Anne R Lastman's Redeeming Grief avoids politicising abortion debate
I have just been reading a sobering book: Redeeming Grief by Anne R Lastman, (published by Gracewing at £12.99). The sub-title explains what it is about: Abortion and its Pain. Many books have been written on this subject, both by those who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice.
This latter group includes the feminist lobby, but having said this there is also a group called Feminists for Life, who recognise the assault on their sisterhood that abortion represents. This particular book is compelling partly because its author admits in her introduction that she herself underwent two abortions, and partly because it does not try to “politicise” the subject; it simply sets out to explore the pain and grief, whether acknowledged or unacknowledged, that abortion causes.
What also struck me about the book is that it is not just about the babies lost; the author has as much compassion for their mothers (and increasingly fathers) who have to try to come to terms with what they have done.
She makes the point that pro-lifers can sometimes seem to be judgmental towards women in their zeal to bring the injustice done to the baby to the foreground. In an honest and challenging article on LifeSiteNews, published on May 14, Abby Johnson, who once had a high-profile position in Planned Parenthood and who later converted to the pro-life cause, says the same thing.
Referring to the appalling stories that have emerged about the clinical practices of the (legal) Philadelphian abortion doctor, Kermit Gosnell, she says that in condemning him, pro-lifers seem to condemn her for her own past; she asks, don’t they want Gosnell to ask forgiveness and to convert, just as she has done?
Lastman’s book is not about condemnation, unless it is condemnation of an indifferent society and a complacent culture that can allow the slaughter of millions of babies in this fashion; it is, as its title implies, about redemption.
Those who have undergone abortions and who have come to recognise the enormity of what they have done “will never be the same again…That instant of recognition will become the central point” in their lives, she states. The book is a conclusive rebuttal of the stance taken by pro-choice agencies like Planned Parenthood in America and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service over here. “A woman’s right to choose” is their mantra. But as Anne Lastman argues, “choice” is a complicated thing: “Over and above the rational mind there is the spirit, the soul, the emotions.” The mind might decide on something that is completely at odds with the heart – hence the psychological and spiritual damage that occurs.
Some people, reluctantly, think that abortion is acceptable because it is legal. They hesitate to acknowledge that the law can be unjust; just because something is legal, it doesn’t make it right. The same is true in the current battle over the meaning of marriage. Parliament has the power to redefine marriage just as it can redefine when human life begins; but the law, in both cases, will still be wrong.
Those who stand outside abortion clinics in order to draw attention to what is going on inside and to try to persuade the young women involved to think again, are just about tolerated by society, albeit often at the cost of verbal violence.
In the current climate I think it is less likely that the same grudging tolerance will be given in future to those who continue to say that marriage is about a man, a woman and the raising of children.