Guest Column

Hey, Atlantic: Abortion may feel like a ‘parachute’ to some, but it isn’t

(Pregnancy Help News) Typically, the word picture of “parachute” conveys a sense of rescue, deliverance, unexpected safety from a place of desperation and hopelessness. In a recent article published at The Atlantic, however, that illustration was—to borrow a prenatal term—breeched.

At least as far as an unborn baby is concerned, that is.

It was just a thimbleful of water on a vast sea of long-form journalism that stretched well north of 5,000 words, but the attempted parallel between a life-saving device and a death-ensuring choice stands out nonetheless in “Sex Ed Without the Sex,” written by Olga Khazan.

Lamenting that women in West Texas are marooned on an island of abortionlessness—and, naturally, Planned Parenthoodlessness—Khazan invites her reader to weep alongside her midway through her treatment of abortion and contraception in the rural area she once called home.

Demonstrating the vaunted “distain-trifecta” against small town America, pro-lifers and religion itself throughout the article, Khazan ends up hitting two out of three targets in the same paragraph where she introduces the unlikely analogy between abortion and a parachute:

Like in other cities, some kids do it anyway. Unlike other cities, though, Midland and Odessa lack the parachutes—abortion clinics and free-flowing birth control—that are usually available to sexually active teens. Planned Parenthood is long gone, and both Midland and Odessa are now more than four hours away from the nearest abortion clinic. Plus, there’s a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion in Texas, so women have to take multiple days off work or school to get one. Midland, meanwhile, lacks a single Title X clinic, which would provide birth control to teens without notifying their parents.

Abortion and Texas have a rocky history, to say the least, with the case that became Roe v. Wade originating in a Dallas courthouse all the way up to this summer’s Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down commonsense Texas regulations on abortion clinics.

In just the past month, news that The Heidi Group, a small network of pro-life pregnancy help medical clinics, received a $1.6 million grant to cover costs of free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests and the like has drawn both righteous indignation and formalized opposition from the abortion lobby.

Although Khazan’s main theme throughout the piece has more to do with the abstinence-only sex education taught in local West Texas schools by The Life Center, a Midland-based pregnancy help center—more on that in a moment—comparing “abortion clinics and free-flowing birth control” to a parachute is worth considering in and of itself.

No, Abortion Isn’t a Parachute.

What, exactly, is a parachute? Without regaling you by quoting from Mr. Webster, a parachute is a device meant to save someone in a free-fall. Either the jumper leapt because a plane was going down, he’s jumping to land in enemy territory, or—and I can’t wrap my head around this one, personally—he’s jumping just for the fun of it.

The reason for his jumping aside, he’d better hope and pray all the way down that his parachute opens. In this sense, the parachute represents safety, rescue salvation. Life and death hang on that rip-cord.

If a parachute represents safety, rescue and salvation, or better yet, deliverance from the hopelessness of a plummeting earthward, this could actually be the worst analogy of abortion we’ve seen to date. And rest assured, there are plenty.

Abortion, in direct contrast to a parachute, is inherently unsafe. The very best-case scenario in every one of the roughly 60 million abortions perpetrated in the U.S. since 1973 has left at least one person dead. Thankfully, there are exceptions to this rule—Gianna Jessen and The Abortion Survivors Network are nothing short of living miracles—but they are extremely few and far between.

Tragically, this “best-case scenario” doesn’t always happen. At a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Kalamazoo, Mich., this July 3, a young woman with her whole life ahead of her died from a botched abortion procedure. In this case, Planned Parenthood’s prescribing physician was working on a lapsed medical license for six months prior to making the lethal mistake.

This woman, Cree Erwin, just 24 years old, is by no means the only woman to suffer from the abortion industry’s unquenchable thirst for income, which knows no bounds in terms of both creativity and proper government oversight. There are monsters such as Kermit Gosnell and Douglas Karpen—unceremoniously dubbed the “Texas Gosnell” for his various atrocities—but they are far from the outlier, as the Michigan case demonstrates.

Of course, this doesn’t even touch on the very real and lasting emotional and spiritual complications about which so many post-abortive women and their families testify. As much as the abortion lobby would like to get the word out that only crazed anti-abortion rubes believe this takes place, there’s a reason efforts like Silent No More not only exist, but are on a definitive upswing.

They give an ever-increasing number of women and men the chance to tell the story of how abortion upended their lives, taking years and sometimes decades to even understand that “termination” that now colored their lives in a thousand unexpected, unidentified ways.

A parachute? Far from it. Abortion, in this sense, is much more like a cyanide capsule. The best-case scenario is the promise of death.

On the Other Hand… Abortion May Feel Like a Parachute.

From the title of Khazan’s article, it’s clear her focus is to get at what she considers to be the questionable use of local funds to support abstinence-only sex education in public schools.

To that end, the picture Khazan paints is of an incomplete, ineffective program run by a pregnancy center director who has somehow found her hand in the cookie jar of a local school board out on the Texas plains.

Calling attention to what she sees as a key contradiction in a Christian sexual ethic that rejects both premarital sex and abortion, Khazan holds out The Life Center’s teen mother program as a prime example of what she calls “a complicated attitude toward teen parenthood.”

“If you’re a teen in Midland, premarital sex is wrong,” she writes. “If you mess up and do it anyway, you may very well get pregnant. In that case, you should definitely have the baby, because, as almost all of the teens and adults I interviewed assured me, abortion is an even greater sin.”

Think about what’s behind Khazan’s conclusion here: in her mind, Christianity essentially consists of a hierarchy of sins in which the “arch-sin,” as it were, is abortion.

Here is where we start to understand Khazan’s parallel between abortion and a parachute. Since she supposes premarital sex is an unavoidable reality to which all teens will eventually succumb, the only remaining question is how to keep sex from resulting in pregnancy—or, if that fails, to keep pregnancy from resulting in childbirth.

It’s the hypothetical dilemma of a plane going down and there’s only one parachute available for two people who need rescued. Only one will make it, and the other will surely perish. It’s a life-and-death decision: one life gets traded for another in an instant.

And that, precisely, is what so many women believe is their situation in an unexpected pregnancy. She’s shocked to find out she’s pregnant, and she finds herself on a plane, standing side-by-side with her child and just one parachute. Only one of them will make it out of this alive.

At a Planned Parenthood, the lie is monetized and exploited, as she’s sold a parachute and a justification of why she’s the one who ought to take it: Finish school, don’t disappoint your parents, stay on your career path, don’t bring a child into a broken situation.

The line items in Planned Parenthood’s catalog can only sell if they can convince a woman to make a choice she doesn’t have to make.

What if There’s a Second Parachute?

And this is exactly why women need a place like The Life Center, which doesn’t stand to benefit financially based on her decision. Unlike Big Abortion, pregnancy help centers and medical clinics don’t rely on commission or sales.

Community-supported pregnancy centers are free to serve each woman with all the information she needs to make the healthiest decision for her and her baby. They’re free to come alongside her and give her the things she most desperately needs: time, support, information, crucial material support. Love. Choice.

What if, instead of perpetuating the out-and-out lie that there’s only one parachute for mom and her baby, we help her see that there’s a second parachute? No woman has to choose between her life and that of her baby. She can learn to embrace motherhood by either parenting or entrusting her precious child into the arms of an adoptive family.

There is a second parachute—one each for mom and baby. Planned Parenthood won’t tell her that, but you can count on The Life Center to do just that today in West Texas.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at Pregnancy Help News on September 15, 2016, and is reprinted here with permission.

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