Abortion has almost always carried a stigma, even by those who support it. For example, when Bill Clinton famously said he wanted abortion to remain "safe, legal, and rare," it was an admission from a staunch abortion-rights president that abortion, at best, is a necessary evil. And his wife, when running for the Oval Office, said that abortion is "a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women."
Rare? Sad? Tragic? Well, don't tell that to Emily Letts, the latest darling of the abortion-rights movement. Emily, a counselor at the so-called Cherry Hill Women's Center in New Jersey, says she had an abortion but doesn't have a tinge of guilt or sadness about it.
And to prove it, Emily filmed herself during the "procedure" and posted it on Youtube. Why on earth would she do that, you might ask. "I wanted to show it wasn't scary," Emily now says, "and that there is such a thing as a positive abortion story. It's my story."
Well, yes, it certainly is this woman's story. You might even call her short, intentionally non-graphic video the ultimate selfie. A former aspiring actor, Emily plastered her face all over the video, which won a cash award from an abortion advocacy group for her "talking about having a positive abortion experience, for sharing [her] surgery experience with us, and for being so open." Yes, she certainly is open in the video. Listen:
"I knew the cameras were in the room during the procedure," she says, "but I forgot about them almost immediately. I was focused on staying positive and feeling the love from everyone in the room. I know that sounds weird, but to me, this was as birth-like as it could be. It will always be a special memory for me."
But nothing is mentioned about the other person whose story it is. The child, whose life is being taken, never appears in Emily's video, and certainly never experiences all that love and positive energy. We hear nothing about this tiny human, whether its a boy or a girl, how big it is, whether he or she had developed fingerprints, if the tiny heart was pumping, or to what level the brain was functioning. The video is silent about how this child was disposed of. All we hear about is Emily and how she feels so good and guilt-free about her decision. For the baby, it was nothing like a birth. No, it was just the opposite.
And it's worth mentioning, abortion wasn't a positive experience for the woman who lost her life at Kermit Gosnell's "house of horrors" abortion clinic, or the numerous other women who have lost their lives in abortion clinics over the years. Their stories, often buried by the media, should be heard too.
"I am grateful," writes Emily Letts of her decision to abort her child and post a video of it for the world, "that I can share my story and inspire other women to stop the guilt." But what she misses is the source of the guilt that she's trying to escape.
It does not come just from society, as she assumes. It comes from her own conscience, however seared it might be. Guilt is a part of our shared humanity. And much of it comes from the way we, and the world we live in, is made. This kind of guilt isn't a feeling; it's a fact, and the only way to remove it, for any of us, is to stand at the foot of a Cross that was once raised on a Judean hill and to ask for forgiveness.
Friends, in this world, we need some guilt. We need the guilt that tells us that we're not autonomous, that we're responsible to a moral law and the moral Law-Giver and to other humans (including those not yet born). A cheerful Youtube video will never change this truth. And to attempt to rid ourselves of all guilt is an act of self-delusion. It's dangerous and it's foolish. And yet we, as a culture, seem hell-bent on doing it, particularly in the area of sexuality.
Emily's smiles and giggles during and after the "procedure" can't whitewash the reality of a life torn from the safety of a mother's womb, another victim of our incessant attempts to escape from the guilt of any of our decisions. And in this case, the victim was guilty of only one thing … inconvenience.
John Stonestreet is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and also directs conferences and curriculum projects for Summit Ministries.