One of my childhood babysitters was the daughter of a dairy farmer. I have fond memories of visiting her parents' farm and learning how to milk cows. I don't think there is a much cuter baby in this world than a baby cow, gazing vulnerably out at the world through its oversized eyes and long eyelashes. And that's why I was so saddened by headlines like these yesterday:
Graphic video showing abuse of baby cows leads stores to pull milk
An Animal Abuse Video Destroys Fair Oaks' Farms Charming Facade
Covert video revealed that some employees of Fair Oaks Dairy kicked, jabbed and ruthlessly abused the innocent baby cows in their care. The videos have provoked calls for a boycott of the company's products, Fair Life milk, and the offending employees have been dismissed.
Another story broke yesterday that you might have missed because it failed to generate the same outrage:
Illinois Passes Sweeping Abortion Rights Law
Illinois Passes Abortion Bill, Removes Procedure Restrictions
The state of Illinois lifted a ban on partial-birth abortions, "D&X," a gruesome and heinous procedure in which a baby, near full-term and thus too large to abort using other methods, is extracted by its feet so that the back of its neck can be opened and its brain suctioned, collapsing the child's skull. This procedure was created to avoid the crime of infanticide. However, that need may soon fade as states like Virginia redraw the line on new life rights with a governor who speaks of keeping babies who survive botched abortions alive and "comfortable" until the mother decides their fate.
Have we reached the point as human beings where the mistreatment of a farm animal stokes righteous outrage and mobilizes action, but the legalization of infanticide is met with silence, characterized in polite circles as an extension of rights, a removal of restrictions?
I have many friends who aborted under a wide range of circumstances. I love them. My heart goes out to them. I understand why they defend their choice and in some cases extend the "right to choose" to other women. I also can't say with confidence that I wouldn't have made a similar choice in my youth. I understand the heartache and the panic that accompany an unplanned pregnancy for an unprepared woman, and the reality that it often is the woman who bears the consequences of a choice made by two people.
The circumstances that lead a woman to pursue an abortion are painful, difficult and complex, and they call for families and communities to embrace and meaningfully support the mothers if abortion is to end. Laws will not lead to change; it is hearts that must be changed.
I can't ignore the rich, if tragic, Biblical irony in these headlines. As a country increasingly turning away from God, we bear an uncanny resemblance to God's people in the Old Testament. Every time Israel turned away from God they soon found themselves worshipping calves and sacrificing their children.
He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your whorings so small a matter that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them?
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood.
And it is here, in the juxtaposition of these two headlines yesterday that I find hope. Because God is the God of the headlines too. He is sovereign over it all. And maybe in them he is seeking to remind us of how this folly always ends.
Since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973 more than 60 million lives have been lost to abortion, with 2,500 more added each and every day, in the U.S. alone.
Each of these lives was formed with purpose by God and as surely as he is grieved by their loss, we too have been grieved by being deprived of their untold gifts and blessings.
For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
When I was made in the secret place,
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
Before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139: 13-16