Vulnerability can be frightening. Pregnancy certainly involves vulnerable people. The mother, the father, perhaps the siblings, family and friends, all find themselves in some way stretched to make room for this new, wondrous but utterly dependent and demanding person. The vulnerability of pregnancy is magnified, though, when the pregnancy is unplanned, unwanted or the baby shows signs of major disability.
For many women, it can be terribly difficult to see such a pregnancy positively. It means reorientating to a very different future to the one expected, and it is often a future devoid of the things valued and hoped for. She may face losing relationships, freedom, security, career, opportunities or youth. She certainly loses some control over her life. She may fear that she will be pushed to the sidelines of life and even lose a sense of her own worth. Or she may simply feel that a baby at this time will just be too much for her or for others. A father may feel similarly as might grandparents and others close to the pregnancy. It may even feel as though the survival of one demands the life of another.
For some women, having an abortion is the last thing they want to do but they feel enormous pressure from others or from their life circumstances to have an abortion. Others chose to have an abortion readily without realising the burden of grief and guilt they will carry afterwards.
In the gospels, Jesus sought out those who were vulnerable, isolated, struggling, and who carried heavy burdens of guilt. Indeed, he had little time for self-righteous people who smugly displayed their seemingly ‘successful’ lives and looked down on others. As the Son of God he could instantly see the truth about people’s hearts – truth which they often failed to see or admit. His words to everyone he met were authoritative, deeply confronting, compassionate and liberating.