. For some men this can mean standing up for truth in a court of law or launching campaigns against abortion, like Daleiden. But everyday dads have a part to play too. They, like the young women of the church, need to stand as witnesses at all times, in all things, and in all places in order to strengthen home and family. Mothers alone shouldn’t be responsible for educating children of the evils of abortion. Men too must defend the family in conversation with friends, neighbors, and coworkers, be it in real life or on social media. A man’s vote weighs just as much as his wife’s. It’s on men to be the responsible citizens the proclamation mentions and elect responsible officers of law everywhere.

Abortion is not a woman’s issue, but a family issue, and men have just as much stake in this father’s fight.

Postpartum Mood Disorders and the Ward Family

I’ve been feeling low lately. There isn’t a lot of good news out there. Or maybe I’m obsessing over the bad. Human trafficking, female genital mutilation, the refugee crisis, the election. These are all topics that have filled my news feed over the last few weeks. But the topic I’ve seen most frequently has been postpartum mood disorders. Mothers in my Facebook mama group suffer from them, close friends and family members suffer from them, and I’ve suffered from them.

Emily Cook Dyches

Emily Cook Dyches

By now you may have read about Emily Cook Dyches—the devoted Utah mother who tragically died after running in front of a semi during a panic attack.  If not, I hope you’ll read her story and support her family’s amazing effort to raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders and resources for help.

It is hard to comprehend how such tragedy can strike following an event that is supposed to be filled with joy. It is easy to be disappointed or even blindsided when sometimes doing the right thing leads directly to some of life’s most painful trials. When my first daughter was born, I had no idea how to take care of the two of us. She was incredibly colicky, and we spent our days either pacing in our small one-bedroom apartment or comfort nursing for hours on end. She cried up to 10 hours a day and woke every 20–40 minutes throughout the night. Ward members kindly brought us meals, but I didn’t know how to put down my crying baby to actually get the food and eat it. I didn’t know that putting her down was OK. The best I could do was grab a package of Oreos, turn on Hulu, and let her nurse. It was the only time the crying stopped. If I had to pee, well I’d just get my kidneys removed later. I did have two good friends from work who visited occasionally, but my husband worked a high-stress job and was home to sleep for four hours a night (literally), and my family was scattered across the country.

My low point came one day when, after one of my daughter’s typical 20 minute naps, I could not physically get up off the floor to go get her out of her crib. I called my friend at work and headed to the hospital. In the ER waiting room, I tried to nurse my daughter, but she refused. When our names were called, I insisted that my baby was dying. Check her! Why are you taking my temperature? I was soon admitted with a 103.5 fever, was treated for dehydration, and got x-rays for possible pneumonia. As soon as I was rehydrated, baby nursed again. I hadn’t even realized that I had lost my milk.

Although I do consider the first months of motherhood to be traumatic, I know that other mothers experience far worse and longer lasting trauma. I don’t tell my story to seek sympathy. I tell it for what came next. For what well-meaning people in my ward asked me: Why didn’t you call me?

Whenever someone asked me this question, all it really did was make me feel foolish. I’d brush it off and let them know that I had things under control. But what I really wanted to say was “Because I don’t know you!” And that’s about it. We were relatively new to that ward, but I have been in other wards far longer and still not known many people. (I feel incredibly blessed now to have many ward family members I know I can call.)

Before I became a mother, I didn’t give much thought to ward families. I was independent and liked it that way. I’m sure I wasn’t the type of person anyone else would call for help. But my perspective, and hopefully I, have changed a lot. Now I see that ward families are a divinely inspired blessing.

Ward families seem to vary incredibly. I’ve heard of cancer-stricken women who received absolutely no assistance from ward members, and I’ve witnessed the miracles that come when ward members carry a family with a sick loved one. Recently, my mother endured a major surgery that comes with a long recovery time. She lives across the country from me, and I’ve spent a lot of time feeling guilt for not being able to help her. Thankfully, I was able to visit her for a weekend, and I was able to see the love that she and my father have received from their ward family. They make meals; they take walks with her; they visit her. Most importantly, they are aware of her and love her. I left that trip with a much stronger testimony of the importance of ward families. Ward families can do what family alone cannot.

How can we create ward families that carry each other? Well, it starts with the individual. Be friendly. For some of us, this is harder than it sounds. Until recently, the idea of starting a conversation with someone I didn’t know nearly paralyzed me. But after my experience with my newborn, I was determined not to be alone anymore. For the first time, “it is not good that the man should be alone” really resonated with me. For some people, like me, smiling and caring for others will take practice. Do it! I’m still learning as well.

I also loved the advice that Eric Dyches gave: Anticipate need. In the case of postpartum mood disorders, and many other mental and physical maladies, the individual suffering is not in the correct state of mind to understand their needs. Think of something you can do, and do it. Hold a baby while mom eats; sweep the floor; empathize with how hard life can be and share your own struggles; offer a Priesthood blessing (Did you think I was only writing to women?). Know how to recognize the symptoms of postpartum depression and PTSD. I also appreciate the advice that Diane D. Woolf gave in the February 2009 Ensign:

“Let us know if you need anything.” This common home teaching and visiting teaching offer may be helpful to some members, but others are too shy to ask for help. Instead, what if we were to observe what needs to be done and offer specific help?

Being a mother is hard. So hard that many pro-choice advocates often assert that the pro-life movement is only pro-birth, not pro-mother or pro-quality-life-after-birth. A little googling will show anyone that there are many pro-life resources that support both mother and child during and after pregnancy. But let us, as Latter-day Saints, take it a step further.

I remember reading “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant and longing for the support that women had in ancient times. Yes, I’m glad that husbands now regularly help with the dishes and child rearing. But the images in the book of women banding around each other, supporting each other through labor, caring for the postpartum woman during her lying in period, and sharing child rearing duties were beautiful, and I mourned the loss of these customs in our modern, globalized world. (Read this insightful article about the lying in period. You won’t regret it. It is no wonder that other countries experience lower rates of postpartum mood disorders.)

We need each other. I’m not naive enough to believe that ward families can prevent or cure mental illness. I’m grateful for medical professionals and good therapists. But I do know that we are meant to carry each other through the trials of this life, that we can ease others’ burdens, be Heavenly Father’s hands in blessing another and, possibly, even help someone avoid or resolve a crisis.

Created Her for Me

Over the last few weeks I have come to the realization that these children of mine are a trial. First we went to the E.R. with a dehydrated baby.  Others caught her stomach flu, and then we moved on to colds. Then another daughter went to the E.R. with a fractured elbow. A different daughter came down with a bizarre, raging fever. At that point I tried to resign, but my husband refused to accept my resignation. The next day was Mother’s Day, and I have never faced that celebration with so much reluctance. As I flopped on my bed for a good cry, I realized that this kind of thing is going to continue: for the rest of our lives!  I will be by many more bedsides, and wipe so many more tears. The joy of their smiles each day fueled me for so long, that I  never really comprehended the long-term downside before.

One-handed flower art

After church my poor sweetie brought this Mother’s Day gift, along with a poem that ended:

If I am like a flower, then surely you must know

That mother is the gardener, for she helps me to grow!

She cultivates and nurtures and enriches patiently.

Thank you , Heavenly Father, for creating her for me.

-Mother is a Gardener, Friend 1985

I always assumed that my children were created for me. But of course a loving Father in Heaven sees the needs of these children from the beginning, and created me for them, too. Patience, house keeping, vomit-cleaning, sleep-deprived-cuddling, and scream-tolerating are not really in my wheel-house. But here I am. Created to do my best for these little ones. So I voluntarily withdraw my resignation. I want my life to be an idyllic montage of eating picnics, baseball wins, and bubble-blowing-type fun. But really there are going to be lots of hard times. In my way, with faith and effort, I am exactly who Heavenly Father wanted to help them grow.

Friends with older children say that they miss the fights over eating carrots at dinner. Now the worries are over curfews, car privileges, miscommunications, durability of testimonies…much deeper water than where I swim now. The battle to be what your children need each day is hard with good kids, and even harder with difficult ones. Yet there never is any doubt that each parent is who Heavenly Father wanted on the job.  I recently heard a man describe some rebellious times in his youth, but explained that the worse he was, the more his parents circled him with support and understanding.  He said that he eventually changed his life because he couldn’t resist the power of their love.

Perhaps that deep love is what compounds our despair when other children are harmed. Our empathy for our own children is easily transferred to any child. I first read the story of the group of of ex-military creating sting operations to catch child-traffickers called Operation Underground Railroad in a news story.  The problem of child trafficking is wide-spread and under-policed, and Tim Ballard created a team to help rescue children in these kinds of circumstances.  The website posts a shocking statistic: 2 million children in the world are held against their will as sex slaves, and there are another 23 million that are not children.  An amazing movie has been made about this that can be seen in theaters, and I hope that many will not only spend money on tickets, but financially support this important mission. Here are the websites: Movie Times ; More about Operation Underground Railroad

Although I could only guess at the time I first heard of this, there are deep spiritual roots to the work that Ballard’s team does.  In subsequent reports, including in interviews with Mormon Channel and LDS Living, Ballard has explained how his faith inspires and supports him in the work.  Ballard cited Jacob 2:19 and said, “We’re supposed to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and liberate the captive. Oftentimes people kind of brush over that — what does that mean, liberate the captive? I know what that means.” (See Deseret News)

On missions for the U.S. government, Ballard became frustrated at not being able to help children that needed rescue, but technically fell outside his official jurisdiction:

“‘I had several very profound spiritual experiences that made it clear to me that I was to do something more in this field. I started getting powerful feelings that my family needed to leave California and move to Utah, but we had no idea why we were supposed to go. So Ballard and his wife went to the temple for guidance. The next morning, in what Ballard describes as a  “spiritual download,” he received a clear and undeniable answer: ‘Find the lost children.'” (See LDS Living)

So many children in poverty are vulnerable to abuse and abduction.  Often traffickers lie to the parents, pretending they will care for and feed the kids, with the actual intent of selling them.  Criminals take advantage of chaos like earthquakes and natural disasters to prey on children separated from their families.   Many governments’ inattention allows sexual trade to flourish unchecked, and some governments like the terrorist groups of Boko Haram and ISIS specifically incorporate exploitation of women and children as an accepted practice.  In all its forms, the weak and defenseless can be prey to very evil people. Often the women and girls in these horrific circumstances are further violated by being forced to have abortions and use birth control to ensure their availability for their captors. (See New York Times). Loving parents everywhere should do all they can to join in the fight against sexual exploitation.

I live in a place where the safety of my children is paramount to every adult they come in contact with.  The school calls if they miss a day.  They can’t go to camp without an authorization form, an elaborate check in/out procedure, and sometimes even photo I.D. There will be many times that I will worry about my kids, but hopefully they will never be engulfed in that kind of darkness. But I will still have to battle against other shades of darkness. This month we have battled illness and injury. Other battles will come, and I will always be on their side. Neill F. Marriott shared this about her own difficult parenting experience:

Based on [our] knowledge of the Lord’s mercy and power, my husband, children, and I chose this family motto: “It will all work out.” Yet how can we say those words to one another when deep troubles come and answers aren’t readily available?

When our delightful, worthy, 21-year-old daughter, Georgia, was hospitalized in critical condition following a bike accident, our family said, “It will all work out.” As I flew immediately from our mission in Brazil to Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, to be with her, I clung to our family motto. However, our lovely daughter passed into the spirit world just hours before my plane landed. With grief and shock running through our family like a current, how could we look at one another and still say, “It will all work out”?

Following Georgia’s mortal death, our feelings were raw, we struggled, and still today we have moments of great sorrow, but we hold to the understanding that no one ever really dies. Despite our anguish when Georgia’s physical body stopped functioning, we had faith that she went right on living as a spirit, and we believe we will live with her eternally if we adhere to our temple covenants. Faith in our Redeemer and His Resurrection, faith in His priesthood power, and faith in eternal sealings let us state our motto with conviction.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God. … The Lord will not forsake us.”

Our family motto doesn’t say, “It will all work out now.” It speaks of our hope in the eternal outcome—not necessarily of present results. Scripture says, “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good.”[D&C 90:24] This doesn’t mean all things are good, but for the meek and faithful, things—both positive and negative—work together for good, and the timing is the Lord’s. We wait on Him, sometimes like Job in his suffering, knowing that God “maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.” [Job 5:18] A meek heart accepts the trial and the waiting for that time of healing and wholeness to come.

-Neill F. Mariott, Yielding Our Hearts to God

I love her family motto, and how she focuses on the ultimate help of the Lord through struggles that inevitably come to each of us. For each parent who has shouldered these kinds of trials, we recognize that when we rescue and love His children, we are helping the Lord with a divine work. We recognize that he reaches out and helps us through answered prayers, blessings, and even the administering of angels. But often the answers to what our children need are already right there inside us. We are made for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Value than Sparrows

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Recently a woman lost a baby at 20 weeks, and she gave it a name and mourned it as anyone would mourn the loss of a child.  To her, and to her loved ones, this loss was of a person that they loved.  It is always hard to understand or decide at what point these losses are actually children.  We know that an embryo is different than a fetus. We know a fetus is different than a baby. At some point the spirit enters the body, and the child becomes an eternal soul.  Before medical advances gave us detailed understanding of the stages of fetal development, many thought that the first movement felt by the mother represented the beginning of the child’s life.  Others still thought it was when they take their first breath.  Now we know that they move before we can feel it, and breathe amniotic fluid the entire time they are inside the womb.  It is increasingly harder to dismiss the realities of a baby’s personhood from a very, very early stage. I have seen the flicker of a heartbeat in my babies at six weeks (four weeks after fertilization), so for me that is when they come into being as a person.

In her book, Gone Too Soon, Sherri Devashrayee Wittwer points out how precious all the creations of God are to Him, and that they will all be resurrected as explained in D&C 29:24-25:

24 For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea;

25 And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand.

And also quoting Matthew 10:29-31:

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

She explains “Heavenly Father must have a place for these very special babies, who are surely more precious than sparrows and more noteworthy than the hairs of our heads.  It is simply not in accordance with the doctrines of the Church and the scriptures for these babies to somehow disappear into a ‘black hole,’ when a sparrow, a fish, or even a plant is precious to Heavenly Father and will have a place in his kingdom.” (See page 82).

In September last year, the Senate voted on whether or not to take up a bill that had already passed the House: The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  This Act makes it illegal to abort a baby that is capable of feeling pain, as proved by:

  • Presence of pain receptors in the child’s body no later that 20 weeks after fertilization
  • Unborn child’s reaction to touch and stimuli by action such as recoiling or the presence of increased stress hormones
  • Medical practice of administering anesthesia to unborn children in surgery to prevent vigorous movement (as a reaction to the pain of surgery)

Although to me the time to protect these babies would be much sooner, I really appreciate this medical evidence, and find it very persuasive as a reason to prevent abortions.  It is very interesting to note that the bill explains:

“The compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain is intended to be separate from and independent of the compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage of viability, and neither governmental interest is intended to replace the other.”  (For the full text of the HR 36 click here)

The Supreme Court, using the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, in Roe v. Wade , found that women have a right to abort their babies, but also subsequently confirmed that government has a necessary interest in regulating abortions to protect the health of both women and a potentially viable fetus.  This bill is giving the Supreme Court another reason to protect the unborn, beyond viability.  It is saying that Congress has a compelling interest to protect them from pain, even if they are still not viable to survive outside the womb.

The Senate needed 60 votes to take up the bill, but only got 54.  Although the vote was mostly along party lines, I would like to point out that Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) had the integrity to go against their party and vote to take up the bill.  I was disappointed to see that Harry Reid (D-NV) didn’t join the pro-life vote on this (as he has on other pro-life issues).  You can look up how the Senate and Congress votes on this score card at National Right to Life.  It is hard for me to understand why the areas over which many, if not most, people agree cannot be easily converted into abortion law.  This issue is often classified as “polarizing,” when really there are very few people taking the hard lines at each edge.  Most people think abortions after 20 weeks should be illegal, and the bill included the common exceptions (rape, incest, to save the life of the mother.)  With so much common ground, it would be nice to see our lawmakers working together on this.

Pro-abortion advocates chafe at any attempt to regulate abortion, often under the misguided assumption that the law is on their side.  In discussions I have often heard “but abortion is legal…” as an argument against any regulation.    To over-emphasize the woman’s individual rights does not legitimately end the conversation.    From the very beginning, the Supreme Court recognized that the voice of the people through the government should be involved in the process.

Utah just signed a law requiring babies be given anesthesia before abortions in certain cases.  Although it is still horrifying that these babies are being killed, by emphasizing their capacity for pain Utah is making a statement about its belief in the personhood of the unborn.  Other states are passing Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection and similar acts, and their efforts should be applauded.  You can look up your state here: Fact Sheet. If your state does not have this kind of law, it would be a great idea to reach out to pro-life lawmakers in your state and encourage them.

These babies, more precious than sparrows, are completely vulnerable.  We have the power of our votes and our voices to speak up in their defense.  They are not only loved by God.  They are loved by me.  And by you.  And by every lawmaker willing to put in the time and effort in their defense.

Talking with Children about Abortion

“Last week my 5-year-old nephew stuffed a smaller kid into a garbage can at school. He laughed and said, ‘I just gave you an abortion.’”

Most parents I talk to haven’t given much thought to talking with their children about abortion. It seems like a topic that would be more appropriate for an older audience. But over the last few weeks I’ve realized that there is a group a parents talking to their young children about abortion—pro-choice parents. If they are the primary group of parents talking about abortion, we are in for a new generation of pro-abortion radicals.

This caught me off guard when I first heard of the new children’s book “Sister Apple, Sister Pig” by Mary Walling Blackburn. The story follows a little boy named Lee. Lee learns that there once was a big sister that his mother chose to abort. “Mamma says she is a ghost.” The little boy explains that if his parents had kept his sister, they would be “tired, and sad, and mad!”

Because we would be wild and loud and sometimes we would fight. Mama might be scared that she could not buy enough food for us. Mama might not have enough time to read to me, to paint with me, to play with me, to talk with me…. 

The goal of this book may be to teach children that abortion is OK, but it seems that even the author may know, deep down, that abortion so often kills a person just so the parents won’t be inconvenienced.

This is a children’s book. Meant for indoctrination. Meant to ease a parent’s guilt. But the really interesting thing about the book is that it (inadvertently) acknowledges the spiritual life of the unborn child and the family’s innate connection to every individual meant to be a part of that family. In the end, Lee says that “ghost sister has her own things to do….she returns when I call her…if I need her.”

As disturbing as I found this book to be, I assumed it was something I could ignore. How many parents would actually read something like that to their children? Then my husband came home one day and told me what his work colleagues had been joking about over the proverbial water cooler. One man told a story about his young nephew: “Last week my 5-year-old nephew stuffed a smaller kid into a garbage can at school. He laughed and said, ‘I just gave you an abortion.’” The other men he was talking to all laughed.

Seriously.

I can only assume that that innocent 5-year-old learned about abortion from an adult, possibly a parent. His young understanding of abortion is profound, in a way. He seems to know that abortion is the equivalent of throwing another individual in the trash.

Teaching young children that abortion is OK is a new trend that I fear will soon find its way into common parenting repertoire, and those messages will reach our children through friends, teachers, and media. As I think of my young girls who will enter school in a few years, this gives me a lot of anxiety. But a story about a visit to Saints in a war-torn county, shared by Spencer W. Kimball, has given me comfort:

My first questions to these faithful Saints were these: “How do you get along with your children? Are they taught about God in their school?”

They said, “No. The teachers teach them that there is no God and teach them many other things that are opposed to what we believe.”

Then I asked, “If every day the children receive that kind of training, how do you keep them faithful to the Church?”

One of the brethren said, “We’re holding our children. They still go on missions, they still believe in God, they still pray, and they still do all of the things that are required of good Latter-day Saint boys and girls. We, as parents, provide good homes for them and continue to teach and train them righteously. Therefore, what they hear in the daytime from a godless school teacher makes no difference to them. It just runs off like water on a duck’s back.”

As Latter-day Saint parents, we know that we must train up our children in the way they should go. This is true in all aspects of the gospel, but it is especially difficult when it comes to the topic of abortion. I never thought I would be teaching my 3-year-old about abortion, but I am because I know that she will hear messages that oppose the Truth at a far younger age than I want her to. Based on my experiences with her, here are a few tips that might help you discuss this difficult topic with your little ones:

  1. Start with the Plan of Salvation. As I teach my children about the Plan of Salvation, I try to emphasize the importance of coming to Earth to receive a body and gain experience. When a child has a firm testimony and understanding of the Plan of Salvation, it provides a solid foundation for understanding why it is wrong to prevent one of Heavenly Father’s spirit children from coming to this Earth life.
  2. Keep it simple. Children don’t need to know the gory details. I explained, “Some mommies don’t want to have the babies in their tummies, so they go to an abortion clinic to have the doctor take it out. Then the baby dies and goes to live with Heavenly Father. It’s sad because Heavenly Father wants His children to come to Earth.”
  3. Use appropriate context. Whether it’s a recent story in the news or a volunteer opportunity at a prayer vigil, use something concrete to segue into the discussion. I have taken my girls to prayer vigils at Planned Parenthood a number of times and have been able to explain why we were going there. Now when we go, my 3-year-old happily says, “We’re going to save babies!”
  4. Be prepared for questions and fear. This is a difficult topic to comprehend. Young children may want to hear your explanation of abortion many times over as they process the information. They may also feel vulnerable. The first time we went to a prayer vigil this year, my daughter looked at the abortion clinic and asked, “Will the doctors come to get me?” It was heartbreaking. I reassured her that she was safe, and she was happy to know that we were there to help others.
  5. Don’t demonize anyone. When my daughter first asked me why a mother would have an abortion, my instinct was to say something negative. Instead, I said, “Some mommies are scared because they don’t know how to take care of a baby, or they don’t think they can give the baby a good life. They don’t know that there are people who can help them. That’s why we have to go tell them where they can get help and that they can be good mommies!” I have also explained that many people do not know about the Plan of Salvation. Pro-life work is only successful when it comes from a place of love. Children must know how to stand for what is right in a loving way.
  6. Have courage. Your children will love and respect you as you talk to them about difficult things. They will come to know that you are someone they can talk to about anything. siblings

Pregnancy After Rape: A Choice to Love

Like many Mormons, Erin Jones projected a sweet demeanor and a strong testimony of Jesus Christ when I first met her. And like most Mormons, her peace and testimony came at the price of personal trials that most others didn’t know about. Recently I read a post on social media from Erin that brought me to tears. She is a beautiful person, inside and out, an admirable wife and mother, and an exemplary disciple of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for her courage in allowing me to repost her story, in her own words, here:

“For those of you who know me well know that 16 years ago I was raped, and soon after found out I was pregnant. 15 years ago I gave up my son for adoption. Many people who express opinions about the validity of abortion do so at the expense of women like myself who have found themselves in a situation beyond their control. Rape is devastatingly crushing, to this day I have a hard time saying the word without wanting to puke, however I knew that taking another’s life wasn’t right and I know it would have compounded an already emotionally complex situation. In no way would an abortion have made things better for me, not after what I had been through. I’m not sure I could have had much of an existence after the murder of an innocent baby, and the statistics citing the number of abortions performed each year is frightening.

I don’t consider myself a victim, I’m not especially vocal about what I’ve been through, and I don’t expect anyone to side with me… however the adoption experience was one of the most sacred, precious experiences of my life – one that if I had to do again I would. Adoption changed my life, it taught me more about myself, about how strong and capable I am. Most importantly it taught me about love – love for myself, love for the life I was carrying, love for all the adoptive parents whose profiles I read through, huge love for the couple I felt prompted to choose, and the unconditional love from God who walked with me the entire time never leaving my side.

With all we know about how early babies form, how much they can feel, and how heinously abortions are performed it is beyond me how many people are all for it. Those who know me know I’m an animal lover, always have been and always will be. I love all creatures (except spiders and mosquitoes), however human lives are far more important, and ripping apart defenseless babies to fix a mistake is not justifiable. I can’t put myself in any other woman’s shoes, I can’t begin to say that I know how someone else feels, but I do know that murder isn’t a simple quick fix for a mistake because I’ve been in a position far worse. My life didn’t end when I chose adoption, in fact my life was impacted for the better because of the decision I made… that isn’t something that I’ve ever heard someone who has had an abortion say.”

Her words pierced right to my heart. I am so sorry she had to go through this, but I am also so grateful that she was willing to share her experience. Now whenever I hear about the “exception” for rape, I can think of her words and know that someone who has gone through this would encourage others to not use abortion to end the pregnancy.

The scripture from John 3:17 has been on my mind a lot lately: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” When looking down on this world full of awful people doing horrible things to each other, it would be easy to imagine that our god and creator would want to destroy us as punishment. He didn’t because he loves us. Instead, he sent his son to save us. To me, Erin Jones very much like the Savior. Pregnancy with her son was a difficult consequence of a horrific act, and many would say she would have been justified in condemning him or wanting to destroy him. Instead she loved him. She gave him life, and saved him. That instinct to save instfamilyead of condemn is divine. I am so grateful for her courage and example.

Then Comes Marriage

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First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. Obviously before this is some K-I-S-S-I-N-G. This cute little rhyme is the pattern for my life, except there have been four babies with a turn in the carriage.  Although I spent a lot of time doing other things like dancing, studying, and traveling, being married has by far been the best thing I have done in my life.  Having children “Born In the Covenant” has been both a realized goal and an unending blessing for both of us. All of our children are wanted.

Unfortunately, for many others, their pregnancies are “unwanted.” This term disturbs me. Children have it rough enough in life. They come out tiny and dependent. They have to poop on themselves, and learn not to eat sand. The number one thing they need is love. It must be rough to start life unwanted. About 20% of pregnancies are “unwanted.” Taken together with pregnancies that are “mistimed,” it is estimated that 51% of pregnancies are “unintended.” (www.guttmacher.org)

No matter how the parents feel about the timing or the existence of a baby, Heavenly Father has a much different view. I think he sees each and every pregnancy as a win, and as an opportunity to “bring about his work and his glory.” I love that the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that Heavenly Father has a plan that includes sending his spirit children to earth to get bodies. Instead of seeing the population of the earth as something that needs to be controlled, we see it as a vast congregation of Children of God. By coming to earth, these children are progressing down a path to immortality.

People who study public health think that the key to solving the “unintended” pregnancy problem is to promote contraception, including abortion. I think the solution instead is to re-emphasize marriage. It might seem obvious, but women are most likely to keep their pregnancy if they are married.  Promoting marriage will prevent abortions.  All of the factors that contribute to a woman feeling hopeless about her pregnancy can be helped by having a loving, committed marriage relationship.  Society used to recognize this as supremely important, so it regulated marriages through laws and cultural practices that put intense pressure on fathers to recognize, support, and commit to the mothers of their children. Cultural changes deemphasizing children as the purpose of marriage (and as the purpose of intimacy) has increased the number of pregnancies outside of marriage.  These pregnancies are much more likely to be aborted: two-thirds of women having abortions have never been married. “Previously married and never-married women are much less likely than married women to become pregnant, but more than four out of 10 of their pregnancies end in abortion.” (See Guttmacher Inst.)

I believe it is more than just the psychological or financial support of a husband that contributes to this fact. Since marriage is ordained of God, couples involved in official, committed, loving relationships are most likely to receive his blessings of peace and guidance as they begin a family. Eventually all families will have the opportunity to be sealed together for eternity, but that can only happen if parents have eternal love for their children.  This love is demonstrated first by allowing the child to be born.

Elder Bruce Hafen compares the relationships of married couples to the parable of the good shepherd. The “hireling” runs away when the wolf comes because he is only paid to watch the sheep. The good shepherd, however, loves the sheep and is willing to stay and face the wolf, even give his own life, to save the sheep. (See John 10:11-15). He explains “Many people today think of marriage as an informal arrangement between two hirelings. When a hireling feels threatened by some wolf of trouble, he or she simply flees. Why should a mere hireling risk comfort or convenience, let alone life?

But when we offer in our marriage a broken heart and a contrite spirit in similitude of the Good Shepherd, we promise to give our lives for the sheep of our covenant, a day or even an hour at a time. This process invites us to take selflessly upon ourselves both the afflictions and the joys of our companion and children, emulating in our own limited way how the Savior takes upon Himself our afflictions.” (The Temple and The Natural Order of Marriage).

Eternal marriage reflects the Savior’s love and commitment, so naturally children are welcomed to that family with love and fierce loyalty. Whenever I hear someone with faith speak of a child that has been a challenge, or was “unintended,” they speak of that child as a great blessing. In spite of the difficulties they personally encounter, they have a great love for that child as an individual, and often an eternal view of that child’s place in the plan of salvation. Their testimony that the spirit child of god will find joy and greatness in both this and the next life deepens their love.

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Children with challenges often can do more, and be more, then we ever imagine. I was inspired by a recent story about a woman with microcephaly, condition of having a small skull. An outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil is leading people to call for increased abortions to kill babies with this condition. Ana Carolina Caceres spoke out against the movement, rightfully claiming that in spite of the doctors’ predictions about her condition, she has a list of accomplishments including a university degree and a published book. She writes a blog to offer support to other families. Her mother and family fought for her life, paying for operations and caring for her in spite of a grim diagnosis. “’Abortion,’ she told BBC Brazil, ‘is a short-sighted attempt to tackle the problem. The most important thing is access to treatment, counseling for parents and older sufferers, and physiotherapy and neurological treatment for those born with microcephaly.’” (brazilian-journalist-speaks-out-i-have-microcephaly.-we-need-treatment-not-abortion).

The problems presented in “unintended,” or “unwanted” pregnancies can always be overcome by things like access to treatment, counseling and support. The Lord intends to use this earth for the work of bringing his spirit children into mortal existence. If we accept the task as good shepherds, laying down our lives for the lambs, we will enjoy the feeling of sharing in the Savior’s work. If we help encourage a culture of marriage and commitment before pregnancy, we will join him in loving the other little lambs. The “unintended” and “unwanted” ones are most in need of our watchful care.

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