Thursday, April 24, 2014

Two Mothers

Comparison and Contrast
Two stories rolled across my Facebook news feed today. Both concerned mothers. Both concerned the life of their unborn child. Up to that point, the two were comparable. What they chose to do with their child, however, made all the difference in the world. One mother chose life for her child. The other chose to murder her child. The decision they made reveals a tragic contrast.

A Mother's Self Sacrificing Love
Elizabeth Joice and baby Lily
Having endured surgery and chemotherapy for cancer, Elizabeth Joice was facing the reality that she would never be able to give birth to a child. Her doctors told her that she would never be able to get pregnant. Amazingly, though, she did became pregnant. One month after this miraculous, joyful news the cancerous tumor returned. Even though doctors removed the tumor, the pregnancy prevented full body scans that would reveal if her cancer had spread. She was faced with either aborting her child to save her life or jeopardize her life for her baby. She chose her baby's life. Her daughter Lily was born via  C-section in January. Elizabeth died in March. She gave her life so that her daughter could live--an incredible story of a mother's self sacrificing love.1

Josie Cunningham
A Mother's Self Promoting Murder
Josie Cunningham is a 23 year old British model, escort girl and aspiring celebrity. She made headlines when she revealed her plans to abort her child. At 18 weeks pregnant, Cunningham views her pregnancy as being a hindrance to her career. No one wants to see a pregnant model, after all. Cunningham reached her decision after fearing that her pregnancy would interfere with her chances of being on the show Big Brother. “An abortion will further my career. This time next year I won’t have a baby. Instead, I’ll be famous, driving a bright pink Range Rover and buying a big house. Nothing will get in my way,”she said.2 


Josie's Brutal Honesty
The response to Josie's abortion motivation has been outrage. Although thousands of children are murdered every year because their lives are inconvenient, Josie's public statements have caused a furor.  Some people, however, are calling for Josie's defense. In his piece in The Guardian, Martin Robbins provides some enlightening, honest commentary. For Robbins, Josie's dilemma doesn't concern the life of the unborn child, but the convenience of the mother. He writes, 
Like many British women, model and celebrity-wannabe Josie Cunningham had a decision to make about her pregnancy. She could have had the baby she didn't want, by a man she didn't love, and abandoned the career she craved; or she could put her career first, gain financial security, and think about adding to her family later, when she was ready. She chose the latter, and for that she's been vilified by the nation's press, condemned by leading public figures, and subjected to trial by hate mob. A woman exercises her reproductive rights, and Twitter burns. Like many British women, model and celebrity-wannabe Josie Cunningham had a decision to make about her pregnancy. She could have had the baby she didn't want, by a man she didn't love, and abandoned the career she craved; or she could put her career first, gain financial security, and think about adding to her family later, when she was ready. She chose the latter, and for that she's been vilified by the nation's press, condemned by leading public figures, and subjected to trial by hate mob. A woman exercises her reproductive rights, and Twitter burns.
 The outcry against her, says Robbins, comes down "to basic snobbery." He continues:

In reality, her actions are no different from those of thousands of women who exercise their reproductive rights in order to make informed choices about their future careers and families, yet because she uses the wrong language, because she talks "common", and wants to be on Big Brother instead of working in a call centre, she has been subjected to a torrent of vile abuse and bullying
He comments on how Josie's case affects individual rights: 
This sudden backlash against abortion highlights just how fragile women's rights remain in Britain, and how easily sentiment can shift. It comes as the result of another disturbing trend, an increasing acceptance of the idea that only certain people deserve human rights.
He concludes his piece by stating that if Cunningham's rights aren't protected, it's only a matter of time before the rights of other people are not protected.   The irony of Robbins' piece is obvious. Individual rights violations aren't on the horizon. They are here. Millions of babies have had their rights ignored in abortion. While crying foul over the injustice of not protecting the rights of all people, Robbins doesn't acknowledge the rights that are violated every time a child is murdered in abortion.

The Value of Life
The reaction to Josie's decision for abortion reveals dishonesty in pro-choice rhetoric. Abortion exists for the rights of women, pro-choice advocates tell us. In Josie they seemingly have a champion of women's rights. Or at least they should, if they were being honest. She has made clear that her pregnancy is getting in the way of her career. This is pro-choice argumentation fleshed out. Cunningham is  honest enough to articulate it. Like Robbins pointed out: she is just doing what thousands of other women do, her problem is the wrong language in expressing her motivation. If pro-choice advocates are honest and consistent, they would celebrate Josie not berate her. She is simply putting into practice her rights over her body. 

Of course it's possible she made these comments as a publicity stunt. Even so, the reaction against her reveals society's feelings towards abortion. The ugly truth is that abortion is acceptable for the right reasons. Of course right reasons vary from woman to woman. Without submission to God, a God who values infant life, every person determines their own standard of morality. What's right for me may not be right for you.  In that morality, who is to say she is wrong? Robbins would be right a negative view of Cunningham's abortion is nothing more than snobbery.  Apparently a desire to be rich and famous is not a good enough reason for abortion in the eyes of society at large.
 
The issue ultimately boils down to how one values human life. In existential morality the self determines right and wrong. The value of life is subjective. In a Christian worldview, all of life is valuable, including the unborn. Right and wrong are determined by God. 

Elizabeth Joice valued the life of her unborn child, but Josie Cunningham does not. Elizabeth's desire to give birth to her daughter cost her everything. Josie's desire to be rich and famous will cost her child everything. These contrasting perspectives on the value of the lives of the unborn is absolutely terrifying. Bone chilling. Deadly. 



1 Kate Briquelet, "A Mom's Terrible Choice: Her Life or Her Child's." The New York Post, March 30, 2014, ( http://nypost.com/2014/03/30/a-moms-terrible-choice-her-life-or-her-childs/ )

2 Gemma Aldridge, "NHS boob job girl Josie Cunningham plans to have abortion so she can star on BIG BROTHER." The Daily Mirror, April 20, 2014, ( http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/video-josie-cunningham-plans-abortion-3434350 ) 

3 Martin Robbins, "Why we must defend Josie Cunningham's right to an abortion." The Guardian, April 23, 2014 ( http://www.theguardian.com/science/the-lay-scientist/2014/apr/23/1 )