I remember my mum hinting that my beloved Teochew nanny may have lost her daughter in very tragic circumstances. Sons were prized in China. Daughters were not. Apparently, when her daughter was born, they tore her from her mother’s arms and threw the new born child into the river. That was a long time ago. Things have gotten much worse since. Here is part of an article from the January 9th 2006 issue of the Guardian Online.
The births of up to 10 million girls in India may have been prevented by selective abortion in the past 20 years, researchers say today. Half a million babies are aborted every year because they are girls, even though termination on the grounds of gender was outlawed in India in 1994, according to a study published online by the Lancet medical journal.”
“If this practice has been common for most of the past two decades since access to ultrasound became widespread, then a figure of 10 million missing female births would not be unreasonable.”
Hurray for science. We no longer have to wait for the child to be born to decide whether to kill it. We can establish their sex in the womb and abort the fetuses. Less traumatic then throwing new born girls into the river.
When I read this my soul was paralyzed by a mixture of emotions — profound sadness, rage, anger and numbness. 10 million deaths. 10 million lives terminated. Just because they were girls.
I am waiting to see if representatives of the National Organization of Women in America and other feminist organizations that champion abortion rights, will picket the Indian embassy. What could be more pro women?
I hate the over simplification of complex issues. I want to be corrected if I am wrong. But isn’t there irony here?
Feminist organizations that are so vocal in defending abortion rights now see abortion being used to terminate women. (I am fully aware that there are also pro-life feminist groups.) Shouldn’t they be up in arms?
I expect regular readers of this column to be disturbed by the news from India (and the situation is not confined to India alone) on two counts. As disciples of Jesus Christ we are both pro-life and pro-equality of the worth of both sexes.
God made humankind male and female (Genesis 1:26-27). The Old Testament is highly patriarchal, testament of the effect of sin in human society. But when Christ comes to redeem humankind He reestablishes a situation where there is no male and female in terms of worth and value (Galatians 3:27-28). (I am not here entering into the debate of leadership roles for women in the church which is a subject too complex for the parameters of this column. Value and roles are of course different things.)
That 10 million lives are terminated because they are female is heinous. If you are not grieved by this statistic ask yourself why.
Disciples of Jesus Christ are also pro-life (Exodus 20:13, John 10:10). And indeed life is more than mere existence. Which is why if we are truly pro life we must be more than just anti abortion. We must put our money where our doctrines are and sacrificially do what we can to help nourish and maintain these “unwanted” lives.
The early church welcomed unwanted babies into their midst. They would rescue the unwanted newborns left to die from exposure on the streets and cared for them as their own. Talk is cheap. Disciples of Jesus Christ put their money and their time where their doctrines are.
Here is part of the Durham Declaration by the Lifewatch Task Force of the United Methodist Church, USA:
“We believe that caring and providing for one another includes welcoming children into the family of the Church. As members of the Body of Christ, we know that Children — those who are hidden in the womb and those who are held by the hand, those who are labeled “unwanted” and those who are called “wanted” — are gifts from God. In this we follow the example of our Lord, who, during His earthly ministry and in the face of opposition, welcomed children to His side. And we conform to the example of the early church, which, though living in the midst of a pagan empire that casually practiced abortion and abandoned children (usually to slavery, prostitution, or death), helped to provide refuge for unwanted little ones and their needy parents.”
One of the tests of a truth claim must be consistency. We can ask our pro-abortion feminist friends how consistent is a practice that ends up killing so many females. But Christians shouldn’t gloat.
How consistent are we in our beliefs that we value both sexes equally, and that we are truly pro-life? Beyond our rhetoric, how are we actually living out these fundamental beliefs in our families and in our churches? In our societies?
How many of us who are Malaysians were disturbed by the recent enforced passing of the Islamic Family Law, a law filled with so much gender-discrimination? Or did we see that as purely a Muslim matter? WWJD?
It is very hard to hide in this new connected world. All of us are under the constant glare of public scrutiny. Daily, we witness the clash of ideas.
Talk is cheap. Or at least not enough. People are looking to see how our ideas are fleshed out in real life. It is time to awaken from our slumber. The night is almost over.
“And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.” Romans 13:11-12a TNIV
Your brother, Soo-Inn Tan
Write me! At: sooinn[AT]graceatwork.org