A couple attending a Sunday school class I was teaching years ago at my church had discovered that the child she was carrying was anencephalic. Devastated, they requested prayer of the class because “we’re meeting with the doctor tomorrow to discuss our options.”
Knowing the primary option discussed would be abortion, I waited to see if any of the believers present would offer counsel. A number of sincerely sympathetic people approached them. Yet no one warned them not to follow their physician’s counsel if it was to abort. After everyone else had left, I talked with them and they told me they felt hopeless. Based on what the doctor had advised them already, they had decided it would be better to “end it” by an abortion as soon as possible.
I explained the difference between God being allowed to take their child’s life, and them choosing to take the child’s life. I asked them gently, if they were told one of their three older children would die within the next year, would they love that child as long as he lived, or would they “end it” by taking his life? They looked at me with horror. “Of course not!”
They decided to let their baby live. What happened next was not easy, but it became a beautiful experience for their family. The child was born, they named her, and each of their children held her. They prayed over her and loved her, and took family pictures together. After a few weeks, she died.They had a memorial service and brought their photos to church, and told me how healing it was for them to go through this together. There was no way to make things easy, but to have taken their child’s life would have robbed their family of great richness. The other children will always remember their precious sister, and the parents will always cherish their sweet daughter.
How tragically different it nearly was, and would have been, if they had followed others’ advice, including their physician’s. (And how often do Christians, even in pro-life churches, fail to step forward to help people make the right decisions in light of the sanctity of human life?)